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Colombia: More on the Illegal Wire Tappings

Last week, the illegal wire tapping scandal uncovered by Semana news magazine was the main headline in most news outlets and the talk of the day on some blogs in Colombia. On Thursday, February 26, President Álvaro Uribe announced that the Administrative Security Department (DAS, for its initials in Spanish) was no longer allowed to wire tap any suspect, and that “in addition to a court order, it must be done with the National Police and, exceptionally, with another institution of our Security Forces.”

At Censura 2.0 [es], Jkrincon tells President Uribe he is “afraid” and raises some questions on the issue:

  • ¿Cómo es posible, que en un país blindado por la seguridad democrática, una mafia sea capaz de infiltrarse en el departamento encargado de la inteligencia nacional?
  • ¿Cómo es posible, que un organismo subordinado directamente al presidente de la república, haya sufrido varios escandalos por el mismo tema en menos de 6 años?
  • ¿Donde están las reformas prometidas después de cada escandalo?
  • ¿Cuando las investigaciones darán frutos?
  • Sí la seguridad de nuestro país ha mejorado tanto, sí los grupos que atentan contra la integridad del estado han perdido poder, ¿Cómo es posible que puedan espiar a periodistas, políticos e, incluso, miembros del alto gobierno?
  • Sí el presidente no sabía nada, sí el director del DAS no tenía sospechas de infiltrados en su institución, ¿Cómo hacen estas mafias, en el país de la seguridad democrática, para operar de forma tan efectiva?
  • ¿Por qué, si la corte suprema de justicia había denunciado irregularidades en los miembros del DAS, no se realizaron investigaciones?
  • ¿Por qué es más efectivo el equipo de investigadores de una revista que todos los inocentes encargados de la inteligencia en nuestra nación?
  • Sí las FARC están derrotadas, ¿Quién conforma la mafia que nos ataca? o ¿Acaso no están tan debilitadas como el gobierno afirma?
  • How is it possible that in a country armoured by the democratic security [policy], a mafia is able to infiltrate the agency in charge of national intelligence?
  • How come that an entity which is a direct subordinate of the President, has been embroiled in several scandals for the same reason in less than 6 years?
  • Where are the reforms they promise after every scandal?
  • When will the investigations give results?
  • If security in our country has improved so much, if the groups attacking the integrity of the State have lost power, how come they can spy on journalists, politicians, and even high-ranking government officials?
  • If the President didn't know anything, if the DAS director had no suspicions of infiltrations on his agency, how do these mafias, in the country of the democratic security, manage to act so effectively?
  • Why were there no probes if the Supreme Court had denounced irregularities involving some DAS members?
  • Why is a magazine's investigative journalism team more effective than all the innocents in charge of intelligence of our nation?
  • If the FARC are defeated, who are the mafia attacking us? Or, is it that they haven't been weakened as the government claims?

With sarcasm, @juglardelzipa comments [es] Uribe's decision on Twitter:

«intercepciones legales serán hechas por la policía» las ilegales las seguirá haciendo el das.

“legal [wire] taps will be made by the Police” [es] DAS will keep doing the illegal ones.

Sentido Común [es] claims to have some answers [es], after updating his post on the issue on Sunday:

Con este enroque corto, Uribe pretende tres objetivos:

  1. Desviar la atención de la opinión pública, interesada en conocer al autor de la orden para espiar (en esta ocasión) a la oposición, a los magistrados a cargo de la parapolítica y a los medios de comunicación. El autor es obvio, pero es un secreto de Estado que no se puede revelar, o si no qué gracia.
  2. Dar cristiana sepultura al cuento chino de “la mafia infiltrada al interior del Gobierno”. También se sospecha quién es el Padrino, pero no se puede revelar, porque es otro secreto de Estado.
  3. Sacar al DAS de la mira de los medios y de la opinión, pues se supone que ya no seguirá haciendo interceptaciones secretas. Y si las sigue haciendo no se sabrá, pues son secretas.
With this short deal, Uribe aims have three goals:

  1. To divert the public's attention, which is interested in knowing the author of the order of (this time's) spying on the opposition, the magistrates in charge of the ‘parapolitics’ scandal, and the media. The author[‘s name] is obvious, but it is a state secret which can't be revealed, or else what's the fun here?
  2. To bury the tall story about “the mafia that has infiltrated the government”. There are also suspicions on who could be the Godfather, but it can't be revealed, because it's another state secret.
  3. To take DAS out of the media and public opinion's spotlight, because it's supposed to not to do secret wiretaps any more. And if it keeps doing them it won't be known, because they're secret.

In a comment on this post, Lanark pokes fun [es] at the “conspirators”:

No sé si alegrarme de que “la mafia al interior del gobierno” se parezca más a los villanos de las aventuras tercermundistas de los magníficos, que a los de misión imposible. Igual que con tantas otras cosas, creo que Uribe está extrapolando al país la administración de su “finquita”, y maneja el DAS más o menos como se manejan las viejas chismosas de un pueblo.

Si realmente hubiera una conspiración de best-seller basura, de esas en las que los supervillanos tienen absoluto control, ya hubieran sido capaces de desaparecer a media oposición y exiliar al resto frente a la sonrisa bobalicona de la opinión. Colombia sería un gran campo de palma, coca y amapola, y llas ciudades serían enormes maquilas llenas de muertos de hambre trabajando 12 horas diarias por nada.

Yo creo que la ineptitud de nuestros tiranillos de república bananera igual que ha provocado problemas, también nos ha salvado de situaciones peores.

Don't know if I should be happy that “the mafia inside the government” more resembles the villains from the Third World-ish adventures [portrayed] on The A-Team, than the ones [appearing] on Mission: Impossible. Just like many others things, I think Uribe is extrapolating the management of his “little farm” to the nation, and handles DAS more or less the same way you handle the old gossip ladies from a small town.

If there was really a trashy best-seller type conspiracy, of the kind where the super villains have absolute control, they'd been able to make “disappear” half of the opposition and the rest to exile in front of the silly smile of the [public] opinion. Colombia would be a huge ground for palm, coca, and poppy, and the cities would be big assembly plants filled with starving people working 12 hours a day in exchange of nothing.

I think the incompetence of our banana republic small tyrants, just as it has caused trouble, has saved us from worse situations.

On February 27, controversial presidential adviser José Obdulio Gaviria —who happens to be deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar Gaviria's cousin and who denied [es] being the one behind the phone buggings— told a radio network that Colombia's Attorney General (AG) Mario Iguarán, Semana magazine publisher Alejandro Santos Rubino, two people from the AG office, a delegate attorney in charge of the wire tapping probe, and other journalists met at a restaurant in uptown Bogotá on Tuesday. Gaviria suggested [es] that the AG office was apparently “selling information” to the media.

El Brujo expresses his outrage after Gaviria's claims on his blog Tienen Huevo [es]:


Who's the one who orders to wire tap everyone and later comes out to make a fuss?

And Ricardo Buitrago asks for some prudence [es] as the investigations go on:

Si bien la información, por provenir de una entidad periodística respetable tiene visos de credibilidad y certeza, también es cierto, que pruebas del ilícito, por contenido de la misma indagación, se sabe han sido destruidas. Se crean así vacios que dificultan o imposibilitan la investigación. Vistas así las cosas, parecería prudente, dejar a un lado los juicios de responsabilidades, expresados sin plena comprobación de causa, mientras se adelantan las pesquisas y se determinan culpables.

Even though the information has some credibility and certainty because it comes from a respectable journalistic source, it is also true that evidence of the crime, according to the same inquiry, has been reportedly destroyed. Thus, there are some holes making the investigation difficult or even impossible. With the things being so, it would seem prudent to put aside judgements on responsibilities, expressed without any proofs, while the probes continue and the guilty parties are determined.

But Jaime Restrepo finds Gaviria's claims quite useful to criticize [es] the Attorney General's Office and the opposition, and to question, again, Semana‘s journalism:

La actitud de Semana y de la fuente de altísima fidelidad de echarle toda el agua sucia al DAS podría tener una explicación: que dicha fuente no trabaja en el DAS sino en la Fiscalía General de la Nación. Esa fuente, para ser tan creíble, debe ostentar un cargo importante y tener acceso a los pormenores de los sistemas de interceptación. Otra forma de ganar credibilidad es filtrar información, como se ha denunciado que ocurre con frecuencia en la Fiscalía.

¿Quién podría ser esa fuente de altísima fidelidad que trabaja en la Fiscalía? ¿Acaso esa fuente se va de parranda con el director de Semana y con algunos periodistas de ese medio? ¿Será que Iguarán les estaba pidiendo colaboración para esclarecer el asunto o se estaba asegurando de que Alejandro Santos y su combo ratificaran el secreto profesional y sobre todo la reserva de la fuente?

Es que en general, el aparato judicial colombiano genera serias dudas, pero es evidente que la Fiscalía General de la Nación es un bastión clientelista para la izquierda “democrática”, que además se ha valido de esas “corbatas” para adelantar investigaciones y acceder a archivos e información que muchas veces está bajo reserva del sumario.

Semana and its high fidelity source's attitude of putting all the blame on DAS could have an explanation: this source doesn't work for DAS but for the Attorney General's Office. That source, in order to be so reliable, must be in an important position and have access to the details on the phonebugging systems. Another way to gain credibility is by leaking information, as it has been often denounced as being happening in the AG Office.

Who could be that high fidelity source working for the AG? Does this source go out partying with Semana‘s publisher and some of its journalists? It might be that [Mario] Iguarán was asking their co-operation in order to clarify the issue, or maybe making sure that Alejandro Santos and his pals ratify the professional secrecy and, above all, the confidentiality of the source?

In general, the Colombian legal system creates serious doubts, but it is evident that the Office of the Attorney General is a political patronage bastion for the “democratic” left-wing which has made use of those “neckties” to conduct investigations and access files and informations often restricted.

As Restrepo wishes the Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez to “detect” those “obscure interests” inside the AG apparently leaking information to the media, as of Monday, March 2, no physical evidence of the illegal wire tappings has been found by the AG agents. Meanwhile, the current Deputy Attorney General revealed [es] that he is aware his home phone line had been bugged since 2005 [es], when he was a delegate attorney before the Supreme Court. The issue will remain in the news for a while, as some still try to find similarities [es] between this scandal and Fujimori's Peru one decade ago.

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