No sooner had the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released its dossier The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raul Reyes on May 10, that the international media was once again claiming more proof that Venezuelan government links to terrorism had been uncovered.
Almost none mention that the entire basis of the document were files that Interpol and US and Colombian officials have admitted are dubious at best.
In fact, Francisco Dominguez pointed out in a May 13 New Statesman article that the IISS is the same group that created the fraudulent September 2002 dossier Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Net Assessment.
The dossier’s false information about Iraq’s supposed WMD stockpile was used as a key justification for the US-led war on oil-rich Iraq.
The latest dossier is based on files supposedly obtained from laptops belonging to former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Raul Reyes.
Twenty-five people, including Reyes, were killed when Colombia illegally bombed a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory in 2008.
Colombian authorities claimed three laptops, two external hard disks, and three USB drives somehow survived the bombing and happened to be filled with files linking the FARC to pretty much anyone the US and Colombia said supported terrorism.
However, many have called into question the validity of these files.
In a May 10 British Guardian article, Greg Grandin and Miguel Tinker Salas said Interpol’s forensic report of the hardware indicated that Colombian authorities had modified 9440 files, and deleted a further 2905 files.
Colombia’s treatment of the material, according to Interpol, “did not conform to internationally recognised principles for the ordinary handling of electronic evidence by law enforcement”.
The authors also pointed out that “Colombian military’s claims that files showed the Farc were planning to make a ‘dirty bomb’ were publicly dismissed by the US government and terrorism experts”.
IISS's offer of a CD-ROM with the dossier “containing all relevant e-mails” found on Reyes' laptops, is all the more remarkable given that in October 2010, Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez confirmed that no emails had been found in the laptops.
Police inspector Ronald Coy Cortiz testified in 2008 that his team of inspectors “haven’t seen any e-mails, I haven’t found them so far.”
Even the Colombian Supreme Court has considered “evidence” from the laptops to be legally inadmissible.
As Grandin and Salas note, what more should we expect “from some of the same people who deceived the people of the United States and the United Kingdom into invading Iraq”.
Among those on the IISS's advisory council are: Robert D Blackwill, former deputy national security adviser to George W Bush; Eliot Cohen, formerly secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s senior adviser on strategic issues; Sir David Manning, formerly foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair; and Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.
The Venezuelan embassy in Britain has warned that this report “could become part of an aggressive propaganda tool against Venezuela to undermine progress in the region, precisely at a time when relations between Venezuela and Colombia have reached a level of stable cooperation and friendly dialogue.”