Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What next for Posada? (Updated)

UPDATE: On April 17 an appeals court in El Paso cleared the way for Posada to be released on bail. The Justice Department says it is reviewing its options.

Luis Posada Carriles, 79, has been a human hot potato since he arrived on U.S. soil in 2005.

Given his background in terrorism and related activities – the Bush Justice Department calls him an “admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks” – he can’t be set free without damaging the credibility of U.S. anti-terrorism policy. To fail to “bring him to justice” would be to create an exception for one terrorist, undermining what Administration supporters call the “moral clarity” of anti-terrorism policy and giving other countries a future excuse for creating similar exceptions for political reasons. On the other hand, if the Administration finds a way to make him face trial for terrorism charges it will face political heat in Miami from those who see him as a freedom fighter notwithstanding his attacks on civilians.

We recounted Posada’s history and the early part of this saga here.

So far, the Administration has managed to square the circle by bringing immigration charges against Posada and detaining him pending trial. No one abroad can say that a terrorist has been set free, and no one in Miami can say that the U.S. government is charging him with terrorism.

This gambit may be nearing the end of its useful life. A federal judge in Texas wants him released pending trial, which would not be unusual for someone facing immigration charges. The Justice Department is appealing the judge’s decision, so far successfully. Posada remains in U.S. custody.

One of the most unusual aspects of this case was revealed last August when the Administration revealed in court that it had asked six countries – Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – to take Posada in. It is not clear if this was an effort to find a comfortable refuge for Posada, or to put him in a place where he might face extradition. In the event, all six countries declined to take him. If they were confused as to whether they would be “with us” or “with the terrorists” once they accepted Posada, they could hardly be blamed.

One option is to extradite Posada to Venezuela to face charges related to the bombing of the Cuban airliner in 1976, notwithstanding the potential difficulties in obtaining a fair trial there. Venezuela requested Posada’s extradition in June 2005, but the request was not approved. [Note: Venezuelan representatives say the request was not denied either; the U.S. government has never ruled one way or the other.]

The U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, stated last week that the United States is willing to enter talks about the extradition request. The Ambassador’s clear implication was that if the text’s defects are fixed, Posada could be extradited. Venezuela’s position is that Washington has never enumerated any supposed defects in its request for preventive detention or its extradition request.

So both sides take the position that extradition is worth discussing and the ball is in the other side’s court.

If this apparent impasse is broken and results in extradition, it means that justice might be served in a crime as horrible as the Lockerbie airliner bombing, and it would mean that the Adminstration has opted to defend its own moral standards instead of its political position among a small sector in Miami.


Enrique Soldevilla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elpidio Valdez said...

I'm very pleased knowing that somebody with open mind and balanced and extensive knowledge will be writing about Cuba- USA affairs, so I'll be here every day.Congratulations, Mr. Peters.

Enrique Soldevilla said...

Señor Peters, Felicidades por su recien estrenado blog de temas cubanos. Deseo que los comentarios y debates que puedan originarse en las entradas contribuyan de manera positiva a un entendimiento constructivo entre los gobiernos de ambas orillas del estrecho de la Florida. Le sugiero que de vez en cuando redacte comentarios en español.

leftside said...

Brownfield is just the one US official, it seems, that has to actually answer questions about this absurdity. He was trying to put a good face on something way over his pay grade. The extradition request is fine, it just is being ignored for obvious foreign policy reasons (not giving our "enemy" a victory).

This goes to Bush and his father, as well as our entire upper level national security and latin america teams. They would all be implicated by Posada having to answer for his crimes, which span decades. It is a simple case that the Bush Administration has sought to make as complicated as possible, as to cover the tracks. If the US was not going to hand him over to Venezuela, they should have at least declared Posada a "terrorist" during the first proceedings. That the DOJ did not uphold its reponsibilities should be a national security scandal. Maybe the media will finally latch on when they see this guy set free???

Fantomas said...

Mr Peters I will be visiting often

Thank you for your dedication to Cuban rrlated matters

Down with Castro INC is the in "word" these days

Abajo la tirania ...Freedom for Cuba NOW...enough bullshit

Anonymous said...

Se contamino el ambiente, umhhhhh huele mal, debe ser porque hace mucho que no se quita la careta.