George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and high level staff from various agencies sat around the large oval mahogany table, a gift from Richard Nixon to the United States, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. . .
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and high level staff from various agencies sat around the large oval mahogany table, a gift from Richard Nixon to the United States, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. They were assessing the recent crises and the effectiveness of the intelligence community and the problems of a prying Congress, civil libertarians, and bad publicity. They especially lamented how outdated legal strictures were impeding the execution of policy. One complained that people do “not understand that intelligence problems must be treated in a special category,” and that present exigent circumstances require relaxing legal standards, for “[i]t has always been the case in history where vital interests are involved,” that the president has the power to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the country. It is noted, as it has been many times since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, that “Lincoln suspended certain rights [and] we have had emergency laws . . . There are many examples.” Speaking of civil liberties, Bush said “[w]e have gone too far at this business” and Secretary Rumsfeld agreed “entirely with all that has been said” and griped that because of an overly deferent attitude toward civil liberties “[w]e are being forced to give up sensitive information in order to prosecute” terrorists.
Despite the subject matter and the people involved, this discussion was not a recent one; it occurred on January 13, 1977, during the last National Security Council meeting of President Gerald Ford’s administration. The same players as almost thirty years ago, with the addition of George Junior, are still at it, still working outside of law and diplomacy, still contemptuous of allies and their own citizens. Recent disclosures show an arrogance that is difficult to imagine, with numerous CIA employees violating law with impunity and living lavishly on taxpayer money at the same time.
Since Operation Northwoods, a stunning plan in the early 1960s that in part proposed for the United States government to carry out terrorist attacks against its own citizens, U.S. intelligence agencies have been seemingly willing to sacrifice countless innocent lives in their blind efforts to oust Cuban leader Fidel Castro and destroy leftist sentiment in Central and South America. There is an unbroken line of allegiance to this position leading directly from George Junior and Senior, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld back to the 1950s. A few miles away from where this is being written, Luis Posada sits in an immigration detention center. He is the living embodiment of a fifty-year-old misguided policy that was and is willing to sacrifice the innocent for an ideology. Posada’s career is the career of sordid U.S. policy in Latin America, and he is a reminder that the excuses for aggression may change, but the underlying motivations remain the same. Posada was not a renegade or a convenient partner for U.S. policy; he was U.S policy.
William Cooper, the operations manager for the Iran-Contra debacle, listed Posada, under the alias “Ramon,” right after “Home,” on his “frequently used phone numbers” list. Posada, who was the “support director” for the operation went by the codename “Caretaker,” and tellingly, since Posada and his pals had no use for diplomacy, the Department of State was pegged with the codename “Wimp.” The “U.S. Government,” meaning the executive branch (Ronald Reagan, Ollie North and company), on the other hand was labelled with virility; it was called “Playboy.” This attitude, the disdain for diplomacy and the love of violence as a means to change, makes the U.S. shake with hypocrisy and is a betrayal to its citizens. George W. Bush continues the legacy of violence over negotiation, counting on the forgetfulness of nations and people to avoid embarrassments of the past. But Posada has lived long enough to complete the circle of embarrassment and make the U.S. Government face its own past. The U.S. has encouraged terrorism as an expedient substitute for diplomacy and the rule of law. But here in the U.S., in holding Posada captive, we are holding ourselves captive, we are pressed to face the truth of our past . Many people would rather face death than be made to face the truth, and so Posada is stowed away in El Paso, with Bush Junior and Senior, and Cheney and Rumsfeld hoping he will die before reaching sunlight again. El Paso is a good place to lose people; it always has been. Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe says in The High Window, “Nobody came in, nobody called, nothing happened, nobody cared whether I died or went to El Paso.” Posada didn’t die, but he did go to El Paso, and there are many who hope he never makes it out.