by Charlie Hardy - May 20, 2008
I have just finished reading INTERPOL's report on the computers that the government of Colombia says it found in an encampment of the FARC-EP on March 1. Reading the report I am once again fascinated with what experts can do with computers. But I am shocked that the world's best known detective agency cannot add three plus three.
On pages 10 and 11 of the report in English, Interpol begins a description about how it came to be involved in the work. It says that on March 4 it received a request from Colombian authorities asking for Interpol's "independent computer forensic technical assistance to examine the user files on the eight seized FARC computer exhibits".
In Appendix 2, they show a letter that they received from Brigadier General Oscar Adolor Narnjo Truillo, Director General of the National Police of Colombia. In the letter General Naranjo requests that INTERPOL evaluate "three (3) computers and three (3) USB devices." Adding three and three, I arrive at a total of six pieces of computer hardware not eight as INTERPOL mentioned.
The next day Mr. Ronald K. Nobel, the Secretary General of Interpol, sent a letter (Appendix 3) to Ms. Maria del Pilar Hurtado Afanador, the directress of the D.A.S (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) in Bogota accepting the invitation to go to Colombia to establish the terms of the agreement. In the letter he, again, mentions six pieces of hardware: "three (3) computers and three (3) USB keys."
But on March 6 Ms. Hurtado sends him a letter (Appendix 4) asking that Interpol look at "the three lap-top computers, the three USB keys and two hard-disk drives." On March 4 there were only six items to look at, but for some reason two hard drives were found someplace by March 6.
Throughout their report, INTERPOL speaks of eight pieces of hardware, but I find no place where it questions why the government originally asked them to check only six pieces. It would seem to me that any reputable detective group would ask for such an explanation.
For multiple reasons, the INTERPOL report doesn't fit my description of good detective work that I learned from Dick Tracy, Columbo and G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown.
Throughout the report INTERPOL speaks of the hardware as belonging to Raul Reyes, although they never present any proof of this. This in itself shows prejudice on the part of INTERPOL. The two experts that reviewed the hardware do not speak Spanish. Who were the experts that decided the computers and materials belonged to Reyes? There is a photo in the report showing Reyes sitting in front of a computer. That's proof that the computers and hardware belonged to him? Dick Tracy would have looked for fingerprints, not only of Raul Reyes (which actually could have been put on the computers after he was dead) but of the authorities who touched the computers also. Father Brown would have wondered how the Colombian authorities could find so rapidly documents that said the FARC-EP helped finance Chávez's political campaign in the '90s and that, as president, Chávez had offered them three hundred million dollars. And I think Columbo would have had more than one question to ask Ms. Hurtado before he walked out the door of the D.A.S. office.
By the way, speaking of Colombian authorities, the report says: "Colombian law enforcement authorities have openly stated to INTERPOL's computer forensic experts that an officer in their anti-terrorist unit directly accessed the eight seized FARC computer exhibits under exigent and time-sensitive circumstances between 1 March 2008, when they were seized by Colombian authorities, and 3 March 2008." In my opinion that sentence was included to show how the Colombian government cooperated with INTERPOL in the task it was given. But I cannot believe that simply "an officer" did everything with the computers during those first three days. To me it is another indication of the the way Colombia has distorted what has happened in the events surrounding those days of the attack on Ecuadorian territory.
And referring to Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has said that if we are to believe what the FARC-EP has supposedly said about Ecuador than we should also believe what they have to say about President Uribe's links to drug trafficking and to the para-militaries. Now that INTERPOL has made back-up copies of everything on these eight pieces of hardware, it would be nice if Colombia would share them with Venezuela and Ecuador so that these countries, which seem to be mentioned so frequently in the computers, could see if any mention is made about Colombia in them.
But in any case, it would seem to me that anyone with common sense would put little credibility into whatever comes out of these supposed pieces of evidence. Where did the computers come from? Who did they belong to? Who put the information into them? Even if they were used by Raul Reyes and even if he did enter some items into them, is it possible that an infiltrated person also put items into the computers? There are a multitude of who, what, when, where, why, and how questions that are not answered in the report. More seriously, they are not even asked.
But if you are looking for someone to answer the questions, I wouldn't call on INTERPOL. Where are Dick Tracy, Father Brown and Colombo now that we need them?
Finally, I would suggest reading the the report itself, an article that appeared on Venezuelanalysis.com and a commentary by Eva Golinger.
-30- (Charles Hardy is author of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution, published by Curbstone Press. Other essays by Hardy can be found on his personal blog Cowboyincaracas.com . You may write him at firstname.lastname@example.org . )