FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Justice, Injustice and the Cuban Five Case

by SAUL LANDAU

I sit on a gray plastic chair, facing a tiny, gray, plastic table and another empty, gray, plastic chair, waiting for Gerardo Hernandez in the visiting room of the maximum-security federal pen in Victorville, California. Next to me, in similar seating arrangements, a middle-aged black man speaks to a woman, presumably his wife; other black men talk to their spouses. Two kids run from the “children’s room” to their Dad to get a caress.

Four guards chatter and observe the visitors and inmates. No contraband must be exchanged and no “excess touching.”

Gerardo emerges, reports to the guards. We hug. Gerardo talks about ideas to force the National Security Agency to release its vectored map of the Feb 24, 1996, shoot down of two Brothers to he Rescue planes by Cuban MIGs. The government charged Gerardo with conspiring to commit murder because he allegedly – the government offered no evidence – passed the flight information to Cuban authorities knowing they would shoot the planes down (how would a Miami-based agent know of high level decisions in Havana?).

The Cubans maintain the MIGs fired their rockets at the intruding planes over Cuban air space. U.S. authorities insist it happened over international airspace. If the NSA map sustains Cuba’s claim then Gerardo, who purportedly delivered the date and time of the fatal flights to Cuban authorities, committed no crime. The prosecutors offered no proof that Gerardo delivered this information. Hollywood would portray the Miami courtroom scene with the prosecutor telling the jury: “I don’t got to show you no stinkin’ proof.”

Indeed, Gerardo’s defense lawyer showed that Basulto, the head of Brothers to the Rescue, had already announced the date of the flights, and several U.S. officials also knew of his plan. The FAA had even advised Cuban authorities of the impending flights. Facts don’t matter when a jury and judge understand that a “wrong” decision could result in their houses getting burned down.

The NSA refused defense attorneys’ subpoenas to deliver their vectored maps during the trial and appeals: “National Security,” the two deadly words not found in the Constitution or the Bible, constituted their reason (excuse) for not delivering the documents. What could force the NSA to comply? We had no answers, but the question will linger.

Other questions still bothered me. What had motivated the FBI to arrest him and his fellow Cuban agents? After all the Cuban agents had fed the Bureau juicy morsels related to terrorist activities, including the location of a boat on the Miami River loaded with explosives. The FBI commandeered the boat before it sailed for Cuba – or blew up in Miami.

“Hector Pesquera,” replied Gerardo. He became the Agent in Charge of the Miami Bureau and immediately focused his attention away from the terrorists and onto the anti-terrorists. After the jury handed down guilty verdicts at the trial of the Cuban Five, Pesquera proudly boasted to a Miami radio station that “he was the one who switched his agents’ focus from spying on the spies to filing charges against them.” (See, Stephen Kimber, “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five”, an e-book from Amazon)

Indeed, Pesquera persuaded Justice officials to refocus attention from exile terrorists in South Florida and onto the Cuban intelligence agents who had penetrated the terrorist groups. The case ‘never would have made it to court’ if he hadn’t lobbied FBI Director Louis Freeh directly.” (Kimber, p. 286)

Ann Bardach reinforced the view of Pesquera’s key role in turning the FBI from investigating terrorists to investigating anti-terrorists. Bardach and Larry Rohter wrote two stories in the New York Times in July 1998, in which Posada Carriles, a notorious Cuban-American terrorist admits his mastermind role in a series of bombings in Cuba to discourage foreign tourism. One of these bombing killed a young Italian tourist whose father is suing the United States for sponsoring terrorism.

Bardach told me about her surprise when Pesquera answered her question on Posada by saying “lots of folks around here think Posada is a freedom fighter.” Pesquera, friendly with ultra right exiles, terminated the investigation of Posada, and shredded his file. Even as Pesquera focused the FBI on destroying the Cuban agents web, thus reducing the Bureau’s information supply on terrorism, 14 of the 19 participants in the 9/11 attacks trained in the area without FBI scrutiny. Pesquera seemingly escaped scrutiny for his apparent lapse. (“Trabajadores,” May 22, 2005)

Gerardo and I switched subjects to Alan Gross’ interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Gross, convicted in Cuba of activities designed to undermine the government, which AP reporter Desmond Butler documented, whined about his life in prison, the food, his window had bars on it and he had only been able to receive visits from U.S. Senators, Members of the House, Foreign Presidents, religious groups and a day with his wife. He complained conditions in the Havana military hospital were downright prison-like.

Worse, ignoring Desmond Butler’s reporting and former National Security Council official Fulton Armstrong’s devastating op ed in the Miami Herald (Dec. 25, 2011), he proclaimed his innocence, insisting he only wanted to help the Jewish community get better internet access. For this he smuggled in equipment (documented by Butler) and got paid almost $600,000 from a company contracted by USAID. And Blitzer, who should win the journalism award for best stenographer, didn’t ask him about any of the facts Butler and Armstrong had raised.

We hugged goodbye. Gerardo raised a triumphant fist before returning to his cell. I walked into the dry desert wind, to the car and the road, down 5,000 feet and 40 miles to the Ontario, California airport with a chance to think about justice and injustice, again.

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. His WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP and FIDEL are available from cinemalibrestudio.com

 

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail