[News] The Charmed Life of a Mass Murderer

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Fri Jun 10 20:50:42 EDT 2005

CounterPunch - June 9, 2005

The Charmed Life of a Mass Murderer

Posada Carriles and Bush's Anti-Terror Hoax


President George W. Bush has emphasized that if one of the myriad of
U.S. police agencies even suspect someone of planning, abetting or
carrying out a terrorist act, he will, at a minimum, get tossed into a
dark hole. Indeed, Bush has thrown the Magna Carta into the garbage heap
when it comes to Muslims suspected of pernicious thoughts toward the
United States.

But if suspected terrorists turn their rage toward the detested Fidel
Castro, these rules don't apply.

Indeed, those who try to bomb Cuban targets, or those related to Cuba,
receive special treatment. This double-standard casts a shadow over the
president's commitment to fight terrorism.

For example, TV footage showed Homeland Security cops arresting Posada
in mid May. But the arresting officers didn't even handcuff the Western
Hemisphere's most notorious terrorist. (Remember how Bush's pal Ken
"Kenny Boy" Lay ­ ENRON's CEO ­ got handcuffed?) Justice Department
spokespeople said they plan to charge the foremost terrorist in the
western hemisphere with "illegal entry into the United States."

The FBI has reams of files on Posada, affectionately called "Bambi" by
his terrorist friends. Former FBI Special Agent Carter Cornick told New
York Times reporter Tim Weiner that Posada was "up to his eyeballs" in
the October 1976 destruction of a Cuban commercial airliner over
Barbados. All 73 passengers and crew members died. Recently published
FBI and CIA documents not only confirm Cornick's statement, but also
reveal that U.S. agencies had knowledge of the plot and did not inform
Cuban authorities or try to stop the bombing.

Posada denied involvement at the time, but police nabbed two of the
plotters who had disembarked in Barbados. They fingered Posada as the
man who hired them to place the bomb on the plane. His name became
ubiquitous in the files of agencies that monitored terrorists.
Nevertheless, several weeks after Posada announced his presence on U.S.
soil, Roger Noriega, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American
Affairs, still claimed he had no information that Posada had even
entered the country.

Posada himself promoted his high international profile. So that the
world knew of his exploits, he boasted to New York Times reporters Anne
Bardach and Larry Rohter in 1998 that he had organized a sabotage
campaign of Cuban tourist spots. In 1997, one of Posada's agents in Cuba
detonated a bomb at a Cuban hotel that killed an Italian tourist. Posada
replied that "it was a freak accident, but I sleep like a baby." A
hardened terrorist can't afford to be sentimental!

In 1999, Panamanian police discovered that the 71-year-old Posada,
between visits to his proctologist, conspired with three other
anti-Castro geezers to assassinate Cuba's leader in Panama. Castro was
to give a public speech there.

This quartet of seniors, Guillermo Novo, Pedro Remon, Gaspar Jimenez and
Posada, planned to blow up the platform from which Castro would speak.
After Panamanian police arrested them, they denied any involvement.
"What proof do they have?" sneered Posada et. al. ­ a mere set of their
fingerprints on the explosives found in their rented car.

This March, Posada entered the U.S. surreptitiously. He left Panama less
than a year after out-going Panamanian President Mireyea Moscoso
pardoned him and his accomplices.

Moscoso also apparently contravened Panamanian law by issuing the
pardons before the appeals process had ended. The Panamanian press mused
about the "coincidence" between the issuing of pardons and the
simultaneous $4 million deposited in her Swiss bank account.

After pardoning the geezers, Moscoso phoned U.S. Ambassador Simon Ferro,
saying she had complied with Washington's request to release the men.

On May 20, 2004, the four caught a waiting airplane that took them to
Honduras. There, Posada, the veritable padrino of Latin American
terrorism, disembarked while the other three continued to Miami so their
arrival could coincide with President Bush's campaign stop. They entered
the United States without problems, despite their terrorist rap sheets.

Did Homeland Security personnel read Bush's November 26, 2001
declaration? "If anybody harbors a terrorist, they're a terrorist." Did
Bush send a note to anti-terrorist agencies explaining that they should
make exceptions for "zealous patriots" who wanted to assassinate Castro
­ and anyone else who happened to be near him when the bomb went off?

Indeed, all four pardoned Castro-haters had for decades tried to
assassinate and commit sabotage against Cuban and other officials and
properties in New York, Mexico and the Caribbean.

A Washington D.C. jury had convicted Guillermo Novo first of conspiring
to assassinate former Chilean Chancellor Orlando Letelier. When an
appeals court reversed that conviction on procedural grounds, a second
jury in 1982 found Novo guilty of perjury for lying to a grand jury
about his knowledge of the assassination plot. In September 1976, five
Cubans working with Chilean secret police agents on orders from
Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet had car-bombed Letelier on Washington's
Embassy Row.

Ronni Moffitt, Letelier's young colleague at the Institute for Policy
Studies, also died in the bombing. The FBI also knew that Posada had
knowledge of the plot to kill Letelier.

Born Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles in Cienfuegos, Cuba in 1928,
this Cuban expatriate served on dictator Fulgencio Batista's repressive
forces until the January 1959 revolutionary takeover. Posada then swore

The CIA recruited him for its 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
But the Agency placed Posada in an anti-Castro version of the Waffen SS,
a squad that would "mop up" after the invaders had prevailed. Following
the April fiasco, the CIA sent Posada for "training" at Fort Benning,
Georgia, to learn about spying, using explosives and other lethal
devices. In 1971, working out of Venezuela, he partnered with Antonio
Veciana, founder of Alpha 66, another anti-Castro terrorist group, to
plan an elaborate plot to assassinate Castro.

In a 1996 interview, Veciana told me how he and Posada had recruited two
Venezuelan hit men, disguised them as a TV news crew and sent them to
Santiago, Chile, before Castro arrived on a visit. Meanwhile, the
assassins "blended in" with the press corps. CIA technicians had
outfitted their news camera with a gun. Fortunately for Fidel, the
assassins chickened out. Posada, enraged over such cowardice, recruited
other assassins to use the same lethal camera on Castro when he stopped
in Caracas for a press conference on his return to Cuba. Those whackers
also had second thoughts and the plot failed again.

Perhaps Posada's frustration over the failed 1971 hits abated after the
"success" of his 1976 Barbados air sabotage. After Venezuelan
authorities charged him with responsibility for the airline bombing,
they tossed him into prison while appeal after appeal took place ­ until
August 1985. Then, someone who knew and admired Posada ­ perhaps Jorge
Mas Canosa, leader of the Cuban American Nation Foundation in Miami, who
is listed with a $50 note next to his name in Lt. Col. Oliver North's
notebooks, published by the Iran-Contra Congressional subcommittees --­
bribed prison authorities to help Posada "escape."

Following his "escape," North then engaged this fugitive to re-supply
the CIA-backed Contras from El Salvador. When the United States stopped
funding the Contra War, with the 1990 electoral defeat of the Sandinista
government in Nicaragua, Posada returned to the bombing business. This
time, he selected bombing hotels in Cuba, a strategic target that would
impair Castro's foreign exchange source by making the island a dangerous
spot for European tourists. Posada told Times reporters Bardach and
Rohter that the money came from wealthy Cubans in Miami.

Given Posada's own boasting and from the available evidence in published
documents, the Justice Department had to either try him for terrorist
acts or deport him to Venezuela, which has requested his extradition. He
plotted the 1976 airliner bombing from Caracas and escaped from prison
there. He also apparently committed murder and torture there as well.
Despite this overwhelming documentation, however, the Justice Department
rejected Venezuela's May 2005 extradition request to try Posada for this
crime on the grounds that the request lacked sufficient detail.

One wonders: Did Posada announce his illegal presence in the United
States with the idea that U.S. government complicity in aiding and
abetting his past acts of terrorism would protect him? U.S. authorities
didn't inform Cuba or try to stop the 1976 air-bombing plot, and in
1971, as Veciana stated, the CIA made the gun that Posada's agents
placed inside the camera to assassinate Castro. And Ollie North has
knowledge of Posada's covert activities for U.S. intelligence as well.

Given Washington's decade long history of terrorism aimed at Cuba, Bush
might ask his staff to re-word the doctrinaire anti-terrorist statements
they write for his press conferences.

After the foul 9/11 deeds, a few wise counselors had recommended that
Bush leave the anti-terrorist campaign to police and judicial agencies.
But Bush insisted on war. By employing the military to this task and in
the process justifying the erosion of human rights as necessary to
fighting terrorism, the world has come to think of the U.S. government
as hypocritical ­ at best.

Posada, an old U.S. terrorist chicken, has come home to roost in Bush's
nest. He has also exposed Bush's anti-terrorist policies as a hoax.

[Saul Landau teaches at Cal Poly Pomona University and is a fellow of
the Institute for Policy Studies. He and co-author John Dinges wrote
"Assassination on Embassy Row," an account of the Letelier-Moffitt
murders. A version of this article appeared in Foreign Policy In Focus.]

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