L.A. Times: No Independent Confirmation of FARC Laptop Files Indicating Venezuelan Support for Terrorism . . . Except that Interpol Report . . . And the Files Shown to the AP . . .
The L.A. Times claims that there has been no independent confirmation of the content of computers recovered from FARC terrorists, which show Venezuelan assistance to the terrorists:
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) proposed congressional hearings to examine the contents of laptop computers apparently owned by a Colombian rebel commander known as Raul Reyes.
The computers were recovered by Colombian commandos in Ecuador after Reyes, the No. 2 commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was killed in a March 1 bombing raid.
The Colombian government has leaked files that it said indicate Venezuela made offers of financial, political and arms help to the FARC, which the U.S. views as a terrorist group.
No independent confirmation of the laptops’ content has been made, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has denied the Colombian charges.
I’m not sure what is meant by that final sentence. The Times itself recently published an AP story that reported that Interpol had examined the laptops and “found no evidence of tampering”:
“There was no tampering with or altering of any of the data contained in the user files by any of the Colombian law enforcement authorities following their seizure on March 1,” said Interpol’s secretary general, Ronald Noble, a former enforcement chief for the U.S. Treasury Department.
The same story reported that the AP had been shown “damning” files from one of the computers:
The most damning evidence to date against Chavez came in text files shown to The Associated Press last week by a senior Colombian official.
More than a dozen internal rebel messages detail several years of close cooperation between top Venezuelan and FARC officials, including rebel training facilities on Venezuelan soil and a meeting inside Venezuela’s equivalent of the Pentagon.
They also suggest Venezuela was preparing to loan the rebels at least US$250 million (euro190 million), provide them with Russian weapons and possibly even help them obtain surface-to-air missiles for use against Colombian military aircraft.
So I don’t know what the paper means today when it says that “[n]o independent confirmation of the laptops’ content has been made.” A Blog for All, which brought this to my attention, thinks the paper is simply shilling for Chavez. I wouldn’t put it past them — but since I’m stubbornly willing to give this paper the benefit of the doubt, I’m wondering if there’s some legitimate reason they’re saying this. Perhaps the AP didn’t get to examine the laptops directly, and had to take the Columbian official’s word for the content?
Even if that’s what’s meant, it strikes me as pretty misleading to simply assert that “[n]o independent confirmation of the laptops’ content has been made” without mentioning Interpol’s report, or the AP‘s examination of files from the computer.