[Ppnews] The Trials of the Cuban Five - Spies Without Espionage
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 28 16:40:56 EDT 2009
August 28-30, 2009
The Trials of the Cuban Five
Spies Without Espionage
By RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA
The first indictment in September 1998 charged
the Cuban Five of being unregistered Cuban agents
and of other minor violations. The government
also charged three of them--Gerardo, Ramón and
Antonio--with conspiracy to commit espionage (Count Two of the indictment)
Prosecutors didnt accuse any of them of actual
espionage for a very simple reason: there was not
such a thing and thus it could never be proven.
The prosecutors went even farther. At their
opening statement they warned the jury not to
expect them to present any secrets or anything of
that sort. The only thing the prosecution needed
was to convince the jurors that the defendants
were really bad people capable of conceiving an
attempt to endanger the national security of the
United States sometime in a hypothetical future.
And, they argued, the defendants had to get the
most severe punishment possible because they were
the really bad guys disrupting the peace and
tranquility in Miami. Remember Elian?
In order to achieve that goal the prosecutors,
notwithstanding what their own indictment said,
made the most inflammatory kinds of statements at
trial, accusing the Five of no less than trying
to destroy the United States and reminding the
scared jurors that if they failed to condemn them
they will betray the community.
The media did the rest of the job. They have
always portrayed the Cuban Five as spies or as
people accused of being spies. The media went
into overdrive in performing their task. They
keep repeating the same tune even after the en
banc Court of Appeals unanimously determined in
September 2008 that there was no evidence that
the accused had gathered or transmitted top
secret information or that they had damaged the
national security of the United States and thus
it decided that the sentences for Charge 2
(conspiracy to commit espionage) were erroneous,
it vacated them and remanded Ramon and Antonio
for resentencing (Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court,
No. 01-17176, D.C Docket No. 98-00721-CR-JAL,
pages 70-81). Nevertheless, even though it
acknowledged that the same procedure should be
applied to Gerardo, in an astounding act of
judicial discrimination, the court refused to do
so adducing that a life sentence was already weighing against him.
As a matter of fact, it was very easy to realize
that in this case no secret or military
information was involved and that the national
security of the US was never affected. That was
what the Pentagon said, in clear, plain language
before the trial started. That was the testimony,
under oath, by Admiral (R) Eugene Carroll
(official transcripts pages 8196-8301), Army
General (R) Edward Breed Atkeson (Idem pages
11049-11199), General and former Commander of
Southern Command Charles Elliot Wilhelm (Idem
pages 11491-11547), Air Force Lieutenant General
(R) James R. Clapper (Idem pages 13089-13235).
Their testimonies were not secret, but were made
voluntarily in open court. Probably such a parade
of distinguished and decorated military chiefs
sustaining the innocence of some young Cuban
revolutionaries has not happen before a US Court
of law. This didnt make the news out of Miami,
but the official transcripts of the trial are there for anybody to read.
Since the Cuban Five were condemned there have
been other cases whose results sharply contrast
with theirs. Lets very briefly consider a few of them.
Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, accused of being an
unregistered agent of the Saddam Hussein
Government, was sentenced in April 2004, in the
middle of the US war with Iraq, to 3 years and 10 months in prison.
Leandro Aragoncillo was found guilty in July 2007
of transmitting secret national defense
information of the United States (around 800
classified documents) obtained from his office in
the White House, where he worked as military
assistant to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick
Cheney. Mister Aragoncillo was sentenced to 10
years in prison while his co-conspirator Michael
Ray Aquino got 6 years and 4 months.
Gregg W. Bergersen, a Defense Department analyst
was found guilty in July 2008 of providing
national defense information to unauthorized
persons in exchange for money and gifts and was
sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison.
Lawrence Anthony Franklyn, a US Air Force
Reserves colonel, working in the Defense
Department was found guilty of giving classified
and national defense information, including
military secrets, to representatives of a foreign
government and was sentenced to 12 years and 7
months. But he never entered a federal prison. He
was free while appealing and last May the Justice
Department dropped the charges that sustained his case.
It goes without saying that none of the cases
referred to above were tried in Southern Florida
or involved any attempts to frustrate criminal plans.
The Cuban Five got, together, 4 life terms plus
77 years. They didnt work at the White House, or
the Pentagon, or the State Department. They never
had or sought access to any secret information.
But they did something unforgivable. They fought
anti-Cuban terrorism and they did it in Miami.
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada is president of the Cuban National Assembly.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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