Friday, January 23, 2009

Venezuela: Obama Must Act on Terrorist Posada Carriles

The NYTimes reported today that Venezuela Will Push U.S. to Hand Over Man Tied to Plane Bombing, in reference to notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who is amazingly living free in Miami today.

Venezuela will press the Obama administration in the coming days to extradite a former senior official in Venezuela’s secret intelligence police so that he can be tried for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, according to lawyers for the government here.

The move will test the new administration’s willingness to engage on a festering issue that has further strained America’s relations with Venezuela and Cuba. Both nations have depicted the case of Luis Posada Carriles, an elderly Cuban exile who is a naturalized Venezuelan and a former C.I.A. operative, as an example of hypocrisy by Washington in its fight against terrorism.

This is a hugely important case, though most Americans know nothing about it. It is obvious to just about everyone that the Bush Administration interfered in the case thus far. Now the issue has to be rectified fairly and justly. The world is watching.

Despite this, some are saying Obama "should step back and give the power back to the judicial branch and independent prosecutors." Sounds great but this view is more than a little naive. The Justice Department works fundamentally like any other Department. It bends the way of the Executive and the popular will. The important decisions are made behind closed doors.

In this case, the Bush Justice Dept knew they were screwed and decided to tie Posada up with immigration charges - in West Texas courts. That was a choice, though it looked fair and just. The person who made that decision probably wanted to make their boss happy. It was a smart move for them.

The critical legal issue now is whether an immigration judge was correct he ruled Posada could not be extradited to Cuba or Venezuela because of torture concerns. This laughably occurred while all the US torture allegations were in high relief - and with a total lack of hard evidence. The Government did not challenge the claim that Cuba and Venezuela tortures. That was a decision that needs to be challenged - by the Obama Justice Department. Another decision is whether to ask additional countries to take him (an ejection order still stands) - who could then do the required extradition to Venezuela or Cuba. Bush asked only 6 countries - ones that we thought would not cooperate with Venezuela.

Venezuela is now presenting additional evidence (written proof from the actual admitted bomber) and a written guarantee to not harm or torture Posada in any way. This is an issue of national security importance. Our credibility on the new war on terror lays in the balance. We would not accept this BS if Osama Bin Laden was being tried on immigration charges in Syria or something. There are plenty of things the Justice Department could do to serve justice here. If Holder needs to be told from Obama to make the issue a priority, then so be it. Is this "interference"??

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