Friday, January 7, 2011

Posada trial to begin next week

Luis Posada Carriles will go on trial next week not for committing acts of terrorism, but for lying in immigration proceedings about his past terrorist activities.

That’s sort of an indirect way to proceed, but it’s better than nothing.

There’s a tendency to dismiss the importance of the case because of the defendant’s advanced age, and because he seems to come from such a bygone era. I have always viewed that as a mistake.

The United States in recent years, especially under President Bush, has demanded that other countries meet made-in-U.S.A. standards for dealing with accused terrorists. The Bush Administration brought itself to call Posada an “admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks,” but treated his presence on U.S. soil – to put it mildly – with none of the move-heaven-and-earth, bend-all-the-rules urgency that was felt by terrorists with no constituency in Miami-Dade. Which opened the United States to charges of hypocrisy and created a precedent that harms our security by giving others license to go easy on terrorists whose motives appeal to them.

Then when it comes to politics, it always baffles me that those who claim to be fighting for political change in Cuba, in and out of the U.S. government, would not see the moral and raw political value of squashing this man like a bug. For the Cuban public, the terrorist attacks of 1997 and 1976 were real, they claimed civilian victims, and remain within living memory.

Regardless, the Bush Administration initiated the prosecution, so let’s give credit where credit is due. Interestingly, the prosecution will be using some evidence gathered in Cuba.

It’s also fair to note that the Obama Administration, by choice or default, opted to stick with the course set by President Bush rather than find a way to have Mr. Posada tried for the hotel bombings themselves.

For additional background, there’s a Herald story here. Along the Malecon has lots of information on pre-trial disputes regarding evidence, and provides links to interview transcripts where Posada discussed the 1997 hotel bombings; see here, here, here, and here. A 2005 essay of mine is here. All this blog’s posts on Posada are here. This Wikileaked State Department cable from 2009 makes a passing reference to depositions taken in Cuba in 2007 in the Posada Carriles case. And Cuban state television will soon be presenting statements from the recent trial in Cuba of a Posada associate.

At right, a recent photo from a Vedado storefront.

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