Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rohrabacher the Militant

Yesterday, Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald and Wilfredo Cancio Isla of El Nuevo Herald updated readers on developments of the Luis Posada Case. As you may know by now, Luis Posada Carriles is a militant Cuban exile who has been accused of terrorism. Writing and documentation about his violent history is extensive, and sufficient enough to raise the suspicions of any honest person.

But, Luis Posada Carriles has his defenders (dare I say "apologists"). I myself have found that most of Posada's defenders provide elaborate exonerations for him, but which are filled with many distortions and omissions. And, then there's Rep. Dana Rohrabacher from California.

This past November, the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight reviewed the case of Luis Posada Carriles. I recently finished viewing the almost 4-hour video of the meeting and it was very informative, and I highly recommend its viewing for those interested in the case. [Video and full transcript (PDF) available in the archives section for November 15, 2007.]

The Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts (long-time opponent of the US embargo towards Cuba), and includes ranking member Rep. Rohrabacher (long-time opponent of Communism). What a couple.

Rep. Rohrabacher is a complex man. He calls himself a defender of human rights, but supports the death penalty; a practice opposed by most human rights organizations. During the November meeting, Rep. Rohrabacher kept reiterating that "[a]nybody who is involved directly in killing innocent civilians in order to obtain a political end... that person is a murderer and should be executed." Rep. Rohrabacher also defends practices like extraordinary rendition, again in direct contradiction with human rights organizations who believe this practice is illegal.

Last April, Rep. Rohrabacher made some controversial comments in defense of extraordinary rendition during a subcommittee hearing (includes video):

"[W]e are at war, and we’ve got to make sure that we do not let go 50 terrorists who will go out and plant a bomb in London and kill 20,000 people in order to protect that one person who we arrested accidentally because his name was the same. That’s the type of unfortunate consequence.

[Audience groans.]

"Well, I hope it’s your families, I hope it’s your families that suffer the consequences."

But, this would all make sense if you understand that Rep. Rohrabacher is at war. Last June, Rep. Rohrabacher made a speech at the Dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial. In his speech, he made it clear that communism was an "evil ideology that was a monstrous threat to the people of this planet for seven decades." But, since we defeated that monstrous threat, it's "fitting" that Americans now have a special duty: "Americans represent every race, religion and ethic group found on this planet, so it comes to us to take the stand, to lead the way in those battles that determine the fate of mankind." According to Rep. Rohrabacher, "there is a new scourge threatening the free people of the world in the form of radical Islam."

Just like Cuban exiles militants (who are still at war with communism), Rep. Rohrabacher is prepared to overlook (or deny) the violent sins of some in order to keep all eyes on the enemy. In doing so, it is more likely to be accepted that innocent people, in the margins, be sacrificed ("unfortunate consequence") in the name of a greater cause. Those who accept this doctrine are, thus, more likely to view men like Luis Posada Carriles as heroes who made great sacrifices for this great cause. As Rep. Rohrabacher put it:

We remember them and we are grateful to those who put themselves in harm’s way and often gave their lives to protect the free people of the world , to prevent us from becoming victims of communism."

Needless to say, Posada's attorney, Arturo Hernandez, had expressed similar views about the "monstrous threat" in front of the Subcommittee last November:

"In the final analysis, the historical record is clear, Cuba has stood for years as a poisonous dagger aimed at the side of the United States. Mr. Posada Carriles, as an ally of the United States, does not deny that he confronted Cuban-trained and rebel insurgencies in Venezuela and in other countries in defense of their democracies."

Posada's alleged sins are then forgotten.

The two articles in the Herald and Nuevo Herald are incomplete summaries of the November Subcommittee hearing. I encourage readers to read the full transcript or view the video. The testimony by Ann Louise Bardach and Peter Kornbluh are together a convincing reason to further investigate this case, and seek answers for the victims of terrorist actions.

[Addendum: El Nuevo Herald includes a response letter (in English) by Rep. Rohrabacher about the November Subcommittee hearing. In the letter, Rep. Rohrabacher ignores the ample evidence presented by Ann Louise Bardach (testimony) and Peter Kornbluh (testimony), and makes his final judgment based on one single piece of evidence. In an apparent case of denial Rep. Rohrabacher concludes: "
With due admiration and respect for Chairman Delahunt, the hearing of own our subcommittee was not definitive enough to convince me that Luis Posada Carriles is a murderous terrorist instead of a Cuban exile trying to bring democracy to his country and prevent Communist dictatorships from taking hold in other Latin America countries."]

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