From Secret Service to Public Service
Scribe praised, demands promotion, big fat raise: Thanks to Rebecca Wakefield for accepting the challenge of investigating and writing about the plight of my son Patrick Cruise regarding the illegal conduct of the Secret Service ("Life in the Secret Service," September 13). She did a fantastic job. Please extend my sincerest appreciation, gratitude, and congratulations to her. She is an excellent writer with obvious talent, so I would suggest a promotion immediately before you lose her.
New Times has done a service to the public in exposing misconduct by a federal agency. Thanks for your willingness to look into this important story.
My Grandpa the Gangster
We cherish his memory, which by the way does not include the ponies: After reading Jacob Bernstein's article about my grandfather Meyer Lansky ("I Rode for Lansky," September 6), all I have to say is that he reported this story with a total disregard for the facts. While I liked his writing style, he relied on information from Johnny Bev, a fourth-rate jockey, a desperate man who ended up with nothing but made-up stories. I am sure he was interesting, as old Miami Beach characters usually are, but things get pretty mixed up, and that's how rumors, legends, and lies are made.
I really feel Mr. Bernstein should have done some research on Mr. Lansky. After all, there are thousands of articles on the Internet and at my Website, MeyerLansky.com. If he had done the research, at least he would have known there were never any horses.
Now, my grandmother Teddy loved the track and went to Gulfstream on a steady basis in the Fifties and early Sixties. But in the 50 years I have been alive (and I checked the facts with Robert Lacey and my own mother), there simply were no horses ever mentioned in any discussions with Meyer. I lived in that house, ate and breathed in the same space, and still no horses. Which really makes me pissed at how Mr. Bernstein could drag this information through page after page.
Next time he should do some real research after speaking with people he's interviewing. Slander and untruths will catch up with you in the end.
Shining Beacon of Selfless Leadership
A grateful community honors Alonso: With Miami-Dade Commissioner Miriam Alonso at the helm of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which controls millions of dollars in county spending, may the good Lord protect the taxpayers.
After informed citizens carefully read Jim DeFede's "The Secret Slush Fund" (September 6), they will most certainly shudder and wonder how Mayor Alex Penelas could name this fox to oversee the proverbial henhouse. What with a commission aide who passes the time masturbating in porno theaters and significant alleged gross misuse of federal Section 8 dollars, are we not truly blessed to have such admirable leadership at county hall?
We have only ourselves to blame for electing her.
The Bardach Barrage
Gullible free weekly takes terrorist's bait: Only Miami's New Times believes it is okay to publish false and libelous comments from a self-confessed terrorist and fugitive, one who is currently under arrest awaiting trial on assassination charges, without seeking comment from those he libels. In this case that would be myself, the New York Times, and reporter Larry Rohter. In Kirk Nielsen's article "Fidel Made Them Do It" (August 9), he stated the following: "Posada again stretched credulity in a 1998 interview with reporters Ann Louise Bardach and Larry Rohter for a New York Times article. During the conversation Posada took credit for the Havana bombings in 1997 and said Cuban American National Foundation founder Jorge Mas Canosa had financed them. After his remarks were published, Posada recanted them. Adding another perplexing twist, he recently alleged in a letter to New Times that Bardach and Rohter coerced him by threatening to publish classified information to which I never thought a newspaper could have access.' If published it could have hurt the reputations of prominent members of the United States military intelligence community' involved in the Iran-contra affair, he wrote. He added that Bardach and Rohter also threatened to publish the name of who they thought was the source of financing for covert operations on the island to establish contact with Cuban soldiers disenchanted with the Castro regime.' His mentioning of Mas Canosa was a diversion to evade the journalists' persecution.' But he now considered his maneuver a tactical error.'"
For the record at no time was Mr. Posada "threatened," "coerced," or under any type of "persecution." We enjoyed numerous meals together, and when we parted he gave us autographed copies of his autobiography. Posada also gave me one of his paintings, which he inscribed on the back with a personal dedication. It was not until Larry Rohter and I returned to New York that we began to accumulate the hundreds of documents that corroborated Posada's account to the New York Times along with dozens of supporting interviews. To ascertain and publish the facts correctly, New Times only had to implement standard journalistic procedure: Pick up the phone and get the story right.
The New York Times series consisted of five stories published in the summer of 1998, authored by myself and Larry Rohter. Spending three days with Posada was not only "extremely rare," it was unprecedented. As the Times wrote at the time: "The New York Times reiterates its complete support and confidence in its series of articles by Ann Louise Bardach and Larry Rohter based on more than 100 different sources and 13 hours of interviews and conversations with Mr. Posada, CIA files on Mr. Posada and Mr. Mas Canosa and their relationship, FBI documents and reports on Mr. Posada and several members of the CANF, sworn deposition testimony of Ricardo Mas Canosa, the autobiography of Mr. Posada, and documents hand-written by Mr. Posada."
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The 10,000 words we devoted to Luis Posada were best characterized by managing editor Bill Keller in a letter to the Miami Herald: "Among other things, Mr. Posada described how CANF leaders supported him in his violent efforts to topple Fidel Castro. Please make no mistake, we stand by them. We quoted Mr. Posada as saying that money from his Cuban-American sponsors was not earmarked for specific violent operations, and that his patrons did not ask for an accounting after his missions. We wrote that there is no evidence that money came from the accounts of the Foundation itself."
In regards to "stretched credulity," as Kirk Nielsen would say, the New Times story is filled with inexplicable gaps. It fails to mention Gaspar Jimenez's employment history with Alberto Hernandez, CANF's former chairman; or Guillermo Novo's stint on CANF's information commission. Nor does it mention Posada's own heartfelt thanks to several foundation leaders in his autobiography for their assistance. Nor was any attempt made to acquire any of the copious FBI and CIA documentation of Posada and Mas Canosa and their long relationship.
Regarding Posada's taped "recantation," again Kirk Nielsen made no inquiry into published reports that "a member of the Cuban American National Foundation was present" throughout and that CANF also taped Posada's act of contrition. Nor was any attempt made to determine the accuracy of accounts that the reporter flew to El Salvador on a jet belonging to a foundation member. As the Herald pointed out, the "recantation" videotape went straight to CANF's headquarters. A reasonable question might be why there was so much foundation involvement in getting Posada to say he had no ties to them. But clearly that's not a question that would ever be posed or explored by Miami New Times.
Ann Louise Bardach
Los Angeles, California