[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


http://www.counterpunch.org/alarcon08282009.html
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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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. Let’s 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 didn’t 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.




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