PRIOR KNOWLEDGE, CONSENT, COLLABORATION, COVER-UP, AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE BY THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION IN THE SHOOTDOWN OF BROTHERS TO THE RESCUE (BTTR) AIRCRAFT
I. PRIOR KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT
THE US GOVERNMENT HAD PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF FIDEL CASTRO’S INTENTIONS TO SHOOT DOWN THE BTTR AIRCRAFT AND HAD RECEIVED A “CALCULATED WARNING” FROM THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT.
THE US GOVERNMENT DID NOTHING TO: PREVENT THE CRIME, WARN BTTR, OR RESPOND TO THE WARNING.
1. U.S. intelligence agencies had evidence of Cuban MiGs’ practice maneuvers to ambush BTTR (Attachment 1, item 1).
2. At 12:15 PM on Feb 24, 1996, before BTTR’s flight, Cuban MiGs took off in search of BTTR aircraft, apparently reacting to an earlier flight plan filed by BTTR for 10:15 AM, which was never activated. The US deployed its interceptors (Tab D, Issue VI). Havana’s air control center called up the Miami Center and asked if it knew anything about three slow-moving planes just north of Cuba i. It was very unusual to see MiGs flying in that area, Tab D, Issue VIII.
The US did not warn BTTR about this ominous situation.
3. The US executed an elaborate plan to place its radars and monitors on alert with orders to follow and document BTTR’s flight on Feb 24, 1996 (Attachment 1, item 5).
4. Senior administration officials had expressed concern about BTTR airplanes (Attachment 1, item 6).
5. The US government had knowledge that double agent Juan Pablo Roque had arrived in Cuba on Feb 23, 1996. (Attachment 1, item 7).
6. A false report on BTTR’s intentions for Feb 24, 1996 was circulated a week in advance to ensure the required unwitting support of certain US agencies and individuals. (Attachment 14)
7. On January 18, 1996, Scott Armstrong, who had close ties to several senior National Security Council officials, including Anthony Lake, Morton Halperin, and Samuel Berger, got a call from someone from at the National Security Council. Armstrong has indicated that: “I got a call from someone at the Old Executive Office Building and was told that the Brothers’ problem had been resolved and that I should communicate this to the appropriate Cuban Officials. I then conveyed the message to Alarcón through Fernando Remirez”. (Attachment 1, item 3.)
The Cuban government had also discussed the issue of BTTR overflights with Bill Richardson, a close associate of President Clinton’s who has served as his special envoy on many sensitive missions. (Attachment 1, item 3)
The U.S. tacitly consented to the shootdown by:
· Not responding to Cuban generals Arnaldo Tamayo and Rosales del Toro “direct and to the point” question of what would the reaction of the United States be if the Cuban Air Force shot down the BTTR airplanes. Please refer to attachment 1: (a) item 4 of “The US Government Had Prior Knowledge of Fidel Castro’s Intentions to Shoot Down the BTTR Aircraft. The US Government Did Nothing to Prevent the Crime and Did Nothing to Warn BTTR”, and (b) letter of 3 October 1996 from the Center for Defense Information to The Honorable Dan Burton.
BTTR believes that this failure to respond served as a confirmation to an already expected plan of action by Cuba to which a “green light” had previously been given.
· Not taking any action to prevent the murder.
II. COLLABORATION: THE US GAVE CASTRO THE “DOMAIN” OF INTERNATIONAL AIRSPACE TO MURDER US CITIZENS
1. US air defense standard operating procedures (SOP) to launch interceptor aircraft to respond to the presence of MiGs were “put on hold” between 3:20 PM and
3:35 PM, precisely during the period the shootdown occurred. Just three hours earlier, when BTTR was not in the area, SOP were followed.
The “battlestations” alert of interceptors at the Homestead Air Force Base went into effect shortly after the MiGs took off at 3:00 PM and was cancelled at 3:20 PM.
Had SOP been followed, the loss of life on Feb 24, 1996 could have been prevented.
Please refer to Tab D, Issues V, VI, IX and X.
2. The US ignored a “911 call” from the March Air Force Base in California to alert the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida about a Cuban MiG going directly over BTTR aircraft and heading directly towards the United States.
Please refer to Tab D, Issue I.B.
3. After the first and second shootdowns at 3:21 PM and 3:28 PM, and until the MiGs suspended their chase of Basulto’s aircraft at 3:53 PM, when they were about 26 miles north of the 24th parallel, Basulto’s aircraft was always less than five minutes (MiGs’ flight time) away from MiGs. The US did nothing to protect the lives of US citizens onboard the plane and the sovereignty of US airspace.
The US now bizarrely maintains that:
· Basulto’s plane separated from danger after the second shootdown.
· The MiGs never crossed the 24th parallel.
(Tab D, Issues X and XI).
4. During the 53-minute chase by the MiGs, from take-off at 3:00 PM to 3:53 PM, when they were ordered to suspend the chase, the US did not contact BTTR, as it had done in the past.
The US now maintains that “there was no unusual information to share”. Tab D, Issues III and XII.
III. KNOWN EFFORTS BY THE ADMINISTRATION TO COVER UP ITS PARTICIPATION IN THE SHOOTDOWN BY USING MISINFORMATION AND REMOVING EVIDENCE AND POTENTIAL WITNESSES
1. Contradictory and nonfactual information
Prime examples of misinformation are:
The letter from Gen. Howard G. DeWolf (September 5, 1996) to Rep. Dan Burton, submitted for the record at the hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere (September 18, 1996). (Attachment 15, including BTTR’s response).
The Report of Inquiry by Gen. Rodney P. Kelly (October 13, 1996) (Attachment 15, including BTTR’s response).
The response by Col. Michael C. McMahan (covering responses by SEADS and NORAD) to the members’ questions, House International Committee, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Sept 18, 1996, Tab D.
2. The Clinton-Gore Administration invocation of national security in its refusal to answer BTTR’s questions on the shootdown
Please refer to Tab E.
3. Attempts by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport to Cuba Adel Regalado Ulloa, a key witness in the investigation of the shootdown. A conspirator in the shootdown and a witness who had information on a clear conspirator were returned to Cuba without ever being interviewed by any US authority.
Mr. Regalado is a Cuban national acquitted for air piracy in federal proceedings in Tampa on July 16, 1997 who voluntarily began to cooperate with the government in the BTTR murder investigation in August of 1997. Mr. Regalado is a witness of the practice run by MiGs in January of 1996 to shoot down the BTTR aircraft.
During the removal proceedings on October 21, 1998, Assistant US Attorney Wendy Jacobus, representing the government, stated to the court that the United States and the FBI considered information provided to them by Regalado relevant to the ongoing investigation of the BTTR shootdown and worthy of further development. Despite this evident significance and the very real risk of execution to Mr. Regalado if returned to Cuba, Immigration trial attorneys continued to pursue removal to Cuba, through trial.
Regalado prevailed and was granted asylum on December 15, 1998. But Immigration continued its relentless pursuit and appealed their loss.
During the course of that trial, the BTTR practice run was exposed and participants in the conspiracy were identified in open court, including Adolfo Pérez Pantoja, who flew the plane used in the above mentioned practice maneuver. Pantoja returned to Cuba without ever being interviewed about the shootdown by any US authority.
During the Immigration trial a witness arose, Leonel Herrera. He had information on the BTTR issue, specifically as to Lt. Col. Comeneros, who directed the above mentioned practice maneuver, a clear conspirator in the shootdown. The government refused to interview him after being told who he was and what he knew, and even a successful objection was posed to his appearance and testimony.
Regalado’s prosecution by the Immigration service continues. The objective has always been and continues to be removal.
Please refer to pages 160-162 of Tab B.
4. Using violence, deception and foul language, a Customs’ official attempted to seize from José Basulto a tape of the inflight radio communications of the BTTR aircraft on Feb 24, 1996
Upon Basulto’s landing at Opa Locka Airport on Feb 24, 1996, Customs’ official Mike Molinary attempted three times to seize this tape, which included communications with Havana Tower. Mr. Molinary did not present any documentation or reason to justify this seizure. After each attempt, Mr. Molinary made a phone call.
IV. THE US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE HAS FAILED TO CRIMINALLY INDICT CASTRO AND OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CRIME OF FEB 24, 1996 AND HAS INSTRUCTED THE STATE ATTORNEY OF MIAMI-DADE TO REFRAIN FROM ENGAGING IN THIS PROSECUTION
The U.S. Attorney General knows, or should know, that all the legal elements are in place to indict Castro and the other principal conspirators in the “Operation Scorpion”. The resistance by the prosecution in going vertical is politically motivated.
Castro has publicly admitted his responsibility for the shootdown (attachment 13). The legal elements to prove the offenses are there. BTTR has formally requested the office of the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida, and the State Attorney of Miami-Dade to bring criminal charges against Castro and all others responsible for these murders and the conspiracy to commit murder, including the attempted murder of the four surviving participants in the mission.
i. Tropic, The Miami Herald, February 16, 1997, “Brothers Unrescued”.