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Hugo Chavez most probably didn't say that..

by talos Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:27:32 PM EST

A case study in spreading a false rumor I think is developing right now over the internets and the tweeters... The story goes like this: Chavez claims that the US used tectonic weapons technology or whatever it's supposed to be called, to cause the earthquake in Haiti, as a test for the real target which is Iran!
There is even a video from Russian TV titled "Chavez: US weapon test caused Haiti earthquake", a report that shows a (stock?) video of Chavez speaking without being heard and which basically claims that Chavez told the Spanish daily ABC, about the U.S. Navy using a weapon that induced earthquakes on Haiti, as preparation for a "tectonic" attack on Iran. This is quoted approvingly and sarcastically literally all over the www.

The problem is that it doesn't seem likely that Chavez ever claimed such a thing. ABC, which certainly doesn't read like the type of newspaper Chavez would be giving exclusive and incredible interviews to, isn't clear on that at all, although admittedly it goes out of its way to spin it otherwise:

"El antiamericano Gobierno de Venezuela, en su habitual paranoia contra el imperio yanqui, asegura que el seísmo de Haití «es resultado de una prueba de la Marina estadounidense», y denuncia que lo que devastó el país caribeño fue «un terremoto experimental de EE.UU.»."

Notice that it's the "Venezuelan government", not Chavez making the claim...

ABC then supposedly quotes Chavez (?) but it's not at all clear from where:

Si hace diez días Hugo Chávez sacó de internet la foto de un avión de guerra y acusó a Washington de violar el espacio aéreo venezolano, ahora culpa directamente al tío Sam de arrasar Haití «con estas pruebas en cuyo objetivo final está el plan de destruir Irán con una serie de terremotos diseñados para derrocar a su régimen islámico».

The quote isn't sourced, and I have the feeling that it is might be related to a news story on Vive, a Venezuelan State TV station, mentioned in the last part of the article and here in an earlier version of what is possibly the same story, where a link is provided.
Actually this last part is true. I mean even FOX news says so, and this time it's right! It's supposedly based on a report of the Russian fleet, and it attributes all the speculation to them. It no longer exists at its original location provided by ABC, because it was taken down - surely not a sign of government approval, one would think. This is the cached page.

So basically this whole "Chavez is a conspiracy theorist" meme is spreading based on a news story that Vive published on its website but didn't directly endorse, and which was taken down pretty fast (notice the brief time lag between the first ABC story and the second that does not include the link to the site - something like 3 1/2 hours).

I note that Venezuelean government sites are issuing reassuring notices to the public that the Haiti quake will not "spread" to Venezuela, hardly the sort of stuff they'd be publishing if Chavez was serious about a "tectonic weapon threat" eh? And nothing is mentioned about this whole conspiracy on the Venezuelan government site yet.

So I'm fairly confident that ABC does not have a direct quote form Chavez on this, but I'm really impressed by the speed that such memes travel around the web, with hardly any scepticism offered. The question is: will the "major" media fall for this? Or, alternatively, has Hugo gone loco on us? ABC insists that:

A través de una nota emitida por su Gobierno, Chávez acusa a la Marina de Estados Unidos de provocar el devastador terremoto que la pasada semana asoló Puerto Príncipe

But then it's a bulletin issued by the government (?) it seems, not Chavez's statement... or does ABC simply consider everything published even temporarily on the state TV website, Chavez's words? Let's wait and see if there is anything of substance in this...

Thanks for legging this one out.  This is a common tactic used against leaders the US does not approve of.  Ahmadenijad, for all his idiotic quotes, didn't say half the stuff people think he did in the US. People widely belive anything via association if it is repeated often enough. Occasionally this works in our favor, such as the "I can see Russia from my house" quote that was a satire by Tina Fey yet is largely associated with Sarah Palin.  
by paving on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 02:17:52 AM EST
This is a common tactic used against leaders the US does not approve of.

So, what are you saying, Chavez wouldn't, but "the US" does?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 11:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That the Bush government planted stories is probably nothing I need to find sources for. That the Obama government does is probably no shock either.

Recently read a good piece.

Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs."  In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government.  This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.  The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here

Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

Consider the recent revelation that the Obama administration has been making very large, undisclosed payments to MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber to provide consultation on the President's health care plan.  With this lucrative arrangement in place, Gruber spent the entire year offering public justifications for Obama's health care plan, typically without disclosing these payments, and far worse, was repeatedly held out by the White House -- falsely -- as an "independent" or "objective" authority.  Obama allies in the media constantly cited Gruber's analysis to support their defenses of the President's plan, and the White House, in turn, then cited those media reports as proof that their plan would succeed.

To prove that the US government is behind stories about unfriendly leaders is hard, but means, motive, opportunity and a pattern of behavior is there.

I am not sure what you meant by "Chavez wouldn't". I bet he would love to plant stories about US leaders but I doubt he has the means.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 07:35:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringos answer got hidden because of a spam rated comment in between.


The fact that most governments engage in disinformation operations is nothing new. A spirited defense of the honorable Hugo Chavez against malicious or even erroneous reporting is nothing to complain about. However, to question a leap from one thing to another that provides not a shred of evidence, as in the comment to which I replied, is at least understandable. It makes me think someone is more interested in supporting a particular position/person than the facts.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 11:52:41 PM CET
[ Parent | Reply to This | ]

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 24th, 2010 at 06:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. is creating new integral geophysical weapons

HAARP's Critics

The cost of building HAARP has exceeded the dollar-adjusted cost of similar facilities around the world. HAARP was constructed at the site of an obsoleted over-the-horizon radar facility for political reasons, but its location was less than ideal from a scientific perspective. Some believe that it was constructed as a pork barrel project for Alaska by Senator Ted Stevens.

The objectives of the HAARP project became the subject of controversy in the mid-1990s, following claims that the antennas could be used as a weapon. A small group of American physicists aired complaints in scientific journals such as Physics and Society, charging that HAARP could be seeking ways to blow other countries' spacecraft out of the sky or disrupt communications over large portions of the planet. The physicist critics of HAARP have had little complaint about the project's current stage, but have expressed fears that it could in future be expanded into an experimental weapon.  

Lots of speculation on Russia and Tectonic Arms, Hermes III program and MHD Induced Seismicity. However, the combination of HAARP tests as a tectonic weapon is pure nonsense IMO and too much Hollywood fiction and fantasy.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 08:00:08 AM EST
argues against your position.  

While not a proof of concept, it is indeed a proof of possibility:  Electromagnetic radiation does indeed affect rock faults.  Whether this effect can be made significant remains a question.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 02:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has this been reproduced?

While I can think of some not-entirely-science-fiction mechanisms, it seems rather far-fetched.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 08:21:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rebelion, noted the same things more or less. As the story continues to recycle the same discredited sources, three things seem to be safe to assume: 1. Chavez has never made any mention of "tectonic weapons" or indeed any other Sci-Fi devices. 2. ABC has a lot to answer regarding inventing quotes and misleading its readers. 3. The conspiracy theorists  will be running this story and its "suppression" by the media as "evidence" for at least a decade.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 06:25:02 PM EST
Mentioned and debunked over at the Anti Press, aw well.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Jan 24th, 2010 at 06:13:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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