Tuesday, 8 May 2007

How to let an alleged terrorist off the hook...

More horrible American hypocrisy in the 'war on terror' involving a real terrorist — Luis Posada Carriles.

BBC News:

A US judge has dropped immigration charges against a Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles, who has been accused of blowing up a Cuban airliner.

Mr Posada, 79, was detained in May 2005 after entering the US illegally, but was released on bail last month.

A former CIA employee, he is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba over the downing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 in which 73 people died. He denies involvement.

US authorities have ruled out returning him to Cuba or Venezuela.
His lawyer, Felipe Millan, said the judge had ruled that statements by Mr Posada that were to be used against him had been obtained illegally.
US justice department spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We're reviewing the decision."

How hard is it to botch immigration charges? Compared to terrorism charges, it's pretty simple. I mean, honestly...

Posada is suspected of committing one of the worst terrorist acts in Latin American history. Apparantly — and this was in the height of the Cold War, where many innocents' blood was spilled at the hands of two great powers fighting via vague proxy — the United States knew ahead of time of the attack.

The Economist:
The Justice Department claims it did everything it could to dissuade the judge from ordering Mr Posada's release. “We can't just unilaterally order a person to be held,” a spokesman said. But critics point out that the government frequently does just that under the anti-terrorist Patriot Act.
Prosecutors say that he lied about how he returned to the United States in 2005 in order to protect fellow Cuban exiles in Miami who helped smuggle him in by boat. That may prove to be his undoing. But the failure to extradite him may make other countries warier of collaborating with American justice.

For once an almost certainly bona-fide terrorist can be put to justice, but he is not. Is that what America's GWOT symbolizes? Political hypocrisy and looking the other way? That just plays into the hands of the US's enemies — whether 'communist' or Qaeda — and is no doubt more bad PR possibly increasing the severity of attacks against America. The US did enough harm to Latin America in its previous 'war'. Isn't it time for justice before relations deteriorate further, and people like Hugo Chavez gain the upper hand?

Alas, Posada's health has taken a turn for the worse, which probably played a role in the judge's ruling on his release. While it's probably never too late for justice, the US missed its chance on showing its southern neighbors it wasn't all talk and hypocrisy.

This story — like several others of the Cold War — resembles a conspiracy spy movie-like plot, and it looks like our main character may yet get away with the acts he committed. It is the fault for the government back then for not stopping him, or even urging him; and the fault of the government now for not ending this chapter of a story that should have ended long ago.

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