Washington Post Conceals Truth Regarding Letelier Assassination 1

LEFT: Ronni Moffitt, who was a development associate at the Institute for Policy Studies at the time of her death in the 1976 car bombing. (Family photo) MIDDLE: Isabel Letelier, right, and Michael Moffitt embrace after placing roses at the site where Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt were killed in 1976. (UPI) RIGHT: Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the U.S., is pictured in April 1975. (Associated Press/AS)

LEFT: Ronni Moffitt, who was a development associate at the Institute for Policy Studies at the time of her death in the 1976 car bombing. (Family photo) MIDDLE: Isabel Letelier, right, and Michael Moffitt embrace after placing roses at the site where Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt were killed in 1976. (UPI) RIGHT: Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the U.S., is pictured in April 1975. (Associated Press/AS)

Washington Post:  This Was Not an Accident. This Was a Bomb

On a muggy autumn morning four decades ago, a car exploded in Washington. It had motored along Massachusetts Avenue NW, rounding the bend at Sheridan Circle, when a remote-controlled bomb taped beneath the vehicle was triggered.

A driver in a car nearby would later describe the fiery impact of the blast: “I saw an automobile actually coming down out of the air.”

The smoldering wreck lurched to a halt in front of the Romanian Embassy, its windows blown open and entire floor panel gone. A police officer who arrived on the scene remembered welling up with nausea. There was blood and debris everywhere and a human foot in the roadway. A fatally wounded man lay on the pavement; his legs were missing from above the knees.

This was Orlando Letelier, a 44-year-old former Chilean diplomat who had been driving to work at a D.C. think tank along with his colleague, Ronni Moffitt, 25, and her husband, Michael.

Letelier died within minutes. Shrapnel had pierced Ronni Moffitt’s throat, and she drowned in her own blood a half-hour later. Michael, who had been sitting in the back seat, tumbled out largely unscathed. He was beside himself in grief and shock.

“Assassins, fascists!” he exclaimed amid the carnage.

They were victims of a brazen, perhaps unprecedented plot, the target of a foreign regime that had sent agents into the United States to kill Letelier. Here was a case of state-sponsored terrorism in the heart of the American capital. Only in this instance, the state was a close Washington ally in the Cold War.

Letelier was a prominent opponent of the military rule of Chile’s Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who rose to power in a 1973 army coup that ousted and led to the death of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Letelier had served as Chile’s ambassador to the United States in Allende’s socialist government, which the CIA spent millions of dollars undermining through covert operations. On the day of the coup, Letelier was arrested and sent, with other ministers of Allende’s government, to a string of concentration camps. For months, he was kept at Dawson Island in the extreme south of Chile near the South Pole. He was released only after concerted international diplomatic pressure.

A trained economist, Letelier eventually won residency in Washington and a post at the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies. He became the most prominent Chilean exile living in the United States — and a magnet for dissent and criticism of both Pinochet’s abuses and the missteps of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

Article continues here:  Washington Post 

 

Editor’s Note:  The Letelier Assassination

Following Pinochet’s coup, the military government imprisoned former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. Later released, he went into exile in the US where the former Ambassador to the US landed a job as head of the Transnational Institute within the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-of-center think tank. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 12-20-76, p. C7; Irvine, AIM Report, Oct 80, p. 1) An FBI wiretap of December 4, 1975 revealed Letelier had contacted DGI officer Torres Rizo on a recent conference in Mexico. Letelier advised his handler the conference had been productive and the Cubans in attendance had made excellent contributions. Torres Rizo told Letelier he would be in Washington DC in mid-December and he wanted to meet with him and his IPS colleagues. (Irvine, AIM Report, Oct 80, p. 4) In 1977, columnist Jack Anderson identified Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) officer Julian Torres Rizo as the chief of Havana’s US-based intelligence operations. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 6-9-77, p. VA 25).

On December 17, Letelier arranged to meet Torres Rizo in New York City two days later to receive some packages. FBI wiretaps and Letelier’s own diary showed five contacts between Letelier and Torres Rizo that month. In contrast, Letelier’s diary revealed only one contact with senior intelligence officer Teofilo Acosta Rodriguez during 1975. (Irvine, AIM Report, Oct 80, p. 4). The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) later identified Teofilo Acosta as a senior Cuban intelligence officer. (Valeriani, NBC, 9-1-77). In 1982, DGI defector Gerardo Peraza re-affirmed Acosta’s DGI affiliation (US Senate, 2-26-82)

On September 21, 1976, Letelier died when a bomb placed in his car detonated as he entered Washington D.C.’s Sheridan Circle. Investigators subsequently salvaged Letelier’s attaché case from the debris. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 12-20-76, p. C7; Irvine, AIM Report, Oct 80, p. 1) Secret documents found in the case provided additional details of Letelier’s direct contact with CMUN 1st Secretaries Torres Rizo and Acosta. In this correspondence, Letelier warned his Cuban connections to keep their relations secret, lest it undermine his influence in the US. (Irvine, New York Times, 10-11-80, p. 22; Library of Congress’ 1971 Cuban Dip list, p. 61). In a letter from Beatrice Allende dated May 8, 1975, she told Letelier he would receive a onetime payment of $5000, followed by monthly payments of $1000. She told him the money came from the Chilean Socialist Party in exile. At the time, the exiled party maintained offices in Rome, East Berlin and Havana. US Intelligence sources told investigators Letelier could not have been provided the money without Havana’s approval. After her letter was made public, Beatrice Allende refused to comment to US media inquiries. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 12-20-76, p. C7) After her father’s death, Beatriz Allende had fled Chile and moved to Cuba with her husband. Four years later, apparently suffering from severe depression, she committed suicide. (Andrew, Our Way, p. 516)

On the day of his death, Letelier also carried correspondence from Cuban agent [now Chilean Ambassador to the US] Juan Gabriel Valdes. The September 1976 letter from Valdes to America Department (DA) Officer Emilio Brito thanked him for documents he (Valdes) received from Torres Rizo. Valdes said the documents had been exceptionally useful and he hoped to send Brito some items he had collected. Valdes also told Brito he hoped to travel to Cuba in early 1977. Brito’s assignment at the time was DA subversive operations in the US, including Puerto Rico. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 12-20-76, p. C7; Irvine, AIM Report, Oct 80, p. 1)

Letelier probably carried these documents to prevent the CIA from stealing them. (Anderson & Whitten, Washington Post, 12-20-76, p. C7) His concern was well founded. From 1971-early 1972, six separate burglaries occurred at Chile’s lesser diplomatic facilities in the US. Then, in mid-May 1972, the Chilean Embassy itself was burglarized. The intruders made no effort to conceal their misdeed: Letelier’s office was extensively ransacked, as were those of other senior officials. A subsequent Senate investigation confirmed the US government’s role and revealed the FBI had placed wiretaps on the Chilean Embassy from 1971-1973 at the CIA’s request. (Davis, pp. 93-95) It is unclear who ordered the 1975 wiretaps.

Sources Used

Anderson, Jack & Les Whitten.  “The Unseen Side of Fidel Castro,” Washington Post, June 9, 1977, p. VA 25.

_________.  “Letelier’s “Havana Connection,” Washington Post, December 20, 1976, p. C7.

Andrew, Christopher M. & Vasili Mitrokhin. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2005

Davis, Nathaniel. The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985.

Irvine, Reed (Editor).  “The Cuban Connection of Orlando Letelier,” New York Times, October 11, 1980, p. 22.

_________.  “AIM Report: F.B.I. Files Expose Letelier,” Accuracy in Media (AIM) Report, October 1980, p. 1.

United States Senate – Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism — Committee on the Judiciary, “The Role of Cuba in International Terrorism and Subversion:  Intelligence Activities of the DGI,” February 26, 1982.

Valeriani, Richard.  “U.S./Cuban Relations: Embassies Reopen,” National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Evening News. September 1, 1977, Vanderbilt University television News Archive, http://openweb.tvnews. vanderbilt.edu/1977-9/1977-09-01-CBS-5.html

Organizations

America Department (DA): The name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).

Directorate of Intelligence (DI):  The foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior.  Prior to 1989, this service was known as the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI).

 

 

 

 

 

NBC’s Perfidy Didn’t Start with Brian Williams 1

Brian WilliamsBy Humberto Fontova, Townhall

Brian Williams recently “shocked” many Americans with his disingenuous reporting. His claims of perilous combat coverage in Iraq and dramatic Hurricane Katrina coverage in New Orleans appear bogus. After suspending him for 6 months, NBC is now investigating its top anchor, attempting to “get at the truth.” Right. Same as the Warren Commission.

But in fact, Brian Williams’ style of NBC reporting has its adherents. Take the Castro regime. A red carpet, honor-guard and a 21-gun salute (figuratively speaking) is what NBC always finds upon their frequent visits to “report” from Cuba.

Gosh? I wonder why? Maybe these quotes provide a clue:

“Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” (Ernesto “Che” Guevara.)

“Propaganda is vital—propaganda is the heart of our struggle.” (Fidel Castro.)

“The vetting procedure starts the minute the (Cuban) regime receives your visa application. When your smiling Cuban “guides” greet you at the airport they know plenty about you, and from several angles.” (Chris Simmons, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuban spycatcher, now retired.)

“The Castro regime assigns 20 security agents to follow and monitor every foreign journalist. You play the regime’s game and practice self–censorship or you’re gone.” (Vicente Botin, reporter for Madrid’s El Pais who was booted from Cuba for taking his job title seriously.)

Nobody ever called the Castro brothers stupid. They instantly recognize an ally (or a sap)–which brings us to NBC.

During Brian Williams visit to Cuba last month, for instance, NBC introduced their frequent commentator-guest Arturo Lopez-Levy as “adjunct faculty at the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs.”

Feature continues here:  NBC’s Deception

Pro-Castro Group From New York Awards “Nelson Mandela Prize” to Convicted Cuban Spies 1

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

By Chris Simmons

Philadelphia’s Geller Foundation granted its newly established Nelson Mandela prize to the Cuban Five – the former leaders of Cuba’s failed Wasp spy network.

In reality, the Geller Foundation is actually led by members of the New York City entity – the Center for Cuban Studies. Sandra Levinson, the Center’s Executive Director, presented the prize to released spies Rene and Fernando Gonzalez and the relatives of the still-incarcerated members of the Cuban Five. The ceremony was held last week at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP).

Former Directorate of Intelligence Officer Juan Reyes Alonso said ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but that it is overwhelmingly influenced by the intelligence service. Reyes Alonso claimed ICAP is penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers who are aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP is thought to be DI-affiliated. Similarly, the New York Times has reported on ICAP’s intelligence ties as far back as 1983.

As background, the Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2-4, 1979. US participants included Congressman Ron Dellums, the Puerto Rican socialist party, union representatives, legal scholars, and innumerable academics. Havana sent 15 participants, to include intelligence officers Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.

Two years earlier, columnist Jack Anderson had identified Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) “diplomat” Julian Enrique Torres Rizo as the chief of Havana’s US-based intelligence operations. The Center for Cuban Studies allowed Torres Rizo, a senior America Department (DA) officer, to have an office in its facility.

The America Department was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).

U.S. Invasion of Grenada, 30 Years Later 4

By JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

As U.S. and Cuban troops fought in the tiny island of Grenada 30 years ago, Havana’s official news media reported that Cuba’s “glorious combatants” were “at this moment immolating themselves for the homeland, wrapped in the Cuban flag.”

That was not true. But that apparently was the order that Havana had given to the detachment of more than 700 Cuban “soldier-bricklayers” building an airport on Grenada.

A U.S military unit monitoring radio traffic overheard a Havana transmission ordering the Cubans to “fight to the last man,” said Chris Simmons, then an Army lieutenant who landed in Grenada on the first day of combat — Oct. 25, 1983.

The U.S. monitors were supporting another American unit tasked with capturing leaders of the Cuban detachment, Simmons said. But the Cubans managed to seek asylum in the Soviet Union’s embassy.

Cuban ruler Fidel Castro was not pleased.

His top commander in Grenada, Col. Pedro Tortoló Comas, was sent to Angola and was last confirmed driving a taxi in Havana. And his ambassador to the former British colony, Julian Torres Rizo, now lists himself as a Havana tourist guide.

The invasion, Operation Urgent Fury, now is largely remembered as the only time when U.S. and Cuban troops fought each other directly, despite more than 50 years of hostile relations – 30 of them during the Cold War.

Planning for Urgent Fury began after Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a close Cuba ally, and 10 followers were murdered during an Oct. 19 coup by his hard-line Marxist deputy, Bernard Coard, and Gen. Hudson Austin, head of the 1,500-member PRA.

President Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion, saying he was worried about the safety of 600 U.S. medical students on Grenada. But he clearly was concerned about Cuba’s construction of a military-capable airport on the former British colony of 100,000 off the coast of Venezuela.

In brief, sharp clashes, 19 U.S. soldiers were killed, including four members of SEAL Team 6 – the same team that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Twenty-five Cubans were killed fighting and another 638 were captured, including 86 who surrendered after Navy A-7 Corsair jets blasted the Cuban detachment’s headquarters, marked in U.S. military maps as “Little Havana.”

Also killed were 24 civilians and 45 Grenadians in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA).

Sporadic combat continued for four days as 7,300 U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force troops, plus 330 soldiers from a Caribbean coalition quickly swept over the 133-square mile island, despite crude maps and deadly communications snags.

Simmons’ platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne, was involved the last major firefight of the invasion, a 10-minute clash that left seven PRA fighters dead. Another U.S. unit trying to support his platoon caused a friendly-fire incident, in which one U.S. Ranger captain was killed.

The last of the U.S. forces left Grenada on Dec. 12. But the saga continued.

About 1,000 U.S. citizens on Grenada, including the medical students, were evacuated safely.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., deputy commander of the invasion, went on to command Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991.

Simmons achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and an assignment as the top Cuba counterintelligence specialist at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, where he helped track down Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes in 2001. He retired in 2010.

And the more than 600 Cubans who surrendered were greeted as heroes when they returned home a few weeks later. They marched near the front of the May Day parade in 1984, carrying a banner reading ’’Heroes of Grenada.”

The remains of Bishop and the others who were massacred were never found. The Cuban-built Point Salines International Airport was renamed in his honor.

After almost 26 years in prison, Coard and six others convicted in Bishop’s murder were freed in 2009.

Grenada now celebrates each Oct. 25 as Thanksgiving Day.

Two of the Cubans who played key roles in Grenada did not fare well, with Castro publicly criticizing Torres for failing to properly report on the mayhem that sparked the U.S. attack and punishing Tortoló for the embarrassing surrenders.

Torres had been an up-and-coming officer in the Foreign Ministry, serving as first secretary of Cuba’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations for two years before he was sent to Grenada in 1979. A Cuban intelligence defector later identified him as an intelligence agent in charge of contacts with the Venceremos Brigade, founded in the 1960s by U.S. citizens who favored the Castro revolution.

After returning to Havana, he disappeared from public sight and was reported to have been posted to a backroom job in the Foreign Ministry or even demoted to cane field worker.

Now about 70, Torres did not reply to El Nuevo Herald’s requests for an interview sent to his LinkedIn account, which lists him as a Havana tourist guide.

His Chicago-born wife, Gail Reed, a journalist and Venceremos Brigade member who served as press attaché in the Cuban embassy in Grenada, returned to Havana and was reported to have freelanced for Business Week and NBC News in the 1990s.

She now works as international director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, a California non-profit that promotes public health exchanges. Now about 65, Reed did not reply to an El Nuevo Herald request for an interview.

Bearing the brunt of Castro’s ire was Tortoló, then 38, who had served as chief of staff for one of Cuba’s three military regions — a top post within the Revolutionary Armed Forces — and finished a stint as military adviser in Grenada in May of 1983.

One day before the invasion, Castro had sent Tortoló and Communist Party operative Carlos Diaz to Grenada on a Cubana de Aviacion AN-26 plane carrying tons of weapons to organize the “soldier-bricklayers” resistance.

Diaz was killed in combat but Tortoló sought asylum in the Soviet embassy. A Havana joke at the time had him suffering a “combat injury” – a broken thumb from ringing the doorbell at the Soviet mission.

The colonel was court martialed and busted to private. In a videotaped ceremony, then-Defense Minister Raúl Castro ripped his rank insignia from his epaulettes and sent him to the war in Angola — along with 25-40 other Cubans viewed as having surrendered too easily.

Although Tortoló was widely reported to have been killed in Angola, Miami Cubans who claim to know him said he returned home, was given a low-profile government job, and, at some point in 1999 or 2000, was selling shoes. They declined to provide his current contact information, saying he wanted to put Grenada behind him.

Miami journalist Camilo Loret de Mola said he met Tortoló in 2003 when the former colonel was working as a taxi driver in Havana with his personal LADA, a Soviet-era copy of a Fiat awarded to top government officials in the 1970s and 1980s.

Editor’s Note: On March 11, 1979, a group of 40 men with Maurice Bishop’s New Jewel Movement (NJM) overthrew the government of Sir Eric Gairy. Prior to the coup, Havana assured the NJM that if they took power, Cuba would come to its aid. Castro fulfilled his vow.

Cuban participation in the overthrow of the Gairy government has been alleged, but never substantiated. Cuban influence and foreknowledge, however, was provided through America Department (DA) officer Oscar Cardenas Junquera, who worked with the NJM prior to the coup. The America Department was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists.

Three days after the takeover, Grenada opened diplomatic relations with Cuba and Cuban Ambassador and senior DA officer Julian Enrique Torres Rizo arrived on island. Full diplomatic relations were established on April 14, 1979.

In addition to Ambassador Torres, two other DA officers Carlos Andres Diaz Larranaga and 1st Secretary Gaston Diaz Evarista — served in Grenada. Diaz Larranaga was later killed during the US invasion. At 41 years of age, Diaz Larranaga was the most senior member of Torres’ 18-man staff. As the DA’s Caribbean Section Chief, he was also a highly experienced intelligence officer. New York Times correspondent Joseph Treaster reported that some claimed Prime Minister Bishop consulted with Ambassador Torres “…on most important decisions.”

On a related note, Russia opened an Embassy in October 1982. Its first ambassador was Major General Gennadiy Sazhenev, an experienced military intelligence officer. The Embassy opened with a staff of 26.