EDITORIAL: A terrorist goes free

Cuban exile Luis Posada was to have been tried in El Paso, Texas, May 11. But on May 8, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed fraud charges related to his illegal entry into the U.S. two years ago. Now Posada will go back to his wife’s home in Miami.

Though Posada engineered the bombing of a Cuban airliner, killing all 73 aboard, arranged for hotel bombings in Havana that killed one person, and was prepared to murder Cuban President Fidel Castro in Panama in 2000, the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge him as a terrorist. An outraged world opinion demands he either be tried in the U.S. for these crimes or extradited as requested to Venezuela.

Judge Cardone dismissed the charges because in her analysis the government had actually set Posada up for a fraudulent citizenship application review to entrap him into making false statements for which he could later be prosecuted. She said if the Bush administration wanted to go after Posada for terrorism, it is perfectly capable of doing so, and she was not going to let the government off the hook by giving his immigration case special treatment.

Cardone’s ruling promises to re-ignite the firestorm of condemnation that greeted Posada’s release on bail last month. Whether her action will be appealed is uncertain.

Demonstrations were set around the U.S., protesting the coddling of Posada while five Cubans who defended against terrorism remain jailed.

But the story is not over. A grand jury in New Jersey is reviewing evidence possibly linking Posada to the 1997 Havana hotel bombings. FBI agents were recently in Cuba looking for confirmatory material.

After his trial was cancelled, the Cuban government said Posada’s release had been “concocted by the White House” so he would not reveal “the countless secrets he keeps about his protracted period as an agent of the U.S. special services, when he was involved in Operation Condor, in the dirty war against Cuba, Nicaragua and other peoples of the world.”

It’s bizarre indeed when the Bush administration jails those who fight terror but lets a real terrorist go free.