Saturday, May 17, 2008

And They're Off!

Whew, the Little Laptop that Could is back on NPR on Friday morning. All right, seems that INTERPOL has determined that the computers seized in Colombia's raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador have files that were not tampered with. Notice how the BBC covers it:
  • "Interpol certified the authenticity of the files, not their contents..."
  • "Interpol head Ronald Noble said his team had not analysed the information contained on the drives....he was quick to stress that the fact that the files had not been tampered with did not prove that the information contained within them was totally accurate."
  • "But the files use codes and aliases throughout and nowhere is Mr Chavez mentioned by name."
NPR is a little less restrained:
Renee Montagne gets it rolling with "...the international police agency INTERPOL is backing charges by Colombia that computers seized from rebels show that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been supplying those Colombian rebels with weapons."
Juan Forero then pours it on:
  • " how Venezuela's populist government offered guerrillas help in obtaining surface to air missiles and rocket propelled grenade launches...Interpol announced that the computer files were authentic"
  • "major topic among rebel commanders was the increasingly friendly ties with Chavez's government and the aid Chavez was willing to provide"
  • Forero includes Sean McCormick of the State Department saying that Venezuela's government is "supplying arms and support to a terrorist organization."
  • Forero also notes ""four intelligence officials interviewed in Bogota say Colombian forces have confiscated" Venezuelan provided weapons.
  • He also interviews a "young man who recently deserted" who states that "the one who supplies arms to us [FARC] is the Venezuelan government."
Kind of makes you wonder who's writing the script at NPR, doesn't it? But what else could you expect?


big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Go, Little Laptop, go! ;-)

Flávio Américo dos Reis said...

Did anyone at NPR actually read Interpol's report? (Some have even asked if Ronald Noble has read the report...) Here's my letter to the ombudsman at NPR--notice I didn't even mention the period between March 1 and March 3rd when the drives were under the custody of the Colombian armed forces, and during which time Interpol notes the files were accessed "48,555 times" and international standards for the handling of computer evidence were not followed.

Subject: INTERPOL Backs Colombia's Charge Against Venezuela - Morning Edition, May 16, 2008.

Dear Ombudsman:

As per usual, Juan Forero's report on Interpol's release of its findings were tendentious, mendacious and
sensationalist. Not a thing he said was true and verifiable. It was all propaganda.

The INTERPOL report is available online in four languages--English, French, Spanish and Arabic. (Go to

Apparently, NPR didn't read the report, or else, they would have learned that on page 30, the report explicity says:

"When law enforcement directly accesses seized electronic evidence without first making physical images of the data, such access leaves traces of the relevant law enforcement officer’s accessing and viewing of the evidence. Direct access may complicate validating this evidence for purposes of its introduction in a judicial proceeding, because law enforcement is then required to demonstrate or prove that the direct access did not have a material impact on the purpose for which the evidence is intended."

The Interpol Report's Executive Summary itself says: "The remit of the IRT and INTERPOL’s subsequent assistance to Colombia’s investigation did not include the analysis of the content of documents, folders or other material on the eight seized FARC computer exhibits. The accuracy and source of the user files contained in the eight seized FARC computer exhibits are and always have been outside the scope of INTERPOL’s computer forensic examination." (Page 7)

It also says "The IRT deployed to Colombia (...) included two forensic experts from Australia and Singapore selected by their national police administrations. The experts came from outside of the region and did not speak Spanish, which helped to eliminate the possibility that they might be influenced by the content of any data they were examining." (Page 7 of the Executive Summary). INTERPOL never made pronouncements on the contents of the computer drives because none of its forensic experts spoke Spanish—on purpose, so that the findings would not be influenced.

So how your Juan Forero got to pontificate for over three minutes saying, in essence, that everything the Colombian government has been saying about Venezuela and Ecuador's support of the FARC is gospel is beyond me.

You’ve got some of the laziest, incompetent reporters on the planet—I can’t put that politely. Interpol’s 102 page report is online, and even a cursory reading of it would show that it proves none of Bogotá’s or Washington’s allegations. But, instead, you went with your standard operating procedure: lie, lie, lie, and hope nobody checks out your “facts.”

Once again, you’ve been caught with your pantaloons down. Have a nice day.

Shame on NPR.

Porter Melmoth said...

Well done, Flavio. NPR's form letter reply should make interesting reading.

Flávio Américo dos Reis said...

Good one, Port!

That´ll be the day when I actually receive a personalized email from them--one that actually engaged with my criticism.

I won´t hold my breath.

I´ll keep you posted, though.

They never own up to the fact they´re hacks and political appointees and propagandists--a Voice of America beamed at the Gringos.

I´ve had some success, though, in convincing many hoodwinked friends, by means of concrete evidence and examples, just how deceitful NPR is--counting as they do on their undeserved/unwarranted/unsubstantiated independent cachet.

I guess that´s all I can hope for--to be able to convince one person at a time that NPR is full of it and that they need to ferret out the facts for themselves.

Flávio Américo dos Reis said...

Hah!!! I got my form letter today:

From: Ombudsman (
Sent: Mon 5/19/08 9:56 AM
To: Flavio Americo dos Reis

Dear Flavio,

Thank you for contacting the NPR Ombudsman. Our office invites you to sign up to have the weekly Ombudsman column sent to you. Enter your email address where prompted on the right-hand side of our webpage at

As for your email, NPR prides itself on its interested and interesting listeners. We appreciate you taking the time to write, as we continue to aim for accuracy and communication in the newsroom. Rest assured that your corrections have been noted and forwarded to the appropriate department.

NPR is always delighted to hear from listeners, so please do not hesitate to contact us again in the future.

Holley Simmons
Office of the Ombudsman

Porter Melmoth said...

You know something, Flávio, I actually thought they might have included a few non-form words back to you. (See what an optimist at heart I am?) And after all that work you did!

It may indicate though, that NPR is getting increasing amounts of critical and even harsh feedback. They've demonstrated that they're a pretty timid bunch, as the criticisms they read on the air are very lightweight, while they slop on the praise. This recent spate of nauseating soundbytes of 'ordinary people' praising NPR is an act of desperation, in my book.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...


And now my impression of the NoPR ombudsman:

"La la la la, critical email, okay, click robotic form reply. Fawning, fluffy praise letter on some insipid "driveway moment" filler segment, forward to on-air letters queue, CC all branches & bureaus. The sun'll come out tomorrow... la la la."

Damn, gotta clean up the bunny spit on the wall now...