[Ppnews] Cuban 5 - Matt Lawrence and Brothers to the Rescue

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 6 10:51:04 EST 2010

Matt Lawrence and Brothers to the Rescue, to the back of the class!

MissMachetera (at) gmail (dot) com

January 5, 2010


The holiday season behind us at last, Machetera 
can finally turn her attention back to her vast 
publishing empire and her overflowing mailbox.

As faithful readers know, occasionally I’ll 
elevate a letter from the comment section to a 
post of its own, if it merits a point by point 
response.  The writer of this particular letter, 
a certain Matt Lawrence, writing from an email 
address created in homage to the amusing name of 
his “fictional” pilot character, Trig Combs, has 
begun copying and pasting his letter not only to 
Machetera but to 
solidarity activists writing on behalf of the 
Cuban Five.  Copying and pasting is sheer 
laziness – if you’re going to defend terrorists 
like Brothers to the Rescue, the least you can do 
is try to be original – but then again, that camp 
has never been known for its excess of 
brainpower.  (Note to Lawrence: hangar is spelled 
with an “a” unless it’s the kind you put in your closet.)

Lawrence’s primary purpose in writing appears to 
be to hawk his book.  To borrow Obama’s pet 
phrase, let me be clear.  That’s not going to 
happen here.  His secondary purpose is to smear 
the courageous Cuban Five.  That’s really not going to happen here.

Now let’s begin:

Lawrence: Thank you for publishing the article on the Cuban Five spies.

Nice try, opening with a compliment followed by a 
smear.  In their mockery of a trial in Miami, the 
Cuban Five were never convicted of espionage, 
generally defined as an attempt to obtain 
government secrets.  This was because they had 
obtained none, nor had they tried to obtain 
any.  They were convicted instead of what lawyers 
call the “darling of the prosecutor’s nursery,” 
that is, “conspiracy to commit espionage” which 
means that there was an agreement that perhaps 
they might have gathered government secrets at 
some unknown time in the future.  See my 
reference to the film 
Report, which explores this topic in greater 
detail, where Tom Cruise plays the Pre-Crime 
detective who arrests people on the basis of 
thought crimes.  In Miami, this strikes hardly 
anyone as unusual but in the rest of the United 
States of America we are still a little horrified by the concept.

Lawrence: I, along with my co-author, a 
three-time Pentagon appointee, flew rescue 
missions with the Brothers To The Rescue, owners 
of the two planes shot down by Cuban MiGs-thanks 
to the work of these very spies.

An interesting but not particularly unusual 
admission.  Lots of people were fond of taking 
joyrides with the terrorist group.  David 
Lawrence, the former editor of the Miami Herald 
(any relation?) and Dennis Hays, who later became 
Ambassador to Suriname were quite open about 
their flights with the “Brothers.”  Of course a 
Pentagon appointee would have been 
welcomed.  BTTR flew with the full faith and 
support of the U.S. Government.  Naturally those 
involved prefer to refer to the flights in the 
former military aircraft as “rescue missions,” 
ignoring the fact that aside from being first and 
foremost a very successful moneymaking operation, 
BTTR was actively planning to “smuggle or airdrop 
weapons into Cuba.” (ICAO report, page 86.)

Lawrence: Our book (unpaid advertising deleted 
here) is the result of a 13 year investigation, 
and is a compilation of the court documents, 
trial evidence and public record surrounding this 
case. (Unpaid advertising deleted again) was 
recently the subject of a CBS4 Miami 
investigative report which resulted in the same findings as ours

Imagine that.  A Miami TV station comes out in 
support of a terrorist cause.  Will wonders never cease.

Lawrence: 1) U.S. government officials knew 
beforehand of the shoot down and did nothing. 
Specifically involved, Governor Bill Richardson, 
NSC Sandy Berger and Richard Nuccio.

This is partially true.  The U.S. government knew 
that the BTTR provocations were foolish and risky 
and asked the BTTR to stop.  Mr. Charles Smith, 
supervisor of the Miami FAA office in the early 
through mid-1990’s held repeated meetings with 
BTTR, in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996, “to try to 
convince them not to violate international law or 
United States regulations, and to warn them that 
they were committing offenses which could be and 
should be punished.” (NTSB examination re: 
suspension of José Basulto’s pilot’s license, 
July 5, 1996).  But at the same time, although 
Basulto’s license was suspended, he continued to 
fly and openly informed Mr. Smith that he would 
do so, reasoning correctly, that the U.S. 
Government would not take further action against him.

On the day in question, BTTR filed a flight plan, 
indicating that they would proceed down the 
eastern portion of the Florida peninsula toward 
Cuba’s center, and then fly west in order to 
return to Key West.  They immediately did the 
opposite, crossing west toward Key West from the 
outset, then south and then west again, with the 
full knowledge of the air traffic controllers 
watching them, who were in possession of the 
flight plan.  These flight controllers uttered 
not a word to the pilots about their deviation from the authorized flight plan.

Basulto has long been irked that the U.S. 
military failed to send up its own fighter jets 
on February 24, 1996, to ignite the long hoped 
for military confrontation with Cuba.  After all, 
he’d done his part to get the show on the 
road.  Another betrayal just like the Bay of 
Pigs! He has written letters questioning the 
integrity of military officials who refused to 
launch the aircraft and presumably this is the 
point of the literary invention Lawrence is 
pushing.  But there is an astoundingly simple 
reason the hoped for military confrontation never 
took place.  The Cuban MiGs were acting entirely 
within sovereign Cuban territory and the military 
knew it.  A military intervention was completely 
unjustifiable.  It would be left to diplomatic 
pressure to site the confrontation elsewhere, and 
up to Basulto and others to profit from the re-siting.

Lawrence: Members of Cuban government asked U.S. 
diplomats repeatedly, “What would happen if we 
shoot them down?” This indicates the Cuban 
government planned the attacks using information 
gathered by the Cuban Five and the larger ring of 
Cuban spies, La Red Avispa, most of which plead guilty without trials

Honestly, this is silly.  Of course the Cuban 
government has plans to defend itself.  Is Dick 
Cheney the only person in the world with that 
prerogative?  They didn’t need the Cuban Five to 
do that for them.  That’s what radar and combat 
aircraft are for.  Now lest Machetera be 
inundated with more letters arguing that the 
Cessnas flown by BTTR were civilian aircraft on a 
purely humanitarian mission, despite the evidence 
to the contrary from the ICAO report, let’s 
review the facts.  BTTR aircraft were acquired 
for BTTR from the U.S. military by Ileana 
Ros-Lehtinen and had seen military service in 
Central America.  And Cuba has a long, terrible 
history of attacks launched upon it from aircraft such as this:

“Cuban sugar fields have been burned by small 
aircraft.  Cuban cities have been attacked from 
small aircraft.  Explosives have been hurled from 
small aircraft.  Sabotage has been carried out 
from small aircraft.  Biological substances have 
been introduced into our country from small 
aircraft.  From aircraft such as those of [BTTR], 
actions of sabotage have been and are being 
planned against installations of the Republic of 
Cuba.” ­ (Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, U.N. 
Security Council meeting, July 26, 1996.)

Now, the mention that most of the Cubans arrested 
in Miami admitted their guilt rather than face 
trial is an interesting one.  It’s true that 
there were originally 14 Cubans arrested as part 
of the Red Avispa (Wasp network), four of whom 
managed to return safely to Cuba, and five of 
whom caved under the considerable pressure and 
enticements (green cards, relocation, witness 
protection, anyone?) offered by the U.S. 
attorney’s office, opting not to go to trial.  My 
arithmetic says that’s not a majority pleading 
guilty no matter how you count it.

The fact that the Cuban Five did not cave under 
illegal and inhumane pressure makes their case 
only more remarkable.  Knowing they had done 
nothing wrong, and fully convinced of the justice 
of their cause, which was to save the lives of 
fellow Cubans by uncovering and thwarting 
terrorist plots against Cuba before they could be 
carried out, they refused the numerous plea 
bargains offered them and refused to sell each 
other out to save themselves, no matter what the 
consequences.  These are the actions of innocent 
men, not guilty ones.  Years and years later, 
after consequences that have indeed been 
dreadful, and after being forced to endure the 
extra-judicial punishment of visits from family 
members delayed or completely denied on the basis 
of absurd excuses by the U.S. State Department, 
they remain what they were all along: innocent men and Cuban heroes.

Lawrence: 2) The Cuban spies infiltrated military 
bases, exile organizations and the Brothers To 
The Rescue as well as our Defense Intelligence 
Agency (re: Ana Belen Montes). They were given 
fair trials, found guilty and sentenced to prison 
terms to pay for their crimes.

Go back and re-read the trial transcript for the 
Cuban Five.  The “infiltration of military bases” 
mentioned here is laughable.  Antonio Guerrero 
was pushed to take a job where, as what, by 
whom?  I’ll help  you out.  He took a job as a 
janitor at Boca Chica airfield, as suggested by 
an agent at the government employment office who 
testified at the trial about her repeated insistence that he take the job.

Whether or not Ana Belen Montes had a fair trial 
is questionable at the least.  It’s certainly a 
fair bet that the punishment meted out to her was 
more proportionate with the DIA’s need to save 
face after having promoted her to such commanding 
heights, than it was for any actual damage caused 
the U.S. government.  When it comes to the Cuban 
Five however, it’s insulting to insist after the 
Atlanta Appeals Court said otherwise, that their 
trial was fair.  It was not.  It was completely 
rigged, with the government concealing 
exculpatory evidence under cover of national 
security, under a perfect storm of community prejudice.

Lawrence: 3) Our military had multiple radar 
sites monitoring the Florida Straits on the day 
of the shootdown and held interceptor aircraft on 
the ground at HAFB, Homestead, FL as the attacks 
occurred. The two planes shot down were over 
international waters and at no time posed a threat to Cuba.

See point 1 above.  Isn’t it curious that our 
military had multiple radar sites monitoring the 
Florida Straits on the day of the shootdown and 
yet none of them were able to produce any radar 
evidence whatsoever for the investigation 
immediately launched by the U.N.’s International 
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)?

It is so completely curious that it is a point 
upon which Ricardo Alarcón and Basulto actually 
agree.  Major Jeffrey Houlihan of the U.S. 
Customs Service was called to a meeting on 
February 17, 2006 and warned that one week later, 
on February 24, Basulto and his pawns would be 
flying towards Cuba expressly to provoke a 
political incident.  Houlihan was reminded of 
this the day before the flight, February 23rd, as 
well as the morning of the 24th.  Heads up, Houlihan.

But Houlihan wasn’t the only one alerted.  On 
February 13, the State Department’s Office of 
Cuban Affairs contacted the FAA’s Office of 
International Aviation, “informing it that 
something might occur in connection with these 
flights and they should be alerted
on February 
23, the various U.S. communications control 
centers received instructions – warnings – from 
the authorities to the effect that certain 
flights that were to take place the next day 
should be appropriately documented. Yet what was 
the result of all these warnings about 
documentation, when the ICAO announced that it 
would be collecting radar data for its 
investigation?  The data was erased.  The radar 
data provided by Cuba, immediately following the 
incident (in contrast to the United States, which 
delayed and obfuscated as long as possible before 
admitting to the erasure) was completely disregarded.

So the siting of the shootdown was based not on 
hard, objective, radar data (which clearly showed 
it occurring over Cuban waters) but on a bizarre 
subjective triangulation that the ICAO was 
pressured to accept by U.S. diplomats, consisting of the following:
    * A communications cassette tape copy with 
six crucial minutes mysteriously deleted.
    * The self-reported position of a 
cruiseliner, which was likely inaccurate.
    * The self-reported position of a fishing 
boat which has never been proven to exist.

On this spurious basis and no other, the 
shootdown, which Cuba had every right to perform 
as a legitimate act of self-defense over its own 
territory, and which the United States of America 
would have performed far sooner and without 
hesitation, was removed to international waters, 
unleashing a series of reactions beginning with 
the looting of Cuba’s frozen assets by the 
families of the downed pilots and others, and 
ending with the incarceration and torture of five 
men who had nothing to do with it.

Lawrence: (Unpaid advertisement deleted) is 
endorsed by Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, two 
Defense Intelligence Agency Analysts and the head 
of the University of Miami’s Institute of 
Cuban-American Studies among other experts and scholars.

The fact that this vanity publication is endorsed 
by the dim bulb Lincoln Diaz-Balart is not to 
your credit.  Two DIA analysts – the same who 
promoted Ana Belen Montes, I wonder?  The 
University of Miami, which hosted the CIA’s 
JM/WAVE station for so many years?  Let’s stop 
there before this gets even more embarrassing.

Lawrence: Please visit our website (unpaid 
advertisement deleted) and turn up your speakers; 
listen to the intro
it’s the voices of the 
Perez-Perez brothers, the Cuban MiG pilots 
stalking and shooting down civilian aircraft and their Cuban handlers.

No, I have a better idea.  Let’s visit an excerpt 
from your outstanding “fictional” treatment of one of BTTR’s provocations:

Combs looks to Harevan, his eyes excitedly wide, 
saying, “We’re gonna see Habana from the thirty-three today!”

“I thought you’d like that,” Basulto Juan Carlos 
tells his friend, patting him on the back. “But 
stay north of the 23:30,” he whispers to Combs; 
warning the American aviator to stay well north 
of Cuba’s twelve mile territorial limits.

Trig winks at Juan Carlos, saying slickly, 
“C’mon, you know I play by the rules.”

“Now, let’s talk numbers; or not,” sneaky Santos 
smirks. “Remember to call your location when you 
cross the pizza line and again when you see the 
casa. (House),” the flight coordinator reminds 
them. [...] “Remember, use the Alpha number 
first, then Beta and so on.  Subtract the 
latitude from the alpha phone number and the 
longitude from the beta.  With any luck the 
Coastie on the other end will come up with the 
same answer you did when he works the equations 
in reverse; and friggin Fidel won’t have any way 
of knowing where these planes rafts are – other 
than watching us orbit them.”  The young pilot 
speaks with the knowledge of a CIA operative, yet 
he still posses (sic) the innocence of his young, limitless life.


“Havana tower, Havana tower, Havana tower, this 
is N zero, zero, Charlie Foxtrot,” Combs calls to 
Cuba, seeking permission to enter airspace that 
is legally international; yet claimed by the 
bearded bastard to be his “Air Defense Information Zone.”

(Machetera’s note re Air Defense Information 
Zones, aka 
“Any aircraft flying in these zones without 
authorization may be identified as a threat and 
treated as an enemy aircraft, potentially leading 
to interception by fighter aircraft.  The exact 
nature of the external ADIZ claim of the United States is unclear.”)


“Charlie Foxtrot,” answers a distinctly but 
barley (sic) audible male Cuban voice in the squelch of the headset.

“Good morning, sir, we’re crossing the 
twenty-four in five minutes and we will be in the 
area around four to five hours on a humanitarian 
search and rescue mission.  We are responding 
three, four, eight, three, at five hundred feet. 
Roger?” Trig distinctly tells the tolerant 
because they have to be Havana tower of his flight intentions.

“Thank y0u,” the Cuban controller responds in English.

“For your information, the area of our operations 
is north of Havana today, so we will be in your 
area and in contact with you.  Roger?” Combs 
says, as he forces to commit the Cuban in agreement again.

“Sir, be informed that the zone north of Havana 
is activated, you are in danger behind the 
twenty-four north parallel,” the thick, accented 
voice emanating from the Havana air traffic 
control tower coldly warns menacingly.

Hearing the controller’s response in his headset, 
a perturbed Cuesta flips the middle finger of his 
right hand at the control panel, still saying 
nothing, but trying to write down every word on 
the back of his mission planning form.

“We’re aware that we’re in danger each time we 
cross the area south of the twenty-four but we 
are willing to do it as free people,” Combs 
prophesizes (sic) to the Communist controller 
before releasing his microphone’s push to talk button.

(Machetera’s note: Pilots’ radio communications 
with air traffic controllers are not like an open 
speakerphone, where multiple parties can be heard 
at once.  Only one voice can be heard at a time – 
all others are pre-empted.  While BTTR is 
clogging the radio with this nonsense, real 
commercial airliners carrying many hundreds of 
passengers are unable to communicate with Havana 
air traffic controllers.  Reader Advisory: the 
following passage is as vulgar as it is revealing 
of the true intentions of this crowd.)

“So fuck you, you communist cock sucker, we’re 
coming to your activated zone behind the 
twenty-fourth to save some human lives and if you 
piss me off I’m coming back with a C-130 full of 
love to drop all over you.  Just like the old 
days,” Combs spouts off in a vulgar diatribe only 
his crew can hear, genuinely aggravated by the 
indifference of the Cuban controller.

Tim Harevan laughs at his pilot’s furor.

“Thanks, we copy that information,” Castro’s air 
controller acknowledges, oblivious to the furious 
fusillade unloaded in his direction between “official” transmissions.

Lawrence: “The TRUTH may not always be heard in 
the spoken word, yet it is always found in people’s actions!”

Amen to that.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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