Ever Heard of the Cuban 5? When We Look Like the Bad Guys. . .

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weinglass.jpg
(Civil rights attorney Leonard Weinglass)
All I’d need to write here is Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib or Haditha to make the case that America has lost its moral credibility in much of the world. It’s tough to make a case against other thugs in the world when we deploy unaccountable thuggery of our own.
But despite that, I think that it’s important to continue to fight for what is right and just — particularly in the cases that are unpleasant.
Did Larry Craig — someone who really doesn’t deserve much support from this blogger — get screwed by the cops in Minneapolis? Probably so. We all know what constitutes genuinely lewd conduct vs. what is just hitting on someone. But let’s leave that for another day.
Another case when weighing justice gets tougher is when national security, foreigners, and fears of espionage are involved. This is in fact the case of five Cuban nationals charged with spying for their government and currently in prison for trying to infiltrate groups in the US who might attack Cuba or Cubans.
I’ve begun to look into this case as more and more media around the world are kicking the tires of this bizarre legal case in which five men — who seem rather ordinary to tell you the truth — have received some of the heaviest prison penalties in the intel business and yet — didn’t seem to have discovered any national secrets and as best as I can tell were not spying on the US government.
I need to learn more about this — and as readers of this blog know — I think that US-Cuba relations are important to change gears on — as a move on this front could appear a harbinger of healthier American engagement in Latin America but also more enlightened US global engagement as well. It would symbolize the peripheralization of interest-group driven foreign policy cabals and finally bury Cold War era deals that have no place in the 21st century.
I’m going to go hear the Cuban 5’s attorney, Leonard Weinglass — who is mentioned in the CNN story above — make his case. It should be useful and interesting to those who are interested in how real or not the charges against these Cuban nationals are — and whether there ought to be a difference when people are caught spying on dangerous NGOs or spying on the Pentagon.
The info for the meeting is:

FOREIGN POLICY, POLITICS AND THE LAW: THE CASE OF THE CUBAN FIVE
You are cordially invited to hear noted civil rights lawyer and activist, LEONARD WEINGLASS, speak about this highly controversial case
SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
6:00 P.M.
HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, MOOT COURT ROOM
2900 VAN NESS STREET, NW WASHINGTON, D.C. 20008

I’m not the organizer of this meeting — but I find the subject very interesting because it may be the cases involving citizens from Cuba, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere when it is most important to show how “justice” in a fair and impartial legal system is supposed to work.
I have a hunch that some in the Cuban-American community have been more than comfortable with subverting a just legal process to achieve unfair convictions. . .but as I said, I want to learn more.
Someone I know in the military establishment, however, shared with me a bit of information that may very well be classified.
He said that in the many simulations he had been involved with in planning war exercises dealing with Cuba, the simulation called for US military forces to repel attacks from Floridians aimed at Cuba.
That information makes one think that whatever the Cuban Five may have been doing for the Cuban government, fears in Havana were shared by many planning combat exercises in the Pentagon.
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “Ever Heard of the Cuban 5? When We Look Like the Bad Guys. . .

  1. Matt Lawrence says:

    Our NEW book reveals the truth about the Cuban 5!
    After 12 years of research, our new book written by two men who flew the Brothers mission is set for release. Betrayal: Clinton, Castro & The Cuban Five. (Non-fiction)
    Betrayal was co-authored with three time Pentagon and former White House appointee, Thomas Van Hare. Thomas is also the former Director of Operations with Brothers to the Rescue and Chairman of Freedom Flight International, the same group for which I served as Director of Special Projects for during the early 1990’s when we flew rescue missions looking for Cuban rafters.
    Our book reveals the truth behind the shootdown and attempted cover up of two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft in 1996. Betrayal is timely; in highlighting that Cuban spies were involved. Since their convictions, The Cuban 5 have been fighting for their freedom for over 10 years, and denied retrials twice by the appellant courts. These very agents – one sentenced to two life terms for murder – have been recently granted the opportunity to petition the Supreme Court, by January 30th 2009.
    Just how important are these spies to Cuba? On December 18th, 2008, Raul Castro suggested during a meeting in Brazil that perhaps the new Obama administration would be willing to negotiate their release and repatriation in exchange for Cuban political prisoners as a “gesture of good faith” towards normalizing relations with Cuba.
    This overture was no doubt made in anticipation of Governor Bill Richardson’s confirmation as Secretary of Commerce. Critically, our book bears evidence that he may have known of the coming attack on the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft up to 14 days before it happened… and he did nothing to prevent it!
    Our book details:
    1) How Cuban spies infiltrated the Brothers organization, what roles they played as double agents working with the FBI, and how they communicated information to the Cuban government to set up the fatal flight.
    2) The part played by Ana Belen Montes, DIA’s senior most analyst in charge of all U.S. intelligence about Cuba – who was arrested in 2001 for her 16 years as a spy for the Cuban government, called Cuba’s “Queen of Spies”.
    3) The Federal trial evidence and final reports from ICAO and the OAS which found Cuba guilty of murdering four U.S. pilots.
    4) Naming names of those in the Clinton Administration who may have had extensive information in advance of the shootdown and did nothing to stop it – Sandy Berger, Governor Bill Richardson, Richard Nuccio, Anthony Lake and a host of retired military and diplomatic corps personnel.
    5) Governor Bill Richardson’s role in personally meeting with Fidel Castro during the weeks before the shootdown and him returning with political prisoners ten days prior to the shootdown, with consideration from Fidel.
    6) We expose the Cuban government’s preparations for the shootdown including MiGs making monitored practice runs over Cuba – all under the watchful eye of the U.S. Government.
    7) We detail a timeline and provide a translation of the transcripts of the pilots’ conversations during the shootdown – including the words of the MiG pilots as they murdered the four men and the transcript of the intercom on board one of the Brothers to the Rescue airplanes.
    8) We reveal that the U.S. Military watched the shootdown live and yet never gave the order to scramble U.S. interceptors that were standing by at Homestead AFB, Florida. We reveal that the order to launch never came even when two Cuban MiG-23s chased one remaining Brothers to the Rescue aircraft north of the 24th parallel and into our Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
    9) We provide the sworn testimony of Major Jeffery Houlihan’s lone “911” call to Tyndall AFB warning of what was taking place-and how he was told, “we’re handling it, don’t worry….”
    10) We expose and fully document the attempted cover-up initiated by Cuba and our own government in Washington, DC.
    Was it a conspiracy or government ineptitude? You decide – we have provided all of the data, documentation, references and information in the first ever book of its kind.
    The Obama administration is already hinting at negotiations with Cuba. Betrayal: Clinton, Castro & The Cuban Five stands to remind Americans of our past mistakes in dealing with the Castro’s and brings to light many of the mistakes made by the Clinton administration in doing so.
    With President-elect Obama’s current staffing, this subject stands to be one of the top five in his term.
    Matt Lawrence & Thomas Van Hare, Authors
    Betrayal: Clinton, Castro & The Cuban Five
    http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com

    Reply

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    Reply

  3. ComicDork says:

    We could have been rid of Castro years ago if we had just treated them like neighbors and traded with them, especially after the Soviet Union stopped propping them up.
    Yes, things might have been dicey for a bit as the regime saw their coffers swell, but the money flowing to normal citizens plus the influx of tourists would have done away with the regime sooner rather than later.
    Our policy towards Cuba has been dictated by an extreme minority in this country (a minority of even the Cuban community) and politicians who need a bad guy to kick around. So ridiculous. Too many Cubans in this country have think that once Castro is gone they’re going to get all the property they lost when he came to power and folks have been pandering to that fantasy for 40+ years.

    Reply

  4. virginia cynic says:

    Thank you for talking sense on Cuba. Finally, a washington insider that will openly support a change in policy. Can we credit you with Chris Dodd’s announcement that Cuba policy must change?

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    Ever hear of Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles (the White House terrorist), a Cuban exile wanted by Venezuelan authorities for a terrorist attack on a Venezuelan airliner carrying the Cuban youth fencing team. With extradition for trial to Venezuela denied, both are happily living in the United States.
    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13649

    Reply

  6. Carroll says:

    I remember reading about the Cuban five long ago but have forgotten most of the details. I think their main purpose was to spy on the Miami Cuban-hyphen-American exile terrorist who blew up a civilian airliner….don’t know what happen to the terrorist either…I think their case is still going on.

    Reply

  7. Marcia says:

    In the dreary muck of everyday news there is a warm glow.
    Riverbend is alive and well.

    Reply

  8. Chris Brown says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for publicizing this matter and thanks for being one of few addressing the whole matter of USA policy toward Cuba. I suspect modesty, though, in your indications that you need to learn more of the Cuban Five.
    I should note that during the Clinton reign, the Cuban government repeatedly, continually requested the USA to stop the flights of “Brothers to the Rescue” from routinely violating Cuban airspace from their bases in Florida.
    Clinton did nothing, and eventually the Cuban air force shot a couple “Brothers” from the sky, so to say. One of the “Five” has been convicted and sentenced for murder relative to the death of one of the “Brothers”.

    Reply

  9. Ben Rosengart says:

    Many commenters here like to (playfully?) try to push you to the left, Steve. I guess I’ll chime in and say you could stand to spend more time around the likes of Len Weinglass.
    If you’ve never read the edited transcript of the trial of the Chicago Eight, I can’t recommend it highly enough. A highly entertaining collision between a paleocon judge and a yippie rabble, with some serious, committed lawyers (including Weinglass) in between.

    Reply

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