- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Embracing a recent invitation by the Castro brothers, Jimmy Carter visited Cuba last week. “We greeted each other as old friends,” gushed the former president after his meeting with Fidel Castro.

“In 2002, we received him warmly,” Fidel reciprocated. “Now, I reiterated to him our respect and esteem.”

Jimmy Carter was the best of all U.S. presidents,” gushed Raul Castro while personally seeing off his American guest.

Jimmy Carter earned all this warmth, esteem and joviality from Cuba’s Stalinist rulers by doing everything within his power to dismantle the so-called embargo against them. “The embargo of Cuba is the stupidest law ever passed in the U.S.”, he said in 2002. And yet, as president, Mr. Carter imposed more economic sanctions against more nations than any other American president in modern history. These sanctions were against Chile, Iran, Rhodesia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Paraguay and Uruguay. Mr. Carter was extremely selective in imposing his sanctions - let’s give him that. He was careful to punish only U.S. allies.

In Cuba, Mr. Carter also took time to visit and console some bereaved Cuban families. According to the “Black Book of Communism” (no tome of the vast, right-wing conspiracy, much less of the “Miami Mafia”) Mr. Carter’s Cuban hosts murdered 12,000 to 14,000 Cubans by firing squad. According to Freedom House, more than half a million Cubans have suffered in the Castros’ various gulags, dungeons and torture chambers, an incarceration rate higher than Josef Stalin’s. According to the scholars and researchers at the Cuba Archive, the Castro regime’s total death toll - from torture, prison beatings, firing squads, machine-gunning of escapees, drownings, etc.-approaches 100,000.

So Mr. Carter would seem to have little trouble in finding bereaved Cuban families to meet. And he did meet the grieving families of some Cuban-born prisoners. But these prisoners were serving time in U.S. prisons, after being convicted by U.S. juries for espionage against the nation that elected Jimmy Carter president and for conspiracy to murder fellow citizens. These Cubans, you see, are the ones who tugged at Mr. Carter’s heartstrings.

Some background: On Sept. 14, 1998, the FBI uncovered a Castro spy ring in Miami and arrested 10 people. Five were convicted by U.S. juries (from which Cuban-Americans were scrupulously excluded) and became known as “the Cuban Five” in Castroite parlance.

According to the FBI’s affidavit, these Castro agents were engaged in, among other acts:

c Gathering intelligence against the Boca Chica Air Naval Station in Key West, the McDill Air Force Base in Tampa and the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command in Homestead, Fla.

c Compiling the names, home addresses and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers, along with those of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica.

c Infiltrating the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command.

c Sending letter bombs to Cuban-Americans.

c Spying on McDill Air Force Base, the U.S. armed forces’ worldwide headquarters for fighting “low-intensity” conflicts.

c Locating entry points into Florida for smuggling explosive material.

One of these Castro agents, Gerardo Hernandez, also infiltrated the Cuban-exile group Brothers to the Rescue, who flew unarmed Cessnas to rescue Cuban rafters in the Florida straits, also known as “the cemetery without crosses.” Estimates of the number of Cubans who have died horribly there run from 30,000 to 50,000. Brothers to the Rescue often would drop flowers into the sea for those they had been unable to rescue.

These pilots risked their lives almost daily, flying over the straits, alerting and guiding the Coast Guard to any rafters and saving thousands of these desperate people from joining that terrible tally. Before the Castro Revolution, Cuba was deluged with more immigrants per capita than the United States.

In February 1996, Castro agent Gerardo Hernandez fulfilled his mission by passing the flight plan to Castro for one of the Brothers’ humanitarian flights. With this information in hand, Cuba’s top guns saluted and sprang to action. They jumped into their MiGs, took off and valiantly blasted apart (in international air space) the utterly defenseless Cessnas. Four members of the humanitarian flights were thus murdered in cold blood. MiGs against Cessnas, cannons and rockets against flowers.

Three of these murdered men were U.S. citizens, one a decorated Vietnam veteran. The other was a legal U.S. resident. No record exists of Jimmy Carter ever meeting with their families. But in Havana, Jimmy Carter smilingly met with the families of the man convicted in U.S. courts of helping murder them, and with Raul Castro himself, who personally gave the order to shoot down the defenseless planes.

“I had the opportunity to meet the families of the five Cuban patriots” (Hernandez’s among them), Mr. Carter said during an interview with Castro media apparatchiks, “with their wives and with their mothers. … I’m well aware of the shortcomings of the U.S. judicial system [but apparently not the Cuban] but hope that President Obama will grant their pardon. He knows my opinion on this matter, that the trial of the Cuban Five was very dubious, that many norms were violated.”

In the Castros’ fiefdom, people are sent to the firing squad and prison based on Che Guevara’s famous legal dictum: “Judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. We prosecute and execute from revolutionary conviction.”

So during an interview in Havana, Jimmy Carter saw fit to castigate “the shortcomings of the U.S. judicial system,” and hailed the Castros’ KGB-trained and U.S. convicted spies as “patriots.”

No wonder P.J. O’Rourke famously dubbed Jimmy Carter, “that most ex of America’s ex-presidents.”

Humberto Fontova is author of “Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant” (Regnery, 2005).

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