Later this month, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) will publicly determine the "authenticity" of laptops recovered from a rebel encampment in Ecuador after a March 1 raid on the camp by the Colombian military. Based on previous press coverage of the incursion and the documents, we are concerned that the media take extreme care in interpreting the Interpol findings.
In the first round of media coverage of the event, significant problems of inconsistency surfaced precisely as a result of the gap between Colombia's exaggerations and what the documents actually say.1
Even if the laptops are found to have belonged to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), there is no evidence that the publicly available documents support any of the extreme claims by the Colombian government that Venezuela and Ecuador had any sort of financial relationship with the rebels. In fact, independent analyses of the documents indicate that the Colombian government has substantially exaggerated their contents, perhaps for political purposes. Any media coverage of the Interpol findings must make clear that many of the Colombian allegations have already been largely discredited.
The Colombian interpretation has already proven so weak that Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs on April 10, stated unequivocally that there is "no evidence"2 linking Venezuela to the Colombian rebels, yet Insulza's statement has gone virtually unreported in the English language press.
Analysts cite three primary flaws in the Colombian government's charges linking Venezuela and the FARC:
The "Dossier": The notion that the Venezuelan government provided-or intended to provide-$300 million to the FARC is based exclusively on this passage from a letter sent to the FARC secretariat from Ra