Keep your eyes peeled for Luis Posada Carriles. Anyone who the New York Times says could “create tension between the politics of the global war on terrorism and the ghosts of the cold war on communism” has got to be worth following.
Posada is a Cuban exile. Six weeks ago, he illegally entered the United States and looks set to prove a mighty headache for Washington. Why? Because Hugo Chavez, iconoclastic President of Venezuela and scourge of the United States, is trying to extradite him. The charge? Bombing out the sky a Cubana Airlines in 1976 and killing 73 people – one of several bombing escapades, it appears, for Signor Posada, including a 2000 effort to snuff The Beard himself.
It also seems likely that the airline bombing was planned by Posada at a June 1976 meeting in Santo Domingo along with the Washington murder of Orlando Letelier, former foreign minister of Chile, and American Ronni Moffit, which occurred two weeks prior to the Cubana bomb.
Like most of us, Posada wants political asylum in the United States. Only, he has a case. His lawyer says he was on the CIA payroll between 1961-67 and, according to US government records, “kept in close touch with the agency after leaving it”, including when he was in the Venezuelan intelligence service and a private dick in Caracas.
President Bush must choose whether to embrace him, arrest him, or send him to Hugo.
In classic NYT language “A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists.”
Then there’s all that Cuban-American dosh that Bush and his brother Jeb don’t want to risk losing by deporting Posada.
There’s principles. And then there’s the past.