Friday, September 22, 2006

Justice denied for Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit.

In the midst of the mainstream media's extensive coverage of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez calling W. the "devil" at the UN Assembly, what got overlooked was his demand that the United States government turn over a wanted terrorist presently in U.S. custody. Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile and former CIA operative, was very reluctantly arrested last year in Miami and has been cooling his heels in a San Antonio immigration center ever since. Instead of either extraditing him to Venezuela (where the plot was hatched), like Chavez wants, or trying him here for the October 6, 1976 bombing of Cubana flight 455, which killed in midair all 73 civilians aboard, the administration has decided to give him a get-out-of-jail-free card. Due to the administration's fear of losing the all important Cuban vote in Miami, it's willing to allow a mass murderer to walk free. (Naturally, as hell bent on defeating terrorism as this president is, he's not about to send a man -- who is innocent until proven guilty -- to be tried in a Venezuelan court, where he might not receive due process.)

W. has said time and again that countries which harbor terrorists will be bombed into the stone age, but when it comes to Cuban terrorists, that's all out the window. Especially when it's this country that's harboring them. It should be noted here that Posada is not the only terrorist allowed to freely walk the streets of Miami. Orlando Bosch, considered a hero in the Cuban "exile community," is most infamously known for firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter in downtown Miami in 1968, to this day potters around Calle Ocho hawking his crappy paintings.

As bad as the bombing of the Venezuelan plane is, though, Posada is also implicated in having had a hand in the single greatest international terrorist attack on American soil before 9/11. This was the September 21st 1976 car bombing and assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and 25 year-old American Ronni Karper Moffit, in the heart of embassy row in Washington DC. [Chile also wants the US to extradite Posada]

For thirty years the families of Letelier and Moffit have been trying to get the US government to release classified documents that would prove that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was behind this despicable act, but to no avail. The Clinton administration under pressure did release 24,000 documents related to the case and actually launched an FBI investigation, which in 2000 recommended indicting Pinochet. Unfortunately, instead of doing the right thing then, Janet Reno instead punted to the incoming Bush administration. (And I mean she punted it. She's got a hell of a leg!)

Since then, despite W.'s vaunted war against terror, the administration has stonewalled all attempts by the families to find out who killed their loved ones. The NYT's Larry Rohter did a piece on this yesterday and reported that, "no one in the Bush administration would comment on this case. William Blier, head of the unit in the office of the United States Attorney in Washington that is in charge of the case, declined a request for information on the status of the investigation. He referred the question to a press spokesman, Channing Phillips, who also would not comment."

Apparently, W. & Co. aren't concerned about finding and punishing the people behind a car bombing orchestrated by a foreign government on the streets of Washington DC. Would it be incredibly cynical of me to think that the fact that 41 was at that time the director of the CIA has anything to do with this seemingly incomprehensible lack of interest in this case on the part of 43?

I wonder what the American people would say about that. Perhaps, they would say that when it comes to fighting terrorism this president talks a good game, but when it really comes down to it, he's all hat and no cattle.


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