CIA Knew of 1976 Airline Bombing Plot and Failed to Act

October 12th, 2006 - by admin

Associated Press & ANSWER Coalition – 2006-10-12 10:05:56

Documents Show Cuban Exile Warned CIA of Plot to Bomb Airliner
Canadian Press / Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (October 9, 2006) — A Cuban exile militant being held in a Texas jail, warned the CIA months before the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that fellow exiles were planning such an attack, said a newly released US government document.

The document shows Luis Posada Carriles — who was cut off by the agency earlier that year — was secretly telling the CIA his fellow far-right Cuban exiles opposed to President Fidel Castro’s government were plotting to bring down a commercial jet.

The document does not say what the CIA did with Posada’s tip. A CIA spokesman said he had no comment Monday, a US holiday. The CIA had extensive contacts with anti-Castro militants and trained some of them but has denied involvement in the bombing.

The documents were posted online Thursday by the National Security Archive, a research institute at George Washington University that seeks to declassify government files through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Cubana Airlines plane, on a flight from Venezuela to Cuba, blew up shortly after taking off from a stopover in Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976, killing all 73 aboard, including Cuba’s Olympic fencing team.

The bombing remains an open wound. Weeping relatives of the victims met in a Havana cemetery Friday, the 30th anniversary of the bombing. They demanded Posada — who is now 78 and in a Texas detention centre on an immigration violation — be put on trial. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seeking the extradition of Posada, a naturalized Venezuelan who served as the country’s counterintelligence chief and accuses the US government of protecting a terrorist.

The National Security Archive’s Peter Kornbluh urged Washington to tell everything it knows about Posada.

“Now is the time for the government to come clean on Posada’s covert past and his involvement in international terrorism,” Kornbluh said.

“His victims, the public and the courts have a right to know.”

Separating deception from truth in the intelligence world is notoriously difficult and the newly released documents contain mixed messages about Posada. Much remains murky.

In a report dated a month after the bombing, former FBI director Clarence Kelly told US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a confidential FBI source ascertained the bombing had been planned in Caracas by Posada, Venezuelan intelligence agency official Ricardo Morales Navarrete and Cuban exile Frank Castro.

Two Venezuelan employees of Posada’s private security agency were arrested in Trinidad the day after the bombing and one of them — who said he had worked for the CIA — admitted the two had planted the bomb, documents posted by the National Security Archive show.

Posada, for his part, trained with the CIA for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and served in the US army in the early 1960s. In 1965, he allegedly plotted to overthrow the Guatemalan government and blow up a Soviet or Cuban freighter in Mexico, the FBI said. In 1967, he moved to Venezuela, eventually leading its counterintelligence agency, and was running his own security firm in the mid-1970s.

In 1973, Posada was investigated by the CIA for allegedly smuggling cocaine but was cleared after he persuaded interrogators he was “guilty of only having the wrong kind of friends,” a declassified document said.

The same document said the CIA “formally terminated” its relationship with him Feb. 13, 1976.

Yet Posada still contacted the agency.

“After 2/76 contacts with (deleted by censors) were at Posada’s own initiative to volunteer information in exchange for assistance US visa for self and family,” said the document, an annotated list of still-secret records on Posada’s CIA career that was marked “sanitized.”

It tells how Posada contacted the CIA in February 1976 to describe an assassination plot by Orlando Bosch and Frank Castro, two fellow right-wing Cuban exiles, against leftist Andres Pascal Allende, the nephew of slain Chilean President Salvador Allende. Posada worried his allies would discover he was giving up their secrets.

“Posada concerned that Bosch will blame Posada for leak of plans,” the report said.

Andres Allende was not assassinated and it is unclear whether the Cuban exiles ever made an attempt on his life.

Then, four months later, Posada came back to tell of a sinister plot to blow up an airliner.

On June 22, 1976, “Posada again contacts (deleted by censor) reptd info concerning possible exile plans to blow up Cubana Airliner leaving Panama and requested visa assistacne,” read the document, filled with typographical errors.

Shortly after, a bomb aboard a Cubana Airlines plane leaving Panama failed to detonate and the following month, a bomb in a suitcase exploded before being loaded onto a Cubana plane leaving Jamaica, said a confidential US State Department memo previously posted by the National Security Archive.

The day after the Cubana Airlines flight was bombed near Barbados, the CIA tried unsuccessfully to contact Posada, the annotated list said. Five days later, Posada was arrested in Venezuela. He denied involvement in the bombing and escaped from prison in 1985 before a civilian trial was completed.

Allegations that he committed mass murder didn’t keep US covert operatives from hiring Posada again. Within months, he was delivering weapons to US-backed Nicaraguan rebels in an illegal White House administration operation. Posada also acknowledged and then denied a role in Havana hotel bombings in 1997 that killed a tourist.

And in 2000, Posada was arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Castro during a summit in Panama. He was pardoned in 2004 by former Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso.

Posada was detained in Florida in May 2005 for entering the United States illegally. A US immigration judge has ruled he cannot be sent to Cuba or Venezuela, citing fear he would be tortured.

© The Canadian Press, 2006

US Government on Verge of Releasing
Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles

Tell the State Dept. and Congress: Extradite Posada! Don’t release him!

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

Today’s announcement that the US government is on the verge of releasing anti-Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles rather than extraditing him to Venezuela requires that all of us act now.

Please take a moment and send a letter to the State Department and members of Congress indicating your disgust with this travesty of justice which can only be understood as a grave threat against the people of Cuba by the US government.

What an irony that on the day Bush went on national television (September 11, 2006) to declare a non-stop war on “terrorism,” the same government went into the last stage in the legal process to free the man responsible for blowing up a Cuban passenger plane with 73 people aboard in 1976.

This same man organized other bombings of hotels and other civilian facilities in Cuba. Luis Posada Carriles was a CIA agent and has never stopped his campaign of bombings and assassinations. Now, he is to be set free among the US public rather than face a trial and justice.

Bush’s so-called on war on terrorism is exposed as a complete fraud. Bush labels Cuba and the people of the Middle East as “terrorists? in pursuit of a war for empire a war that does not hesitate to use terrorist tactics against its targets.

US Magistrate Norbert Garney in El Paso recommended Posada’s release last night on the basis that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, notorious now for his “legal” advocacy of torture, refused to classify Posada as a terrorist.

Meanwhile, the US government continues to imprison the men known as the Cuban Five for up to double-life terms for attempting to report on the planned activities of Posada and the Miami-based and CIA funded terrorist organizations whose acts have taken the lives of more than 3,000 Cubans since 1959.

The State Department refuses to extradite Posada to Venezuela where he is wanted to stand trial for the destruction of the airliner in 1976. The doomed Cuban aircraft flew from Venezuela on October 6, 1976 the day it was destroyed by a bomb in mid-flight.

The Magistrate ruled that since Posada could not be extradited he could not be held indefinitely on the lone immigration charge filed against him by the Justice Department. Thus, the legal strategy of the Bush administration to win Posada’s freedom has now been fully confirmed.

What you can do:

Send a letter. ANSWER has created an easy-to use mechanism to send a letter to the State Department demanding the immediate extradition of Posada. People around this country must act now to protest this obvious maneuver to intensify the US government’s undeclared but real war against the Cuban people and their revolution. A.N.S.W.E.R. has also released a video, “Extradition of a Terrorist” revealing the crimes of Luis Posada, which you can watch by clicking here.

•  Donate. Funds are urgently needed to continue this campaign, spread the word, and keep the pressure on the State Department and Congress. Make a donation to help the campaign in support of the Cuban people, and to stop the US government’s threats and aggressions.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
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Posada: A Double Standard in the War on Terror
Michelle Garcia / Harpers Magazine

(October 6, 2006) — On October 6, 1976 seventy-three people were killed when terrorists blew up Cubana Flight 455 , which was on its way from Barbados to Cuba. Thirty years later, on September 11, 2006, Luis Posada Carriles, one of the men who allegedly carried out the attack, was sitting in a Texas prison when a federal judge in El Paso, Texas, ordered him released from detention. If a U.S. district court upholds the ruling, Posada could be on the street within a few weeks.

Why would the U.S. government set free a notorious terrorism suspect when it was simultaneously turning the American legal system upside down to permit the indefinite detainment and torture of suspected terrorists? Terrorism, it seems, lies in the eye of the beholder.

Posada, you see, is an old Cold Warrior. He received CIA training for the 1961 U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba to oust Fidel Castro and is known to have carried out a number of U.S. government operations in Latin America. Posada was arrested after the Cubana Flight 455 bombing and tried by a Venezuelan military court, which acquitted him. In 1985, he escaped from jail while awaiting a civil trial. (Posada denies any involvement in the bombing, but FBI reports place him at several meetings in Caracas where the plan was hatched.)

Out of prison, operating under the name Ramon Medina, Posada ran arms to U.S.-backed Contras for Lt. Col. Oliver North; he has served as a spy for the Salvadoran president and military junta leader Napoleon Duarte; and he admitted to a New York Times reporter in 1998 that he organized a string of bombings of hotels and restaurants in Cuba during the 1990s.

Last year, Posada illegally entered the United States and settled in Miami, where he received a warm welcome from the anti-Castro community. It wasn‚t long, however, before he was taken into custody by immigration agents. Immigration Judge William Abbott ordered Posada deported but agreed not to send him to Venezuela or Cuba, after somewhat ironically concluding that he might be tortured there.

The governments of Cuba and Venezuela have both called on the Bush Administration to turn Posada over and thereby prove that there are no double standards in the war on terrorism. Posada, in turn, applied to become a U.S. citizen but subsequently withdrew his citizenship application, according to his attorney, to avoid embarrassing the U.S. government.

Judge Abbott, in considering whether to order Posada expelled from the U.S., listed off Posada‚s nefarious career highlights and weighed whether the U.S.ˆbacked Bay of Pigs operation met the definition of terrorism. „It doesn’t necessarily matter who helped it,‰ Abbott told the Miami Herald. „The question is whether that kind of activity today would be defined as aiding terrorism or participating in acts of terrorism.‰

In early September, Posada challenged his detention in federal court, claiming that there was little likeliness a third country would accept him „in the foreseeable future.‰ He seems to be right about that˜his old friends have apparently turned their backs on him, and according to the court order to release him, high-level contacts in Panama that he might have called upon for help are themselves under investigation. El Salvador rejected his request to enter the country, as did Honduras, where President Ricardo Maduro personally denounced Posada.

In issuing his September 11 order to release Posada, U.S. Judge Norbert Garney wrote that Posada must be freed unless the U.S. Attorney General certified that there are „reasonable grounds to believe‰ that Posada has engaged in certain terrorist activities or that he presents a threat to national security. Alberto Gonzales has done nothing.

New York-based journalist Michelle Garcia has written for The Washington Post, The Nation and other publications. She is a regular public radio contributor.
This is Posada: A Double Standard in the War on Terror, published Friday, October 6, 2006. It is part of Features , which is part of .

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