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Felix Rodriguez: Kerry No Foe of Castro

Sunday, 29 August 2004 12:00 AM

Rodriguez, who has battled Kerry through the years, says Kerry is “simply a liar and self-promoter.”

Presently retired in Miami, Fl. and a leader in the Cuban American community serving as the president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, Rodriguez first tangled with Kerry when the senator spearheaded the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics in 1987.

Kerry had used his subcommittee to torpedo President Reagan’s anti-communist and anti-Sandista policies in Latin America.

Kerry’s treatment of Rodriguez – falsely accusing him of a soliciting a $10 million donation from the Colombian cocaine cartel – still rankles the decorated veteran.

These days Rodriguez is regularly appearing on Spanish-speaking radio shows in Florida warning the listeners, including many Cuban-Americans, “Kerry should not be president.”

“The man tells you what you want to hear,” he advises the listeners. “Kerry will tell you one thing and then do another.”

Rodriguez is also looking forward to his featured speech against the candidate that is scheduled for a Sept 12 rally in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans for the Truth.

This vet group, like the hard-charging Swift Boat clan, is doing everything it can to, in Rodriguez’s words, “to get the real word out about John Kerry.”

The veteran is not only speaking but busing up scores of Cuban-American veterans to the D.C. rally.

As for Kerry’s success in wooing Cuban American voters, Rodriguez tells NewsMax that in his opinion Cuban-American voters are not buying the latest Kerry line in battleground Florida

If Kerry is hugely unpopular with “Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth,” the organization that wants to out the presidential candidate as a phony, self-promoted hero of the Vietnam War, he hardly makes the hit parade with anti-communists that battled the Castro tide throughout Latin America during the 1980s.

Indeed, just as Kerry’s wooing of veterans have caused tempestuous seas for his campaign, Kerry may find himself in a similar debacle as he panders in the eleventh hour to Cuban-Americans and Venezuelan exiles with a new get-tough attitude toward Castro, Hugo Chavez and the rising red tide across Latin America today.

Historically, Kerry has at best equivocated about how America should respond to one of the most repressive totalitarian regimes on the earth. At worst, he voted against acts that sought to hem in dictator Fidel Castro -- such as the bipartisan Helms Burton bill that was supported by many Democrats, including Bill Clinton.

Over nearly 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has often criticized the 41-year-old package of economic sanctions on Fidel Castro’s government, but as Nov. 2004 looms, Kerry has predictably morphed – now emphasizing on the current record his support of the embargo and flexing a hard line against Castro.

For sure, Kerry found great satisfaction in the Iran Contra controversy of the late 1980s, as he and fellow liberal senators characterized Reagan’s Cold War policies as not just misguided, but corrupt.

However, Kerry may live to regret the time he ran personally afoul of the legendary “Shadow Warrior” of the Cold War era.

On June 30, 1987, a story leaked out of Kerry’s Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics accusing Felix Rodriguez, one of the most extraordinary agents in the history of the CIA, of soliciting a $10 million donation from the Colombian cocaine cartel.

The story had its basis in the supposedly sealed testimony of Ramon Milian Rodriguez, a convicted money launderer for the Columbian cocaine cartel.

Wholly innocent of the allegation, a startled, upset and blindsided Rodriguez viewed the irresponsible leak as a blatantly political attempt to, among other things, slander then presidential candidate George H. W. Bush -- because of Bush’s and Rodriguez’s long personal relationship, as well as Bush’s former role as head of the CIA.

As Rodriguez explains in his 1989 bestseller “Shadow Warrior”:

“I did not realize that Kerry’s subcommittee was politically motivated – that Kerry, a top foreign-policy adviser and political ally of Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, wanted to embarrass the Reagan administration and help Dukakis win the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Engaged and affronted, Rodriguez demanded that he be publicly allowed to testify in front of the Senate Subcommittee, but the wily Kerry insisted that any testimony given to the committee be done in private -- setting the scene for some historic vitriol on the floor of the hallowed Senate chamber.

Rodriguez: “Senator, this has been the hardest testimony I ever gave in my life.”

Kerry: “Why?”

Rodriguez: “Because, sir, it is extremely difficult to have to answer questions form someone you do not respect.”

Rodriguez appealed in every way he could to Kerry to get the opportunity to clear his good name by public testimony:

“Senator, leaked or not, it was in every goddamned newspaper that, at one of your

But it wasn’t to be for another long ten months that Kerry would feel pressured enough to relent. Even then, however, he choreographed the public proceedings to minimize the hit on his own esteem.

As Rodriguez puts it: “By the time I was sworn in at 4:30 P.M., most of the press had gone home and most of the cameras had been turned off…. There were few people in the room to hear Kerry say publicly that, after a year of investigations and millions of taxpayer dollars, he believed the version of events concerning Ramon Milian Rodriguez I’d stated so concisely the previous August.”

The substance of the Kerry apology for dragging the CIA hero through the mud: “I believe what you said, and I want to make that very clear.” The words rang hollow in the near empty chamber.

When Kerry tangled with Rodriguez, he was not dealing with any lightweight.

Cuban-born Felix Rodriguez fled Cuba in 1959 shortly after Fidel Castro took power. Most of his family, including his father and two of his brothers, were either executed or disappeared within the first months of the new dictator’s regime.

He found refuge in the United States when he was 18 years old, became a U.S. citizen in 1969, and enlisted in the Army.

The freedom-loving patriot joined the CIA-backed “Brigade 2506” and was infiltrated into Cuba a few weeks prior to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Over the next 30 years, he would be involved in many anti-Castro operations throughout Latin America.

In 1967 the CIA recruited him to train and head a team to hunt down leftist guerrilla Che Guevara in Bolivia. When Guevara was captured, it was Rodriguez who interrogated him.

Rodriguez flew over 300 helicopter sorties during the Vietnam War, and was shot down five times. He won the Intelligence Star for Valor from the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry from the Republic of South Vietnam.

He was also involved in anti-Communist operations in El Salvador, employing mobile helicopter strike units similar to those he helped develop in Vietnam. He flew over 100 combat missions in Central America, and captured the Cuban backed Mart National Liberation Front’s top commander Nidia Diaz.

Although the intrepid Rodriguez appreciated Kerry’s belated apology, he claims to have learned a painful lesson from the affair that has forever diminished the way he views the world:

“[P]eople tend to deal not in the truth as it really is but the truth as they want to see it – and the facts be damned.”

Kerry may try to whitewash his record opposing Reagan’s policies in Latin America – ones that brought a wave of democracy across Latin America.

But Kerry’s record opposing the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community is a long one and will be hard to portray as he would like.

In 1994, Kerry proposed and voted to cut $1 billion from Intelligence, specifically seeking to slash that considerable chunk from the budgets of the key National Foreign Intelligence Program and from Tactical Intelligence -- while freezing their budgets.

Kerry was at it again the next year, voting to cut $80 million from the FBI’s budget and also introducing a bill that would have reduced the overall intelligence budget by $1.5 billion by the year 2000. Without targeting specific programs, Kerry’s slash-and-burn bill sought to reduce the Intelligence budget by $300 million in each of fiscal years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Rodriguez has, of course, tracked all this and is using it for fodder in his radio broadcasts. According to the hero, he has had to ramp up production of the Spanish edition of “Shadow Warrior” to accommodate all the requests from his listeners, who want to learn more about the real record of Kerry.


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Rodriguez, who has battled Kerry through the years, says Kerry is "simply a liar and self-promoter." Presently retired in Miami, Fl. and a leader in the Cuban American community serving as the president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, Rodriguez first tangled with...
Sunday, 29 August 2004 12:00 AM
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