Colombia: “Honey Trap Extracted From FARC Laptop!”

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Marilú and Gen. Vargas on a Hercules transport, 2005. Vargas later became logistics chief for the Colombian army. Source: EL TIEMPO.

Saw your lips I heard your voice, believe me I just had no choice,
Wild horses couldn’t make me stay away.
Thought about a moonlit night, my arms around you good and tight,
That’s all I had to see for me to say.
Hey, hey, hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart,
Sweet Mary Lou, I’m so in love with you

‘Decálogo’ de las Farc para infiltrar al Ejército estaba en PC de guerrillero Carlos Antonio Lozada: FARC’s “ten commandments” for infiltrating the Army was on the personal computer of Carlos Antonio Lozada.

EL TIEMPO (Bogotá) has been following up on the story of Marilú Ramirez, a FARC agent who managed to get close to top Army officials to such an extent that she was allowed to enroll in an advanced war college course for senior commanders.

Moral panic over the insidious attractions of such camp followers is tending to drown recent developments in the case of former DAS chief Jorge Nogeura. On which more later.

Me, I think it is amazing, the sensitive data people lug around on their PCs, laptops, palmtop computers, and USB pen drives — ranging from Salvatore Mancuso and his Sony Vaio to IRS employees who take unencrypted private taxpayer data home with them, not to mention the alleged mob lawyer caught here in São Paulo recently with a spreadsheet on a pen drive that indicated regular payoffs to just about every police precinct in the state.

Which is why I am going to file this one under data management, despite the lurid “sex and spies” angle to it.

Regarding which I am reminded of a figure from the Olinda carnival pantheon known as Maria Batalhão.

Conheci uma Maria
que chamavam batalhão
ela ía do soldado até o capitão
conhecia de São Paulo até o Maranhão
pra falar com o padre mestre
só pra pedir perdão

I knew a certain Maria, they called her the sweetheart of the Battalion, she would go with anyone from a private to the captain, she was known from São Paulo to far northern Maranhão for going to speak with the head priest just to ask for absolution.

EL TIEMPO on November 11, gisting the story broken by Semana magazine the same day:

El curso de altos estudios, al que solo acceden los futuros generales de la República y un grupo muy selecto de civiles (magistrados, empresarios, industriales y abogados), fue uno de los objetivos de esta mujer que se entendía directamente con el jefe de las Farc Carlos Antonio Lozada.

CISEN, the advanced course of the army staff college attended only by future generals and very select group of civilians (judges, business owners, industrialists and attorneys) was one of the targets of a woman who reported directly to FARC leader Carlos Antonio Lozada.

Today: Marilú “was not an isolated case.”

EL TIEMPO conoció cuatro casos similares al de Marilú Ramírez en los que mujeres llamativas, “melosas y dicharacheras” y con vestuario atrevido, llegaron a unidades militares, enviadas por las Farc.

EL TIEMPO has learned of four cases similar to that of Marilú in which attractive, “flirtatious and well-spoken” women, dressed provocatively, and sent by the FARC, got inside military units.

La propia inteligencia militar fue la que descubrió a las mujeres. Pese a esto, ninguna está judicializada porque lograron huir al sentirse descubiertas.

Military intelligence itself uncovered the women, but none are being tried because they all managed to escape when they perceived they had been discovered.


Product placement: Salvatore Mancuso and his Sony laptop of parapolitical doom. Just like in
007: Casino Royale (See my review, 007 카지노로얄).

Una de ellas, de alias ‘Sandra’, llegó, igual que Marilú, hasta una guarnición del Valle del Cauca, vendiendo afiliaciones para asistencia judicial a militares.

One of them, alias “Sandra,” like Marilú, penetrated a garrison in the Cauca Valley, selling legal assistance to soldiers.

El entonces comandante de la unidad la autorizó para trabajar en el batallón y cuando fue trasladado a Bogotá, él permitió su ingreso para que siguiera con su trabajo. Sin embargo, fue él mismo quién descubrió que era una integrante de las Farc.

The commander of the unit at the time authorized her to work at the battalion, and when it was transferred to Bogotá, he allowed her to come along and continue her work. However, it was he himself who discovered she was a FARC agent.

Otra mujer se hizo jefe de prensa de una unidad muy importante en Bogotá, pero también fue descubierta por el comandante de la brigada.

Another of the women became chief press officer at a very important military unit in Bogotá, but was also discovered by the brigade commander.

Una tercera se presentó ante la sede de una guarnición del Caquetá haciéndose amiga de un teniente, pero antes de que pudiera ser contratada fue descubierta y perseguida, pero logró huir.

A third presented herself at a garrison in Caquetá and made friends with a lieutenant, but before she could be hired, she was discovered and pursued, but managed to escape.

El otro caso se registró en la propia Escuela Militar, donde una supuesta periodista entró cuatro veces a los eventos a los que asistía prensa y en los que además estaban él presidente de la República y altos dignatarios. Al quinto ingreso fue descubierta. También huyó.

Another case was recorded at the national war college, where a supposed journalist was admitted on four occasions to events attended by the press, attended, what is more, by President Uribe and senior officials. On the fifth occasion she was discovered. She also fled.

AUC paramilitary leaders have also reportedly infilitrated military leadership circles under journalistic and academic cover, I recall reading:

They may have gotten the idea from “Jeff Gannon,” the blogger with the White House press credential. Remember him? “I am a victim of the politics of personal destruction,” he wrote afterwards.

Or did “Jeff Gannon” and his handlers get the idea from the FARC and the AUC?

No es un caso aislado

Not an isolated case

En el computador de Lozada se describe con detalle la estrategia que la guerrilla adoptó frente a una de las armas más efectivas usadas por los militares en los últimos años: acercarse a la población civil con campañas cívicas y de salud a través del denominado Departamento de Acción Integral, antes, Departamento 5.

On Lozada’s computer, the strategy adopted by the guerrilla is described, a strategy designed to confront one of the most effective weapons used by the military in recent years: Getting closer to the civilian population with civic and public health campaigns through the so-called Dept. of Integrated Action, previously known as Department 5.

“Hearts and minds.” You are seeing Rio and São Paulo trying similar strategies in the context of civilian policing, after huddling with Colombian colleagues. For example

The Brazil MINUSTAH touts a similar approach, but has been criticized for not getting very far beyond just pulling up in tanks and handing out goodies, like GIs handing out chocolate bars and nylons to cheering French civilians in bombed-out cities in old war movies.

Throwing the occasional party or football match.

Pure bread and circuses.

Rather than, say, building sanitation infrastucture, shoring up legal institutions, and keeping the National Police from running hog wild.

The Iraq reconstruction effort may well turn out to be one of history’s biggest boondoggles, but it really did at least seem that military commanders there took this task as seriously as they could under the circumstances. Build schools, prioritize protection of the marketplaces and the food supply, try to get the electricity running: You have seen the DoD video releases, right?

One problem being that Rumsfeld at some point decided that it would be unwise to send officers with good Arabic language skills to the zone, as I recall reading.

Traduttore traditore. The danger of “going native,” sympathy for the enemy, yada yada yada.

MINUSTAH staff told HRW last year they had about 5% of the French and Creole interpreters they needed to get the job done.

And I bet the Army Corps of Engineers could have got the eletricity going. But the neocon defense intellectuals — they read a lot of Ayn Rand — thought that would be too “statist.” So they outsourced to the private sector. With the results we are now seeing.

(And now Iraqis who collaborated as translators, who are marked for death, cannot get visas to emigrate to the United States. Holy mother of God.)

“El llamado Sistema de Acción Integral de los militares es un buen flanco para atacar, a través de las comunicaciones con periodistas, sicólogos y médicos en las campañas que llevan por pueblos”, se lee en uno de los archivos conocidos por EL TIEMPO.

“The so-called Integrated Action System of the armed forces is a good flank to attack along, through communication with journalists, psychologists and doctors in the campaigns they bring to the villages,” one of the files seen by EL TIEMPO read.

From what source?

The article advances the hypothesis in all these cases that counter-intelligence measures worked, with competent army officers detecting the infiltration.

But could not manage to actually arrest any of the foxy FARC Mata Haris.

This reads a bit like one of those stories in which a reporter does a solid for his buddy the major, deflecting some of the criticism. In return for a peek at “exclusive secret documents” whose source he does not reveal and whose provenenace he shows no signs of having independently verified.

En el documento, Lozada les dice a sus milicianos que “las operaciones sicológicas pueden ser un arma de doble filo para los militares” y les ordena “llegar a las oficinas de comunicaciones, entrenamientos de corresponsales militares, campañas cívico – militares, jornadas de integración y trabajo con oficiales de la reserva”.

In the document, Lozada tells his soldiers that “pyschological operations might turn out to be a double-edged sword for the military,” ordering them to “get to the communications offices, the training sessions for military correspondents, the military’s civic campaigns, its integration events and its work with reserve officials.”

Y remata asegurando que “ahí, en medio del reclutamiento de civiles para mostrar su mejor cara (de los militares), se puede dar el mejor campo de acción de penetración”.

He close saying that “There, in the midst of recruiting civilians to show their better side, might be the best opportunity for penetration.”

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