White House lets terrorist off hook

Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles left jail on April 19 and went to live at his wife’s home in Miami, after an appeals court approved his release on bail. His trial for lying and fraud, relating to his arrival in the United States, begins May 11 in El Paso, Texas.

U.S. failure to designate Posada as a terrorist was crucial to his release. Posada, a Cuban exile, faces charges in Venezuela for masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airplane, killing 73 people.

World outrage, simmering over U. S. inaction on Posada since his illegal entry two years ago, is now boiling over. The Non-Aligned Movement, representing 118 nations, condemned his release. A petition circulating for a week, already signed by over 3,000 notable persons worldwide, including Nobel Prize winners and prominent intellectuals, calls upon the U.S. to prosecute Posada for terrorism or extradite him, as requested, to Venezuela.

U.S. newspapers, including the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times, have published critical editorials. The New York Times gave op-ed space to Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, who wrote that Posada’s release “throws into doubt the sincerity of President Bush’s war on terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the Cuban Five are held in U.S. prisons for combating terrorism. The Rev. Lucius Walker, leader of Pastors for Peace, told the World that for the “Bush administration to release Posada while keeping in federal prison the Cuban Five who risked their lives to expose terrorism is proof positive that Bush is himself both a liar and a supporter of terrorism.”

Before escaping in 1985, Posada had been jailed in Venezuela for his part in the Cuban airliner bombing. The Bush administration has yet to acknowledge Venezuelan requests for his extradition.

National Security Archive researcher Peter Kornbluh told National Public Radio April 19 that the U.S. “intelligence community identifies him as the mastermind of the bombing.”

The archive, based at George Washington University, has released declassified U.S. intelligence material documenting Posada’s crimes. For Kornbluh, Posada is “a litmus test for the Bush administration that could have applied the Patriot Act and held him for his crimes.”

Posada helped lead the anti-Cuban CORU group in carrying out over 200 murderous attacks in 23 countries in the 1970s. With others, he prepared for the 1976 assassination in Washington of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his U.S. colleague Ronni Moffitt.

Hotel bombings orchestrated by Posada swept Havana in 1997, killing Italian tourist Fabio Di Celmo. Three years later Posada was preparing to blow up an auditorium in Panama filled with students waiting to hear Fidel Castro when authorities nabbed him.

Miami activist Andres Gomez said Posada’s presence “is a grave and present danger to our communities.” Referring to Orlando Bosch who also lives in Miami despite evidence of his anti-Cuba terrorist crimes, Gomes said, “Posada, Bosch and other terrorists are men with no regard for human life.”

“One of the principal international terrorists” goes to court now for the equivalent of “violating traffic laws,” author Noam Chomsky said.

José Pertierra, Washington attorney for the Venezuelan government, said Posada’s release undermines the U.S. legal system. “The Bush administration, by freeing this international terrorist, shows the level of disrespect that the government has for its own system of laws,” Pertierra said.

Plans are under way for protests in El Paso on May 11, when Posada’s trial begins. They will continue throughout the proceedings, with solidarity demonstrations taking place around the world.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taking Posada’s release to the United Nations, asking the world body to evaluate U.S. violations of UN anti-terrorism measures. UN Resolution 1373, for example, introduced by the U.S., requires member states to assure “that participants in the financing, planning, preparation or implementation of terrorist acts are brought to justice.”

Simon McGuinness, head of Cuban Five support activities in Ireland, told the World, “Considerable damage is being done to the international standing of the U.S. Officeholders are clearly conspiring with terrorists to pervert the course of justice. Irish people find it hard to hear that their American friends are part of a criminal conspiracy.”

atwhit @ megalink.net