21 January 2010

Haiti Earthquake - Chavez Conspiracy Theory? You decide.

According to Russia Today, quoting from Spanish newspaper ABC's article yesterday, "Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has once again accused the United States of playing God. But this time it’s Haiti’s disastrous earthquake that he thinks the U.S. was behind. Spanish newspaper ABC quotes Chavez as saying that the U.S. navy launched a weapon capable of inducing a powerful earthquake off the shore of Haiti. He adds that this time it was only a drill and the final target is … destroying and taking over Iran."

Seperately, over at Globalresearch.com, Michel Chossudovsky has an article "A Haiti Disaster Relief Scenario Was Envisaged by the US Military One Day Before the Earthquake":

"A Haiti disaster relief scenario had been envisaged at the headquarters of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami one day prior to the earthquake.
The holding of pre-disaster simulations pertained to the impacts of a hurricane in Haiti. They were held on January 11. (Bob Brewin,  Defense launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts (1/15/10) -- GovExec.com, complete text of article is contained in Annex)
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense (DoD), was involved in organizing these scenarios on behalf of US Southern Command.(SOUTHCOM).
Defined as a "Combat Support Agency", DISA has a mandate to provide IT and telecommunications, systems, logistics services in support of the US military. (See DISA website: Defense Information Systems Agency).
On the day prior to the earthquake, "on Monday [January 11, 2010], Jean Demay, DISA's technical manager for the agency's Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project, happened to be at the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami preparing for a test of the system in a scenario that involved providing relief to Haiti in the wake of a hurricane." (Bob Brewin, op cit, emphasis added) 
The Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project (TISC) is a communications-information tool which  "links non-government organizations with the United States [government and military] and other nations for tracking, coordinating and organizing relief efforts".(Government IT Scrambles To Help Haiti, TECHWEB January 15, 2010).
The TISC is an essential component of the militarization of emergency relief. The US military through DISA oversees the information - communications system used by participating aid agencies. Essentially, it is a communications sharing system controlled by the US military, which is made available to approved non-governmental partner organizations. The Defense Information Systems Agency also "provides bandwidth to aid organizations involved in Haiti relief efforts."
There are no details on the nature of the tests conducted on January 11 at SOUTHCOM headquarters. 
DISA's Jean Demay was in charge of coordinating the tests. There are no reports on the participants involved in the disaster relief scenarios.
One would expect, given DISA's mandate, that the tests pertained to simulating communications. logistics and information systems in the case of a major emergency relief program in Haiti.
The fundamental concept underlying DISA's Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project (TISC) is  to "Achieve Interoperability With Warfighters, Coalition Partners And NGOs" (Defense Daily, December 19, 2008)
Upon completing the tests and disaster scenarios on January 11, TISC was considered to be, in relation to Haiti, in "an advanced stage of readiness". On January 13, the day following the earthquake, SOUTHCOM took the decision to implement the TISC system, which had been rehearsed in Miami two days earlier: 
"After the earthquake hit on Tuesday [January 12, 2010], Demay said SOUTHCOM decided to go live with the system. On [the following day] Wednesday [January 13, 2010], DISA opened up its All Partners Access Network, supported by the Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project, to any organization supporting Haiti relief efforts.
The information sharing project, developed with backing from both SOUTHCOM and the Defense Department's European Command, has been in development for three years. It is designed to facilitate multilateral collaboration between federal and nongovernmental agencies.
Demay said that since DISA set up a Haiti Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Community of Interest on APAN on Wednesday [the day following the earthquake], almost 500 organizations and individuals have joined, including a range of Defense units and various nongovernmental organizations and relief groups. (Bob Brewin, Defense launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts (1/15/10) -- GovExec.com emphasis added)
DISA has a Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Field Office in Miami. Under the Haiti Disaster Emergency Program initiated on January 12, DISA's mandate is described as part of a carefully planned military operation: 
"DISA is providing US Southern Command with information capabilities which will support our nation in quickly responding to the critical situation in Haiti," said Larry K. Huffman, DISA's Principal Director of Global Information Grid Operations. "Our experience in providing support to contingency operations around the world postures us to be responsive in meeting USSOUTHCOM's requirements."

DISA, a Combat Support Agency, engineers and [sic] provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations. As DoD's satellite communications leader, DISA is using the Defense Satellite Communications System to provide frequency and bandwidth support to all organizations in the Haitian relief effort. This includes Super High Frequency missions that are providing bandwidth for US Navy ships and one Marine Expeditionary Unit that will arrive shortly on station to provide medical help, security, and helicopters among other support. This also includes all satellite communications for the US Air Force handling round-the-clock air traffic control and air freight operations at the extremely busy Port-Au-Prince Airport. DISA is also providing military Ultra High Frequency channels and contracting for additional commercial SATCOM missions that greatly increase this capability for relief efforts. (DISA -Press Release, January 2010, undated, emphasis added)

In the immediate wake of the earthquake, DISA played a key supportive role to SOUTHCOM, which was designated by the Obama administration as the de facto "lead agency" in the US Haitian relief program. The underlying system consists in integrating civilian aid agencies into the orbit of an advanced communications information system controlled by the US military.
"DISA is also leveraging a new technology in Haiti that is already linking NGOs, other nations and US forces together to track, coordinate and better organize relief efforts" (Ibid)"

 UPDATE 22 Jan 2010:

Thanks to Joe Emersberger over at the Media Lens Message Board for pointing out::

"The spanish newspaper artcile that supposedly quoted Chavez (but doesn't) is here


The article begins by saying that the "anti-American government of Venaulea has displayed its habitual paranoia" by accusing the US of causing Haiti's earthquake.

ABC articie then quotes an article which was published of the website of a Venezuelan state television Channel


To state the obvious, quotung a BBC article is not the same as quoting Gordon Brown or even stating the general views of his goverment.

The VUVE article is shoddy journalism becasue it only cites sources that appear to justify its sensational headline and does not explore opposing view - the mirror image of journalism one finds in the international press about Venezuela - as this episode demonstrates.

In fact, the link in the ABC article to the VIVE website takes one to a VIVA page with nothing but headlines.

The actual VIVE report is here, but makes no mention at all of Chavez or any member of the Venezuelan government having said anything at all about this, it doesn't mention how it came to read the report at all, and as Joe correctly points out, quoting a report on the BBC or Spanish state owned broadcaster TVE isn't the same as quoting the British or Spanish governments or their respective Heads of Government.

N.B. Interestingly, since posting this article, this website has been visited by the "Naval Ocean Systems Center,  Washington, District Of Columbia, United States".

Their mission statement reads:

"1. Mission. The mission of the Naval Ocean Systems Center is to be the principal Navy RDT&E Center for command control, communications, ocean surveillance, surface- and air-launched undersea weapons systems, and submarine arctic warfare.
2. Functions. As a major Navy R&D Center, NOSC is primarily oriented toward research, development, and product improvement but may perform functions across the complete life cycle of a particular program or system. Major functional capabilities include: a. Basic research. b. Exploratory development. c. Advanced development. d. Assessment of science and technology base. e. Mission analysis. f. Concept exploration and system demonstration/validation. g. Full-scale engineering development. h. Engineering in support of production. i. Test and evaluation. j. Major RDT&E facility management. k. User services and support to operating forces including product improvement."

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