With a British think tank set to publish a WikiLeaks-style database of unedited computer documents seized from the camp of FARC commander “Raul Reyes,” InSight looks at the chronology of information released from the files so far.
When the Colombian authorities bombed Raul Reyes’ camp on March 1, 2008, they seized three laptops, two external hard disks and three USB drives, containing a huge quantity of digital information. Since then the revelations have flowed from the files, first in a rush and then, in more recent years, in a drip.
The International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) is set to release all “relevant” e-mails on a searchable CD-ROM on May 10, along with a report analyzing the data and what it shows about the FARC’s development and relationships with Venezuela and Ecuador. The report and files together can be purchased for £40 ($66).
The question now is whether new information will be revealed in this report. The likely answer is not much; a U.S. diplomatic cable released recently by WikiLeaks showed how methodical and organized the Colombian government has been in its use of the seized files. In the communication, sent only weeks after the bomb attack, U.S. officials reported that the Uribe administration planned to selectively leak information to foreign and domestic press that would tie the Ecuadorean and Venezuelan governments to the rebel group. One government official is named as the person chosen to plan and implement this “computer exploitation strategy.”
Given all this forward planning, it is improbable that there remains much of great interest in the files that has not already been made public, at least regarding the topics of greatest importance to Colombia; namely the guerrillas’ links with foreign governments.
However, there may still be pieces of information that it has not yet become opportune for Colombia to make public. The most recent nugget released by the government was that the FARC, apparently, wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2000, seeking funds to buy ground-to-air missiles. The timing of this latest piece of information, coinciding with the crisis in Libya, suggest that there may remain similarly inconsequential details in the files which have not been revealed.
Uribe allies claim that there are more revelations to come. “What we know so far is only the tip of the iceberg, soon the details of the relations of the FARC with Venezuela, Ecuador, and with Colombian and North American politicians will be known,” said former Uribe advisor Jose Obdulio Gaviria, according to El Nuevo Heraldo.
The thinking behind publishing the files via the IISS is also explained in the WikiLeaks cable, which says that Colombia plans to ask an international organization, not affiliated with the government, to publish the files once they have been verified as genuine by Interpol.
Below is InSight’s timeline of the the biggest revelations, and their repercussions, that have emerged from the seized computer disks so far.