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Monday, September 03, 2007


State sponsors of terrorism

It appears that the U.S. has removed North Korea from its list of "state sponsors of terrorism" (a list which, on the real world side of the looking glass, would start with the United States). I say "appears" because this report is based on North Korean sources and hasn't been confirmed by the U.S., and if the U.S. were to break its word to North Korea, it would hardly be the first time.

And why is North Korea on that list in the first place? Because it was implicated in the bombing of a South Korean airliner and the death of 155 passengers in 1988, 20 years ago, not because of any evidence it is actually a "state sponsor of terrorism" today, even by American standards (i.e., funding Hamas or Hezbollah, etc.). Coincidentally, 1988 was the year that the U.S. shot down an Iranian civilian airplane, killing 290 people.

North Korea is (or may be) removed from the list for giving up its nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile Cuba, which never had one, is still on the list. Cuba, which was itself victimized by a terrorist attack on a civilian airliner, killing all 76 people on board. The perpetrators? Two CIA agents, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, both of whom now living freely in the real sponsor of state terrorism, the United States, the former pardoned by George H.W. Bush and the latter allowed to walk on illegal immigration charges and protected from extradition to Venezuela by George W. Bush, with some help from Alberto Gonzalez.

As I've noted before, "state sponsor of terrorism" is not a rhetorical device like "axis of evil." It's very much a legal (using the word loosely) term, with very real consequences. But as the examples of North Korea and Cuba show, the designation of a country as such is completely a political issue, with nothing whatsoever to do with actual "sponsorship" of terrorism.

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