Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Uribe's "Dodgy Dossier" II

In the manic universe of George W. Bush the aggressor is the victim and the victim inevitably, the aggressor. It comes as no surprise that America's chief executive champions his blood-soaked counterpart, Colombia's death squad-linked president Álvaro Uribe.

Bush informed reporters Tuesday, "I told the president that America fully supports Colombia's democracy, and that we firmly oppose any acts of aggression that could destabilize the region." [emphasis added]

Excuse me? Wasn't it Colombia that launched a surprise attack into Ecuador? No matter. As journalist Ron Suskind reported a Bush aide told him,

"That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do." ("Without a Doubt," New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004)

The U.S. empire not trifling over something quite as insignificant as "facts," has other "realities" to create. Bush went on to link Senate passage of a Colombian trade deal with "national security." In a manner of speaking it is: if by "national security" you mean unimpeded massacres by well-connected drug lords seeking to expel querulous peasants from their land so that the "product" line can be expanded.

No laughing matter however, last Saturday's murder of FARC's second-in-command and chief negotiator, Raúl Reyes along with 16 other members of the rebel group, bore the unmistakable signs of a "targeted assassination."

After initially claiming Reyes and the other guerrillas were killed by Colombian troops in a running battle, a forensic investigation by Ecuadoran authorities established they were victims of an aerial bombardment launched while they slept and that some of the victims were then finished off by Colombian soldiers, execution-style.

It is for this reason, among many others, that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's branding of the Colombia government "the Israel of Latin America" resonates internationally.

Police and military officials in Bogotá have made no secret that the targeting was carried out by U.S. security forces. Colombian officials have said that American intelligence resources were used to track Reyes's movements via his satellite phone.

According to the Los Angeles Times,

A U.S. intelligence official in Washington said he could not confirm reports that American spies had tipped off the Colombian authorities that Reyes was using a satellite telephone that allowed him to be tracked.

The official acknowledged, however, that U.S. officials have such capabilities and that they share information with allies such as Colombia. (Chris Kraul and Patrick J. McDonnell, "Neighbors Take Aim at Colombia over Incursion," March 5, 2008)

While this is no surprise, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa charged that the raid was an attempt by the far-right Uribe regime to scupper any further release of hostages held by the FARC.

According to Bill Van Auken,

Correa indicated in a televised address Monday that the attack was launched in the context of intense discussions involving the Ecuadoran government and Reyes over the release of nearly a dozen high-profile hostages held by the FARC, including the former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three captured US military contractors.

"I regret to inform you that the conversations were very advanced for the freeing in Ecuador of 12 hostages, among them Ingrid Betancourt," said Correa. "It was all frustrated by the militarist and authoritarian hands. We cannot discount that this was one of the motives of the [Colombian] incursion."

The French Foreign Ministry also revealed Tuesday that it had been in discussions with Reyes over the release of hostages--particularly Betancourt, who holds French citizenship--and that the Colombian government was informed of these contacts. ("US-backed border massacre brings South America to brink of war," World Socialist Web Site, Wednesday, 5 March, 2008)

Last December, Uribe and his henchmen--with full backing of the Bush administration--feverishly worked to sabotage the last round of hostage negotiations initiated by Hugo Chávez. This time around, terminated it was, in a deadly hail of bullets.

But what about those "dirty bombs" that FARC "terrorists" are planning to blow-up in your favorite neighborhood galleria? The American media, never one to miss a beat, echoed Bogotá's black propaganda with some new "information" of their own, perhaps gleaned from earlier Judy Miller reports. Accordingly, the New York Times brayed,

Material found on a laptop computer recovered in the raid into Ecuador provided the basis for [Colombian vice president] Mr. Santos's accusations about a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines highly radioactive material with conventional explosives to disperse deadly dust that people would inhale. (Simon Romero, "Colombia is Flashpoint in Chávez's Feud with U.S.," March 5, 2008)

And trotting out "documents" from Uribe's "dodgy dossier," the Miami Herald breathlessly avers,

The most stunning allegation involves the uranium, which can be used to make dirty bombs in which conventional explosives disperse radioactive materials.

"Another of the themes is the one on uranium," says a Feb. 16 note from a man identified as Edgar Tovar to Raúl -- likely Reyes.

"There's a man who supplies me with material for the explosive we prepare, and his name is Belisario and he lives in Bogotá," the note reads. "He sent me the samples and the specifications and they are proposing to sell each kilo for two and a half million dollars, and that they supply and we look for someone to sell to, and that the deal should be with a government that can buy a huge amount. They have 50 kilos ready and can sell much more."

In a statement Tuesday, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said the note proves the FARC was "negotiating to get radioactive material, the principal base for making dirty weapons of destruction and terrorism."

"This shows that these terrorist groups ... constitute a grave threat not just to our country but to the entire Andean region and Latin America," he added.

But wait, there's more! An ubiquitous "former State Department official ... now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington" no less, puts in a cameo appearance,

The $2.5 million per kilo price "sounds about right," he said, but "the quantity sounds really suspicious" because accumulating 50 kilos would be difficult under very watchful eye of U.S. and other intelligence agencies. (Tyler Bridges and Jenny Carolina Gonzalez, "Documents show FARC ties to Venezuela and Ecuador," Wednesday, March 5, 2008)

Knocking down these spurious charges, analyst Garry Leech concludes,

But when the documents from Reyes's laptop were released to the media, they did not corroborate the vice-president’s allegations. In fact, the document related to the so-called dirty bomb was simply a communication from a lower-ranking FARC guerrilla to Reyes raising the possibility of purchasing 50 kilos of uranium and then selling it for a profit. There was absolutely no mention of using uranium to build a dirty bomb or any other sort of weapon. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, have dutifully performed their role as propagandists for the US government by continuing to report that the FARC intends to build a "dirty bomb" even after the documents were made public. [emphasis added] ("The Upside-Down World of Bush and Uribe: Slandering Chávez and the FARC," Colombia Journal, Wednesday, March 5, 2008)

As reported here yesterday, the Bush administration and "democratic ally" Uribe, are cranking up the "Mighty Wurlitzer" as Washington prepares a new military adventure targeting the Latin American left and Venezuela's democratic socialist experiment.

Make no mistake, a Pinochet option is in the works.

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