State terrorism is the use of state violence against innocent civilians to create fear in pursuit of a political objective. It has been called the ugly side of imperialism (now correctly called “globalization”). It sometimes promotes submission of nations to the domination by occupation or otherwise of the terrorist state. There are two varieties, overt and covert. Prior to the 1930s, the overt variety was frowned on in Western societies as supposedly repulsive to the civilized mind. However with the advent of aerial bombing and missiles and their fearsome payload possibilities, these scruples were overcome. Early examples of successful overt state terrorism were the 1937 bombing of Guernica and the 1945 atomic snuffing out of hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese lives in a matter of minutes, which caused the Japanese empire to dissolve and it’s rulers and people to submit to foreign occupation. However, non-atomic overt state terrorism has frequently been unsuccessful, since it sometimes produces a reaction of liberatory retaliation as well as fear and submission. Examples are the 1940 Luftwaffe bombing of London, the 1965-72 napalming of large areas of Vietnam, and the 2003 “shock and awe” bombing of Bagdad. A key factor in the failure or success of overt state terrorism seems to be the liberation-domination dichotomy.
Hence the continuing use of covert state terrorism as the preferred method of promoting the neo-liberal global project. However covert state terrorism also has its difficulties and problems and there are many examples of these to be found by reading the Covert Action Quarterly. Supposedly the American people by their so-called representatives have authorized the US Central “Intelligence” Agency to use violence covertly to create fear and submission in the pursuit of our rulers’ objectives. Although our representatives supposedly have “oversight” over CIA conduct, they seem to be constantly ignorant or surprised by what eventually sneaks into the public realm by conscience stricken agents or eventual forced publication of their undestroyed reports. Civilian airplanes carry people, and their destruction in air is one way to create fear and submission by others. But the problem with covert terrorism, in addition to the liberation-domination question, is keeping it secret. A distance must be created between the CIA projects and their intended consequences (the fear necessary for submission). Like all US governmental projects, covert state terrorism has become primarily a marketing or “public relations” issue, but this also has its limits in reason and rationality. A case in point is that of the CIA bombing of a Cubana airliner on October 6, 1976, killing 73 innocent civilians in an unsuccessful effort to create fear and submission by the Cuban nation.
CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles had been trained by CIA in explosives in the early 1960s. He was ostensibly in the US military, February 1963 to March 1964, which was the cover CIA gave its training agents then. There’s evidence he was in Dealy Plaza in Dallas Texas on November 22, 1963. He’s had close connections with the US Mafia as well as the Miami Cuban-American Mafia. During the 1960s as a salaried agent he ran a school in Florida training others in his trade, financed by CIA. He also did forays to other countries to do covert bombings and attempted bombings and assassinations. CIA now says it was in contact with him up until about four months before the Cubana bombing. In 1972 he listed his permanent residence as Miami. When in 1974 he left Florida for Caracas to work for the Venezuelan intelligence agency DISIP, he had with him a substantial supply of CIA bomb making materials and explosion devices. In the fall of 1976 he had supposedly left DISIP and was operating a private detective agency in Caracas.
Recently released (partially blacked out) CIA reports (see National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 153, Peter Kornbluh), suggest that CIA was involved in the planning of the October 6 Cubana airliner bombing. Some reports are of the planning meetings in Caracas and Santo Domingo involving Posada and his partner Orlando Bosch and other CIA and DISIP agents, which concerned the Cubana flight as well as the Letelier car bombing murders which occurred in Washington, DC in mid-September. In late September Posada reported to CIA: “We’re going to hit the Cubana airliner.” On October 1, the State Department at Posada’s request issued under special procedure one of the bombers (his employee) a US visa for the week after the bombing. These reports and information (and whatever other CIA reports and information still existed) were not made available to the Venezuelan officials who were prosecuting Bosch and Posada in the 1980s.
George Bush Sr. was the CIA Director at the time of the bombing. No one in US warned Cuba or potential passengers of their impending doom. Bush Sr. was Vice President at the time when Posada was allowed to escape during his trial in Venezuela and report to Col. Oliver North in El Salvador on the Nicaraguan Contra supply operation being run out of the White House. CIA had bribed his guards. Bush Sr. was President when he pardoned Bosch against the recommendation of his Justice Department, thereby harboring him in Miami.
CIA was aware in 1976 that the Bush family had important connections in the oil business and were dealing with key politicians in Venezuela. Young Jeb Bush (now governor of Florida) was establishing himself in Caracas with the Commerce Bank of Texas, owned by Bush family friend (later Secretary of State) James Baker. When Bosch arrived in Caracas on September 8 (after a visit with Pinochet officials in Chile), then Venezuelan President Perez allowed Bosch and Posada to conduct fundraising and otherwise operate freely in Venezuela, even contributing personal funds to their project. At the time, Bosch was representing CORU, an umbrella organization of anti-Castro groups in US which CIA had urged them to form. Two top DISIP officials were involved in the planning sessions with Bosch and Posada in Caracas, so that the Cubana bombing, the explosion at the Guyana Embassy in Port-of-Spain, and the attempted murder of a Cuban diplomat in Mexico, all of which occurred in September-October, appear to have been joint CIA-DISIP projects. On the other hand, the Letelier bombing (planned in Santo Domingo without DISIP participation) appears to have been a joint CIA-“Condor” project. One CIA report indicates Posada after the Cubana bombing threatened that if he were forced to talk the Venezuelan government would go down the tube and US would have another Watergate.
Indeed, there are signs that another Watergate type cover-up is beginning. Homeland has charged Posada only with not reporting immediately to them, a simple matter which could be determined by a small fine. However, it’s been set for hearing on June 13 and Posada’s Miami lawyers are talking about filing motions to move the case to Miami, filing asylum petitions and other such delaying tactics. From Secretary Rice’s May 21 statement, one would think that the Homeland immigration cases will go on for many months and she has no extradition obligation until it’s over. Reportedly Posada is ill.
There’s no valid reason why Posada should not be extradited to Venezuela now. This Administration, more than anyone else, knows who is responsible for bombing the Cubana flight. It doesn’t need to wait for Venezuela to produce or translate the evidence, much of which is in still classified CIA files. Nor is there any valid reason to wait while lawyers mess around with Homeland’s insignificant illegal entry claim or any asylum claim Posada might make.
On May 27 Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said that Venezuela’s extradition request for Posada had been rejected as inadequate because unsupported by evidence. But the US Embassy in Venezuela had told Venezuela to translate the 700 pages of evidence (without any time limit) and on May 27 said it was still ready to receive the request. It’s also now put a time limit on the submission of the translated evidence, which Venezuela has said it will comply with.
Washington had previously denied Venezuela’s request to keep Posada in custody pending extradition. As things stand now, according to Washington there is no Venezuelan extradition request, which if true would allow them to justify harboring Posada in a country like El Salvador where he presumably could be kept from talking, or even disappearing him under the Witness Protection Program or otherwise. These solutions however would not be risk free.
It appears the Administration is trying to use the immigration case, with Posada’s cooperation, to delay or avoid decision on the extradition request in hope of preventing evidence of CIA’s involvement in the bombing (and perhaps other ugly deeds in the past) from becoming public in a Venezuelan proceeding. It’s also still promoting through unnamed officials the ideas that US has some policy preventing extradition, and that Venezuela’s extradition request was rejected as procedurally inadequate because the evidence was not timely submitted. Neither of which is so.
This case demonstrates the kind of cover-up problems that can arise from unwise use of covert state terrorism. It can backfire in the public relations area. So far the harm in this case is primarily in the international arena, where the media’s are not so controlled by the commercial oligarchies. But more and more American reporters and people are demanding that Posada be tried in Venezuela where the crime was committed and that CIA open its files on the matter.
TOM CRUMPACKER is a lawyer who works with the Miami Coalition to End the US Embargo of Cuba. He can be reached at: Crump8@aol.com