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The Cuban Five Case Update: Attorney Martin Garbus
We’re joined today by prominent First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus to get an update on the Cuban Five case. Martin joined the case of the Cuban Five last year and had concentrated his efforts on exposing how the U.S. government paid journalists in Miami hundreds of thousands of dollars to slant media coverage against the Cuban Five. There’s a lot going on with the case lately, such as a habeas corpus appeal, and a NSA/FISA-related motion.
In 1996, 4 planes from Cuba shot down Brothers to the Rescue planes. That’s a right-wing group that operates in Miami and has over the years made intrusions into Cuban airspace.
After years of negotiations with the Cuban government and the American government, the American government said they would do everything they could to stop these flights.
Washington intended to do that but by the time it got down to Miami, the orders were ignored.
So these planes went up in February 1996 and were shot down over Cuban air space.
At the trial the jury concluded that the planes were shot down over international waters. They also concluded that the defendants in this case played some kind of role in the shoot-down.
Both administrations at the time (Bush/Clinton) wanted to be very hard on left wing Cubans or Cuba itself by pressing this prosecution.
Although the shoot-down was 1996, and the government had all the information it needed, it didn’t arrest these defendants until two and half years later.
There was a conviction, and at first the appellate court set aside the conviction. Lenny Weinglass argued that brilliantly that a motion for change of venue should’ve been granted.
Ultimately, that’s rejected, the Supreme Court denies cert, I get involved in the habeas corpus petition and that’s what we’re talking about now.
We’re about to file other papers about NSA surveillance, which has been revealed recently arising out of Snowden’s revelations.
What I’m now telling you has not yet appeared anywhere else.
The defense lawyers in the case, as they prepared the case itself, from the time they were appointed in 1998, to the time of the conviction, and now, Lenny Weinglass leading the defense – these lawyers traveled back and forth to Cuba.
We now understand and this applies to you, this applies to anyone who goes to Cuba.
Anytime you go to Cuba, you’re picked up by NSA surveillance.
The NSA listening post, the prime one was in Puerto Rico and it was made up largely of US Navy personnel, assigned to the Naval Security Group which is an NSA component.
When I got back to the United States from Cuba they would continue to monitor me. If I were a defense lawyer, my communications with my client would be gathered and sent to the FBI and Department of Justice.
That’s the motion we’re about to file in the next 2 weeks.
The Solicitor General, about 6 weeks ago, admitted there had been surveillance of cases where there had been convictions.
Our case presents unique problems. Cuba at that time was designated a terrorist state.
I’ve got the details of the way information was intercepted.
The NSA budget last year I think was $52 billion dollars. 25 percent of it is for the CIA.
What the CIA was doing under the umbrella of the NSA was exactly what the Church Committee said they couldn’t do.
Journalists that worked for the Miami Herald or CBS, or local Spanish stations, they were on the government payroll.
The stations or newspapers that hired these journalists didn’t know that they were also getting monies from the government. In 2006, the Miami Herald found out about it.
One journalist got $286,000 dollars.
If you look at the Radio Marti stories, and you look at the Miami Herald stories, you have the same sentences, same paragraphs and it’s clear it’s coming out of a central cookie cutter.
The Radio Marti budget was $15 million a year.
Guest – Attorney Martin Garbus, one of the country’s leading trial lawyers. He has appeared before the United States Supreme Court and the highest state and federal courts in the nation. Time Magazine has named him “legendary…one of the best trial lawyers in the country.” He’s also known as a prominent First Amendment lawyer.
The course of events that led to NATO’s intervention in Libya is outlined in our guest Horace Campbell’s recently published book Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity. He traces the origin of the Libya conflict in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings and argues how NATO is used by the North American and European capitalist class to impose its political will on the rest of the world. It’s a new model, he explains, of bombing campaigns, militias, terrorist campaigns and private contractors. This NATO campaign caused many civilian deaths and destroyed Libya’s infrastructure. We talk about the broader attacks on the African continent and the investigations into the US embassy killings.
- The revolutionary upheavals that took place in Tunisia and Egypt have had great implication for all societies in this region.
Libya, which has been underdeveloped politically, was a place where the western powers manipulated what was supposed to be an incipient uprising in Benghazi, militarized it and turned it into a base for the destabilization of all of North Africa.
Today, as we speak, they continue to manipulate what is going on in the Libyan society.
The book is called Global NATO because the governments of the North Atlantic region, namely the United States and its western European allies, want to internationalize the basis for military intervention by this NATO.
- NATO was created as this Cold War instrument with a mandate to defend western Europe.
- NATO is in alliance with the most conservative countries in the Middle East called the Gulf Cooperation Council.
- We’ve had an attempt by the Wall Street elements to use NATO as an instrument for the United States military management of the international system.
- Why was NATO intervening? To control the resources of Libya, to destabilize North Africa, to stop the African Union project and to create confusion by supporting the same al-Qaeda elements that they’re supposed to be fighting in the “war on terror.”
- These are the reasons why the left and the peace movement should have opposed the NATO intervention.
- Just like in Syria and Iran, there’s confusion among the left and progressive forces about what’s going on.
- We need a resolution with responsibility to protect inside of Libya. To protect from the forces of NATO and to protect the Libyan people from the militias that have been unleashed by al-Qaeda, supported by the CIA and NATO.
- President Obama exercised intense pressure on the South African president and other presidents. I think he telephoned directly urging them to vote for this resolution.
- The matter of Libya is not over.
- The same NATO that created the problem in Libya, the same United States, France and Britain, are now seeking the support of Congress to go into Libya, into the same place that they created the problem.
- The U.S. designs on the continent of Africa are quite confused at the moment. It’s confused because of the assertiveness of the African Union and the African people.
- It turns out, as we’ve seen in Libya, that it is the United States and the western forces that are supporting jihadists who are called terrorists. We’ve seen in a place like Somalia where the African people themselves through the African Union have been able to bring some stability.
- There’s no military body that monitors the work of private military contractors.
- Now the peace movement should be calling for a reduction in the military budget.
- In the case of Libya, General Petraeus was using Benghazi as a base to recruit conservative Islamic fundamentalists from Libya to go to Syria to fight.
- Here’s a web of conspiracy of the US military, of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the CIA fomenting instability all across North Africa and the Middle East.
- There was no consulate in Benghazi, this was a CIA facility that was being used to support al-Qaeda elements.
- We have a situation in Libya where the country is in complete disarray. There’s no law, there’s no order. The people of Tripoli demonstrated two weeks ago against these militias and 40 people were killed.
Guest – Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. His recent book isGlobal NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity. He is author of Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney; Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st Century; and Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics.