Guerrilla Armed With Beer Sighted in Venezuela

The Washington Post‘s latest attack on Venezuela comes in an editorial headlined: “Colombia Proves Again That Venezuela Is Harboring FARC Terrorists.”

The editors don’t say why a point already proved needs be proved again, but before offering the new evidence, they recount the old claim that laptops captured by Colombia from FARC guerrillas have clearly established links between the Venezuelan government and the FARC:

That Venezuela is backing a terrorist movement against a neighboring democratic government has been beyond dispute since at least 2008, when Colombia recovered laptops from a FARC camp in Ecuador containing extensive documentation of Mr. Chavez’s political and material support.

The alleged FARC laptop evidence certainly is in dispute. (On March 11 of this year, Gen. Doug Fraser, head of U.S. Southern Command, testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that he knew of no official Venezuela/FARC links–“We have not seen any connections specifically that I can verify that there has been a direct government-to-terrorist connection”–before retracting his statement a day later after an apparent trip to the woodshed.)

The new evidence? The Post cites a presentation to the Organization of American States (OAS) by Colombia’s ambassador to that body, who said he could pinpoint the locations of 75 FARC camps within Venezuela, and then offered up more concrete evidence in the form of photos and videos. Brace yourselves: The single piece of such evidence the Post editors chose to describe was a photo of a man purported to be a top commander in the ELN–which is not the FARC, but a smaller Colombian guerrilla group–“sipping Venezuelan beer on a popular Venezuelan beach.” So a photo of an alleged official of a different organization drinking beer in (allegedly) Venezuela is proof that Hugo Chavez’ government is working with the FARC?

The last time the media pushed allegations (Washington Post, 2/5/03) that an official U.S. enemy (then, Saddam Hussein) was harboring a terrorist leader (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), it turned out to be a bogus claim (Washington Post, 4/6/07) that played a crucial role in tricking the nation into war.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.