By Cheryl LaBash
A modest three-minute video posted at the Cuban5.org deserves more attention than the 3,096 or so views it had as of Sept. 29. Although the title, “The Cuban 5 with Danny Glover and Peter Coyote,” attracts those interested in the latest work of these well-known progressive actors, and the growing community aware of the massive injustice done to the Cuban 5, the real star of the video is a name far less known to the general public: Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr.
Clapper was a witness in the 2001 Cuban 5 trial in Miami that lasted more than six months. At the time of the trial, Clapper was director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (2001-2006). Clapper is not merely a retired high-ranking U.S. military officer, he is currently the director of national intelligence.
According to DNI.gov, “The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC), overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program (budget) and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. Working together with the Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI), the Office of the DNI’s goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad.”
In the video, Glover and Coyote re-enact Clapper’s answers to some very interesting questions presented by Cuban 5 defense attorneys, both taken from the actual trial transcripts. What did Clapper say?
‘Cuba does not represent a threat’
Q: “General Clapper, would you agree on saying that having access to public information is not an act of espionage?” asked Gerardo Hernández’s attorney.
Q: “Would you, with your experience in intelligence matters, describe Cuba as a military threat to the United States?”
A: “Absolutely not. Cuba does not represent a threat.”
Q: “Did you find any evidence that Gerardo Hernández was trying to obtain secret information?”
A: “No, not that I recognized.”
Q: “Did you, General Clapper, come across any secret national defense information that was transmitted to Cuba by Gerardo Hernández or the other defendants?”
A: “Not that I remember, no.”
This lifelong military intelligence officer knows what happened in the trial of the Cuban 5. He was there. He was appointed as DNI by President Barack Obama in 2010.
The Cuban 5 — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González — are beginning their 15th year of unjust imprisonment in the U.S. The five men, unregistered agents of the Cuban government, infiltrated paramilitary organizations in south Florida during the 1990s to prevent a wave of more hotel bombings and other terror acts against tourists and other civilians in Cuba. They are the focus of a growing international and U.S. campaign calling for their release from prison and repatriation to Cuba.
Their trial, subsequent conspiracy convictions and the unspeakably long sentences — as much as double life plus 15 years for Gerardo Hernández — took place in Miami in a hostile atmosphere stoked by an inflammatory print and television campaign by U.S. government-paid propagandists who presented themselves as journalists.
It is past time to free the Cuban 5.