Media Center



May 23, 2007 - Washington, DC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, fellow delegates, good morning to all of you.

I have listened to the words of my distinguished colleague of Venezuela. He starts off saying that they are also fighting a war on terror, that there should be no hypocrisy, and that there are no good terrorists, that none should be protected – and I totally agree with his opening words. However, by the number of times that he used the United States in his statement, and the tone of his discourse, I have to insist that it clearly sounds like a bilateral issue between us and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. My distinguished colleague from Venezuela asks for respect for legal institutions of the Republic of Venezuela. We ask for the same.

The United States is a nation that follows the rule of law. The United States has a separation of powers – an independent judiciary, an independent legislative, and an independent executive branch. The judiciary system of the United States has taken a position on this, and we ask that the Government of Venezuela respect that decision.

However, I want to start, Mr. Chairman, and make clear, as we have in the past, U.S. policy on counterterrorism. It is clear: It is as we said the last time that Venezuela raised this same issue. We condemn terrorism and terrorists, irrespective of the cause they pretend to espouse. In the “Declaration of Panama on the Protection of Critical Infrastructure in the Hemisphere in the Face of Terrorism,” which was adopted earlier this Spring by all OAS Member States – except Venezuela – states agreed to continue to build on the spirit of multilateral cooperation in order to prevent, combat, and eliminate terrorism in all of its forms through the protection of critical infrastructure. In this, my delegation firmly agrees.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Member States of the OAS have worked in concert to strengthen our ability to confront the threats of terrorism. The hemisphere has strengthened its institutional capacity to help prevent the threats from becoming real. For example, the OAS adopted at the June 2002 General Assembly the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, expanding our legal obligations to work together to both prevent and respond to terrorism. Today, 22 states, including the United States, are State parties to the Convention. The activities of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) – along with the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism – constitute a strong institutional foundation for our hemispheric fight against terrorism.

Our government has demonstrated time and again that it is fully committed to preventing terrorists from establishing a safe haven from which to attack. Mr. Chairman, in reference to Venezuela’s draft declaration before the Permanent Council today, the United States’ position is that this is a bilateral issue between two OAS Member States. It is not a multilateral issue that needs discussion here. In fact, as I stated before, the tone and substance of the distinguished delegate of Venezuela clearly makes that point for us. We do not believe this declaration has a place before this body today.

Turning to the public allegations on the case of Mr. Posada Carriles made by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we categorically reject these characterizations and specific accusations. We would, however, make the following points: The United States has taken a number of actions with respect to Luís Posada Carriles. In taking these steps, the United States has acted consistently with international law as well as its domestic legal framework that provides for due process and various constitutional safeguards. As with all democracies around the world that follow the rule of law, these safeguards provide that an individual cannot be brought for trial or extradited unless sufficient evidence has been established that he committed the offense charged. In the United States, this standard is described as “probable cause.”

Mr. Chairman, here is a brief overview of the steps the United States has taken with respect to Posada within this legal framework: Posada entered the United States illegally in early 2005. Posada was detained by immigration authorities in the United States on May 17, 2005, and he was, in accordance with U.S. law, placed in removal proceedings. The immigration judge who handled the removal proceedings ordered that Posada be removed from the United States on September 27, 2005. This order remains in effect. The United States has been seeking ways -- and continues to seek ways -- to implement it consistent with the terms of the order and U.S. regulations that implement the obligations of the United States under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Specifically, at the time the immigration judge ordered Posada removed, the immigration judge also determined that Posada could not be removed to either Cuba or Venezuela, as it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if he were so transferred. The United States would, however, be prepared to transfer Posada in accordance with U.S. law to another country with terrorism-related charges against him.
Moreover, the United States sought and obtained a criminal indictment charging Posada with violations of our immigration laws. The federal district court - a part of the United States' independent judiciary - handling that case issued a decision on May 8, 2007 dismissing the indictment. The United States is currently reviewing that decision and its options for challenging it. Posada also remains under investigation for past activities. In the meantime, Posada remains subject to the order of removal issued by the immigration judge and is without legal status in the United States. He is also subject to an Order of Supervision from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which imposes certain restrictions on Posada, including reporting and monitoring requirements.

The United States would like to underscore that the recent U.S. court decision to drop immigration-related charges was made by the independent judiciary of the United States and that decision is being reviewed by U.S. law enforcement authorities, including the Department of Justice, to evaluate all options. In sum, the United States continues to be engaged in an ongoing series of actions, consistent with our legal requirements and due process, with respect to Mr. Posada.

Mr. Chairman, we are a nation governed under the rule of law, with a strict separation of powers and a fiercely independent judiciary, of which we are very proud. It is unfortunate that this case is being presented by Venezuela, willfully ignoring the efforts the United States has made to detain Mr. Posada that are on-going, and our firm resolve and commitment in the global fight against terror.

To close, let me just sum up. Immigration charges were dismissed. The Department of Justice is examining that. He is effectively still under house arrest and under a deportation order. The extradition request is still being reviewed. He is still under investigation for other crimes. There have been teams that have gone to other countries to investigate if there were any crimes that took place outside of the United States that may have violated U.S. laws while they were being performed. We are still reviewing the U.S. laws that may have been violated. We are communicating with other countries about the possibility of taking Mr. Posada.

Member delegates, the United States, contrary to the impression that you may have heard that we are not doing anything with regard to this case, is actively working this case, and I sum up by saying that we still believe that it is a bilateral issue between us and Venezuela, and I do not believe that this issue belongs in this forum, and I thank you for your attention. I am apologetic that we have had to take your time, when we could be dealing with other matters of much more urgency before the General Assembly comes before us.