Recently declassified (partially blacked out) CIA, FBI and State Department reports (see National Security Archive Briefing Book #153, Peter Kornbluh) indicate that former CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles had been trained by CIA in demolition and 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. 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 assassinations. CIA was using him as an “operative” in Caracas 1976. In 1972 he had listed his permanent residence as Miami. When he left Florida for Caracas to work with the Venezuelan intelligence agency DISIP, he had with him a supply of CIA bomb-making materials and explosive devices. On the date of the bombing of Havana bound Cubana flight 455, October 6, 1976, he had supposedly left DISIP and was operating a private detective agency in Caracas.
The reports suggest that the Cubana bombing was a joint DISIP-CIA project and CIA was involved in the planning. They refer to meetings in Santo Domingo in the summer and in Caracas in early September involving agent Posada and his partner Orlando Bosch and top DISIP officials, at which discussions were held about bombing Cubana flights, also the Letelier car bombing which occurred in Washington, DC in mid-September. At the time, Bosch was head of CORU, a new umbrella organization of violent anti-Castro groups in US which CIA had urged them to form. He was also involved with “Condor” operations, a CIA supported super-secret web in South America which exterminated and disappeared many leftists.
CIA had been kept informed of previous attempts by its agent Posada to bomb Cubana airliners in the summer. In late September Posada (referred to “informant”) reported: “We’re going to hit the Cubana airliner.” On October 1, our State Department — at Posada’s request and under a special procedure — issued a US visa for the week of the bombing to one of Posada’s two employees who placed the bomb in the plane restroom at the Barbados stop, then left the plane. The other Posada employee-bomb-planter had a secret Caracas CIA telephone number in his belongings when arrested in Trinidad after sending this message to Bosch: “A bus went off the cliff and 73 dogs died.” These reports were not made available to the Venezuelan officials who prosecuting Bosch and Posada in the 1980s.
No one warned Cuba or potential passengers of the impending attack. George Bush, Sr. was the CIA Director at the time of the bombing. He was Vice President when Posada was allowed to escape from jail during his trial in Venezuela (CIA bribed his guards when the evidence started to implicate them) and report to Col. Oliver North in El Salvador to work on the Nicaraguan Contra supply operation being run out of the White House. Bush, Sr. was President when he pardoned Bosch against the recommendation of his own Justice Department, thereby harboring him in Miami.
In 1976 CIA was aware the Bush family had important connections in the oil business and was dealing with key politicians in Venezuela. 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 14, 1976, after a visit with Pinochet officials in Chile, then Venezuelan President Perez allowed Bosch and Posada to conduct fundraising and operate freely in Venezuela, even contributing funds to their projects.
In custody after the bombing, Posada threatened that if he were forced to talk, the Venezuelan government would go down the tube and the US would have another Watergate. Indeed, another Watergate type cover-up seems now in progress, spawned by Posada’s resurfacing in US and the declassification of some of CIA’s reports after 28 years. Homeland Security has charged Posada with not reporting immediately to them, an immigration matter which could be settled by a small fine. However, it’s been set for trial on August 29 and Posada’s Miami lawyers have filed motions to move the case to Miami (to be ruled on in writing in the next week), bond reduction, and asylum petitions. From State Department’s comments, one would think that the Homeland immigration cases will go on for many months and State has no extradition obligation until they’re finished.
There’s no legally valid reason why our State Department should not submit the Venezuelan request to the extradition judge now. Posada is a Venezuelan citizen who committed the Cubana crime there and is a fugitive who escaped from their justice system during trial there for that crime. The present Bush Administration well knows who is responsible for bombing the Cubana flight. It didn’t need to wait for Venezuela to produce or translate the evidence, much of which is in still classified or blacked out CIA files. Nor is there any valid reason to wait while lawyers fool around with Homeland’s illegal entry claim or Posada’s venue and asylum claims.
Venezuela and US have had an extradition treaty for 83 years which has always been honored by both countries. Immigration cases concern lawfulness of entry and where an illegal migrant should be sent or deported to. Extradition concerns where an alleged criminal should be tried regardless of his immigration status. It’s not a question of policy or discretion, it’s a question of law. The ultimate issue here is whether the rule of law still exists in US. In January, Bush, Jr. took an oath as president to faithfully execute the US Constitution, laws and treaties.
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 Caracas 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 it. Venezuela has now filed the translated evidence and complied with all other US procedural requirements.
Washington had previously denied Venezuela’s request to keep Posada in custody pending extradition. A hearing is set for June 24 to reduce Posada’s bond, which will probably be granted because the charge is such a minor one. If he is released on bond, he will probably disappear again. Washington seems to be trying to justify harboring Posada in a country like El Salvador where he presumably could be kept from talking. It has already induced or pressured Salvadoran officials to start preparing their own extradition request.
Deft maneuvering by Washington may keep CIA involvement in the bombing under wraps for a while, but eventually the truth will out. So far the damage to our government is primarily in the international arena, where the corporate mass media’s are somewhat less under the control of the commercial oligarchies. This Administration obviously cares very little about the rule of law or its image abroad. But more and more American reporters and people are starting to demand that Posada be sent to Venezuela 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