Opinion and Analysis: International
U.S. Representative Kucinich Urges Terrorist Be Returned To Venezuela
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 17) — Tuesday Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, advocating the immediate return of Cuban-exile Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to be tried for his acts of terrorism.
Posada Carriles is a CIA-trained operative implicated in a series of terrorists incidents, including the bombing of the Cubana Airlines civilian airliner that killed 73 people on October 6, 1976. In November 2000, Posada Carriles was arrested in Panama for preparing a bomb to explode in the University of Panama's Conference Hall, where Fidel Castro was scheduled to deliver a speech.
"The United States must cooperate with the global community to further the protection of our citizens from terrorists. Posada Carriles should be tried for his crimes and will be if extradited to Venezuela. Releasing Posada Carriles would be a grave mistake," Kucinich said.
"Not only is there a likelihood that he would evade prosecution in the United States and elsewhere, but the United States will be sending the wrong message to the international community. The United States has stated that it will not tolerate the harboring or encouragement of terrorists. We must ensure that this government follows the policies it expounds."
The letter Kucinich sent stated:
April 17, 2007
Dear Attorney General Gonzales:
It has come to my attention that based on a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cordone, Luis Posada Carriles may be released on bond from jail in New Mexico. I adamantly oppose the release of Posada Carriles and assert that the decision is inconsistent with respect to our nation's policy and principles regarding terrorism. This case is important for United States relations with our neighbors in the hemisphere, and for our moral credibility on the so-called "Global War on Terrorism."
Posada Carriles is a CIA-trained Cuban exile implicated in a series of terrorist incidents, including the bombing of the Cubana Airlines civilian airliner that killed 73 people on October 6, 1976. Evidence in this case has continued to emerge as recently as 2005 when the National Security Archive of George Washington University posted a declassified CIA document from 1976 that quotes Posada Carriles as saying, "We are going to hit a Cuban airplane."
Additionally, Posada Carriles was a participant in a notorious act of domestic terror that took place here in Washington, D.C., with the bombing that killed former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American associate Ronnie Moffitt.
Carter Cornick, a retired counterterrorism specialist for the FBI who worked on the Letelier case, said in an interview with The New York Times that the Cubana Airlines bombing and the Letelier car bombing were planned at a June 1976 meeting in Santo Domingo attended by Posada Carriles. Cornick said that Posada Carriles was involved "up to his eyeballs" in planning the attacks. At the time of these bombings Venezuelan police found maps and other evidence in Posada's Venezuelan residence that tied him to the terrorist acts.
Furthermore, by evading Venezuelan justice, Posada Carriles has been able to continue committing terrorist crimes in recent years. In a 1998 interview with The New York Times, Posada Carriles claimed responsibility for organizing a series of bombings aimed at Cuban hotels, department stores and other civilian targets during the summer of 1997. These bombings killed an Italian tourist and injured 11 other people.
In November 2000, Posada Carriles was arrested in Panama for preparing a bomb to explode in the University of Panama's Conference Hall, where Fidel Castro was scheduled to deliver a speech. Hundreds of people were expected to attend this event, and had Cuban intelligence not uncovered the plot beforehand, there would have been massive civilian casualties. Posada Carriles was convicted in a Panamanian court only to be pardoned by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso just days before she left office in August 2004.
On September 19, 2001, President Bush powerfully reaffirmed our national policy against terrorism: "Anybody who harbors a terrorist, encourages terrorism, will be held accountable. I would strongly urge any nation in the world to reject terrorism, expel terrorists." As recently as April 10, 2007, President Bush reiterated these sentiments when he said "I vowed that if you harbored a terrorist you're equally as guilty as the terrorist. That's a doctrine. In order for this country to be credible, when the President says something, he must mean it. I meant it…."
If Posada Carriles is released on bond, there is a reasonable assumption that he may flee the United States in avoidance of further prosecution by this country and others. To tolerate such an outcome is inconsistent with the stated principles and policy of the United States with respect to the "Global War on Terror" and mars U.S. standing among the international community. As such, to provide Posada Carriles with an opportunity to escape prosecution for acts of terror will compromise the moral credibility of the United States.
I urge the following alternative course of action by the United States: Return Posada Carriles to Venezuela where former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel has unequivocally stated that Posada Carriles will be tried for his crimes. It is a priority for Venezuela, and it should be a priority for the United States to ensure that Posada Carriles – who escaped from a Venezuelan prison – will not be rewarded in his efforts to evade Venezuelan law. The United States must make it clear that it does not reward terrorists.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your prompt response.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
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