Thursday, June 03, 2010

Washington Paid Journalists to Spin News against the Cuban Five

HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 3 (acn) Washington paid nearly $74,400 to journalists in Miami as part of a smear campaign against five Cuban antiterrorists that remain unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998.

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five ­as Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez are internationally known­ announced in a press conference on Wednesday that the new evidence was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made 18 months ago.

“Fourteen names came back of journalists who it turns out were receiving covertly monies from the US government,” said Gloria La Riva, the coordinator of the committee.

Prensa Latina news agency reports that among those accepting bribes is reporter Pablo Alfonso, who received $58,600 for 16 articles published by El Nuevo Herald newspaper.

“This shows that the US Government was an accomplice to manipulating the jury by bribing journalists that violated the principles of impartiality and accuracy,” said Heidi Boghosian, from the US National Lawyers Guild.

She affirmed that constitutional rights were also violated in the process against the Cuban Five including the Sixth Amendment, which protects the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

La Riva stated that they began a campaign calling on US Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately move to remedy the situation and added that the only remedy can be the freeing of the Cuban Five and allowing them to go home.

She noted that the mission of the Cuban Five ­who were monitoring anti-Cuba extremist groups that were planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against the island­ was to save lives. “Yet they sit in prison while known terrorists and terror groups walk free in Miami,” she pointed out.

Another Look at an Old Case?

I’ve just been apprised of new developments with
regard to the Cuban
Five. Here is the gist:

According to a complaint in U.S. District Court
for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Government
violated the Smith-Mundt
Act, by funding activities to influence public
opinion with regard to the Cuban Five, thus
influencing the jury pool and calling into
question their convictions. It has long been
known that the U.S. Broadcasting Board of
Governors (BBG) paid supposedly independent
journalists to write stories about Cuba and the
Cuban Five in the Miami press during the period
when the government arrested and prosecuted the
Cuban Five. If the U.S. government was secretly
paying supposedly independent journalists to
place stories supportive of the government's
prosecution of the Cuban Five, it is highly
plausible that they would have affected the jury
pool as well as the sitting jury in the case of
the Cuban Five. This raises very serious concerns.

I’m familiar with how Secretary of Defense
Rumsfeld used various contractors to fabricate
stories for the Iraqi press during the early days
of the second Iraq War. Likewise, I know about
how in the run-up to that war, stories about
Iraq’s WMD were placed in foreign newspapers and
then­strangely enough­found their way back, via
the Internet, to U.S. audiences. This, too, is a
violation of the Smith-Mundt Act which constructs
a legal firewall between such activities, i.e.,
the U.S. Government can officially propagandize
foreign audiences but not the American public. My
familiarity with these instances of government
activity leads me to believe that what the BBG is
alleged to have done, may indeed be the case.

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is
currently the plaintiff in the committee v
Broadcasting Board of Governors, Civil
Action No. 09-01713 before the U.S. District
Court in the District of Columbia. The principal
claim is that the U.S. public has a right to know
about matters involving improper domestic
propaganda as well as whether the government
compromised the fundamental right to a fair trial
of the Cuban Five. A petition for habeas corpus
on behalf of one of the Five­Geraldo Hernández,
sentenced to two life sentences plus 15 years in
prison­is due on 14 June 2010; thus, the need for
swift justice if these charges are accurate.

The New York Times, among other outlets reported
on the story of reporters taking money from the
US Government back in 2006, but the Committee is
seeking to determine the identities of other
journalists who participated in the program
through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests. The BBG, backed by the USG, is trying
to kill any further attempts at exposure.

One of the journalists, Enrique Encinosa, is the
man who in an interview in Miami Beach in 2005
regarding the murder of an Italian citizen in a
series of hotel bombings in Havana supposedly
masterminded by Luis Posada Carriles, had this to
say: “I personally think it’s an acceptable
method. It’s a way of damaging the tourist
economy. The message that one tries to get across
is that Cuba is not a healthy pace for tourists.
So, if Cuba is not a healthy place for tourists
because there’s a few windows being blown out of hotels, that’s fine.”

Posted by Lawrence Wilkerson on May 30, 2010 1:51 PM | Permalink

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