State-sponsored terrorism by USA


Richard Moore

From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: FW: Whose terrorism??
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2006 22:32:46 -0700
Organization: Institute  for Cultural Ecology

The Cuban Five
Frank Joyce

It wasn't Libya, Afghanistan, or any other Arab-based group that first blew up a
commercial airplane. Al Qaida had nothing to do with it. That first attack, on 
Oct. 6, 1976, came when Cuban-American terrorists and mercenaries blew up a 
Cuban civilian airliner. All 73 on board went down to a fiery and gruesome 
death, including the teenage members of the Cuban fencing team returning from a 
competition in Venezuela.

This tacitly U.S.-supported terrorist crime never appears on the "history" list 
of incidents involving civilian airliners, at least not in the U.S. media. Why? 
Cognitive dissonance is one explanation. The syllogism goes like this: The 
United States is a good country. Terrorism is bad. The United States funds and 
protects terrorists. Uh-oh -- we certainly can't talk about that.

In Barbados, where the bomb was placed on the Cuban airliner, the mercenaries 
were tried and convicted for the crime and served time. But the planners and 
instigators of the plot, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, got away clean.
Posada is today being protected by the U.S. government from an extradition 
demand by Venezuela, where the crime was planned. (In a delicious irony, the 
U.S. government's position is that he can't be extradited to Venezuela because 
he would be tortured there.) Over the objections of his own justice department, 
George H. W. Bush in effect pardoned Orlando Bosch. He is today a free man 
living in Miami where he gives gloating TV interviews about his role in blowing 
up the plane.

The Cuban airline bombing was anything but an isolated incident. On Sept. 4, 
1997, as on other occasions, U.S.-sponsored terrorists set off bombs in Havana 
hotels and restaurants. This time, one killed a tourist from Italy, Fabio de 
Celmo. Over the years death and injury to civilians has come from thousands of 
other attacks carried out in Cuba and elsewhere by land, air and sea against 
villagers, fisherman, children, tourists and diplomats by terrorists based in 

The Al Qaida-like network -- which includes Alpha 66, Omega 7, Brothers To The 
Rescue, and Commandos L and others -- is as active today as ever. Just last 
month, Commandos F-4 held a press conference in Miami to announce they had 
successfully carried out sabotage raids in Cuba in four different provinces. A 
few weeks earlier police raided the California home of Robert Ferro, a 
self-proclaimed member of Alpha 66. Police and federal agents seized 35 machine 
guns, 13 silencers, two short-barreled rifles, a live hand grenade, a rocket 
launcher tube and 89,000 rounds of ammunition. Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo 
Mitat were busted about a year ago with a similar stash in Fort Lauderdale. The 
defense claimed by all three is that they were acting as members of 
organizations working with the full knowledge and support of the U.S. 

These arrests, by the way, do not mean that the U.S. government is aggressively 
trying to contain these terrorists. The raids are about window-dressing and 
deniability. They are not about a genuine effort to stop the Cuban exile 
terrorists. On July 10 of this year the "Commission for Assistance to a Free 
Cuba," headed by Condoleezza Rice, issued a long-promised report. It sets out 
U.S. plans to increase and intensify support for those trying to overthrow the 
government of Cuba. The version posted on the website is 93 pages long; the 
entire report is 450 pages. Most of it is "classified." The secrecy is not about
protecting aid to dissidents in Cuba -- it's about protecting terrorists in 

Enter the Cuban Five

Someone should make a movie about the Cuban Five -- Rene Gonzalez, Antonio 
Guerro, Fernando Gonzalez, Gerrardo Hernandez and Ramon Labinino. They are 
poets, pilots, engineers, artists, college graduates, husbands, sons, brothers, 
fathers, Cubans, Americans. But that's not why the movie.

The movie is about why they are in five different maximum security prisons in 
the United States. Two of them are American citizens by virtue of having been 
born in the United States. Their parents were refugees from a Cuban dictator: 
Fulgencio Batista. When Batista was deposed by the Castro-led Cuban revolution, 
they returned to Cuba to live and raise their children.

The Cuban Five volunteered to come to Florida in the mid-'90s for the purpose of
becoming "eyes and ears" into the plans and activities of the Florida-based 
terrorist groups. The escalation of efforts by groups like Alpha 66 and 
Commandos L drove the timing of their mission. The terrorists were openly 
targeting Cuba's growing tourism industry, which was being expanded to offset 
the loss of aid to the Cuban economy from the former Soviet Union.

The Five succeeded in infiltrating some of the most dangerous groups, but in 
September of 1998 they were arrested by the FBI. In a harbinger of post-9/11 
civil liberties erosions to come, they were denied bail. They were placed in 
solitary confinement, separated from each other and their families. Their 
attorneys were prevented from gaining access to the evidence to be used against 
them at their trial. They were charged with a raft of crimes, including 
allegations of "conspiracy."

None of the accusations alleged any violent acts on their part. The Five's 
monitoring activities had nothing to do with threatening the United States in 
any way. Their mission was to protect Cuba. The only way you could argue 
otherwise would be to concede that the terrorists were carrying out the official
foreign policy of the United States.

In 2001, 33 months after their arrest, their trial began in Miami, Florida. 
Before and several times during the trial, their court-appointed attorneys 
requested a change of venue on the grounds that the pro-Cuban defendants could 
not get a fair trial in Miami. The attorneys proposed Fort Lauderdale, just 25 
miles away. Their change of venue motions were repeatedly denied.

The trial lasted six months. It included testimony from Cuban exile terrorists, 
a high-ranking assistant to the president of the United States, and generals and
admirals from the U.S. and Cuba. On numerous occasions there were rowdy 
demonstrations outside the court room by anti-Castro Cuban exiles. Some of the 
demonstrations specifically targeted members of the jury. The trial got zero 
media coverage outside of Miami.

Despite incredible holes and contradictions in the government's case, the Cuban 
Five were found guilty on every count that had been brought against them. The 
jury even convicted the Five on charges the judge instructed them did not meet 
the burden of proof. Rene Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 years. Antonio Guerro to 
life imprisonment plus 10 years, Fernando Gonzalez was sentenced to 19 years, 
Gerrardo Hernandez was given two life sentences plus 80 months, and Ramon 
Labinino was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 18 years.

The conditions of their incarceration have been cruel, unusual and in violation 
of many rights and privileges accorded to other prisoners. Of the eight years 
total each has already been incarcerated, much of their jail time has been in 
solitary confinement -- even though they are model prisoners without a single 
blemish on their record. Two of the five have never been permitted visits from 
their wives.

In 2005 the convictions were overturned because a three-judge panel ordered a 
new trial because Miami was such a demonstrably unfair place to try them. But on
Aug. 9, the full Appeals bench overturned that decision. Nine other grounds for 
reversing the convictions now await decisions by the three-judge panel. It is 
also possible that lawyers for the Five will appeal the 11th Circuit Court 
decision on the venue issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why the Cuban Five matter

Ignore what you think about Cuba, pro, con or indifferent. Consider instead what
kind of country you think the United States should be in the 21st century.

As a nation, are we truly against terrorism, or is it just a term we use to 
demonize those whose goals we oppose? Does not the mistreatment of the Five 
reveal that the underpinnings of the mindset that has brought us to Abu Ghraib 
and Guantanamo runs deeper than the presidency of George Bush?

And as long as the U.S. government supports the terrorists in Florida, by what 
moral authority does the United States tell Iran and Syria they have no right to
support Hezbollah? If Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorist 
attack, why doesn't Cuba? Why doesn't the media ever raise these questions?

Doesn't the disproportionate influence of the Cuban exile community have an 
enormous impact on our political destiny? For all the ruckus about whether the 
pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC has too much influence on U.S. foreign policy -- 
viewed in proportion to the size of the Cuban exile population, AIPAC's clout 
would be tiny.

Could Florida play the "super-state" role it does in U.S. politics without the 
part played by the Cuban exiles whose first loyalty is not to the United States?
All of the Bushes -- George I, George II, Jeb -- are up to their eyeballs in 
these activities. In addition to his terrorist activities against Cuba, 
Cuban-American Luis Posada Carriles was also a major player in the Iran-Contra 
affair. As some may recall, that whole operation was run out of George Herbert 
Walker Bush's office when he was Ronald Reagan's vice president. Jeb Bush 
recently appointed the son of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista to the 
Florida Supreme Court. Janet Reno, then U.S. attorney general, was already 
contemplating her run for the U.S. Senate from Florida when she sanctioned the 
trial of the Cuban Five in the first place.

Aren't we all at risk if the right to a trial away from a lynch mob atmosphere 
is diluted, if the most basic rule of evidence can be ignored because "the end 
justifies the means"? What does that kind of reasoning do to the rule of law?

The Cuban Five have already been in jail for eight years. Even if one were to 
grant that they committed technical violations of U.S. law, such as failure to 
register as foreign agents -- something the defense does not concede -- the time
they have already served would constitute excessive punishment. Doesn't our own 
sense of justice argue that they should be released, or at the very least be 
given a fair trial?

Author's note: Up-to-date information on the Five is available at

Frank Joyce is a journalist and labor communications consultant.

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