Sometimes it seems like this presidency is the result of an ill-starred karmic affair between Orwell and the Keystone Kops. While continuing to demagogue the "War on Terror" and keep public attention away from his atrocious record in office, the pResident's men welcome politically correct killers of innocents to woo a key swing constituency in Florida:
WASHINGTON — A little-noticed but chilling scene at Opa-locka Airport outside Miami last month demonstrates that the Bush administration's commitment to fighting international terrorism can be overtaken by presidential politics — even if that means admitting known terrorists onto U.S. soil.
That's what happened when outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso inexplicably pardoned four Cuban exiles convicted of "endangering public safety" for their role in an assassination plot against Fidel Castro during a 2000 international summit in Panama.
After their release, three of the four immediately flew via private jet to Miami, where they were greeted with a cheering fiesta organized by the hard-line anti-Castro community. Federal officials briefly interviewed the pardoned men — all holders of U.S. passports — and then let them go their way.
The fourth man, Luis Posada Carriles, was the most notorious member of this anti-Castro cell. He is an escapee from a prison in Venezuela, where he was incarcerated for blowing up an Air Cubana passenger plane in 1976, killing 73. He also admitted plotting six hotel bombings in Havana that killed one tourist and injured 11 others in 1997. Posada has gone into hiding in Honduras while seeking a Central American country that will harbor him, prompting Honduran President Ricardo Maduro to demand an explanation from the Bush administration on how a renowned terrorist could enter his country using a false U.S. passport...
But Florida is crucial to Bush's reelection strategy. Currying favor with anti-Castro constituents in Miami appears to trump the president's anti-terrorism principles. So far, not a single White House, State Department or Homeland Security official has expressed outrage at Panama's decision to put terrorists back on the world's streets. The FBI appears to have no plans to lead a search for Posada so he can be returned to Venezuela, where he is a wanted fugitive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which has rounded up and expelled hundreds of foreigners on the mere suspicion of a terrorist link, has indicated no intention to detain and deport Novo, Jimenez and Remon.
So there you have it. A guy who killed 73 Cuban plane passengers--just everyday folks, not military or known loyalists--is slyly winked at, if not presented as a hero. A guy who attempts to do the same to Americans, of course, is an "evildoer." In other words, it's not terror and the murder of innocents we really find intolerable, just attacks against us. What unimaginable hypocrisy.
In case you're wondering why Bush would need to offer special pleading to the Cuban community, who are reliably Repubican voters most years, here's your answer:
In June, the White House seemed to have maxed out on pandering to hard-line Cuban exiles when it virtually eliminated family visits and remittances to Cuba as part of a new initiative to undermine Castro's rule. But that policy has upset anti-Castro moderates in both parties because it criminalizes efforts to build family ties across the Straits of Florida, something a family-values president should support. In response, Bush's decision to accept the repatriation of the Cuban exile terrorists seems calculated to shore up support in the Cuban American community.
These people are rotten and hollow at their core. I'm sure conservatives would say the same about Democrats, but at the moment they're not making a sick joke of our national ideals. These guys use despicable means to accomplish ends that sound desireable in theory--from lower taxes to taking out a ruthless dictator--but, up close, turn out to be something else (increasing concentration of wealth, economic inequality and poverty; installing a different, more pliable autocratic thug in the dictator's place).