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January 09, 2013, Wednesday

Sledgehammer verdicts: Professor Rodrik ’deserves’ Nobel Prize

Imagine you are a military officer with an old computer. For some reason you stopped using it. But you took out the hard drive -- perhaps because you had saved some very sensitive information on it. Imagine you have hidden that hard drive in a special hiding place on your property. 

One morning at five a prosecutor accompanied by the police knocked on your door, showed their search warrant and searched your house. They found the hard drive you had hidden and seized it. When the police opened the hard drive they found some information that could prove you had joined a clandestine junta organization and attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government. 

But in court you claimed that the hard drive that the police found at your house was an old hard drive and you hadn't used for a long time after you had changed your computer. You don't know who put that hard drive in the special hiding place. Perhaps some groups are plotting a conspiracy against you and they are the ones who put your old hard drive in your home's special hiding place.

Now stop reading this scenario and put yourself into the judge's shoes and listen to yourself. Would any reasonable judge believe what a special hiding place in your home is and that you claim that the hard disc belongs to you but you don't know who put it in your most secret place in your home and you are not aware of the information on that hard drive?

Of course, any reasonable person would say, no, I don't believe what you are saying. Since this hard drive was found in your most secret place in your home and it belongs to you, it must be you who hid this hard drive in that special place.

Let's make this scenario harder and more legalistic. Imagine the hard drive was found in a hiding place at the Turkish military's most protected place, at the Military Intelligence Office's hiding place. Imagine the hard drive belongs to the military and only two officers, a colonel and his aide, a noncommissioned officer, are able to access the hard drive because only they know the password for that hard drive.

After the prosecutor found the hard drive in a hiding place and used it as evidence against a military junta network, the Sledgehammer junta network, would you believe the following defense? “The hard drive belongs to the military, but we don't know who put that hard drive in the specially designed hiding place, and although the passwords that give access to the hard disc belong to us we are not aware of who put the information in the hard drive.”

This is the argument the Sledgehammer defendants want us to believe. The argument the defendants came up with is the following: The information in the hard drive has some contradictions. Some of the files in the hard drive appear to be last saved back in 2004, but the content of the files proves that could not be true because some of the information is new. For instance, there is the name of a shop, which did not exist back in 2004, but in the files it exists.

Therefore, there must be a criminal group who had stolen the hard disc from the Military Intelligence Office and put some information in the hard disc and saved it as if it was saved back in 2004 and brought it back to the intelligence office and hidden it in a secret hiding place at the intelligence office.

Pro-military Turkish media for a long time propagated this nonsensical argument and want us to believe it.

Against this argument we have argued that indeed it is true that the lists do indeed belong to the military. The defendants do not reject this argument, either, but the military constantly updates these lists to prepare itself for possible crisis scenarios. The Sledgehammer junta uses these updated lists and for security reasons they change the computer time to an older time so that they can deny the authenticity of the files if the lists are confiscated by the prosecutors. Which has happened.

In fact, the forensic reports that the defendants provided to the public openly state that 120 files in the hard drive must have been saved in 2009, but the last saving date appears to be in 2004.

In the court verdict we found out that the hard drive, which was confiscated by the prosecutor, was a password-protected hard drive and only two people knew the password.

Now if the hard drive is a password-protected hard drive and only two people knew the password, and if the files in the hard drive were saved as if they were saved back in 2004, who would have done it? The two officers who knew the password and who work at the intelligence office where the hard drive was found and who knew the hiding place in the intelligence unit? Or a group of criminals from outside the military unit who had stolen the hard drive, deciphered the password, inserted some information in the hard drive, and brought it back to the military and hidden it in the most secret place at the military intelligence unit?

Against this “explanation” I think you don't need to be a Harvard professor to say, come on, give me a break! Harvard Professor Dani Rodrik circulated this inconceivable scenario, and, to be honest, he was so successful at convincing many from Turkey and in the international arena. I think Professor Rodrik deserves a Nobel Prize for achieving the impossible goal: convincing many smart people with the most stupid argument.