Etyen Mahçupyan’s pathetic piece on Dani

Etyen Mahçupyan’s piece directed at Dani makes rather sad reading. Mahçupyan gets his facts about the Sledgehammer case wrong (as he has repeatedly done since the coup documents first came to light – see here, here, here, and here). So he reaches conclusions that are simply flat-out erroneous.

Mahçupyan begins his article with a string of half-truths and misstatements:

“The height of boldness was on display when the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan was discussed. The content of a military seminar were modified and Doğan lied to his military superiors about what actually occurred. … In a seminar document, the plotters also identified who would come to power after the coup.”

Mahçupyan is off to the races here. First, neither the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) plan, nor any of its side plans were discussed in the seminar. The prosecution’s claim is that Balyoz was given a “secret” dress rehearsal in the seminar, but the only evidence for this the similarity between some of the discussions in the seminar and the phrases used in the coup documents – similarities that could have been easily introduced by those who fabricated the documents.

Second, Doğan did not lie to his military superiors. It is true that he ended up going with a version of the seminar scenario that differed from the version his superiors had asked for. But the version used in the seminar was distributed to his superiors beforehand (who could have objected if they wanted). And the seminar had 15 observers from the high command in Ankara who could have reported violations if any had occurred (they didn’t).

Third, there was no “seminar document” in which “the plotters also identified who would come to power after the coup.” This is a flat-out lie. The document in question is one of the Balyoz documents on the disputed CD, which lists specific names to be appointed. There was a single reference in the seminar to a “government of national unity,” but no discussion of a coup, let alone who would come to power following it.

Let’s now scrutinize the details of Mahçupyan’s argument step by step:

“First, we now know that the information on these three CDs is also included on the other CDs without any changes or modifications.”

Mahçupyan is not very clear here, but we think what he means is that some of the files in the disputed CDs also exist in the authentic CDs, the veracity of which has not been challenged by the defendants. They do indeed, but this proves nothing at all. The incriminating coup files are only in the disputed CDs, while the common files pertain to the regular operations of the 1st Army and contain no incriminating material. The fraudsters have apparently bundled authentic documents with fabricated ones to lend credence to the CDs, an argument that we have made all along.

“Second, the copies of the modified CDs were also found in the search carried out in the “cosmic room” of the military compound in Gölcük; it was unrealistic to think that these CDs were planted there by conspirers.”

Mahçupyan is simply wrong on the facts here. Digital copies of the incriminating CDs were found not in the “cosmic room,” as Mahçupyan claims, but in a storage area in the counter-intelligence section of the naval base (under removable floorboards, along with much other unrelated material). We know from the court testimony that this area was being used to store excess material, that security was not very tight, and a variety of people had had access to it, including mechanics who had recently taken the boards out to “repair cables.”

The claim that the forged evidence could not have been planted there by others doesn’t stand logical scrutiny. The Turkish military has turned into a sieve as regards access and security in recent years. We have seen a veritable flood of leaked documents – some classified highly secret –and many instances of eavesdropping on conversations at the highest level of the military command. Unknown operatives have had access to even Prime Minister Erdoğan’s residence, where bugs have been found. Compared to some of these feats, retrieving and manipulating a detached hard drive from a storage area in a naval base would have been child’s play.

Moreover, we know that most of the initial CDs delivered anonymously to Baransu are authentic –the three fake CDs containing the coup documents are the exception — and were stolen from the 1st Army headquarters. If such material can be secreted out of military headquarters, it is not at all surprising that fabricated material can be brought into a naval base.

“And then the final, fatal discovery was made: The personal password of Capt. Yakar was the same as the password of hard drive no. 5.”

Mahçupyan’s claim is that hard drive no. 5 from Gölcük, which contains coup plans (bundled, again, with authentic but non-incriminating files), was password-protected. He further claims that this password is the same as the password of one of the defendants. Ergo, the manipulation on the digital evidence (i.e., the backdating) must have been carried out by the defendants.

Mahçupyan again gets his facts wrong. The truth is that the hard drive is not password protected. No passwords are required to manipulate and add data to the hard drive in question, which is a detached drive that had not been in (legitimate) use since July 2009. While specific files may have been password-protected, the coup documents themselves do not carry passwords. Anyone who had physical access to the hard drive could have written to it without special software or knowledge. In other words, anyone could have added the incriminating files to the hard drive in a separate directory without needing a password.

We know this and can assert it unequivocally because we have the court-provided forensic image of hard drive no. 5 (an exact replica of the drive). We have tested the operation and verified that it is indeed possible to add as many files and directories to the drive as needed without password. That is evidently what the fraudsters did.

Note that we had already made this point earlier, in response to a similar argument made by Emre Uslu. Mahçupyan simply repeats Uslu’s argument about the password even though we had corrected it.

“There was only one possible explanation for the deliberate modifications that caused contradictions in the documents: The coup plotters were constantly updating their plans and in turn making changes to their documents, while waiting for an opportunity to stage a coup; additionally they also purposefully created some minor contradictions in the documents to protect themselves from prosecution.”

As we have made clear above, Mahçupyan’s conclusion is wrong because his facts are wrong. Security leaks have been rampant within the military; it wasn’t that hard to access the storage area where the Gölcük evidence was found; and no passwords or other special knowledge were needed to load incriminating documents on the hard drive.

The argument that the coup plans were being “constantly updated” is nothing short of bizarre. The anachronisms that we and others have identified do not point to systematic updating of any kind, as they are isolated instances that obviously crept in as a result of human error. Except for these occasional anachronisms, all the information in the documents pertain to 2003. All the officers whose names appear in the documents appear with the rank and position they occupied back then (again, with just a few errors).

The idea that the coup plotters were updating the documents so they would be ready to launch a coup, say, in 2009 is simply preposterous to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with these documents. Anyone trying to put these supposedly “updated” plans into action in later years would have given up before long!

“The documents seized in Gölcük, the modifications made by people who were responsible for the protection of these documents and the fact that the General Staff indicated they had some of those documents, which were supposed to have been under protection, ended the era of dreaming.”

In this summing up, Mahçupyan reiterates two of the points we responded to above, but then sneaks in a third claim that is again false (or at least misleading as used here). It is true that the General Staff has indicated they had the originals of some of the documents found in Gölcük. But remember that in all these “finds” authentic documents were bundled with fabricated ones. The authenticated documents are not related to coup plans. This was explicitly stated by the General Staff after stories appeared in the media stating that the originals of the Sledgehammer documents had been found in the General Staff. The General Staff said those stories were wrong and that they couldn’t find any of the “originals” of the coup plans. More to the point, even the presiding judge clarified in an interview with a newspaper that the documents authenticated by the General Staff were not incriminating.

These repeated errors of fact, along with the erroneous conclusions built on them, make it very difficult for us to believe that Mahçupyan is approaching this case in good faith.

Last year Mahçupyan compared Western journalists who had expressed skepticism about the authenticity of the Sledgehammer evidence to Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer. Now he claims that Dani was set up by his father-in-law to lend scientific and international credence to the “coup plotters.”

Mahçupyan’s charge this time around is as pathetic as the previous one, and we shall not dignify it with a response.

Abone Ol

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2 Yorum “Etyen Mahçupyan’s pathetic piece on Dani”

  1. Bahattin Cal Says:

    I believe that Mahcupyan wrote his comment in Turkish, not likely to have reached the international public opinion, nor are those outside Turkey likely to be interested in, or indeed to understand, the intricacies on which the exchange is premised, so why is this response in English?

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