Orlando Bosch, history’s first passenger plane bomber, dead in Miami

A few of the victims of Orlando Bosch & Luis Posada Carriles

Terrorism and media double standards

The two things you’ll notice immediately if you do a Google news search right now for the newly deceased Orlando Bosch are that first, mainstream press articles are calling him a “militant” rather than a “terrorist” and second, there is an unusual focus on his politically motivated “acquittal” in Venezuela for his involvement, along with Luis Posada Carriles, in history’s first bombing of a passenger airliner.  The 1976 mid-air bombing of Cubana Flight 455 resulted in the deaths of all 73 passengers and crew on board.  Here’s the carefully crafted whitewashed sentence the wire services are peddling:

Prominent Cuban exile militant Orlando Bosch, who was acquitted in Venezuela in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, died Wednesday at 84…

Let’s just imagine for a moment what the general reaction might be for another obit crafted in a similar fashion:

Prominent Saudi exile militant Osama bin Laden, who the U.S. blamed for the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, but then somehow never could locate, died Wednesday at 84…

Shock?  Surprise?  Horror?  Disgust?

Don’t worry.  It’ll never happen.  There are good terrorists and bad ones, and clearly the mainstream media have settled on the fiction that Bosch is the former, so he gets to be a “militant.”

The propaganda effort is not limited to U.S. media, by the way.  The BBC stretches the story one step further by including the provably false claim that both Bosch and Posada Carriles were acquitted at civil trial in Venezuela.  Not so fast, boys.

In their splendid review of Alicia Herrera’s book, “Pusimos la bomba – ¿y qué?” [“We Planted the Bomb – So What?”], Dawn Gable and Karen Lee Wald provide a memory refresher.

…this acquittal…referred only to the first trial, which was held in right-wing military courts.

The original civilian judge assigned the case had tossed it like a hot potato to the military tribunals after receiving numerous threats. Later, a military judge was the object of an assassination attempt which took the lives of his son and driver. We don’t know from [Herrera’s] book, but we do from updated reports focusing on Posada Carriles, that the military “acquittal” was ruled null and void and that the retrial of all four was referred to a civilian court.

By this time, the Venezuelan government was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they couldn’t just let terrorists guilty of bombing a passenger plane go unpunished. On the other hand, if they pushed too hard, Posada and Bosch might just reveal that high-level government officials – some say all the way up to President Carlos Andrés Pérez2 – had condoned and given them the green light to carry out such actions so long as they weren’t done in a way that would implicate the Venezuelan government. (Both Venezuelan and FBI-CIA documents obtained since then explicitly confirm the repeated assertions by Bosch and others who spoke to Herrera that DISIP and members of Carlos Andres Pérez’s staff were working behind the scenes to free them.) Ultimately, the government decided to convict the two men hired to do the job by Posada and Bosch, and let the more dangerous ringleaders go free.

The two Venezuelans who placed the bomb [Hernán Ricardo and Freddy Lugo] were convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The documents that would have convicted Bosch and Posada had by this time mysteriously disappeared from police custody or were ruled inadmissible. (For instance, the police report of the blurted confessions by Lugo and Hernán to the Trinidad police, in which they stated they had been hired by Posada and Bosch, was thrown out because it was written in English!) But the nervous Posada, not trusting their friends in the Venezuelan hierarchy to come through for them, bribed his way out of prison before the trial was over. He is thus a fugitive from justice in Venezuela, on the Interpol’s “watch list” – something that did not stop the US government from employing him in Oliver North’s Contra supply network some months after his escape in 1985.

We’ll take that retraction any time now.

2 responses to “Orlando Bosch, history’s first passenger plane bomber, dead in Miami

  1. Actually, he wasn’t the first airliner bomber. That dubious honor goes to Jack Gilbert Graham, who blew up an airliner over Colorado in 1955 to cash in on his mother’s flight insurance.


    • Thanks and I stand corrected. Perhaps I should have written, “Orlando Bosch, the first USG sponsored passenger plane bomber…”

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