Sunday, May 29, 2005

As we say, not as we do

There are some things that even when they are not a surprise they still leave you shaking you head in wonder. This is surely such an example.
Washington (Reuters, May 27) - Washington on Friday rejected Venezuela's initial efforts to extradite a Cuban exile wanted for an airliner bombing, in a case that could challenge the U.S. commitment to fight all forms of terrorism.

The Bush administration told Venezuela its request that Luis Posada Carriles be arrested with a view to extradition was "clearly inadequate" because it lacked supporting evidence, a State Department official, who asked not to be named, told reporters.
Adding conscious insult to conscious injury, the same official suggested that Venezuela actually doesn't want Posada and deliberately submitted an application it knew would be rejected because the real purpose was to embarrass the US.

What a bunch of flaming crap. Posada's rap sheet is both long and well-known. Peter Kornbluth of the National Security Archive and Julia Sweig, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, ran it down in the Baltimore Sun earlier this month:

- In 1976 he masterminded the blowing up of a civilian Cuban airliner, killing all 73 people on board. He was arrested and jailed in Venezuela, but in 1985 he either escaped or bribed his way out of prison.

- In 1997, Posada directed a series of hotel bombings in Havana, acts for which he took responsibility in an interview with a New York Times reporter.

- In November 2000, he was convicted of leading a conspiracy planning to assassinate Fidel Castro during a visit to Panama by blowing up a car full of explosives. In 2004, he was unexpectedly pardoned.

As Kornbluth and Sweig say,
Mr. Posada is one of the world's most unremitting purveyors of violence. Widely considered the godfather of Cuban exile efforts to overthrow Fidel Castro, the 77-year-old self-proclaimed freedom fighter has practiced the art of sabotage, bombing and attempted assassination since the early 1960s, when he was trained in demolition and guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency.
This is the guy of who the US is now saying it hasn't been given enough evidence to extradite.

Even in today's world, it's hard to really grasp the depth of venality in that simple statement. How much evidence did the US have against the 1200 Muslim men it rounded up in the wake of 9/11, men held incommunicado for months? How much evidence did it have against the 14,000 Arab and Muslim men and boys it sought to deport under the notorious registration program? How much evidence did it have against the prisoners at Gitmo, once called the "worst of the worst" but many of who have now been released without charge? How much evidence did it have against Yaser Esam Hamdi, who they kept locked up for over two years without legal representation only to release (with the proviso he give up his US citizenship, which I doubt he wanted at that point) when the Supreme Court ruled they'd have to bring him to trial or let him go? How much evidence do they have against Jose Padilla, who is still in prison, three years without a charge being filed?

And this government, this White House, wants to say there is not enough evidence to extradite Posada, even though, at minimum, there is no doubt that he is a fugitive from a Venezuelan prison?

As I said: I wind up shaking my head even as I am not surprised.

Part of the reason for my lack of surprise is that
[t]he case presents U.S. authorities with the dilemma of how to reconcile traditional sympathy for politically influential Cuban exiles with Washington's firm stance against terrorism suspects following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
What's more, Posada is said to be considering asking for asylum, based in part on his long connection to the CIA. For one example, after his escape from Venezuela he went to El Salvador, where he worked with the CIA on running guns to the contras. After a plane carrying Eugene Hasenfus was shot down in October, 1986, bringing the scheme to light, Hasenfus identified a photo of Posada as one of two men who "directly supervised" the flights. (Irresistable sidebar: When I first heard about the Hasenfus flight and the connections of the CIA to gun running, I laughed that all we needed was to discover the guns had been purchased with proceeds from the emerging sale of arms to Iran! It would be "a perfect circle of death," I said. Little did I know....)

But this talk about a "dilemma" simply confuses the issue. If the Shrub team meant what it says about "fighting terrorism," if they actually intended to live up to their own rhetoric, if the War on Terror(c)(reg.)(pat.pend.) was a real undertaking instead of a flimsy PR cover for militarism and a new Pax Americana, there would be no dilemma. There would be no conflict. There would be no decision to be made - and Posada would be on his way back to Venezuela or at least be held in expectation of being extradited when what could only be technical details are taken care of.

"Do as I say, not as I do" is sometimes a sorrowful recognition of one's inability to live up to the standards one has set. Sometimes it's a flip reference to the fact that you feel free to set different standards for yourself. And sometimes, as here, it reveals the fact that you have no standards at all.

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