When does a stink become one stink too much? That becomes an issue with Luis Posada and with the Cuban Five.
One foul odor emanates now from a declassified U.S. document released May 18 showing that the investigation, promised in 1998, of suspected U.S. origins of hotel bombings in Havana was handed over to the FBI’s George Kiszynski. Reporter Jean Guy Allard notes not only that Miami resident Luis Posada organized those bombings the year before, but also that, according to Posada, Kiszynski was “my good friend.” Posada announced that to New York Times reporter Ann Louise Bardach in 1998, when he boasted about the bombings.
After discussions on hotel bombings with their Cuban counterparts on June 16-17, 1998, three FBI agents returned to Washington with 64 files of information on terrorist plotting in Florida. Miami FBI head Hector Pesquera responded by ordering the arrest three months later of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez. Working for Cuban Intelligence, the Cuban Five had monitored terrorist activities in Florida.
Allard details how in Honduras, 10 – 20 years ago, Kiszynski turned a blind eye to Posada’s murder schemes.. He cites Kiszynski’s close ties to Cuban American practitioners of terrorism.
In 2006 Bardach reported Pesquera had arranged for the destruction of files with evidence against Posada. There was a foul smell then just like in 1998 when she spoke with Antonio Alvarez. The Cuban exile working in Nicaragua said he gave the Miami FBI a fax documenting Posada’s plans to bomb hotels. George Kiszynski took charge of the matter. Nothing happened.
The case of the Cuban Five, replete with judicial failings, injustice, and cruelty, has a new smell now. According to declassified documents, the U.S. government paid 14 Miami journalists $74,400 before and during the trial of the Five for articles aimed at biasing public and jurors against the defendants.
That information came to light June 2 at a Washington DC news conference at which legal action seeking habeas corpus was announced on behalf of the Five. Lawyers for the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, allied to the National Committee to Free the Five, are targeting the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its Office of Cuba Broadcasting for making the payments. They are both U.S. agencies.
Heidi Boghosian, National Lawyers Guild Executive Director, told reporters that “blatant violations” of the US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 marred the trial of the Five. “The government became an accomplice in jury tampering,” she charged. At issue are violations of the right to a fail trial guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
The report of journalists paid by Washington prompted retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson to recall Enrique Encinosa’s interview in 2005. The former aide to ex – Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Encinosa, recipient of $5,200 for journalistic labors during the trial of the Five, justified hotel bombings as “an acceptable method” to scare off tourists.
The smell trail has moved to El Paso. There Federal Judge Kathleen Carbone set January 11, 2011 as Posada’s new trial date. The former CIA functionary, of Cuban and Venezuelan citizenship, arrived in the United States in March, 2005. Since then, prosecutors have replaced charges of illegal entry with perjury accusations. Scheduled trials have been cancelled or postponed. Venezuela’s U.S. attorney Jose Pertierra says this time U.S. prosecutors have sought evidence from Havana on hotel bombings to support the perjury charge.
The U.S. government, however, refuses to recognize Posada as an accused murderer and plotter of assassinations against former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Five years ago, on June 15, 2005, Venezuela requested Posada’s extradition so he could complete judicial proceedings interrupted by his CIA assisted escape from a Venezuelan jail in 1985. Venezuelan prosecutors, bolstered by declassified U.S. intelligence documents, say he is responsible for organizing the bombing in 1976 of a Cuban Airliner and death of its 73 passengers and crew.
That raises another stink: many observers, represented most recently by Jean Guy Allard, believe that prolongation of U.S. judicial processes relating to Posada is purposeful, aimed at rationalizing non-compliance with Venezuela’s legally justified extradition request. Extraditing countries regularly put off transfer of suspected criminals until ongoing court proceedings are finished.