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September 11: The empire and its lies...
by posted by F Espinoza
13 Sep 2007
Cuban President Fidel Castro on Wednesday reflected on the six long years since the painful September 11 episode in the US, about which it is known there has been deliberate disinformation...
The Empire and Falsehood
Havana, Sep 12 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Fidel Castro on Wednesday reflected on the six long years since the painful September 11 episode in the US, about which it is known there has been deliberate disinformation.
The most dramatic thing is that what really happened might be never known for certain, the leader affirmed in a new article broadcast by the radio-TV Roundtable Discussion.
Fidel Castro said in his reflections entitled "The Empire and Falsehood" that like the rest of the planet, "we were deceived." "What a big difference between the behavior of the Cuban government and that of the US! The Revolution is based on truth, and the empire on lie!" the president concluded.
Due to its importance, Prensa Latina integrally reproduces reflections in sections by the Cuban president:
The empire and its lies
It was Reagan who created the Cuban American National Foundation, whose sinister involvement in the blockade and in terrorist actions against Cuba would be revealed years later, when the United States declassified secret documents, albeit full of information that had been shamefully crossed out. Had these documents come to light earlier, our conduct would not have been different.
When, on March 30, 1981, we received news in Cuba that Reagan had been shot with a low-caliber weapon in an assassination attempt, we sent him a message condemning the act. The 22-caliber lead bullet lodged in one of his lungs was causing him pain and putting his life at risk. The message is contained in the conversation that, following precise instructions, our then minister of foreign affairs, Isidoro Malmierca, had with Wayne Smith, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana.
What follow are excerpts, quoted verbatim, of the conversation between the two:
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: We summoned you to this meeting on the express request of President Fidel Castro. He asked me to begin by expressing our appreciation for the information on the assassination attempt on President Reagan that you provided us with through director Joaquín Más. On behalf of President Fidel Castro, we also wish to express how deeply we regret this event and our sincere hope that President Reagan will recover from this attack as quickly as possible.
“WAYNE SMITH: Thank you, very much.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: We have been receiving information about the medical attention the President is receiving. Initially, you had also received information that the consequences of the attack did not appear to be that severe, but it seems the situation is more complicated and he is undergoing surgery.
“WAYNE SMITH: Yes. Our impression is that he has been operated on already, but over the radio they are now saying that the operation is to begin now. It is likely to be over in, say, an hour. A 3-hour surgery, I mean, is nothing simple, especially for a 70-year-old man. They say there"s no danger. My interpretation of this is that there"s no immediate danger. But, for a 70-year-old man, a 3-hour surgery is a serious matter. They say he is not in serious condition, that his condition is stable. We hope everything goes well. I thank you for your best wishes, your concern and President Fidel Castro"s message.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: In Washington, Mr. Frechette also approached the Cuban Interests Section and conveyed us information on this situation. He explained that you had also received information on this. Again, President Fidel Castro personally asked me to meet with you and to express our sincere hope that President Reagan recover promptly from the consequences of the attack.
“WAYNE SMITH: Thank you, very much. My God! This is a difficult situation. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and it looks as though the person responsible for the assassination attempt on Reagan is from Dallas. He currently lives in Colorado, but he"s from Dallas. I don"t know...
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: In some cables, I read that he was born near Denver, 30 kilometers from Denver.
“WAYNE SMITH: I don’t know. One of my consuls here in the Interests Section told me he had heard on the radio that it"s a guy who studied in the same school he did. I don’t know, he may have lived a number of years in Dallas. I don"t know what"s in the air people breath in Dallas.
"ISIDORO MALMIERCA: They say they"re three brothers, the sons of a man who"s in the oil business.
“WAYNE SMITH: His dad, yes. He"s 22 years old. He was a student at Yale University, but he had recently abandoned his studies. He may feel bitter, a young man who has failed, who acted out of resentment. To be completely frank, I"m glad it"s a guy like that and not, say, a Puerto Rican or something like that, which could have political implications.
"ISIDORO MALMIERCA: You mean speculations about the political motivations behind that.
“WAYNE SMITH: Yes, that could, undeniably, prompt, encourage political readings. An attack by a white man from Colorado, Texas does not lend itself easily to political interpretations.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: There have even been a number of police reports which say that he acted alone, that he has no ties to any groups...
“WAYNE SMITH: Yes, it must have been an insane or fanatical person. He got so close to the President...He was captured immediately. He took out his weapon and fired… “ISIDORO MALMIERCA: Brady died? “WAYNE SMITH: No.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: They were saying he died.
“WAYNE SMITH: Yes. There were reports to that effect, that he had died. But the latest news is that he didn"t, that he"s in very serious condition, but that he hasn"t died. I imagine that that a 45-calibre round would have been deadly, but a 22-calibre certainly gives him possibilities... It seems the shot hit him on the head, apparently in the head...That"s not good news, there isn"t much hope.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: A shot to the head, no matter what the caliber, is something very serious.
"WAYNE SMITH: Brady is in critical condition. He may survive, but he"d be a vegetable.
“ISIDORO MALMIERCA: I do regret that we should meet because of such an unfortunate event.
“WAYNE SMITH: I thank you for your best wishes. I will immediately send out a cable telling my government of our conversation. I kindly ask that you express my gratitude to President Fidel Castro.
No comments are needed. Malmierca’s version, written immediately after the meeting, speaks for itself. Wayne Smith is today a staunch opponent of the blockade and aggressions against Cuba.
But this is not the only example of our conduct towards the President of a country which, since the days of Eisenhower, has hatched hundreds of plots to physically eliminate me.
A highly confidential report submitted in the summer of 1984 to an agent responsible for the security of Cuban representatives in the UN warned of a possible assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by a far-right group in North Carolina. Upon receiving it, we immediately informed US authorities. Our official suggested that we deliver the information via Robert C. Muller, head of security of the US mission to the United Nations, with whom we maintained contact to ensure the protection of Cuban delegations visiting the international organization.
The assassination was planned for an imminent date, for Reagan’s visit to North Carolina, as part of his re-election campaign.
We had all of the information at our disposal. We had the names of those implicated in the plot; the day, time and place where the assassination was to take place; the types of weapons the terrorists had and where they were being kept. In addition to all this, we knew where the elements who were plotting this were meeting and had a brief account of what had been said at a meeting.
The information was given Muller at a meeting in a building located in 37 and 3rd Avenue, two blocks away from the Cuban mission.
We provided him with all the information, making sure the most important details, such as the names of those involved, the place, time and type of weapons to be used, were clear.
At the end of the conversation, our official informed Muller he had received instructions from the Cuban government to report the matter urgently and that we had selected him because we knew he was an expert on security matters.
Muller read out what he had written down to ensure he had not changed anything and that all of the important information was there.
He asked about the source and was told it was reliable. He said that the Secret Service would need to meet with the Cuban officials. He was told this would not be a problem.
At around four thirty in the afternoon that day, Secret Service agents met with the Cuban representatives.
The meeting was held in apartment 34-F, in the 34th floor of the Ruppert Towers building located in 92, between Third and Second Avenue, in uptown Manhattan.
The agents were two young, white men with brush haircuts wearing suits. Their chief aim was to verify what Muller had reported, as evidenced by the copy of the cable he had sent them they brought with them. When the contents of the cable were read, they were told no information was missing.
The Secret Service agents wanted to know who had provided the information and how it had come into our possession. They were told what Muller was told. They were also interested in knowing if we could elaborate on the information, and they were told that, if any new information were to arrive, they would be immediately informed.
They left their cards and asked to be contacted directly if any additional information was received, saying there was no need to use Muller as an intermediary.
The following Monday, we received news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had detained a group of people in North Carolina, against whom a number of charges had been brought, none, as is logical to assume, related to the plan to assassinate President Reagan, who traveled to that State shortly afterwards as part of his presidential e-election campaign.
Four or five days following the arrests, at the end of the week, Muller phoned the Cuban mission to invite the Cuban official to lunch. They had lunch at the UN delegates’ lounge. The first thing Muller did was ask that the official convey the United States" gratitude to the Cuban government for the information provided, confirming that an operation against those involved had been carried out. A Cuban anti-terrorist activist had saved the life of a US President! Some US press reports mention an intimate diary, over 700 pages long, kept by Reagan— from the time he entered office to the day he handed the presidency over to Bush Sr.— which tries to suggest that his G¡government was not that aggressive towards Cuba.
However, according to some accounts, in his memoirs, Robert McFarlane, then Undersecretary of State under Alexander Haig, wrote that, of all the governments that had had dealings with Fidel Castro since 1959, Reagan"s seemed the least indicated to hold talks with Cuba"s communist regime.
Perhaps Reagan was grateful for our concern, when he was nearly assassinated in 1981, and for the warning that saved his life from imminent danger, and he expressed this gratitude through Robert C. Muller.
Reagan signed the first migratory accord with Cuba, but he could not rise above his milieu, for there were others, further to the right than he was, who would have physically eliminated him, as they did Kennedy after he faced the terrible risk of a thermonuclear war. To be sure, Reagan did change his policy towards Cuba in an electoral year, did not honor the accord he signed which guaranteed the granting of up to 20 thousand visas a year for safe trips by granting less than a thousand, and kept in effect the Cuban Adjustment Act, which has cost Cuba many lives.
On September 11, 2001, true chaos reigned in this neighboring country. For long, planes were forbidden to land at airports. A countless number of passenger planes were mid-flight somewhere. These were the news spread by the media in the United States. There were reports of thousands of victims in New York, including Twin Tower staff, firefighters and visitors. There were also reports of people on a passenger plane which was flown into the Pentagon. We offered to supply the United States with clean blood from regular donors if it was needed for any eventuality. Blood donations have long constituted a tradition of the Revolution.
These events happened to coincide with the day in which we had convened nearly 15,000 higher education students and university graduates for a 6:00 pm gathering, on the occasion of the re-opening of the Salvador Allende School, where 3,599 young people would begin higher studies and avail themselves of new and tried methods to become primary school teachers.
That painful incident occurred six years ago today. Today, we know that the public was deliberately misinformed. I don"t recall any talk, that day, of the fact that, in the basements of those towers, whose higher floors housed the banks of multinational corporations and other offices, lay nearly 200 tons in gold bars. An order to shoot to death anyone who attempted to get to the gold had been issued. The calculations with respect to the steel structures, plane impacts, the black boxes recovered and what they revealed do not coincide with the opinions of mathematicians, seismologists, information, demolition experts and others. What is most shocking is the claim that we may never know what actually happened. It is known, however, that a number of people en route to San Francisco from New Jersey, had conversations with their relatives when the air vessels were already under the control of individuals who were not members of the crew.
An analysis of the impact of planes similar to those against the towers, following accidental plane crashes in densely-populated cities, concludes that no plane crashed against the Pentagon and that only a projectile could have created the geometrically round hole that the alleged plane created. No passenger that perished there has turned up, either. No one in the world questioned the news about the attack on the Pentagon building. We were deceived, as were the rest of the planet"s inhabitants.
When I spoke at the Ciudad Deportiva sports complex that September 11th, I spoke of the tragedy that had hit the United States. In the interests of conciseness, I am reproducing the following excerpts from that speech:
(…) We did not even consider postponing the ceremony. It could not be postponed, despite the international tension created by such events. I would imagine that almost everyone knows about them, but to briefly summarize, at approximately 9:00 this morning, a Boeing airplane, a really big one, crashed straight into one of the two New York famous towers which make up one of the highest buildings in the world. Naturally, the tower caught on fire because of all the fuel from such a big airplane, and some horrific scenes began. And then, 18 minutes later, another plane, also from an U.S. airline, crashed straight into the second tower.
A few minutes later, another plane crashed into the Pentagon. News arrived, in the midst of a certain amount of confusion, of a bomb outside the State Department, and other alarming events, although I have mentioned the most important.
Obviously, the country had fallen victim to a violent surprise attack, unexpected, unimaginable, something truly unheard of. And the scenes that ensued were appalling, especially when the two towers were burning, and foremost when they both collapsed, all 100 floors, spilling over onto neighboring buildings, when it was known that there were tens of thousands of people working there, in offices representing many companies from various countries.
It was only logical that this would be a shock for the United States and the rest of the world. The stock markets started to collapse, and because of the political, economic and technological importance and the power of the United States, the whole world was shaken up today by those events. So, we had to follow the events throughout the day, but at the same time, we also had to continue thinking about the conditions and circumstances in which this ceremony would take place.
Therefore, there were two issues: the school and the extremely important course it will offer, and the political and human catastrophe that had taken place over there, especially in New York.
(…) Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hatred against the American people has never been sown here. Perhaps, precisely because of its culture, its lack of prejudice, its sense of full freedom –with a homeland and without a master-- Cuba is the country where Americans are treated with the greatest respect. We have never preached any kind of national hatred, or anything similar to fanaticism, and that is the reason for our strength, because our conduct is based on principles and ideas. We treat all Americans who visit us with great respect, and they have noticed this and said so themselves.
Furthermore, we cannot forget the American people who put an end to the Vietnam War with their overwhelming opposition to that genocidal war. We cannot forget the American people who –in numbers that exceeded 80% of the population-- supported the return of Elián González to his homeland. We cannot forget their idealism, although it is often undermined by deception, because –as we have said often times– in order to mislead Americans to support an unjust cause, or an unjust war, they must first be deceived. The classic method used by that huge country in international politics is that of deceiving the people first, to count on their support later. When it is the other way around, and the people realize that something is unjust, then based on their traditional idealism they oppose what they have been supporting. Often these are extremely unjust causes, which they had supported convinced that they were doing the right thing.
Therefore, although unaware of the exact number of victims but seeing those moving scenes of suffering, we have felt profound grief and sadness for the American people.
We do not go around flattering any government, or asking for forgiveness or favors. We neither harbor in our hearts a single atom of fear. The history of our Revolution has proven its capacity to stand up to challenges, its capacity to fight and its capacity to resist whatever it has to; that is what has turned us into an invincible people. These are our principles. Our Revolution is based on ideas and persuasion, and not on the use of force.
(…)That has been our reaction, and we wanted our people to see the scenes and watch the tragedy. We have not hesitated to express our sentiments publicly, and right here I have a statement, which was drafted as soon as the facts were known and handed out to the international media around 3:00 p.m. In the meantime, our television networks were broadcasting news of the events. This statement was scheduled to be read to the Cuban public tonight during the evening TV newscast.
I am going to move the time up a few minutes by reading to you here and now the Official Statement from the Government of Cuba on the events that took place in the United States: "The Government of the Republic of Cuba has learned with grief and sadness of the violent surprise attacks carried out this morning against civilian and official facilities in the cities of New York and Washington, which have caused numerous deaths.
(…)"It is not possible to forget that for over four decades our country has been the target of such actions fostered from within the United States territory.
"Both for historical reasons and ethical principles, the Government of our country strongly repudiates and condemns the attacks against the aforementioned facilities and hereby expresses its most heartfelt sympathies to the American people for the painful, unjustifiable loss of human lives resulting from these attacks.
"In this bitter hour for all Americans, our people express their solidarity with the American people and their full willingness to cooperate, to the extent of their modest possibilities, with the health care institutions and any other medical or humanitarian organization in that country in the treatment, care and rehabilitation of the victims of this morning’s events." Although it is not known whether the casualties are 5000, 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000, it is known that the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers and into the Pentagon were carrying hundreds of passengers, and we have offered to provide whatever we can, if necessary.
That is a country with great scientific and medical development and resources, but at some point in time it could need blood of a specific type or plasma –any other product that we could donate, we would be most willing to give-- or medical support or paramedics. We know many hospitals are short of specific technicians and professionals. In other words, we want to express our disposition and readiness to be helpful in relation to these tragic events.
(…) The hijacking of planes –a method used against Cuba-- became a universal plague, and it was Cuba that solved this problem when, after repeated warnings, we sent two hijackers back to the United States. It is painful because they were Cubans but we had issued public warnings, so they came and we returned them. We complied with our public pledge, yet they never again provided us with any information about them to give to their relatives. They have their own ways of doing things. No one knows. I know they were sentenced to 40 years imprisonment, and that put an end to those hijackings".
(…) None of the problems affecting today’s world can be solved with the use of force; there is no global, technological or military power that can guarantee immunity against such acts, because they can be organized by small groups [which are] difficult to detect.
(...) It is very important to know what the reaction of the U.S. Government might be. Possibly the world will be living dangerous days, and I am not talking about Cuba. Cuba is the most peaceful country in the world, for several reasons: our policies, our forms of struggle, our doctrine, our ethics, and also, comrades, and due to an absolute absence of fear.
Nothing troubles us. Nothing intimidates us. It would be very difficult to concoct a slanderous accusation against Cuba; not even its inventor and the patent holder would believe it. It would be very difficult. And Cuba means something in the world today. It has a very high moral position, and a very sound political position in the world.
The days to come will be tense inside the United States. A number of people will start putting forward opinions.
(…) We would advise the leaders of that powerful empire to remain calm, to act with a cool head, to avoid getting carried away by a fit of rage or hatred, and not to start trying to hunt people down by throwing bombs just anywhere.
I reiterate that none of the world’s problems, not even terrorism, can be solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every imprudent action that entails the use of force anywhere, is going to seriously aggravate the world problems.
The way is neither the use of force nor the war. I say this with the full authority of someone who has always talked honestly, of someone with sound convictions and the experience of surviving the years of struggle that Cuba has lived through. Only reason, and the intelligent policy of seeking strength through consensus and international public opinion, can definitely eradicate this problem. I think this unexpected episode should be used to undertake an international effort against terrorism. However, this international struggle against terrorism cannot be won by eliminating a terrorist here and another one there, by killing people here and there, using similar methods to theirs and sacrificing innocent lives. It can only be won, among other ways, by putting an end to State terrorism and other repulsive forms of killing, by putting an end to genocide, and by seriously pursuing a policy of peace and respect for moral and legal standards. The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued.
(…) We have proven that we can survive, live and make progress, and everything seen here today is an expression of unprecedented progress in all of human history. Progress is not achieved only through the manufacturing of automobiles; developing people’s minds, providing knowledge, promoting culture, and looking after human beings the way they should be looked after makes progress. That is the secret of the tremendous strength of our Revolution.
The world cannot be saved in any other way, and by that I mean the situations of violence. Let us seek peace everywhere and protect all the people from that plague of terrorism. There is another horrible plague today, which is called AIDS, for instance. There is another plague, which kills tens of millions of children, teenagers and adults in the world, that is, hunger, disease and a lack of health care and medicines.
In the political arena, there are absolutist ideas, and attempts to impose a single way of thinking on the world; this fosters rebellious attitudes and irritation everywhere.
This world cannot be saved –and this does not have anything to do with terrorism-- if this unfair economic and social order continues to be developed and applied; an order that is leading the world to disaster, along a path from which there is no escape for the 6.2 billion people living today and the future inhabitants of this planet, suffering ever greater destruction and plunged further into poverty, unemployment, hunger and despair. This has been proven by the masses in places that have already gone down in history, like Seattle, Quebec, Washington and Genoa.
The world’s most powerful economic and political leaders now find it almost impossible to meet; everywhere we can see that people are less and less afraid, and are rising up. I was recently in Durban, a province in South Africa, and there I saw thousands and thousands of people members of non-governmental organizations; discontent is spreading like wildfire around the globe (…).
How enormously different is the conduct of the Cuban government from that of the government of the United States! The Revolution, based on truth, and the empire, based on lies!
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 11, 2007
Another opinion from Wayne Smith:
Inside Track: Take Cuba Off The Terrorist List
by Wayne S. Smith (*)
Cuba was placed on the list of terrorist nations in March of 1982 with little in the way of explanation. Twenty-five years later, the State Department’s reasons for keeping it there are totally unconvincing. It is not involved in any terrorist activities that the State Department can point to. It does not endorse terrorism, as the State Department says it does. On the contrary, it has condemned it in all its manifestations, has signed all twelve UN anti-terrorist resolutions and offered to sign agreements with the United States to cooperate in combating terrorism—an offer the Bush Administration ignores.
There are American fugitives in Cuba, yes, but even under our own legislation, this does not constitute grounds for declaring Cuba to be a terrorist state. And if Cuba does not regularly extradite those fleeing from American justice, the United States has not in more than 47 years extradited a single Cuban—including infamous terrorists such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
In sum, there is simply no credible evidence that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. The central question we should be asking is how can U.S. interests possibly be served by putting forward these spurious allegations and insisting that it is a terrorist state when it obviously is not, and by rebuffing its offers to cooperate in the struggle against terrorism? Does this not undermine our own credibility and cast doubt on our seriousness of purpose? Surely it is time to put an end to this dishonest and counterproductive policy. Congress should take the first step by holding hearings to examine the rationale and evidence—if any exists—behind this policy and to call for a new, more constructive approach.
Alleged Reasons for Placing Cuba on the List in the First Place
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) memorandum dated November 7, 2003, a copy of which Center for International Policy (CIP) has obtained, indicates that no explanation was given for Cuba’s inclusion on the list in 1982. According to the CRS memo, however, a State Department paper from a month before Cuba was placed on the list asserted that Cuba was encouraging terrorism and was especially active in El Salvador and Guatemala. Clearly, this must have been part of the rationale for placing it on the list. And yet, if Cuba’s support for guerrillas trying to overthrow an established government in El Salvador—or Guatemala—was enough to label it "a terrorist state", then the United States would have qualified as a terrorist state also, given that it was in the midst of supporting the Contras in their efforts to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.
Further, as I reported in my book, The Closest of Enemies, on April 19, a month after Cuba was placed on the list, the Reagan administration re-imposed restrictions on travel to the island (in the form of currency controls) and imposed various other sanctions against Cuba. The reasons it gave for these actions were 1) because "Cuba . . . is increasing its support for violence in the hemisphere" and 2) because Cuba refused to negotiate our foreign policy disagreements.
But as I pointed out in the book, in December of 1981, I had been informed by a high-ranking Cuban official that Cuba had suspended all arms shipments to Central America and that it hoped this major concession on its part would improve the atmosphere for negotiations, not only in Central America but between our two countries. This was almost certainly meant to be a response to a statement by Secretary of State Al Haig, who in a conversation with Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in Mexico the month before, had stated, in response to the Cuban’s indications of an interest in dialogue, that the United States wanted not words but changes in Cuban policies. Here was a major change.
I reported this December conversation to the Department of State, asking if we had any hard evidence to the contrary—for example, that Cuba was continuing to ship arms to Central America. If not, I recommended that the United States begin a dialogue.
I had to follow up with a number of cables, insisting on an answer. I finally got one in March, acknowledging that the United States did not have hard evidence of continuing Cuban arms shipments to Central America, but that it did not matter. In other words, the United States was not interested in dialogue. Where, then, was the evidence of "increasing support for violence"?
Cuba that was seeking negotiations—or dialogue—and the United States was rebuffing those overtures, not the other way around, as the State Department suggested. This outright misrepresentation of the facts to the American people was one of the factors which caused me to leave the Foreign Service shortly thereafter (*).
Bogus Reasons for Keeping Cuba on the List
After 25 years, Cuba remains on the State Department’s annual list of state sponsors of terrorism for reasons that do not withstand the most perfunctory examination. There is, for example, the oft-repeated charge that Cuba endorses terrorism as a tactic. Former Undersecretary of State John Bolton, for one, claimed in March of 2004 that Fidel Castro "continues to view terror as a legitimate tactic to further revolutionary objectives."
The charge is simply not true, and neither Bolton nor anyone else has been able to point to a single statement of Castro’s endorsing terrorism. On the contrary, there are myriad Cuban statements condemning it. Within hours of the 9/11 attack, for example, the Cuban government issued a statement condemning the attacks and ruing the loss of life. Late in September, Castro categorically condemned all forms of terrorism as an "ethically indefensible phenomenon which must be eradicated." He vowed that, "the territory of Cuba will never be used for terrorist actions against the American people."
Bogus Charges That Cuba is a Biological Warfare Threat
Back in 2004, Bolton said that the Bush administration was "concerned that Cuba is developing a limited biological weapons effort . . . and believes Cuba remains a terrorist and biological warfare threat to the United States."
Bolton’s charges caused a stir. Over the past three years, however, they have widely come to be seen as politically motivated and groundless. Certainly neither he nor anyone else has been able to put forward any evidence to support the charges. The Department of State no longer even makes them.
Further, the Center for Defense Information (CDI) sent several delegations to Cuba to investigate and in one case was accompanied by CIP. They were allowed to go anywhere they wished and see anything requested. Their conclusions were perhaps best summed up by retired General Charles Wilhelm, the former commander of SOUTHCOM, who accompanied one of the delegations. "While Cuba certainly has the capability to develop and produce chemical and biological weapons, nothing we saw or heard led us to the conclusion that they were proceeding on this path."
Wilhelm’s conclusions were practically echoed by a National Intelligence Estimate conducted in the summer of 2004 and reported in The New York Times on September 18, 2004. It said that "the Intelligence Community continues to believe that Cuba has the technical capability [emphasis added] to pursue some aspects of an offensive biological weapons program."
It made no claim, however, that Cuba was pursuing such a program.
In sum, unless accompanied by new evidence, any charges that Cuba poses a biological warfare threat to the United States must be seen as baseless.
Further, it should be noted that sending delegations to Cuba to investigate and discuss the matter with the Cubans showed that scientific exchanges, on a regular and ongoing basis, are clearly the best way to create transparency and build confidence in one another’s positions. We need more such exchanges, not fewer, and yet the Bush Administration has taken counterproductive steps to impede them.
The Case of the Annual Reports
One may have a twinge of sympathy for the analysts who craft the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Their instructions are to write and publish a report every year saying that Cuba is such a sponsor. But what about evidence?
In years past, the analysts seemed to handle that dilemma by using unverified and highly questionable reports. As monitoring efforts have increased over the past few years and the specious conclusions pointed out, the analysts seem to have turned to a new tactic—non-sequitors that do not prove that Cuba sponsors terrorism. This year’s report, for example, complained that "Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba’s Law 93 against acts of terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank."
But any decent lawyer would respond to that by asking "what assets?" There is no evidence at all that Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization has any assets in Cuba. And so, there is nothing to seize. The only thing the statement makes clear is that Cuba does have laws on the books against acts of terrorism. How, one might ask, does that square with the report’s assertion that it is a terrorist state?
And as it does every year, last year’s report mentions the presence in Cuba of members of the Basque ETA guerrilla organization, and the Colombian FARC and ELN. In past years, the State Department tried to suggest that they were in Cuba against the wishes of their respective governments and had sinister objectives. But that suggestion was shot down year after year by representatives of the Spanish and Colombian governments. This year, no such allegations are made. It is acknowledged that they are living in Cuba legally. Further, the report states that: "There is no information concerning terrorist activities of these or other organizations on Cuban territory. . . . The United States is not aware of specific terrorist enclaves in the country."
If they are there legally and are not involved in terrorist activities, then how does their presence in any way lead to the conclusion that Cuba sponsors terrorism?
This year’s report repeats its annual complaint that Cuba permits American fugitives to live in Cuba and is not responsive to U.S. extradition requests.
True, there are American fugitives in Cuba. Most are hijackers who came in the 1970s and have lived in Cuba since then. There are a few others, probably seven or eight, wanted for crimes committed in the United States. It is also true that Cuba has not responded positively to U.S. extradition requests. But two things must be noted about that. First, for all practical purposes, the 1904 extradition treaty is simply no longer operative, principally because the United States has not honored a single Cuba request for extradition since 1959. Second, most of the "crimes" committed in the U.S. were of a political nature, and Article VI of the treaty excludes the extradition of those whose crimes were of a "political character."
Furthermore, as Robert Muse, an international lawyer, noted in a 2004 report, none of the U.S. fugitives in Cuba provides a basis for declaring Cuba to be a "state sponsor of terrorism." Legal authority to make such a designation is found in Section 6(j) of the 1979 Export Administration Act, which says that it must be demonstrated that the fugitives have committed "terrorist" acts and that those acts were "international" in character. Muse states that he has been unable to identify a single U.S. fugitive in Cuba who meets those twofold criteria. Thus, they are extraneous to the definition of Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism."
In sum, as CIP has noted in its responses over the past few years, the annual reports present not a shred of evidence to confirm that Cuba is in fact a terrorist state.
A Policy that Undercuts Our Efforts Against Terrorism
And it is not only that we have no evidence that Cuba is a terrorist state. Our Cuba policy actually obstructs our own efforts against terrorism. As President Bush has said over and over again, anyone who shelters terrorists is a terrorist. But the fact is that we are sheltering a whole series of outright terrorists in Miami. The most recent arrival is the notorious Luis Posada Carriles, accused of being one of the masterminds of the bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976 that killed 73 innocent people, including the Cuban junior fencing team. He was in a Venezuelan prison awaiting trial on that charge when he escaped in 1985. He went to Central America, where for a time he worked for Oliver North in the Contra operation against Nicaragua.
Subsequently, in a 1998 interview with The New York Times, he bragged of ordering the bombing of a number of tourist hotels in Havana, which led to the death of an Italian tourist and the wounding of several other people.
And then in 2000, he was arrested in Panama and later convicted of "endangering public safety" because of his involvement in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro by blowing up a public auditorium where Castro was to speak before an audience of some 1,500. In 2004, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and her two congressional colleagues, Lincoln (R-FL) and Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL), appealed to then-President Mireya Moscoso to pardon him (**), along with three others involved in the plot: Guillermo Novo, convicted of the 1976 murder in Washington of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier (though his conviction was later overturned); Gaspar Jimenez, who spent six years in prison in Mexico for trying to kidnap a Cuban diplomat and killing his bodyguard in the process; and Pedro Remon, who had pleaded guilty in 1986 of trying to blow up the Cuban Mission to the United Nations.
In August of 2004, in one of her last acts as President of Panama, Moscoso pardoned them all. Jimenez, Remon and Novo, who were all American citizens, immediately flew back to Miami and received a hero’s welcome. Posada, who has Venezuelan citizenship, decided to bide his time in Honduras for a few months, but then, as we shall see below, quietly entered the U.S. in March.
Nor was this the first time Ros-Lehtinen had acted to free terrorists. Orlando Bosch, another mastermind of the 1976 bombing of the Cubana airliner, was released from Venezuelan prison under mysterious circumstances in 1987 and returned to Miami without a visa in 1988. The Immigration and Naturalization Service began proceedings to deport him, and as the associate attorney general argued at the time: "The security of this nation is affected by its ability to urge credibly other nations to refuse aid and shelter to terrorists. We could not shelter Dr. Bosch and maintain that credibility."
But shelter him we did. Urged on by Ros-Lehtinen and Jeb Bush—then managing her election campaign—George H.W. Bush pardoned Bosch, who has lived freely ever since in Miami.
Posada returned to Miami in March. Everyone knew he was there, but the federal government made no effort to apprehend him, or even to acknowledge his presence, until May, when he gave a press conference and forced their hand.
He was then arrested, but rather than charging him with acts of terrorism, he was simply charged with illegal entry and sent off to El Paso for an administrative immigration hearing, a complete farce. He was ordered deported, but, as the U.S. authorities already knew, there were no countries willing to take him except Venezuela, which had already requested his extradition for the 1976 bombing of the Cubana airliner. The federal judge, on nothing more than the opinion of a long-time associate of Posada’s, ruled that he could not be extradited to Venezuela for fear that he would be tortured there. Never mind that the Venezuelan government had given assurances that he would be held under the most transparent circumstances.
To hold him longer, but to avoid any charge of terrorism, the government then came up with a charge of giving false statements on his application of entry. Another sham, which finally ended on May 8, 2007, when Judge Kathleen Cardone, seeing clearly that skullduggery was afoot, charged the government with bad faith and "engaging in fraud, deceit and trickery." (That’s the Bush administration she’s talking about!)
That being the case, she said, "this court is left with no choice but to dismiss the indictment."
Posada was then freed and returned to Miami.
Some three months have now passed and the Bush Administration has given no indication that it intends to take any further action against Posada. What it should do is clear. Venezuela has asked for his extradition. We have an extradition treaty with Venezuela. Under that treaty, and others, we must either extradite him to Venezuela or we must indict him for acts of terrorism and try him in the United States. If we do not, we will be in blatant violation of international treaties and will be seen as openly sheltering another terrorist. Unfortunately, at the moment it seems that is exactly what the Bush Administration intends to do. If so, it will seriously undermine the credibility of our own stance against terrorism—taking us back to the idea that "one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter!" That is no way to win the war against terrorism.
(*) The author was a U.S. diplomat and specialist in Cuban affairs for roughly 25 years, leaving the Foreign Service in 1982, when he was Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, because of his disagreements over Cuba policy. He has been an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University since 1984 and a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC since 1992.
http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/reflexiones/index.html (Serie with Fidel’s Reflections)
- “Mission against Terror”:
- "Bacardí, the bat’s secret":
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This work is in the public domain