How the Bush gang helped an anti-Castro fanatic
By Eric Ruder | January 18, 2002 | Page 2
IF THE U.S. government's "war on terrorism" had anything to do with stopping terrorism, the White House would be next in line.
Last week, George W. Bush named Otto Reich as his assistant secretary of state for Western hemisphere affairs--despite Reich's longstanding ties to anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch.
Ordinarily, Reich would have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. But while Congress was out of town, Bush used his power to give Reich a "recess appointment"--meaning that Reich can serve for a year without going through confirmation.
Reich would have been grilled about his relationship to a known terrorist. Bosch stood trial in Venezuela for masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner that killed 73 people.
Though he wasn't convicted, even U.S. officials say that he's guilty as sin. "Orlando Bosch is a terrorist--there's no question that he was responsible for downing that plane," says Wayne Smith, the State Department's leading Cuba expert from 1958 to 1982.
During Bosch's trial, Reich was the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. Reich sent numerous cables to the State Department trying to get a visa for Bosch to enter the U.S. But U.S. officials said no, because Bosch--who was responsible for 50 bombings of Cuba-bound ships in U.S. ports--had outstanding arrest warrants.
"Orlando Bosch has for more than 30 years been resolute and unwavering in his advocacy of terrorist violence," wrote Joe Whitley--a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration. "Appeasement of those who use force will only breed more terrorists."
Maybe George W. Bush disagrees. His father certainly did. As president, Bush Sr. pardoned Bosch when he was being held in a Florida prison after illegally entering the U.S. in 1988. Many credit Bosch's well-connected lobbyist for getting the pardon--an ambitious Florida politician named Jeb Bush.
Today, Bosch lives in a posh Miami villa and brags to anyone who will listen about his continuing "political" activities. "You have to fight violence with violence," he even told U.S. officials. "At times, you cannot avoid hurting innocent people."
Reich claims that his pleas for a visa for Bosch were routine messages required of anyone in his position. Bosch thought differently. In 1987, he sent a letter to a gathering of anti-Castro fanatics that expressed his thanks to his "compatriot Otto Reich." Reich--alarmed that this might link him too publicly to Bosch--immediately cabled the State Department: "FYI: Amb. Reich and U.S. Embassy have had no contact with Bosch."
So the U.S. government is harboring one of the world's best-known anti-Castro terrorists--thanks to the efforts of the Bush family and its hangers-on. But don't hold your breath waiting to see that bunch hauled before a military tribunal.