[Marxism] Decision time on Cuban's detention (L.A. Times)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 7 08:46:13 MST 2006

(It's so rare that the dominant corporate media in the United States covers the Posada story,
and even more rare that it's covered in this much detail and spirit that reports like these need
the widest possible circulation. It's only because of 9-11 that the media has finally begun to do
stories of this kind. This particular L.A. Times reporter has been covering the Cuba beat for a
good while now, and her reports are always a helpful addition to the coverage we're getting.)


Decision time on Cuban's detention
The U.S. government has until Feb. 1 to prosecute 

Luis Posada Carriles, wanted abroad in a jet bombing case.
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer

November 7, 2006

MIAMI — He has admitted to bombing Havana hotels, served time for
plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro and for more than 20 years was a
fugitive from charges of blowing up a Cuban airliner.

But 17 months after Luis Posada Carriles was arrested and sent to a
Texas immigration lockup, U.S. officials have declined to label him a
terrorist or charge him with a crime. On Friday, a federal judge in
El Paso gave the U.S. government until Feb. 1 to bring a case against
Posada or the reputed bomber will be freed.

He has become a political liability for the Bush administration in
its declared global war on terrorism.

As a veteran of nearly five decades of covert operations in Latin
America, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, clandestine Cold War
actions and the Iran-Contra affair, Posada knows where Washington's
bodies are buried.

If Posada, 79, were to be prosecuted, he probably would seek to
defend himself against any criminal charges by arguing that his
violent actions were on behalf of his CIA masters.

His Miami lawyer, Eduardo Soto, alluded to his client's past
collaboration with U.S. intelligence services as he pressed the Cuban
militant's unsuccessful quest for political asylum.

"A public trial of Luis Posada would certainly reveal embarrassing
details on the degree to which U.S. covert operatives used terrorism
as a tool in the 1960s," said Peter Kornbluh of the independent
National Security Archive at George Washington University.

Kornbluh has compiled declassified CIA and FBI evidence of Posada's
role in the 1976 plane bombing, near Barbados, of a Cuban airliner in
which all 73 on board died. Among the documents in the archive's
online dossier is one recently obtained through Freedom of
Information Act litigation that shows Posada informed his CIA minders
of the plot to blow up the airliner three months ahead of the attack.

The administration has avoided bringing a criminal case against
Posada, who enjoys strong support among Miami's politically powerful
Cuban exiles, by handling him like any other immigration offender and
simply seeking his deportation.

Posada returned to Florida in March 2005, reportedly on a fellow
exile's shrimp boat sent to fetch him from an island off the Yucatan
Peninsula. He'd made his way there six months after being pardoned by
outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in August 2004 after
serving four years for attempting to kill Castro at a Panama summit
in 2000.

Moscoso's clemency decree for Posada and three U.S. militants was
seen as a favor to the Bush administration in a presidential election
year when the Cuban exile vote in Florida was vital.

Posada moved about Miami with impunity, despite indignant demands for
his extradition by Cuba and Venezuela, where he is a naturalized
citizen. Authorities arrested him two months after his arrival when
he invited journalists to his Miami residence for a news conference.

A federal immigration judge in El Paso, where Posada has been held
since May 2005, ruled last year that he should be deported to a
country other than Venezuela or Cuba, which want to try him for the
jetliner bombing. The federal government has spurned those countries'
extradition requests, contending Posada would be at risk of torture
or execution.

The State Department approached at least six friendly foreign
governments to take Posada, but Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama,
Costa Rica and El Salvador all refused. The Mexican government later
said it would hand Posada over to Cuba if he reentered Mexico.

Soto argued in August that U.S. authorities couldn't hold Posada
indefinitely after abandoning efforts to send him abroad. U.S.
Magistrate Norbert Garney agreed, and recommended in September that
Posada be released.

In October, the Justice Department urged the court to keep Posada in

"Luis Posada Carriles is an admitted mastermind of terrorist plots
and attacks. The Department of Justice believes that Posada is a
flight risk and that his release would be a danger to the community,"
said spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then notified Posada that
the government had decided to prolong his detention because of
concerns that his release "would have serious foreign policy
consequences," according to an agency statement.

Under anti-terrorism powers claimed by the administration, Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice has only to ask Atty. Gen. Alberto R.
Gonzalez to brand Posada a terrorist to keep him locked up while the
government pursues criminal action, said David Sebastian, Soto's
paralegal on the case.

Much as the administration can indefinitely detain terrorism suspects
at Guantanamo without legal recourse or formal charges, it can hold
Posada on grounds that he poses a national security threat. The
Justice Department missive makes clear that the administration
considers him a terrorist but has yet to pursue that formal

Soto has filed a writ of habeas corpus challenging the government's
continued jailing of Posada on the immigration violation. That move
presents a dilemma for the administration: It could be forced to let
a man they call a terrorist walk free or prosecute him and risk
public airing of some of Washington's darkest secrets.

U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez on Friday gave the administration
the Feb. 1 deadline to prosecute or release Posada.

Neither the State Department nor the Justice Department would say
what, if any, actions were being taken to ensure Posada remains in

Posada's fellow militants launched a petition drive demanding that
the administration release him before today's election or risk losing
support for GOP candidates from among the anti-Castro constituency.

"Some of us vote for President Bush. Others, like me, vote against
him because he doesn't do anything for Cuba," said Juan Torres Mena,
a vice director of the Brigade 2506 Bay of Pigs veterans association.

"Those fighting against communism are in jail now," he said. "Before
we were freedom fighters. Now we're terrorists."


carol.williams at latimes.com

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