Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

FARC's Pratfall

It is another slow Friday news day. Aside from the election, no news is out there in the ethersphere. There is this story, however, on how we and the Colombian government took down key FARC leaders and coordinated the daring July 2 rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and fifteen other hostages:

The stunning rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors owed its success not just to artful deception, but also to a five-year U.S.-Colombian operation that choked their captors' ability to communicate.

Known as "Alliance," it began with a satellite phone call in 2003, just weeks after the Americans' surveillance plane crashed in the southern Colombian jungle, according to U.S. and Colombian investigators and court documents.

The call came from Nancy Conde, the regional finance and supply chief for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, whose boyfriend would become the American hostages' jailer. She was calling confederates in Miami to see if they could supply the rebels with some
satellite phones.

What Conde didn't know was that state security agents were listening.

U.S. law officers arrested the Miami contacts, who in exchange for promises of reduced sentences put Conde in touch with an FBI front company, according to a U.S. law enforcement official involved in the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Over more than four years, that company provided wiretapped satphones and other compromised telecommunications equipment that threw the rebels off balance and eventually helped authorities strangle their supply lines. ...

In all, U.S. and Colombian agents intercepted more than 5,000 rebel phone conversations, investigators told The Associated Press.

They allegedly heard Conde and her coconspirators negotiate shipments of everything from
assault rifles to condoms for distribution to about a third of the FARC's estimated 9,000 fighters, including the 1st Front that held the hostages.

"We're not talking just about finances, communications equipment, food and weapons—but also medical supplies, medicines and people who cared directly for the wounded," said Luis Ernesto Tamayo, the security official who ran the Colombian side of the operation. He wouldn't say whether hostages were discussed in any of the intercepted conversations. ...

"With this operation we neutralized a great deal of the (rebels') logistical and financial support," Tamayo said.

So much were rebel supply lines squeezed that Betancourt could notice it in captivity.

She said upon being rescued that over the past year, "we've eaten very little, with very little variation in the food," adding that there was trouble getting boots and underwear. "Logistics could be in trouble," she said.

And Democrats fretted over the FISA reforms claiming that they would be used improperly. It seems that the ability to intercept communications from our enemies, or on behalf of our allies, had a great deal of merit. Because of our ability to listen in on the bad guys, sixteen people are now back where they belong.

Yes, I understand the fact that the phones were already tapped, and that FISA does not really have any merit here, but it does go to show what we can accomplish if we have the FISA reforms in place to track those that wish to do us harm, or to do harm to an ally. The sheer genius of this operation shows that we were not going to sit idly by and let FARC continue its terrorist ways unchallenged. This is a great follow-up to the actual raid, which had many FARC leaders and commanders scratching their heads as to how it was pulled off.



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