Charles Krauthammer on the evils of associating with terrorists

The most politically manipulated term in the English language is used to smear Barack Obama as an associate of "terrorists."

Published April 25, 2008 10:07AM (EDT)

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, today:

Obama's defense is that he was 8 when Ayers and his Weather Underground comrades were planting bombs at the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol and other buildings. True. But Obama was 40 when Ayers said publicly that he doesn't regret setting bombs. Indeed, he said, "I feel we didn't do enough."

Would you maintain friendly relations with an unrepentant terrorist? Would you even shake his hand? To ask why Obama does is perfectly legitimate and perfectly relevant to understanding what manner of man he is.

The New York Times, July 18, 1990:

Cuban Linked to Terror Bombings Is Freed by Government in Miami

Orlando Bosch, a right-wing Cuban who is believed by American officials to be responsible for dozens of bombings aimed at the Castro Government, was released from jail here today in a deal with the United States Government [led by George Bush The First]. . . .

The release today of Dr. Bosch, a 63-year-old former pediatrician, represents a reversal by American officials. Last year the Justice Department tried to deport him, citing a Federal Bureau of Investigation report that asserted he "has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated a willingness to cause indiscriminate injury and death."

But today Dan Eramian, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said "a review" had led to the decision to release Dr. Bosch on limited parole. He refused to elaborate.

The Bush Administration has been lobbied heavily by South Florida Republicans who have close ties to Cubans here and who wanted Dr. Bosch freed, including the President's son, Jeb Bush.

Administration officials had privately expressed reluctance to free Dr. Bosch, fearing that such a move would be hard to explain when Washington is condemning terrorism. . . .

At a news conference here today, Dr. Bosch appeared unbowed and unrepentant. He defended his campaign against the Cuban Government as legitimate. He called the deal that he signed with the Justice Department "ridiculous" and "a farce" and he promised to talk to friends and supporters during the three hours that he is allowed to leave his home each day. . . .

He made no specific reference to the bombings he is accused of carrying out. But speaking of his life, he said: "The sovereignty and freedom of my country were in the balance and the right of belligerence was needed to liberate Cuba from its oppressors."

Even such restricted freedom for a man whom American law-enforcement authorities have called a terrorist is likely to prove difficult for the Bush Administration. . . .

Under American law, Dr. Bosch could have been detained indefinitely as an undesirable alien. Defending such detention last year, an acting Associate Attorney General, Joe D. Whitley, said: "We must look on terrorism as a universal evil, even if it is directed toward those with who we have no political sympathy."

Heavy Political Pressure

But great political pressure was exerted by Dr. Bosch's supporters in South Florida.

The Republican Party in Miami is heavily supported by the Cuban exile community. Senator Connie Mack, a Republican from Florida, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, both have lobbied hard for Dr. Bosch's release. In addition, President Bush's son, Jeb, who is a Republican Party leader here, last year visited hunger strikers who were demanding the release of Dr. Bosch. Local Cuban exile leaders often refer to Dr. Bosch as a patriot and have made his release a cherished cause. . . .

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Bosch was jailed in the United States after having been convicted of firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter. After finishing his prison term, he violated his parole in 1974 and fled to Latin America where, Amercian officials said, he carried out dozens of bombings against Cuban offices and supporters. . . .

Right-wing Cuban terrorists, many of them trained by the Central Intelligence Agency to attack Cuba in the 1960's, have repeatedly bombed the Miami homes and offices of those who they suspect favor contact with the Cuban Government. The most recent attack came last month in bombing of the Cuban museum of art here.

The shadowy world of C.I.A.-trained Cubans has had a long relationship with Republican administrations.

The Guardian, December 2, 2002:

The brother of President George Bush, the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, has been instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences, according to a new book. The Bush family has also accommodated the demands of Cuban exile hardliners in exchange for electoral and financial support, the book suggests.

Last year, after September 11, while the justice department announced a sweep of terrorist suspects, Cubans convicted of terrorist offences were being released from US jails with the consent of the Bush administration, according to the book, Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana, by Ann Louise Bardach, the award-winning investigative journalist who has covered Cuban and Miami politics for the New York Times and Vanity Fair. . . .

Jeb Bush sealed his popularity with the Cuban exile community by acting as campaign manager for another prominent Cuban-American, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, when she ran successfully for Congress.

George Bush Sr famously appeared with her during her campaign in Miami declaring: "I am certain in my heart I will be the first American president to step foot on the soil of a free and independent Cuba."

She has since lobbied successfully for the release of several exiles convicted of terrorist offences held in US jails but who now live freely in Miami.

Most controversially, at the request of Jeb, Mr Bush Sr intervened to release the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency.

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed. . . .

Bosch's release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hardline Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man. Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach. . . .

Other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero, who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, have also been released by the current Bush administration.

Rosa Brooks, The Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2007:

LIKE PIRATES, terrorists are supposedly hostis humani generis — the "enemy of all mankind." So why is the Bush administration letting one of the world's most notorious terrorists stroll freely around the United States?

I'm talking about a man who was -- until 9/11 -- perhaps the most successful terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. He's believed to have masterminded a 1976 plot to blow up a civilian airliner, killing all 73 people on board, including teenage members of Cuba's national fencing team. He's admitted to pulling off a series of 1997 bombings aimed at tourist hotels and nightspots. Today, he's living illegally in the United States, but senior members of the Bush administration -- the very guys who declared war on terror just a few short years ago -- don't seem terribly bothered.

I'm talking about Luis Posada Carriles. That's not a household name for most U.S. citizens, but for many in Latin America, Posada is as reviled as Osama bin Laden is in the United States. . . .

So for now, Posada's a free man -- even though the administration has sufficient evidence to arrest him for his role in either the 1976 airliner bombing or the 1997 Havana bombings. For that matter, Posada easily could be detained under Section 412 of the Patriot Act, which calls for the mandatory detention of aliens suspected of terrorism.

This is to say nothing of the fact that Krauthammer's assertion "that Ayers said publicly that he doesn't regret setting bombs" is a complete fabrication, as Ayers himself made clear days after having that quote attributed to him. It's to say nothing of the fact that unlike Obama -- whose "association" with Ayers could not be any less consequential and who never did anything to aid or assist him -- there is a long line of GOP operatives and Bush family members who repeatedly intervened to help multiple Terrorists for cheap political gain, including those who committed acts of violence against political opponents inside the U.S..

It's to say nothing of the fact that Charles Krauthammer cheered on and still cheers on a completely unnecessary and murderous war that has resulted in the slaughter of at least 100,000 innocent civilians and the destruction of an entire country that had not attacked us and could not attack us, and even threatened -- weeks after that war started -- to do the same to Syria and, thereafter, to Iran. And it's to say nothing of his reflexive defense of every act of both American and Israeli aggression no matter how many innocent people are killed in the process. It is difficult to find someone with a more psychopathic indifference to the slaughter of innocent people in pursuit of shadowy, unstated political goals than Charles Krauthammer -- he who lectures today on the evils of associating with Terrorists as a reflection of a person's character.

The term "Terrorism," of course, is exactly like the terms "war crimes" and "wars of aggression" -- we and our allies cannot, by definition, commit them. Outside of the small faction in the U.S. which thinks that Charles Krauthammer and his war-loving friends are important and Serious political commentators, it is -- for these very reasons -- difficult to find people in the world who take us seriously when we righteously and very selectively throw those terms around.

By Glenn Greenwald

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