U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement on attempts over the weekend from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Gaza Strip to breach Israel’s borders:
“This past weekend’s incidents were not peaceful protests but attempts by extremists, many of them armed, to lay siege to Israel. There is no moral equivalence between Israel’s defensive measures and the Syrian dictatorship’s brutal repression of its own people.
“As a sovereign, democratic state, Israel has the right to defend its borders and its people against incursions. Put in the same position, any free nation would act just as Israel did.
“As always, the United States must stand up for our indispensable ally Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself.”
In February 1988, Orlando Bosch was arrested in Miami and implicated in the 1976 plot to blow up Cubana Flight 455, a terrorist act that killed 73 passengers. Joe D. Whitley, the associate U.S. attorney general at the time, called Bosch “a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims.” Bosch, however, had the distinct advantage of having Ros-Lehtinen make advocating for his release one of the cornerstones of her 1989 congressional campaign. Bosch had another advantage: Ros-Lehtinen’s campaign manager was Jeb Bush, President George H.W. Bush’s son. In 1990, after lobbying by Jeb Bush and Ros-Lehtinen, the Bush administration went against the Justice Department’s recommendation to deport Bosch and authorized his release. Since then, Bosch has become a permanent resident of the United States.
Ros-Lehtinen also supports the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a group [designated] by the State Department as a foreign terrorist group. Leading up to the Iraq war, in October 2002, Ros-Lehtinen circulated a letter in Congress expressing support for the MEK. She continues her support.
Venezuelan authorities had arrested Bosch and held him for 11 years. They failed twice to convict him and finally freed him to return to the United States. The federal government then held Bosch for three years in a Miami jail as an “undesirable alien” and released a report linking him to right-wing terrorist groups suspected in some 50 bombings in Miami, New York and Latin America. Posada escaped from a Venezuela prison after his acquittal by a military court, while awaiting retrial.
Federal attorneys told a judge in 1990 that they had tried to deport Bosch to 31 countries but all refused. Cuba wanted him returned there to stand trial, but the U.S. government refused that request.
Eventually in 1990, Bosch was released, thanks in part to a very public campaign on his behalf by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.
“He was a freedom fighter for Cuba and passed away without seeing his beloved homeland free of the Castro dictatorship,” Ros-Lehtinen said Wednesday in a statement to The Associated Press.
Others cast Bosch in a different light.
“Orlando Bosch lived a life of unrepentant terrorist violence. The verdict of history, rendered by formerly secret CIA and FBI intelligence reports, and court records, is that he was a mass murderer masquerading as a freedom fighter,” said Peter Kornbluh, head of the independent National Security Archives’ Cuba project. Kornbluh noted that his organization declassified CIA and FBI intelligence documents that link Bosch to the 1976 bombing.