[fla-left] [news] Files likely will shed light on 'dirty war' (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Tue May 30 18:02:46 MDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Files likely will shed light on 'dirty war'
> Ivan Roman
> San Juan Bureau
> Published in The Orlando Sentinel on May 29, 2000
> SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The 8,600 pages of documents in four plain
> cardboard boxes FBI Director Louis Freeh handed over recently to
> Puerto Rican politicians in Washington and on the island are just
> beginning to shine the light on many hidden secrets.
> Was the federal government involved in the slaying of the island's top
> socialist leader's son? In the torture and radiation experiments on
> nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos? In the ambush and killing of
> two young independence activists lured to a bombing by an undercover
> police agent?
> Some hope the rest of the 1.8 million documents Freeh plans to release
> after 17 FBI staff people blank out the names of informants who are still
> alive can point to some answers. These are the first steps in officially
> documenting part of the U.S. "dirty war" against Puerto Rican
> independentistas, a decades-long surveillance, persecution and
> repression campaign that turned many people into social pariahs and
> shook the island's society and psyche.
> But now that the FBI is coming clean, can people in Puerto Rico handle
> it? Initial news of what crimes could now be cleared up -- and the
> investigation the local Senate promises to conduct -- has some worried
> about how Puerto Rico's version of a truth commission could affect
> politicians, the elections and even the island's political status.
> As a local saying goes: It's not the same to call on the Devil as to see
> him coming your way.
> "Some people will want it all to come out and others won't," political
> analyst Marco Antonio Rigau said. "Everything is going to be known
> sooner or later, and it's best for Puerto Rico and the United States for it
> to be sooner."
> It's precisely political status that some feel is behind Freeh's generosity.
> Recent conflicts with Washington about the release of Puerto Rican
> separatists from prison and the Navy's bombing on the Vieques target
> range highlight for many the need to change the current commonwealth
> status, which many consider colonial and too closely tied to the whims
> of Congress.
> Many think the United States needs to come clean for reconciliation to
> take place. At a congressional budget hearing in March, Freeh conceded
> that the FBI violated many Puerto Ricans' civil rights and was involved
> in "egregious illegal action, maybe criminal action."
> At one point its centerpiece was COINTELPRO, a program in the 1960s
> and '70s in Puerto Rico to collect information on, infiltrate and smear
> groups of independence activists.
> How far local authorities will go to dig up that "shameful chapter" of
> history, as Gov. Pedro Rossello once put it, is still in question. Rossello
> recently apologized for what's known as las carpetas, the files local
> authorities working with the federal government kept on about 140,000
> people deemed suspicious or a threat.
> Sen. Kenneth McClintock, a statehooder who heads the Senate
> commission that will be in charge of the probe involving the FBI
> documents, said he wants to approach it more as a historic study, not a
> political debate. Not only was that notion laughable to some, but talk of
> limiting the time period to be investigated raised some serious red flags.
> So Sen. Manuel Rodriguez Orellana of the Puerto Rican Independence
> Party suggested the documents be in the custody of a historian everyone
> could trust. Each party delegation in the Senate should have its own
> investigator to make sure the probe is serious and not a "pro-forma"
> one.
> Senate President Charlie Rodriguez didn't like any of the suggestions
> nor the apparent distrust.
> "There should be no doubt that we are interested in conducting a
> transparent investigation," Rodriguez told El Nuevo Dia newspaper.
> The thousands waiting for the boxes to keep coming, who will be glued
> to televised hearings during this election year, will try to make sure he
> keeps his word.

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