- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A New York Times reporter who interviewed an elderly ex-CIA operative and got him to admit masterminding bombings at top Cuban tourist sites in 1997 is set to testify at his perjury trial, despite long fighting court orders compelling her to do so.

Ann Louise Bardach interviewed anti-communist militant Luis Posada Carriles in Aruba in 1998. She teamed with Times attorneys to unsuccessfully resist taking the stand beginning Wednesday, arguing it would discourage sources from talking to journalists.

Ms. Bardach taped much — but not all — of what Mr. Posada said. She says he often switched off her recorder to elaborate. She will be the last in the trial’s 10-week parade of prosecution witnesses.

“My husband says we should put out a mailbox that says ‘subpoenas only,’” Ms. Bardach joked.

The Cuba-born Mr. Posada, 83, is former President Fidel Castro’s nemesis. He was a CIA agent until 1976 and spent decades crisscrossing Latin America as the ultimate Cold Warrior, largely backed by the U.S. government, before he was imprisoned in Panama in 2000 amid a plot to kill Mr. Castro during a summit there.

Pardoned four years later, he sneaked into the U.S. in March 2005. Prosecutors say he lied during immigration hearings in El Paso about how he got into the country and about using a Guatemalan passport with a false name. They also say he failed to acknowledge planning the bombings in posh hotels and a tourist restaurant in Havana, as well as a resort in Varadero, a beach east of the capital.

An Italian tourist was killed and about a dozen others injured in the wave of blasts between April and September 1997.

Mr. Posada is not on trial for the bombings, only for lying about them. He is charged with 11 counts of interfering with a U.S. terrorism investigation, perjury and immigration fraud.

The New York Times published information from Ms. Bardach’s interviews in a series of stories she wrote with Larry Rohter. Transcripts of the interview tapes included in court documents confirm that Ms. Bardach quoted Mr. Posada accurately, but she said her testimony sets a bad precedent.

“What the government wants to do is use me as a bludgeon against a former source,” Ms. Bardach said.

Prosecutors allege Mr. Posada sought out the Times for an interview, angry that the Cuban bombing campaign hadn’t received enough media attention. He since has recanted his statements to Ms. Bardach, which were in English. He claims he doesn’t really speak that language, although Mr. Posada served as a translator while helping the United States support Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Transcripts of the interview included in court files have Mr. Posada saying, “In the hotels, we put small explosives because we don’t want to hurt anybody. Just make a big scandal.”

Ms. Bardach recorded only five or six hours of the 13 she spent talking with Mr. Posada. Court documents include only portions of the interview transcripts that focus on the bombings.

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