[News] Terrorists in Miami, Oh My!

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 26 08:50:40 EDT 2006

From: tburghardt at igc.org


By Robert Parry

The Bush administration finally took action against alleged 
terrorists living in plain sight in Miami, but they weren't the 
right-wing Cuban terrorists implicated in actual acts of terror, such 
as blowing a civilian Cuban airliner out of the sky. They were seven 
young black men whose crime was more "aspirational than operational," 
the FBI said.

As media fanfare over the arrests made the seven young men, many 
sporting dreadlocks, the new face of the terrorist enemy in America, 
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales conceded that the men had no 
weapons or explosives and represented "no immediate threat."

But Gonzales warned that these kinds of homegrown terrorists "may 
prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaeda." [NYT, June 24, 2006]

For longtime observers of political terrorism in South Florida, the 
aggressive reaction to what may have been the Miami group's loose 
talk about violence, possibly spurred by an FBI informant posing as 
an al-Qaeda operative, stands in marked contrast to the U.S. 
government's see-no-evil approach to notorious Cuban terrorists who 
have lived openly in Miami for decades.

For instance, the Bush administration took no action in early April 
2006, when a Spanish-language Miami television station interviewed 
Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who offered a detailed justification 
for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 
73 people, including the young members of the Cuban national fencing team.

Bosch refused to admit guilt, but his chilling defense of the bombing 
-- and the strong evidence that has swirled around his role -- left 
little doubt of his complicity, even as he lives in Miami as a free 
man, protected both in the past and present by the Bush family.

The Bush administration also has acted at a glacial pace in dealing 
with another Cuban exile implicated in the bombing, Luis Posada 
Carriles, whose illegal presence in Miami was an open secret for 
weeks in early 2005 before U.S. authorities took him into custody, 
only after he had held a press conference.

But even then, the administration has balked at sending Posada back 
to Venezuela where the government of Hugo Chavez -- unlike some of 
its predecessors -- was eager to prosecute Posada for the Cubana 
Airlines murders.

Summing up George W. Bush's dilemma in 2005, the New York Times 
wrote, "A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush 
administration is compromising its principle that no nation should 
harbor suspected terrorists. But to turn Mr. Posada away could 
provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American 
communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign 
money for President Bush and his brother, Jeb." [NYT, May 9, 2005]

Bush Family Ties

But there's really nothing new about these two terrorists -- and 
other violent right-wing extremists -- getting protection from the Bush family.

For three decades, both Bosch and Posada have been under the Bush 
family's protective wing, starting with former President George H.W. 
Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) 
and extending to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush.

The evidence points to one obvious conclusion: the Bushes regard 
terrorism -- defined as killing civilians to make a political point 
-- as justified in cases when their interests match those of the 
terrorists. In other words, their moral outrage is selective, 
depending on the identity of the victims.

That hypocrisy was dramatized by the TV interview with Bosch on 
Miami's Channel 41, which was cited in articles on the Internet by 
Venezuela's lawyer Jose Pertierra, but was otherwise widely ignored 
by the U.S. news media. [For Pertierra's story, see Counterpunch, 
April 11, 2006]

"Did you down that plane in 1976?" asked reporter Juan Manuel Cao.

"If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself," 
Bosch answered, "and if I tell you that I did not participate in that 
action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to 
answer one thing or the other."

But when Cao asked Bosch to comment on the civilians who died when 
the plane crashed off the coast of Barbados in 1976, Bosch responded, 
"In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant 
[Fidel Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you 
have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach."

"But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for 
their families?" Cao asked.

"Who was on board that plane?" Bosch responded. "Four members of the 
Communist Party, five North Koreans, five Guyanese." [Officials 
tallies actually put the Guyanese dead at 11.]

Bosch added, "Four members of the Communist Party, chico! Who was 
there? Our enemies..."

"And the fencers?" Cao asked about Cuba's amateur fencing team that 
had just won gold, silver and bronze medals at a youth fencing 
competition in Caracas. "The young people on board?"

Bosch replied, "I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on 
television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, 
the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant. ... She 
gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant.

"We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that everyone who comes from 
Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and 
women that fight alongside the tyranny." [The comment about Santo 
Domingo was an apparent reference to a strategy meeting by a 
right-wing terrorist organization, CORU, which took place in the 
Dominican Republic in 1976.]

"If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, 
wouldn't you think it difficult?" Cao asked.

"No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they 
were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba," Bosch answered.

In an article about Bosch's remarks, lawyer Pertierra said the 
answers "give us a glimpse into the mind of the kind of terrorist 
that the United States government harbors and protects in Miami."

The Posada Case

Bosch was arrested for illegally entering the United States during 
the first Bush administration, but he was paroled in 1990 by 
President George H.W. Bush at the behest of the President's eldest 
son Jeb, then an aspiring Florida politician.

Not only did the first Bush administration free Bosch from jail a 
decade and a half ago, the second Bush administration has now pushed 
Venezuela's extradition request for his alleged co-conspirator, 
Posada, onto the back burner.

The downed Cubana Airlines flight originated in Caracas where 
Venezuelan authorities allege the terrorist plot was hatched. 
However, U.S. officials have resisted returning Posada to Venezuela 
because Hugo Chavez is seen as friendly to Castro's communist 
government in Cuba.

At a U.S. immigration hearing in 2005, Posada's defense attorney put 
on a Posada friend as a witness who alleged that Venezuela's 
government practices torture. Bush administration lawyers didn't 
challenge the claim, leading the immigration judge to bar Posada's 
deportation to Venezuela.

In September 2005, Venezuela's Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez called the 
77-year-old Posada "the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America" and accused 
the Bush administration of applying "a cynical double standard" in 
its War on Terror.

Alvarez also denied that Venezuela practices torture. "There isn't a 
shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela," 
Alvarez said, adding that the claim is particularly ironic given 
widespread press accounts that the Bush administration has abused 
prisoners at the U.S. military base in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

Theoretically, the Bush administration could still extradite Posada 
to Venezuela to face the 73 murder counts, but it is essentially 
ignoring Venezuela's extradition request while holding Posada on 
minor immigration charges of entering the United States illegally.

Meanwhile, Posada has begun maneuvering to gain his freedom. Citing 
his service in the U.S. military from 1963-65 in Vietnam, Posada has 
applied for U.S. citizenship, and his lawyer Eduardo Soto has 
threatened to call U.S. government witnesses, including former White 
House aide Oliver North, to vouch for Posada's past service to Washington.

Posada became a figure in the Iran-Contra scandal because of his work 
on a clandestine program to aid Nicaraguan contra rebels fighting 
Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. The operation was run 
secretly out of the White House by North with the help of the office 
of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Posada reached Central America in 1985 after escaping from a 
Venezuelan prison where he had been facing charges from the 1976 
Cubana Airlines bombing. Posada, using the name Ramon Medina, teamed 
up with another Cuban exile, former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, who 
reported regularly to Bush's office.

Posada oversaw logistics and served as paymaster for pilots in the 
contra-supply operation. When one of the contra-supply planes was 
shot down inside Nicaragua in October 1986, Posada was responsible 
for alerting U.S. officials to the crisis and then shutting down the 
operation's safe houses in El Salvador.

Even after the exposure of Posada's role in the contra-supply 
operation, the U.S. government made no effort to bring the accused 
terrorist to justice.

Secret History

As for the Cubana Airlines bombing, declassified U.S. documents show 
that after the plane was blown out of the sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the 
CIA, then under the direction of George H.W. Bush, quickly identified 
Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the Cubana Airlines bombing.

But in fall 1976, Bush's boss, President Gerald Ford, was in a tight 
election battle with Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Ford 
administration wanted to keep intelligence scandals out of the 
newspapers. So Bush and other officials kept the lid on the 
investigations. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Still, inside the U.S. government, the facts were known. According to 
a secret CIA cable dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in 
Venezuela relayed information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that 
tied in anti-communist Cuban extremists Bosch, who had been visiting 
Venezuela, and Posada, who then served as a senior officer in 
Venezuela's intelligence agency, DISIP.

The Oct. 14 cable said Bosch arrived in Venezuela in late September 
1976 under the protection of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres 
Perez, a close Washington ally who assigned his intelligence adviser 
Orlando Garcia "to protect and assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela."

On his arrival, Bosch was met by Garcia and Posada, according to the 
report. Later, a fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor during 
which Bosch requested cash from the Venezuelan government in exchange 
for assurances that Cuban exiles wouldn't demonstrate during Andres 
Perez's planned trip to the United Nations.

"A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard 
to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 
'Orlando has the details,'" the CIA report said.

"Following the 6 October Cubana Airline crash off the coast of 
Barbados, Bosch, Garcia and Posada agreed that it would be best for 
Bosch to leave Venezuela. Therefore, on 9 October, Posada and Garcia 
escorted Bosch to the Colombian border, where he crossed into 
Colombian territory."

The CIA report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as 
well as to the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies, according to 
markings on the cable.

A Round-up

In South America, investigators began rounding up suspects in the bombing.

Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who had left the 
Cubana plane in Barbados, confessed that they had planted the bomb. 
They named Bosch and Posada as the architects of the attack.

A search of Posada's apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines 
timetables and other incriminating documents.

Posada and Bosch were arrested and charged in Venezuela for the 
Cubana Airlines bombing, but the men denied the accusations. The case 
soon became a political tug-of-war, since the suspects were in 
possession of sensitive Venezuelan government secrets that could 
embarrass President Andres Perez. The case lingered for almost a decade.

After the Reagan-Bush administration took power in Washington in 
1981, the momentum for fully unraveling the mysteries of 
anti-communist terrorist plots dissipated. The Cold War trumped any 
concern about right-wing terrorism.

By the late 1980s, Orlando Bosch also was out of Venezuela's jails 
and back in Miami. But Bosch, who had been implicated in about 30 
violent attacks, was facing possible deportation by U.S. officials 
who warned that Washington couldn't credibly lecture other countries 
about terrorism while protecting a terrorist like Bosch.

But Bosch got lucky. Jeb Bush, then an aspiring Florida politician, 
led a lobbying drive to prevent the U.S. Immigration and 
Naturalization Service from expelling Bosch. In 1990, the lobbying 
paid dividends when Jeb's dad, President George H.W. Bush, blocked 
proceedings against Bosch, letting the unapologetic terrorist stay in 
the United States.

In 1992, also during George H.W. Bush's presidency, the FBI 
interviewed Posada about the Iran-Contra scandal for 6 1/2 hours at 
the U.S. Embassy in Honduras.

Posada filled in some blanks about the role of Bush's vice 
presidential office in the secret contra operation. According to a 
31-page summary of the FBI interview, Posada said Bush's national 
security adviser, Donald Gregg, was in frequent contact with Felix Rodriguez.

"Posada ... recalls that Rodriguez was always calling Gregg," the FBI 
summary said. "Posada knows this because he's the one who paid 
Rodriguez' phone bill." After the interview, the FBI agents let 
Posada walk out of the embassy to freedom. [For details, see Parry's 
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth.]

More Attacks

Posada soon returned to his anti-Castro plotting.

In 1994, Posada set out to kill Castro during a trip to Cartagena, 
Colombia. Posada and five cohorts reached Cartagena, but the plan 
flopped when security cordons prevented the would-be assassins from 
getting a clean shot at Castro, according to a Miami Herald account. 
[Miami Herald, June 7, 1998]

The Herald also described Posada's role in a lethal 1997 bombing 
campaign against popular hotels and restaurants inside Cuba that 
killed an Italian tourist. The story cited documentary evidence that 
Posada arranged payments to conspirators from accounts in the United States.

Posada landed back in jail in 2000 after Cuban intelligence uncovered 
a plot to assassinate Castro by planting a bomb at a meeting the 
Cuban leader planned with university students in Panama.

Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and other alleged 
co-conspirators in November 2000. In April 2004, they were sentenced 
to eight or nine years in prison for endangering public safety.

Four months after the sentencing, however, lame-duck Panamanian 
President Mireya Moscoso -- who lives in Key Biscayne, Florida, and 
has close ties to the Cuban-American community and to George W. 
Bush's administration -- pardoned the convicts.

Despite press reports saying Moscoso had been in contact with U.S. 
officials about the pardons, the State Department denied that it 
pressured Moscoso to release the Cuban exiles. After the pardons and 
just two months before Election 2004, three of Posada's 
co-conspirators -- Guillermo Novo Sampol, Pedro Remon and Gaspar 
Jimenez -- arrived in Miami to a hero's welcome, flashing victory 
signs at their supporters.

While the terrorists celebrated, U.S. authorities watched the men -- 
also implicated in bombings in New York, New Jersey and Florida -- 
alight on U.S. soil. As Washington Post writer Marcela Sanchez noted 
in a September 2004 article about the Panamanian pardons, "there is 
something terribly wrong when the United States, after Sept. 11 
(2001), fails to condemn the pardoning of terrorists and instead 
allows them to walk free on U.S. streets." [Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2004]

But a whole different set of standards is now being applied to the 
seven black terrorism suspects in Miami. Even though they had no 
clear-cut plans or even the tools to carry out terrorist attacks, 
they have been rounded up amid great media hoopla.

The American people have been reassured that the terrorists in Miami 
have been located and are being brought to justice.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for 
the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: 
Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at 
secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 
1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Copyright 2006 The Consortium for Independent Journalism


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