Indeed, those who try to bomb Cuban targets, or those related to Cuba, receive special treatment. This double-standard casts a shadow over the president’s commitment to fight terrorism.
The FBI has reams of files on Posada, affectionately called “Bambi” by his terrorist friends. Former FBI Special Agent Carter Cornick told New York Times reporter Tim Weiner that Posada was “up to his eyeballs” in the October 1976 destruction of a Cuban commercial airliner over Barbados. All 73 passengers and crew members died. Recently published FBI and CIA documents not only confirm Cornick’s statement, but also reveal that U.S. agencies had knowledge of the plot and did not inform Cuban authorities or try to stop the bombing.
Posada himself promoted his high international profile. So that the world knew of his exploits, he boasted to New York Times reporters Anne Bardach and Larry Rohter in 1998 that he had organized a sabotage campaign of Cuban tourist spots. In 1997, one of Posada’s agents in Cuba detonated a bomb at a Cuban hotel that killed an Italian tourist. Posada replied that “it was a freak accident, but I sleep like a baby.” A hardened terrorist can’t afford to be sentimental!
This quartet of seniors, Guillermo Novo, Pedro Remon, Gaspar Jimenez and Posada, planned to blow up the platform from which Castro would speak. After Panamanian police arrested them, they denied any involvement. “What proof do they have?” sneered Posada et. al. ? a mere set of their fingerprints on the explosives found in their rented car.
Moscoso also apparently contravened Panamanian law by issuing the pardons before the appeals process had ended. The Panamanian press mused about the “coincidence” between the issuing of pardons and the simultaneous $4 million deposited in her Swiss bank account.
On May 20, 2004, the four caught a waiting airplane that took them to Honduras. There, Posada, the veritable padrino of Latin American terrorism, disembarked while the other three continued to Miami so their arrival could coincide with President Bush’s campaign stop. They entered the United States without problems, despite their terrorist rap sheets.
Indeed, all four pardoned Castro-haters had for decades tried to assassinate and commit sabotage against Cuban and other officials and properties in New York, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Ronni Moffitt, Letelier’s young colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies, also died in the bombing. The FBI also knew that Posada had knowledge of the plot to kill Letelier.
The CIA recruited him for its 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. But the Agency placed Posada in an anti-Castro version of the Waffen SS, a squad that would “mop up” after the invaders had prevailed. Following the April fiasco, the CIA sent Posada for “training” at Fort Benning, Georgia, to learn about spying, using explosives and other lethal devices. In 1971, working out of Venezuela, he partnered with Antonio Veciana, founder of Alpha 66, another anti-Castro terrorist group, to plan an elaborate plot to assassinate Castro.
Perhaps Posada’s frustration over the failed 1971 hits abated after the “success” of his 1976 Barbados air sabotage. After Venezuelan authorities charged him with responsibility for the airline bombing, they tossed him into prison while appeal after appeal took place ? until August 1985. Then, someone who knew and admired Posada ? perhaps Jorge Mas Canosa, leader of the Cuban American Nation Foundation in Miami, who is listed with a $50 note next to his name in Lt. Col. Oliver North’s notebooks, published by the Iran-Contra Congressional subcommittees –? bribed prison authorities to help Posada “escape.”
Given Posada’s own boasting and from the available evidence in published documents, the Justice Department had to either try him for terrorist acts or deport him to Venezuela, which has requested his extradition. He plotted the 1976 airliner bombing from Caracas and escaped from prison there. He also apparently committed murder and torture there as well. Despite this overwhelming documentation, however, the Justice Department rejected Venezuela’s May 2005 extradition request to try Posada for this crime on the grounds that the request lacked sufficient detail.
Given Washington’s decade long history of terrorism aimed at Cuba, Bush might ask his staff to re-word the doctrinaire anti-terrorist statements they write for his press conferences.
Posada, an old U.S. terrorist chicken, has come home to roost in Bush’s nest. He has also exposed Bush’s anti-terrorist policies as a hoax.