[News] Fighting Terror Selectively

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 10 12:09:36 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn05102007.html

May 10, 2007


Washington and Posada Carriles


Fighting Terror Selectively

By MARJORIE COHN

Since the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration 
has made the "war on terror" the centerpiece of 
its domestic and foreign policy. Bush cries 
terror where there is none - as in Iraq and in 
the communications of ordinary Americans. 
Meanwhile, he protects the real terrorists in our midst.

Luis Posada Carriles is a Cuban-born terrorist 
who has accurately been called the Osama bin 
Laden of the Western hemisphere. He boasted of 
helping to detonate deadly bombs in Havana hotels 
10 years ago. Declassified FBI and CIA documents 
at the National Security Archive reveal that 
Posada was the mastermind of a 1976 bombing of a 
civilian Cuban airplane that killed 73 people. He 
escaped from a Venezuelan prison where he was 
being tried for his role in the first in-air 
bombing of a commercial airliner. Posada then 
played a central role in the illegal Iran-Contra scandal.

Posada entered the United States in March 2005 
using false papers and was charged in El Paso 
with lying to Immigration and Customs officials. 
FBI agent Thomas Rice swore in a June 2005 
affidavit that "the FBI is unable to rule out the 
possibility that Posada Carriles poses a threat 
to the national security of the United States." 
Yet on April 19, 2007 Posada was released on bail despite being a flight risk.

This stranger-than-fiction story has a logical 
explanation. Posada has a long history of ties to 
the U.S. government. He became a CIA agent in 
1961. The U.S. government claims his CIA service 
ended in 1976. But on April 30, Posada filed a 
motion in federal court declaring that he 
continued to work for the CIA for more than 25 
years. That puts him on the CIA's payroll when he 
engineered the terrorist airline bombing. In his 
motion, Posada asserted the right to present 
evidence of his CIA work as a defense to the 
perjury charges. The specter of Posada revealing 
the dirty deeds committed by the CIA when George 
H.W. Bush was director of the CIA was intolerable to Washington.

The government was caught between a rock and a 
hard place. There had been intense pressure to 
try Posada for his terrorist crimes, as required 
by Security Council resolution 1373 and three 
international treaties. Resolution 1373, passed 
in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, 
mandates that all countries deny safe haven to 
those who commit terrorist acts, and ensure that 
they are brought to justice. These provisions of 
resolution 1373 are mandatory, as they were 
adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The 
treaties require the United States to extradite 
Posada to Venezuela for trial or try him in U.S. 
courts for offenses committed abroad. The 
Department of Justice elected instead to charge 
him with perjury for lying about how he entered the United States in 2005.

But the government could not take the risk that 
Posada might sing like a canary. On Tuesday, U.S. 
District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed 
all charges against Posada. In her ruling, 
Cardone wrote that "the Government engaged in 
fraud, deceit, and trickery" by using a "routine" 
immigration interview to investigate possible 
criminal charges against Posada. But questions 
about Posada's prior criminal conduct were 
relevant to the moral character determination at 
the immigration interview. Posada is not a 
"routine" guy and his lawyer was present 
throughout the interview to protect him against 
self-incrimination. Cardone found the 
government's tactics "grossly shocking and so 
outrageous as to violate the universal sense of 
justice." She then disingenuously claimed, "This 
Court's concern is not politics; it is the preservation of justice."

It is shocking and outrageous that Luis Posada 
Carriles, whose crimes rival those of al Qaeda, 
is now walking free in Miami. And Cardone's decision is deeply political.

Rep. William Delahunt has called for a 
congressional hearing to examine the U.S. 
government's role in promoting impunity in the 
Posada case. Delahunt sent a letter to Attorney 
General Alberto Gonzales requesting an 
explanation as to why the Justice Department did 
not invoke the USA Patriot Act to declare Posada 
a terrorist and detain him, stating, "The release 
of Mr. Posada puts into question our commitment to fight terrorism."

That commitment is also belied by the way 
Washington has dealt with the Cuban Five. These 
men peacefully infiltrated criminal exile groups 
in Miami to prevent terrorism against Cuba. The 
Five turned over the results of their 
investigation to the FBI. But instead of working 
with Cuba to fight terrorism, the U.S. government 
arrested the five Cubans and tried and convicted 
them of conspiracy-related offenses. A 
three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of 
Appeals in Atlanta reversed their convictions, 
finding they could not receive a fair trial in 
Miami. In August 2006, a majority of the full 
circuit rejected the earlier ruling and sent the 
matter back to the panel where further appeals 
are pending. The U.S. media has been 
irresponsibly silent on the case of the Cuban 
Five and the irregularities of the trial.

The Los Angeles Times, however, showed singular 
insight on April 20 when it said the release of 
Posada "exposed Washington to legitimate charges 
of hypocrisy in the war on terror." The editorial 
criticized the U.S. for holding men at Guantánamo 
without due process while releasing Posada. "The 
U.S. government has done many odd things in 46 
years of a largely failed Cuba policy," the Times 
said, "but letting a notorious terrorist walk 
stands among the most perverse yet."

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson 
School of Law, president of the National Lawyers 
Guild, and the U.S. representative to the 
executive committee of the American Association 
of Jurists. Her new book, "Cowboy Republic: Six 
Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law," will be 
published in July. See 
<http://www.marjoriecohn.com/>http://www.marjoriecohn.com/.




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