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Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles

Photo Source U.S. National Archives and Records Administration | CC BY 2.0

REFERENCE: Vol. 134 No. 131

TEXT: [*S13037] Mr. [Tom]HARKIN [Senator, Dem. Iowa]. Mr. President, as the American people prepare to make their final judgment on the two Presidential candidates, they deserve to know where the candidates stand on important foreign policy issues.

At the top of the list should be international terrorism and the candidate’s respective record of action against known international terrorists.

For this reason, the American voter deserves answers from George Bush to some tough questions about his and his Vice Presidential office’s relationship with a known international terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles.

Question 1. Mr. Bush, what do you know about Luis Posada?

Luis Posada Carriles, also known as Ramon Medina, served as the chief logistics aide for Felix Rodriquez, who from 1985 to 1986 managed a secret White House operation based at Ilopango Airbase in San Salvador to ferry weapons to the Contras.

Posada, who has been identified by Rodriquez himself during the Iran-Contra hearings, had spent 10 years in a Venezuelan jail for blowing up a Cuban airliner, killing 73 people, in 1976. After escaping from prison in August 1985, Posada joined up with his fellow Bay of Pigs veteran, Felix Rodriquez, and assumed the alias Ramon Medina for his work at Ilopango.

Question 2. What did your National Security Adviser, Donald Gregg, know about Posada and did you ever ask Mr. Gregg about him?

Don Gregg, the Vice President’s National Security Adviser, was Felix Rodriguez’s CIA supervisor during the [*S13038] Vietnam war and helped place Rodriquez in El Salvador as a counterinsurgency adviser in 1984. Less than a year later, Lt. Col. Ollie North recruited Rodriquez to manage the secret Contra airlift based at Ilopango.

By the end of 1985, Rodriquez had helped arrange Luis Posada’s arrival at El Salvador’s Ilopango Airforce Base.

So I ask, Mr. President: Can we really believe that Don Gregg never asked his former CIA colleague Rodriquez about either the secret supply operations or Rodriquez’s partner, international terrorist Luis Posada?

Question 3. Mr. Bush, in your numerous meetings with Felix Rodriquez, whom you have referred to as your “good friend,” did you ever ask him about his associates and whether he had in his employ Posada?

Bush aides acknowledge that Rodriquez maintained regular contacts with the Vice President’s office. On three separate occasions, the Vice President met with Rodriquez while he managed the secret Contra resupply operation during the 1984-86 congressional ban on U.S. military aid to the Contras.

Don Gregg’s own briefing memo to the Vice President for a May 1, 1986 meeting with Felix Rodriquez specifically mentions as a topic for the meeting a briefing on “resupply of the Contras.”

Are we to believe that neither you nor your National Security Adviser Don Gregg, who was a longtime associate of Rodriquez, never asked Rodriquez about his associates at Ilopango, about who he was working with, and who were some of the people helping him out at Ilopango? Of course, they never asked him about Luis Posada.

Question 4. Mr. Bush, when you were CIA Director in 1976, did you ever investigate the role of Posada and other Cubans in the 1976 airliner bombing?

Bush was CIA Director in 1976 when the airliner bombing occurred – as I said, 73 people lost their lives – and took a personal interest in this and a string of related anti-Castro bombings that shook the hemisphere that year, 1976.

The 1976 airline bombing, according to Federal officials in Miami, was carried out by a coalition of military anti-Castro groups calling itself the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations, or CORU. CORU had been implicated in a string of bombings and assassinations in the United States and Latin America, including the September 21, 1976 car bombing of Chilean exile leader Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC. That took place right here in Washington, DC, of course killing Orlando Letelier and a young American who was in the car with him.

Concerned about this wave of bombings, Bush as CIA Director made an early November weekend trip to Miami with a senior FBI official reportedly to look into the Cuban connection with the airliner and Letelier bombings here in Washington. Not only was Posada a member of CORU but he worked for the CIA on contract as late as 1975.

According to the CIA’s own records, Posada, identified as a demolitions expert, worked virtually full-time for the CIA from the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 until 1967.

He took a high-level post in Venezuelan intelligence, where he continued to serve as a CIA informer until June 1974.

The real question is, given Posada’s past ties with the CIA, the CIA’s knowledge of the Cuban connection with the 1976 airliner bombing and the Letelier car bombing, why, as CIA Director, were you not aware of Posada at the time? Why was no action taken at the time?

Questions 5 and 6. Why, Mr. Bush, after the press in October 1986 reported that Posada, the international terrorist responsible for the 1976 airline bombing, was the same person who worked with your “good friend” Felix Rodriquez at Ilopango, didn’t you investigate these charges? And why didn’t the President’s Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, which you headed, investigate charges of Posada’s connections with the secret Contra supply operation?

Mr. Vice President, in a 1986 report of your Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, you described U.S. policy on terrorism as “tough and resolute,” and further wrote that “we firmly oppose terrorism in all forms and wherever it takes place.”

Yet by November 1986, it was reported by UPI, AP, Newsweek, the Miami Herald, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post, that the Ramon Medina identified by Eugene Hasenfus as Felix Rodriquez’s chief assistant at Ilopango was Luis Posada the international terrorist. Yet, nothing was done.

The Medina-Posada link was confirmed by Felix Rodriquez in his May 28, 1987, testimony before the Iran-Contra panel.

Yet, when Posada’s role came to light in late 1986, Don Gregg, National Security Adviser to the Vice President, said that George Bush, who had been selected by the President to spearhead this administration’s policy against international terrorism, “didn’t pay much attention” to press reports, and made no inquiries after reporters questioned him about the fugitive’s links to Rodriquez.

An international terrorist, blowing up an airline, killing 73 people, escaping from prison – we find him in Ilopango assisting Felix Rodriquez, his old friend from the CIA, in illegal coverup operations to resupply the Contras. Yet, the Vice President said he did not pay much attention to all the press reports – not one report, but reports by UPI, AP, Newsweek, The Miami Herald, Christian Science Monitor, and the Washington Post.

As for Vice President Bush’s national security adviser, Don Gregg, he didn’tv”know about when the allegations on Posada came out, and I did not focus on it.”

Let me repeat. Despite numerous press reports and inquiries that surfaced in October and November 1986, the Vice President, who chaired the President Special Task Force on International Terrorism, didn’t even bother to ask Felix Rodriquez, his so-called good friend, or didn’t ask his own national security adviser to inquire into the associates of Mr. Gregg’s former CIA associate about Rodriquez’s chief assistant at Ilopanog, Mr. Luis Posada?

Either Mr. Gregg and Mr. Bush are not telling us the whole story about what they know about the Rodriquez-Posada operation at Ilopango, or the Vice President was doing some very shoddy work for the President as his pointman on international terrorism. If Mr. Posada, who was a working partner of a close associate of the Vice President and a long-term ally of Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, could escape from the Vice President’s Terrorism Task Force scrutiny, then, we need to wonder what other international terrorists has the Vice President not bothered to investigate?

Which brings me to my final question for Mr. Bush: What is your policy on international terrorism?

You claimed that the Reagan-Bush administration opposed “terrorism in all forms and wherever it takes place.” It appears that you find certain kinds of international terrorism less offensive, or at least less cause for investigation than others.

The Posada case demonstrates that you didn’t bother to use your offices and your International Terrorism Task Force to investigate the activities of a known international terrorist. Was it because, Mr. Vice President, of Posada’s ties with your “good friend” Felix Rodriquez? Or was it because of Posada’s role in organizing the secret Contra supply operation run out of Ilopanga airbase? Or was it because of Posada’s past ties with the CIA, which you headed in the mid-1970’s?

What does this say about your stand, Mr. Vice President, against other terrorists – or other international figures involved in illegal activities such as drug running?

Mr. Vice President, I believe this is a dilemma: It’s hard to fight terrorism when the terrorists are friends of one of your “good friends” and are part of an illegal operation going on right under your nose.

Mr. President, the American people deserve a full accounting of Mr. Bush and the Vice President’s office and its knowledge of Luis Posada’s role in the secret Contra supply operation and why Mr. Bush never bothered to use his good offices to investigate charges of Posada’s links with the supply operation and Felix Rodriquez even after the press reported them in late 1986.

[*S13039] As chairman of the President’s Task Force on International Terrorism, Mr. Vice President, you should have taken an oath – a pledge – to root out terrorists in all forms, whatever their affiliations.

Mr. Vice President, you owe it to the American people to come clean and explain to them where you were in late 1986 when the Posada link became clear.

You owe it to America’s voters to reaffirm your commitment against terrorism by retaking that pledge to root out, to investigate, and to eradicate international terrorism wherever it takes place; and the first step is to come clean about Luis Posada, the international terrorist.

More articles by:

Senator Tom Harkin is a former Democratic Senator who represented Iowa from 1985 to 2015.

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