CIA's 'Red Cell' Hypocrisy on Terror

The Central Intelligence Agency has
scoffed at an internal memo that cites a few terrorist acts by some
American citizens as possibly causing foreign nations to see the
United States as an "exporter of terrorism." The CIA notes that the
paper came from its "red cell" analysts who are assigned to "think
outside the box" to "provoke thought."

However, what's most striking about the secret three-page memo,
dated Feb. 4 and disclosed by WikiLeaks last month, is how it reflects
CIA self-censorship regarding the agency's own long history of
supporting acts of terror and protecting terrorists.

Cases of terrorism that
implicate the CIA or its operatives, such as the blowing up of a Cubana
airliner in 1976 or the arming of Nicaraguan contra rebels in the
1980s, are ignored by the "red cell" analysts even though many of the
alleged perpetrators and their funders are still harbored in the United
States - and include current and past U.S. government officials.

Yet, instead of citing
these well-documented terrorism cases, the "red cell" memo references a
few cases of individual Americans who have gone abroad and committed
terrorist acts as well as some distant history of terrorism linked to
U.S. immigrants.

The "red cell" memo notes
that Irish-Americans have supported the Irish Republican Army back to
the 19th Century. The analysis then skips to Zionist terrorist Baruch
Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians as they prayed at a mosque in
Hebron in 1994.

In sketching this
background, the analysts jump over a lot of blood-soaked history of
CIA-connected terrorism. Though assigned to "think outside the box,"
the "red cell" analysts apparently knew better than to open a can of
worms that they might have found inside CIA's document vaults.

So, instead of noting
the obvious truth - that other countries might view the United States
as "an exporter of terrorism" because the U.S. government and
particularly the CIA have had a long history of exporting terrorism -
the "red cell" analysts confine their study's frame to some individual
Americans with no connection to the U.S. government or the CIA.

Thus, terrorists who have ties to Official Washington are left outside the frame.

For instance, there is no mention
of Luis Posada Carriles, the alleged right-wing Cuban mastermind of the
bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed 73 people, nor to any of the
former Nicaraguan contras who slaughtered civilians as part of a bloody
campaign to destabilize the leftist Sandinista government. Yet, Posada
and many ex-contras still openly live in or visit Miami.

The CIA files are surely
filled with data about Posada and the contras because the CIA worked
closely with and provided material support for them.

Not that self-censorship
by the "red cells" is all that surprising. It's been practiced by U.S.
government officials and the Washington news media for decades now.

Otherwise, the American
people would have been confronted with the uncomfortable reality that
many esteemed U.S. government officials, including Republican icon
Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, had their hands dipped in the
blood of innocent victims of terrorism.

Double Standards

What if ex-President
George W. Bush's dictum - that a government that harbors or helps
terrorists should be punished as severely as the terrorists themselves -
were applied to the United States or even to his own family? Maybe the
"red cell" should have asked that "out-of-the-box" question.

In other words, the U.S.
political/media system - including these "red cell" analysts - continue
to view the world through a cracked lens that focuses outrage on
"enemy" regimes and groups while refracting away a comparable fury from
similar actions by U.S. officials.

So, for instance,
American officials, pundits and journalists rage against Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez for allegedly assisting Colombian guerrillas, but
are getting ready for a year-long celebration of Reagan's centennial
birthday in 2011.

Yet, not only did Reagan
arm the Nicaraguan contras, but he continued the covert war after the
ruling Sandinistas won an election in 1984 that most outside observers
praised as free and fair. He also wasn't deterred by disclosures of the
contras' human rights abuses - kidnapping, raping, torturing and
murdering civilians - even when those acts were acknowledged by some
senior contra leaders.

Reagan was well aware of
the contras' cruelty (he privately called them "vandals" in a
conversation with CIA officer Duane Clarridge), while he hailed them
publicly as "freedom fighters" and equated them with America's
"Founding Fathers."

Reagan kept arming the
contras even after Congress ordered him to stop and the World Court
denounced the CIA's secret mining of Nicaragua's harbors.

Reagan also backed
vicious rebel forces in Angola and Afghanistan (including foreign
Islamic fundamentalists who later coalesced into al-Qaeda), and he
supported state terror against civilian populations in Guatemala, El
Salvador and Honduras, killing hundreds of thousands.

By any stretch of the
imagination - if any other country had so brazenly violated
international law and human rights standards - that government would be
condemned by civilized nations and would be treated as a terrorist

But the vast majority of
Republicans and many Democrats view Reagan as a political hero. In a
ceremony last year, President Barack Obama feted former First Lady
Nancy Reagan at the White House for the signing of a special law to
commemorate Reagan's 100th birthday.

To suggest that the late
President was a war criminal or a sponsor of terrorism is unthinkable
within the U.S. political mainstream. [For details on Reagan's war
crimes, see Robert Parry's Lost History.]

Bush Family Terrorism

Similarly, it is
unacceptable to note how the Bush Family has protected Cuban-American
terrorists - from 1976 when George H.W. Bush ran the CIA to 2008 when
George W. Bush balked at extraditing Posada to stand trial in
Venezuela. At times, the hypocrisy was staggering.

On May 2, 2008, more than
six years into Bush-43's "war on terror," there was a remarkable scene
in Miami as Posada, then 80, was feted at a gala fundraising dinner.
Some 500 supporters chipped in to his legal defense fund.

Posada arrived to
thundering applause. Then, in a bristling speech against the Castro
regime in Cuba, Posada told his supporters, "We ask God to sharpen our

Venezuela's Ambassador
the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, protested the Bush
administration's tolerance of the dinner. "This is outrageous,
particularly because he kept talking about [more] violence," the
ambassador said.

Posada, a naturalized
Venezuelan citizen who worked for Venezuela's intelligence agency in
the 1970s, masterminded the Cubana Airlines bombing in 1976, according
to an overwhelming body of evidence compiled by the U.S. government and
in South America.

Despite the strong
evidence against Posada in U.S. government files, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
made little effort to capture Posada when he sneaked into Miami in
2005. Posada was detained only after he held a news conference.

Then, instead of
extraditing Posada to Venezuela to stand trial for a terrorist mass
murder, the Bush administration engaged in a lackadaisical effort to
have him deported for lying on an immigration form.

During a 2007 court
hearing in Texas, Bush administration lawyers allowed to go
unchallenged testimony from a Posada friend that Posada would face
torture if he were returned to Venezuela. The judge, therefore, barred
Posada from being deported there.

After that ruling,
Ambassador Alvarez accused the Bush administration of applying "a
cynical double standard" in the "war on terror." As for the claim that
Venezuela practices torture, Alvarez said, "There isn't a shred of
evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela."

Different Rules

The kid-glove treatment
of Posada and other right-wing Cuban terrorists stood in marked
contrast to George W. Bush's tough handling of Islamic militants. While
Posada was afforded all U.S. legal protections and then some,
suspected Islamic terrorists were locked away without trial at the U.S.
military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In a further ironic
twist, the Bush-43 administration allowed Venezuela to be smeared about
torture while Bush and his top aides were concealing the fact that they
had authorized extensive torture on suspected Islamic "terrorists,"
including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other brutal torture
techniques at CIA "black sites."

Posada also made no
apologies for his long terrorist career. In 1998, in interviews with a
New York Times reporter, Posada admitted a role in a wave of Havana
bombings, citing a goal of frightening tourists away from Cuba.

Similarly, his alleged
co-conspirator in the Cubana Airlines bombing, Orlando Bosch, showed no
remorse for his violent past. In a TV interview with reporter Manuel
Cao on Miami's Channel 41, Bosch justified the mid-air bombing that
killed 73 people in 1976.

When Cao asked Bosch to
comment on the civilians who died when the Cubana plane crashed off the
coast of Barbados, Bosch responded, "In a war such as us Cubans who
love liberty wage against the tyrant [Fidel Castro], you have to down
planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack
anything that is within your reach."

"But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?" Cao asked.

"Who was on board that plane?"
Bosch responded. "Four members of the Communist Party, five North
Koreans, five Guyanese." [Officials tallies actually put the Guyanese
dead at 11.]

Bosch added, "Four members of the Communist Party, chico! Who was there? Our enemies..."

"And the fencers?" Cao asked about
Cuba's amateur fencing team that had just won gold, silver and bronze
medals at a youth fencing competition in Caracas. "The young people on

Bosch replied, "I was in
Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them.
After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their
triumph to the tyrant. ... She gave a speech filled with praise for the

"We had already agreed in Santo
Domingo, that everyone who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to
run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the

[The comment about Santo Domingo
was an apparent reference to a meeting by a right-wing terrorist
organization, CORU, which took place in the Dominican Republic in 1976
and which involved a CIA undercover asset.]

"If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult?" Cao asked.

"No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba," Bosch answered.

Venezuela Case

Though Bosch and Posada
have formally denied masterminding the Cubana Airlines bombing, Bosch's
incriminating statements and other evidence make the case of his and
Posada's guilt overwhelming.

Declassified U.S.
documents show that soon after the Cubana plane was blown out of the
sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the CIA, then under the direction of George H.W.
Bush, identified Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the bombing.

But in fall 1976, Bush's
boss, President Gerald Ford, was in a tight election battle with
Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Ford administration wanted to keep
intelligence scandals out of the newspapers. So Bush and other
officials kept the lid on the investigations. [For details, see Robert
Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Still, inside the U.S.
government, the facts were well known. According to a secret CIA cable
dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in Venezuela relayed
information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that tied in Bosch, who
had been visiting Venezuela, and Posada, who then served as a senior
officer in Venezuela's intelligence agency, DISIP.

The Oct. 14 cable said
Bosch arrived in Venezuela in late September 1976 under the protection
of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, a close Washington ally
who assigned his intelligence adviser Orlando Garcia "to protect and
assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela."

On his arrival, Bosch was
met by Garcia and Posada, according to the report. Later, a
fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor. "A few days following the
fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going
to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details,'" the CIA
report said.

"Following the 6 October [1976]
Cubana Airline crash off the coast of Barbados, Bosch, Garcia and
Posada agreed that it would be best for Bosch to leave Venezuela.
Therefore, on 9 October, Posada and Garcia escorted Bosch to the
Colombian border, where he crossed into Colombian territory."

In South America, police
began rounding up suspects. Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy
Lugo, who got off the Cubana plane in Barbados, confessed that they
had planted the bomb. They named Bosch and Posada as the architects of
the attack.

A search of Posada's apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines timetables and other incriminating documents.

Posada and Bosch were
charged in Venezuela for the Cubana Airlines bombing, but the case soon
became a political tug-of-war, since the suspects were in possession
of sensitive Venezuelan government secrets that could embarrass
President Andres Perez.

After President Reagan
and Vice President George H.W. Bush took power in Washington in 1981,
the momentum for fully unraveling the mysteries of anti-communist
terrorist plots dissipated. The Cold War trumped any concern about
right-wing terrorism.

Iran-Contra Role

In 1985, Posada escaped
from a Venezuelan prison, reportedly with the help of Cuban-Americans.
In his autobiography, Posada thanked Miami-based Cuban activist Jorge
Mas Canosa for the $25,000 that was used to bribe guards who allowed
Posada to walk out of prison.

Another Cuban exile who
aided Posada was former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, who was close to
then-Vice President Bush. At the time, Rodriguez was handling secret
supply shipments to the Nicaraguan contra rebels, a pet project of
President Reagan.

After fleeing Venezuela,
Posada joined Rodriguez in Central America and began using the code
name "Ramon Medina." Posada was assigned the job of paymaster for
pilots in the White House-run contra-supply operation.

By the late 1980s,
Orlando Bosch also was out of Venezuela's jails and back in Miami. But
Bosch, who had been implicated in about 30 violent attacks, was facing
possible deportation by U.S. officials who warned that Washington
couldn't credibly lecture other countries about terrorism while
protecting a terrorist like Bosch.

But Bosch got lucky. Jeb
Bush, then an aspiring Florida politician, led a lobbying drive to
prevent the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from expelling
Bosch. In 1990, the lobbying paid dividends when Jeb's dad, President
George H.W. Bush, blocked proceedings against Bosch, letting the
unapologetic terrorist stay in the United States.

In 1992, also during the
Bush-41 presidency, the FBI interviewed Posada about the Iran-Contra
scandal for 6 1/2 hours at the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. Posada filled in
some blanks about the role of Bush's vice presidential office in the
secret contra operation.

According to a 31-page
summary of the FBI interview, Posada said Bush's national security
adviser, former CIA officer Donald Gregg, was in frequent contact with
Felix Rodriguez.

"Posada ... recalls that Rodriguez
was always calling Gregg," the FBI summary said. "Posada knows this
because he's the one who paid Rodriguez' phone bill." After the
interview, the FBI agents let Posada walk out of the embassy to
freedom. [For details, see Parry's Lost History.]

[For more on how the
senior George Bush also looked the other way on Chile's international
terrorism, see's "When the Terrorists Were Our Guys."]

The double standards on
terrorism are now so deeply engrained in Official Washington that the
well-established history of U.S. government officials collaborating
with terrorists is not only kept "outside the box" of the city's
conventional wisdom but is ignored by the CIA's "red cell" analysts
who are assigned to "think outside the box."

So, the "red cell"
analysts may take note of Irish-Americans filling coffee cans with cash
for the IRA, dating back to the 1880s, and of individual Americans
conducting outrages on their own, but the analysts know better than to
look into their own agency's files for the real reasons why foreigners
might "see the United States as an 'Exporter of Terrorism.'"

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