In George Orwell’s novel
1984 the rulers of Oceania, by their language of newthink
and process of doublethink, convince the masses that statements
formerly considered irrational were rational. The Party’s slogans,
accepted by the ruled, include War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery,
and Ignorance Is Strength. Our U.S. rulers seem to have us well
along these same paths, with new realities surfacing each year.
Another one, Injustice Is Justice, became apparent to some of us
in the press who were permitted to attend the Luis Posada Carriles
asylum hearing before Homeland Security immigration judge William
Abbott in El Paso, Texas this past September.
By way of background, what is known publicly about Posada is that
as a young man he worked in Havana in enforcement for the Batista
regime and came to the U.S. in 1960. In the CIA-directed Bay of
Pigs invasion, he and his partner Orlando Bosch joined CIA Operation
40, made up of sharpshooters whose job was to murder the leaders
of Cuba’s government. When the invasion failed, the CIA sent
him to the School of the Americas where he trained with explosives
and learned interrogation by torture.
During the 1960s Posada was involved in the CIA’s Operation
Mongoose (murderous incursions into Cuba). He also ran the CIA’s
demolition school in Florida and made some deadly forays into other
countries, such as blowing up the Soviet Library in Mexico City.
In 1972 the CIA sent him to Caracas with substantial bomb-making
materials and equipment to work with the Venezuelan intelligence
agency, DISIP. The secretary general of DISIP, Joachim Chaffardet,
made Posada the head of his “special services,” which
involved teaching demolitions and interrogating people by torture.
In 1975 Posada left DISIP and opened a detective agency (in reality
a CIA cover) in Caracas with Chaffardet as his silent partner.
On October 6, the two employees of the agency, former DISIP agents
Lugar and Ricardo, placed a bomb in the restroom of a civilian Cubana
airliner, which blew up in midair after leaving Barbados for Havana,
killing all 73 civilians aboard. After apprehension, Lugar and Ricardo
confessed that Posada and Bosch had directed the operation and this
participation is confirmed by recently declassified CIA, FBI, and
State Department records. All four were charged in Venezuela; the
other three were eventually convicted, but Posada escaped in 1985,
shortly before his verdict was to be handed down. (The CIA allegedly
bribed the guards.) Venezuelan law prevented the court from proceeding
with Posada’s case in his absence.
went to work in El Salvador in the Iran-Contra supply operation
being run by CIA agent Felix Rodriguez (who murdered Che Guevara
in Bolivia in 1967) and by Colonel Oliver North out of the White
House. Subsequently Posada helped in Operation Condor (involving
the CIA and DISP, the Chilean intelligence service), which exterminated
many South American progressives. He also worked as a security agent
for the Guatamalan dictatorship in the late 1980s. From El Salvador
he masterminded and directed the 1997 Havana tourist hotel bombings.
He was finally caught in 2000 in Panama City with 30 pounds of explosives
in his car, intending to kill Castro at a speech to be given at
a local university. Last year the U.S.-friendly president of Panama
pardoned Posada and his three Miami cohorts and Posada returned
to the U.S. this March. After a Miami press conference in May, Homeland
Security took him into custody and charged him with failure to report
to them on entry.
In reviewing Posada’s known career, the Bush family name appears
on several occasions. In 1960 Bush senior was running his oil company,
Zapata Drilling, out of Houston. He was also recruiting for the
CIA’s planned Bay of Pigs invasion and some CIA meetings allegedly
were held in Zapata offices. After the Bay of Pigs failure, Bush
senior was critical of the Kennedy administration’s effort
there and he urged a new invasion of Cuba.
In 1976, when Bush senior was made CIA director, he put in charge
of special operations the head of the Miami CIA station, who had
been and continued to be Posada’s direct supervisor. In 1976
the CIA urged the various violent anti-Castro groups in Florida
and New Jersey, such as Omega 7 and Alpha 66, to merge under one
authority, which was called CORU and was headed by Bosch. At that
time Zapata had drilling contracts in Venezuela and Jeb Bush (now
governor of Florida) was working for a Texas bank in Caracas. According
to recently declassified reports, the CIA, which had offices, operatives,
and assets in Caracas (besides Posada), was at least aware of the
two failed attempts to bomb Cubana civilian airliners in the summer
of 1976. About a week before the successful bombing on October 6
it received a report, “We’re going to hit the Cuban airliner,”
from an “informant” —likely Posada.
As CIA director, Bush senior did not warn potential passenger/crews
of any of the pending attacks on Cubana airliners, nor did he advise
President Ford of these projects. The CIA tried to get Posada and
Bosch out of Venezuela before they could be charged and helped in
the successful effort to delay court proceedings. Bush senior was
vice president in 1985 when Posada was helped to escape Venezuelan
custody. In 1985-87 Bush senior’s assistant was getting direct
reports from Posada’s partner Felix Rodriguez (a Bush senior
personal friend) in the Contra supply operation. Bush senior was
president in 1990 when he deferred Bosch’s deportation, thereby
allowing him to live freely in Miami. This overruled the strong
recommendation of his own Justice Department, which had implicated
Bosch in over 50 terrorist crimes both inside and outside the U.S.
Bush junior was president last fall when the outgoing president
of Panama pardoned Posada.
When it became apparent this spring that Posada was living in Miami,
Venezuela requested that he be extradited to Caracas to complete
his trial there and asked that he be held in custody until the extradition
court determined the matter (the request was denied). In May, Secretary
of State Rice, who must make the decision on filing the extradition
case, indicated vaguely that she was going to wait for the immigration
matter before deciding. On June 15, Venezuela filed its formal extradition
demand, with 500 pages of overwhelming evidence that Posada committed
the 1976 Cubana murders in Venezuela, in addition to interrogating
people by torture there. Although U.S. law is clear that extradition
takes precedence over deportation, the State Department has neither
done nor said anything about extradition, except to indicate its
opinion that the law is being followed.
the deportation hearing, Posada agreed his entry was illegal. During
cross examination he eventually withdrew his claim for asylum, stating
through his lawyer that his further testimony on this issue might
“embarrass” the U.S. and endanger its security, which
he didn’t want to do. However, Posada continues to seek protection
under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), which has been his only
real claim all along. CAT provides that deportation or extradition
will be deferred where the deportee or accused shows “by a
clear probability” that the deportee or accused will be tortured
by the receiving country.
The only torture evidence offered by Posada was the testimony of
his old friend and supervisor in DISIP, Chaffardet, who opined that
Posada likely would be tortured in Venezuela. His evidence was equivocal,
often using words like “subjected to humiliation or torture.”
His opinion was not based on knowledge of the Venezuelan system,
but on one case. He claimed that when he was in court once last
year, the three men accused of murdering Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo
Anderson were brought in three days after their arrest with black
eyes and swollen lips. (At the time of his death, Anderson was investigating
U.S. funding through the NED and CIA of the prior Chavez coup and
recall.) Chaffardet also testified that he “agreed with”
a U.S. State Department report, which said the three men’s
“lawyers alleged” they had received electric shocks, and
the judge called for an investigation, which had not been completed.
The U.S. lawyers did not cross examine Chaffardet. He came across
as a respected, reputable lawyer. If they had brought out his relationship
to the 1976 Cubana airliner bombing, his credibility would have
been destroyed. Obviously he doesn’t want Posada to face a
trial because his own participation in the bombing, as well as the
CIA’s, would be exposed. Lawyers’ allegations are not
evidence and one incident, even if true, does not condemn an entire
system, especially when the incident is being investigated. Judge
Abbott, however, said this was sufficient to make a “prima
facie” case and he will defer Posada’s deportation.
It doesn’t seem rational or just to protect a CIA mass murderer
and torturer from facing justice out of fear he’ll be tortured
where there’s no real evidence that he will be tortured. If
there is no rational explanation, the only thesis must be the Orwellian
one: in the U.S. today, injustice is justice.