Cuba Seeks U.S. Arrest of Castro Foe
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
President Bush has said again and again that no country should harbor terrorists, but Cuba has now accused the United States of doing just that. Cuba is calling for US authorities to arrest a well-known operative, an enemy of Fidel Castro, who they say was behind assassination plots and bombings and who is believed to be living in the United States. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN reporting:
Massachusetts Congressman William Delahunt has been firing off letters to the Justice Department, the FBI and Homeland Security to find out whether the US plans to arrest and deport Luis Posada Carriles. Delahunt, a Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, says if the Bush administration makes no effort to find him, it will lose credibility in the war on terrorism.
Representative WILLIAM DELAHUNT (Democrat, Massachusetts): We're telling the rest of the world that for some terrorists we have a high priority, but for others, well, we really don't care all that much.
KELEMEN: Posada, now in his late 70s, is believed to have snuck into the US earlier this year. His lawyers in south Florida applied for political asylum in mid-April. Still, the assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, Roger Noriega, told CNN and other reporters this week that he has no evidence Posada is in the US.
(Soundbite from CNN)
Assistant Secretary ROGER NORIEGA (State Department, Western Hemisphere Affairs): This may be a complete manufactured issue. Having said that, the United States has no interest in giving a quarter to someone who has committed criminal acts.
KELEMEN: However, one Cuban American with a violent anti-Castro past, Orlando Bosch, went on Channel 41 in Miami to say he's just been in contact with his old friend Posada.
(Soundbite from Channel 41)
Mr. ORLANDO BOSH: (Foreign language spoken)
KELEMEN: `I'm telling you this because the whole world knows he's here,' Bosch said. In that same interview, Bosch defended the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, a terrorist act that killed 73 people. Cuba accuses both Bosch and Posada of being the masterminds of that attack. The CIA and FBI have documentation of Posada's violent past, according to Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archives.
Mr. PETER KORNBLUH (Director, Cuba Documentation Project; National Security Archives): He was one of the true Frankensteinian monsters produced by the Central Intelligence Agency in the mid-1960s. He was trained by them. He started to implement these skills in the name of advancing US policy to overthrow the Castro government, and this is what he is now saying, that he should be allow asylum here because he did work for the United States government for the Central Intelligence Agency.
KELEMEN: Posada, who has Venezuelan citizenship and various aliases, including Bambi, did spend time in a Venezuelan jail in connection with the Cuban airliner bombing. Kornbluh says Posada escaped prison and ended up in El Salvador to work for Oliver North's illicit Contra resupply operations. That's part of Posada's history not lost on Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba's National Assembly, who spoke to us by phone.
Mr. RICARDO ALARCON (President, Cuba's National Assembly): A person coming out of a jail in which he was awaiting trail for the bombing of a civilian airplane reappearing working for the White House? That should suffice for the US to try to find things in order to come clean in this ...(unintelligible) against terrorists.
KELEMEN: President Bush's father overruled the Justice Department when he allowed Orlando Bosch to stay in Miami, but Posada's case is more complicated for this White House given its rhetoric on terrorism in the post-9/11 world. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
WERTHEIMER: It's 18 minutes past the hour.