06 October, 2006

flight 455's 30 year anniversary & Luis Posada Carriles

Today marks an anniversary the US warriors on "terror" won't be mentioning: the 1st downing of a commercial airliner in the americas.


from the National Security Archive:

On the 30th anniversary of the first and only mid-air bombing of a civilian airliner in the Western Hemisphere, the National Security Archive today posted on the Web new investigative records that further implicate Luis Posada Carriles in that crime of international terrorism. Among the documents posted is an annotated list of four volumes of still-secret records on Posada's career with the CIA, his acts of violence, and his suspected involvement in the bombing of Cubana flight 455 on October 6, 1976, which took the lives of all 73 people on board, many of them teenagers [inlcuding the Cuban fencing team who had just won the gold and silver medals at a tournament in Venezuela].
. . .

The Archive also released three declassified FBI intelligence reports that were sent to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after the bombing. The updates, classified "secret" and signed by director Clarence Kelly, focused on the relations between the FBI legal attaché in Caracas, Joseph Leo, Posada, and one of the Venezuelans who placed the bomb on the plane, to whom Leo had provided a visa. One report from Kelly, based on the word of an informant in Venezuela, suggested that Posada had attended meetings in Caracas where the plane bombing was planned. The document also quoted an informant as stating that after the plane went into the ocean one of the bombers placed a call to Orlando Bosch, the leading conspirator in the plot, and stated: "a bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff and all got killed."

Another State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research report to Kissinger, posted again today, noted that the CIA had a source in Venezuela who had overheard Posada saying "we are going to hit a Cuban airplane" and "Orlando has the details" only days before the plane was blown up off the coast of Barbados.

Both Bosch and Posada were arrested and imprisoned in Venezuela after the attack. Posada escaped from prison in September 1985; Bosch was released in 1987 and returned to the United States illegally. Like Posada, he was detained by immigration authorities; over the objections of the Justice Department, which determined he was a threat to public security, the first President Bush's White House issued him an administrative pardon in 1990.

The only terrorist known to have entered the US by illegally crossing the Mexican border in March 2005, Posada Carilles is proving to be an embarassment to the Bush administration. "He did little to hide his presence in Miami's exile community and joked about being recognized at doctors' appointments. He wasn't arrested until he gave a newspaper interview and appeared at a news conference in May 2005, moves that seemed to taunt law enforcement officials." (WaPo). Ignoring Venezuela's extradition requests (for concern he might be tortured!), a final determination of his status has yet to be made:

An anti-Fidel Castro militant accused of bombing a Cuban airliner in 1976 will remain detained on immigration charges after U.S. Justice Department lawyers on Thursday filed objections to a magistrate's recommendation that he be freed.

The lawyers called Luis Posada Carriles, 79, "an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks on tourist sites."

But the government has stopped short of formally declaring him a terrorist, which would allow indefinite detention under post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism laws.

Posada's case has become a political problem for the U.S. administration because Cuba and Venezuela have declared him a terrorist for his suspected involvement in the bombing of the airliner en route to Cuba from Barbados in which 73 people were killed. They accuse the United States -- a long-time foe of Castro -- of a double standard in the war on terrorism.
. . .
The former CIA operative, who trained with other Cuban exiles for the U.S.-sponsored "Bay of Pigs" invasion to overthrow Castro in 1961, is fighting his detention on the ground that U.S. laws require officials to release him within 90 days if they cannot find a safe place to deport him. AlertNet


"The problem is that the American government created him, it taught him, and now it's hard for the government to punish him," Camilo Rojo Alvarez, son of a crew member who died in the 1976 attack, said in an interview.

Tom Crumpacker:

. . . former CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles had been trained by CIA in demolition and explosives in the early 1960s. He was ostensibly in the US military, February 1963 to March 1964, which was the cover CIA gave its training agents then. During the 1960s, as a salaried agent he ran a school in Florida training others in his trade, financed by CIA. He also did forays to other countries to do covert bombings and assassinations. CIA was using him as an "operative" in Caracas 1976. In 1972 he had listed his permanent residence as Miami. When he left Florida for Caracas to work with the Venezuelan intelligence agency DISIP, he had with him a supply of CIA bomb-making materials and explosive devices. On the date of the bombing of Havana bound Cubana flight 455, October 6, 1976, he had supposedly left DISIP and was operating a private detective agency in Caracas.

The reports suggest that the Cubana bombing was a joint DISIP-CIA project and CIA was involved in the planning. They refer to meetings in Santo Domingo in the summer and in Caracas in early September involving agent Posada and his partner Orlando Bosch and top DISIP officials, at which discussions were held about bombing Cubana flights, also the Letelier car bombing which occurred in Washington, DC in mid-September. At the time, Bosch was head of CORU, a new umbrella organization of violent anti-Castro groups in US which CIA had urged them to form. He was also involved with "Condor" operations, a CIA supported super-secret web in South America which exterminated and disappeared many leftists.

CIA had been kept informed of previous attempts by its agent Posada to bomb Cubana airliners in the summer. In late September Posada (referred to "informant") reported: "We're going to hit the Cubana airliner." On October 1, our State Department -- at Posada's request and under a special procedure -- issued a US visa for the week of the bombing to one of Posada's two employees who placed the bomb in the plane restroom at the Barbados stop, then left the plane. The other Posada employee-bomb-planter had a secret Caracas CIA telephone number in his belongings when arrested in Trinidad after sending this message to Bosch: "A bus went off the cliff and 73 dogs died." These reports were not made available to the Venezuelan officials who prosecuting Bosch and Posada in the 1980s.

No one warned Cuba or potential passengers of the impending attack. George Bush, Sr. was the CIA Director at the time of the bombing. He was Vice President when Posada was allowed to escape from jail during his trial in Venezuela (CIA bribed his guards when the evidence started to implicate them) and report to Col. Oliver North in El Salvador to work on the Nicaraguan Contra supply operation being run out of the White House. Bush, Sr. was President when he pardoned Bosch against the recommendation of his own Justice Department, thereby harboring him in Miami.

In 1976 CIA was aware the Bush family had important connections in the oil business and was dealing with key politicians in Venezuela. Jeb Bush (now governor of Florida) was establishing himself in Caracas with the Commerce Bank of Texas, owned by Bush family friend (later Secretary of State) James Baker. When Bosch arrived in Caracas on September 14, 1976, after a visit with Pinochet officials in Chile, then Venezuelan President Perez allowed Bosch and Posada to conduct fundraising and operate freely in Venezuela, even contributing funds to their projects.


In custody after the bombing, Posada threatened that if he were forced to talk, the Venezuelan government would go down the tube and the US would have another Watergate. Indeed, another Watergate type cover-up seems now in progress, spawned by Posada's resurfacing in US and the declassification of some of CIA's reports after 28 years.

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