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Orlando Bosch

John Simkin

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Orlando Bosch was born in Cuba. An opponent of Fidel Castro, Posada went to live in Miami. After the Bay of Pigs. Bosch ran an anti-Castro training camp for the Central Intelligence Agency in Homestead, Florida. Bosch gradually became convinced that the Cubans had been betrayed by JFK and wrote a pamphlet about this called The Tragedy of Cuba.

According to Marita Lorenz, Bosch became a member of Operation 40, a CIA assassination squad. Lorenz pointed out that a few days before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a group including Bosch, Frank Sturgis, Guillermo Novo and Pedro Diaz Lanz, travelled to Dallas. She also claimed that Bosch was at a motel in Dallas when Kennedy's murder was planned.

Bosch founded the contra-revolutionary group called "Poder Cubano" (Cuban Power) which he used as a means of developing and implementing his terrorist theme of war throughout the world. According to Cuban authorities Bosch was involved in 78 terrorist attacks on Spain, England, Japan, Mexico, Poland, and other countries that traded with Cuba.

In October, 1968, United States officials arrested Bosch for terrorist activities and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. He was freed in 1972. The following year he moved to Venezuela where he joined up with Guillermo Novo and Luis Posada.

In October, 1973, the midair explosion of Cubana Airlines plane flying out of Barbados killed all 73 people aboard. This included all 24 young athletes on Cuba's gold-medal fencing team. Police in Trinidad arrested two Venezuelans, Herman Ricardo and Freddy Lugo. Ricardo worked for Posada's security agency in Venezuela and admitted that he and Lugo had planted two bombs on the plane. Ricardo claimed the bombing had been organized by Bosch and Luis Posada. When Posada was arrested he was found with a map of Washington showing the daily route of to work of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, who had been assassinated on 21st September, 1976.

Herman Ricardo and Freddy Lugo were both sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. In 1987 Bosch was freed with the help of Otto Reich, the White House's leading adviser on Latin America. Bosch entered the United States, where he was granted asylum. He was eventually pardoned by President George Bush on 18th July, 1990.

Namebase entry for Orlando Bosch:


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Dear John,

Thanks for these informations related to O.B.A !!!

Since years I'm firmly convinced that Orlando Bosch Avila was in Dealey Plaza the day of the assassination.

For me, "The Signal man" aka "Dark Complected Man" aka "the Cuban" aka "Umbrella man friend" is Orlando Bosch Avila.

Here is the link toward my page related to this certainty: Orlando Bosch Avila in Dealey Plaza

URL update - 08/31/06 10:25 AM

And... hereunder several mugshots of O.B.A. (taken at various times.)



Edited by Marcel Dehaeseleer
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He was eventually pardoned by President George Bush on 18th July, 1990.

As usual, this doesn't belong here, however I thought I'd add it anyway.

One can seek to understand the historical context associated with the creation of this power/privilege - and mire and confuse it, so that it is acceptable for the elected President to bestow Pardons to criminals [eg Nixon], to cover financial scandal [eg GHW Bush], to halt investigation [eg Ford], etc., but the fact remains that there are issues in the US system of Government with the very precepts upon which it was created - namely representation, accountability and the balance of power.

IMO, as a US Citizen, this power, which has clearly been abused [eg Clinton] and warped from it's original intent, should be rescinded, and remanded instead, not to any other branch of Government, but to referendum. I don't know what the outcome was of the Presidential Pardon Reform Bill - but whatever it was, I'm sure it was insufficient - and the names of those that participated in the 'Reform' is actually quite remarkable.

- lee


Constitutional Topic: Presidential Pardons

The Constitutional Topics pages at the USConstitution.net site are presented to delve deeper into topics than can be provided on the Glossary Page or in the FAQ pages. This Topic Page concerns Presidential Pardons. Pardons are mentioned in the Constitution at Article 2, Section 2.

A reference of particular use in the preparation of the topic was Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest by Kathleen Dean Moore (1989, Oxford University Press).


Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.

So wrote Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist #74, first published on March 25, 1788. The argument was that when the power to pardon is granted, it should be granted only to a few people, or, in the case of the U.S. Constitution, to just one person.

The U.S. Constitution grants the power to pardon to the President. In keeping with the feeling of the day, expressed in Hamilton's words, the power to pardon is virtually unqualified:

The President ... shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Hamilton expanded on why he thought this power was important:

The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel. As the sense of responsibility is always strongest, in proportion as it is undivided, it may be inferred that a single man would be most ready to attend to the force of those motives which might plead for a mitigation of the rigor of the law, and least apt to yield to considerations which were calculated to shelter a fit object of its vengeance. The reflection that the fate of a fellow-creature depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of weakness or connivance, would beget equal circumspection, though of a different kind.

To the framers, the power to pardon, familiar as a power of the King of England, was necessary because the way the law was applied. In England, it was common for minor offenses to carry a sentence of death, with pardon by the King being the only way to avoid the punishment. Judges often applied a death sentence, having no choice, but at the same time applied for a Royal Pardon in the same breath. This is what Hamilton was referring to when he mentioned "necessary severity" and "unfortunate guilt."

President George Washington used the pardon power after the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion on 1794. The Rebellion was seen as one of the first tests of the new government. The government instituted taxes on whiskey, the government raised troops to put down a rebellion against the tax, and the President pardoned the participants in the rebellion who had not already been indicted.

Over time, the power of the President to pardon has evolved quite a bit from the words in the Constitution. The President has the power to completely overturn a criminal conviction. This is a full pardon. The conviction is wiped away as if it never happened. The President can commute a criminal sentence, turning a life sentence into a 10 year sentence or a death penalty into a life sentence. The President can make a pardon conditional, vacating a conviction but leaving paid fines in place, or even making the payment of a fine a prerequisite before a pardon takes effect.

It appears as though a pardon can even be granted against the will of the grantee. Originally, however, a pardon could be refused. In the case of U.S. v Wilson (32 US 150) the Supreme Court stated that a pardon is like a gift that can be refused, upholding the notion in Burdick v U.S. (236 US 79). Then began a reversal of the so-called "acceptance doctrine" in Biddle v Perovich (274 US 480) when it declared that the commutation of a death sentence to a life sentence could not be refused: "A pardon in our days is not a private act of grace from an individual happening to possess power. It is a part of the Constitutional scheme. When granted it is the determination of the ultimate authority that the public welfare will be better served by inflicting less than what the judgment fixed." President Calvin Coolidge, in an unadjudicated case, pardoned a prisoner named Craig, and when he refused the pardon, ordered him removed from the prison and "the doors locked behind him."

A pardon can also be granted to a class of people, such as those involved in the Whiskey Rebellion. In U.S. v Klein (80 US 128), the Supreme Court upheld such blanket or group pardons. President James Carter pardoned all Vietnam draft dodgers.

Pardons can take place before or after a criminal proceeding. President Gerald Ford, for example, pardoned Richard Nixon before Nixon was ever charged with, let alone convicted, of any crime. Such pardons, however, are rare, and general procedures dictate that at least five years of a sentence should be served before a pardon is considered. In the Constitutional Convention of 1787, this issue was brought up and debated quickly, with no restriction on when a pardon might be granted, suggested by James Wilson as a way of obtaining the testimony of accomplices.

There are, however, things that a pardon cannot cover. The first and most obvious is impeachment, since it is specifically excepted in the Constitution. Civil liability cannot be excused - a harm against another can still be considered a harm even if there is no longer any criminal liability. Contempts of court cannot be pardoned, as they are offenses against the dignity of the court, and not necessarily offenses against the law. In the Constitutional Convention, a proposal to except treason was popular, but was defeated when the talk turned to granting the Senate only the power to pardon treason.

There are several reasons for a President to issue a pardon, and they come from all sides of the political world. The pardons of President William Clinton can illustrate some of the various reasons. Clinton pardoned his brother, Roger, for obvious familial reasons. He pardoned a pair of Hasidic Jews convicted of defrauding the government, restoring their civil rights but leaving monetary penalties intact. In a controversial move, he pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich, after application for clemency, in part, from the state of Israel, which had benefitted from Rich's philanthropic gestures. President Ford pardoned President Nixon of any wrong-doing in order to put a close to the Nixon era for good. President James Madison pardoned army deserters in an attempt to refill the military's ranks for the War of 1812. President Abraham Lincoln pardoned all Civil War deserters on the condition that they return to their units to fight. Carter pardoned the Vietnam War draft dodgers to help in the long healing process the nation endured after that war.

Finally, there is no review of pardons. This issue, too, was brought up in the Constitutional Convention, that pardons be granted with the consent of the Senate, but the measure was defeated 8-1. In modern days, there is an office in the Justice Department where pardons are sent, and a Pardons Attorney who reviews and recommends applications. The President may still receive pardons personally, and may grant them at any time. The President need not provide a reason for a pardon, and the courts and the Congress have no legal authority to approve, disapprove, reject, or accept a pardon. Currently, the only way to change the pardon power is by constitutional amendment, though history has shown that the scope of the power can be modified by the courts (as in the acceptance doctrine).


Keys to Clemency Reform: Knowledge, Transparency

Professor P.S. Ruckman, Jr.

Rock Valley College, Rockford, Illinois

You wouldn't think people could spray the House of Representatives with machine gun bullets and be forgotten. A presidential pardon for those who committed such an act would seem even more amazing...and unforgettable. And who could forget such a pardon if the recipients were not in the least bit "sorry," but were proud of what they had done?

Answer: just about everyone! In 1979, President Jimmy Carter pardoned Irving Flores Rodriguez, Lolita Lebron, and Rafael Cancel-Miranda for precisely such an attack in 1954, but hardly anybody now remembers the pardon, the perpetrators, or the deed (the bullet holes, by the way, are still visible in the House Chamber).

And so, as interest in Clinton's "last minute" clemency actions begins to fade into all-too-predictable obscurity, several questions are well-worth asking: Why do clemency "stunts" happen over and over? Why is nothing ever really done about them? Why do we forget? Why do we leap into outrage and shock when history repeats itself, do absolutely nothing about it and move directly to the forgetting? What is the matter with us?

I think the explanation generally lies in our wrong-headed notions of history and the clemency power - and a bizarre (and inexcusable) lack of information about actual pardons.

When fifty-five individuals arrived at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, they were greeted with the Virginia Plan. That plan did not contain the pardoning power. The response, the New Jersey Plan, did not contain such a power. After the Great Compromise, a draft of the Constitution was sent to the Committee on Detail. That draft did not contain the pardoning power. In Committee, however, John Rutledge took it upon himself to pencil the power into the margin of the text. Rutledge's addition appeared in the floor draft, but was only briefly discussed as the Convention was closing. In sum, the notion that the Framers of the Constitution had some well-thought out "intent" with respect to the pardoning power is quite silly. Its presence in our Constitution reeks of manipulation, last-minute consideration, and little in the way of thoughtful deliberation.

Yes, it is true that the Federalist Papers (Hamilton's idea) provide a "defense" of the pardoning power. Hamilton wrote most of those papers and provided the "defense" in them. Important footnote: Hamilton wanted a king in America! Great man that he was, is it really any wonder he was shot?

In the early 1800's the Supreme Court suggested that the proper way to interpret the scope of clemency was to look into the past, to England and Kings - forget the whole Revolution and what-not. The decision was clearly as foolish as Hamilton's desire to actually have a King. At common law, Kings sold pardons without apology and divided the bounty among mistresses. At common law, Kings pardoned people to build up armies and colonize. At common law, Kings pardoned people to celebrate birthdays. The history of clemency, as Professor Daniel Kobil's outstanding writing notes, is a history of abuse.

The Supreme Court has, however, generally upheld the central notion of its ancient decision and Presidents enjoy an impressive winning-streak in litigation featured in that institution. The pardoning power appears to be without limit, beyond regulation. That is, the Court's rulings appear to "look into the past" with - not one - but two eyes closed. For history clearly shows that the King's repeated abuses were greeted with movements to limit the scope of the power and - contrary to impressions one might get from Supreme Court rulings or the typical congressional witness - the King's power was limited. Laws restricted the use of that power.

Can we undo, or redirect, such artful manipulation and the awkwardly skewed utilization of history in our law? Probably not. Can anything be done to limit the President's power? Yes. I think. But I readily admit my theory about all this is itself skewed by the fact that I am a political scientist by trade, not a lawyer or an historian - and I (and they) have a problem.

Put simply, none of us has comprehensive knowledge of who in American history received a Presidential pardon, for what, or when. Suppose, as a test, one wants to find the names of those pardoned by Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Reagan. All of Washington's hand-written clemency warrants are on microfilm these days. All of Lincoln's hand-written warrants are on microfilm. There is no public list for Ronald Reagan, microfilmed or not. What a sorry history of progress! For pardons issued from 1789 to 1893, one has to go to hard-to-find and hard-to-read microfilm. For pardons from 1894 to 1933, one can consult the Annual Reports of the Attorney General - pure heaven after the bloody microfilm - but from 1934 to present there has been no reporting of individual acts of clemency. You read that correctly: "no reporting." Yes, one can attain aggregate (summary) statistics easily enough. Ronald Reagan pardoned 406 people. Fine. Who were those people? When were they pardoned? The first year of his term? The last year? No one knows. Any "last-minute" clemency in that administration? Dead ends everywhere. Does the Department of Justice keep records? Of course! Could it make such a list? Certainly, one supposes. But it stopped doing so in 1934.

Consider all of the excellent, relevant questions that cannot be answered by any congressional witness, any member of Congress, or anyone in the Department of Justice because of this unnecessary black hole. Did Clinton set the record for pardons in one day? Did he set the record for "last-minute" pardons? Are "last-minute" pardons normal? Or, were President Clinton's actions, by fair application of the standards of history, quite ordinary? Former Pardon Attorney Margaret Love has suggested that about 2/3 of Clinton's clemency decisions went through "normal" channels. I found that information quite fascinating, but equally frustrating. Was that distribution normal? Abnormal? Expected? What? I submit that we cannot fairly judge Clinton's actions while wallowing in such an abysmal pool of ignorance.

Thus, I take the position that the pardoning power can be limited in effect, without legislation and constitutional amendment. How? Simple. Make the process more transparent. Report the names of those who apply for, and receive, clemency. Report the exact date of clemency decisions. If Presidents offer explanations for decisions, report them. Report what percentage of clemency recipients go through the "normal" channels. We should not have to wait for congressional hearings to know that information! With today's news media and their persistent concern about law and order, campaign finance and ethics, reporting will discourage the clemency stunts we will most certainly experience again if members of Congress simply sit on their hands and snipe.

March 7, 2001


Floor Statement on the Specter-Leahy Presidential Pardon Reform Bill

Disclosure of Certain Lobbying Activities and Gifts to Presidential Libraries

March 29, 2001

Mr. President, I rise today with the senior Senator from Pennsylvania to introduce legislation aimed at making our government more open and accountable to the American people. We are pleased to be joined by six other members of the Judiciary Committee, Senators Hatch, Kohl, Biden, Feinstein, Sessions, Grassley, and by the new junior Senator from New York, Senator Clinton.

Our bill closes two loopholes in the laws governing what government officials and those who lobby them must disclose. First, it amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require the President to report any gifts or pledges of $5,000 or more to a presidential library during the President’s term in office. Second, it adds to the list of individuals who must register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 those who lobby on behalf of a client for a grant of executive clemency.

This legislation builds on a hearing held by the Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2001, relating to the pardons granted by President Clinton in his last days in office. I said then that we needed to view these pardons as a whole and in their historical and constitutional context, not focus exclusively on one or two controversial cases. In this way, we could learn valuable lessons for the future.

The legislation that we introduce today is a pragmatic and forward-looking response to customs and practices that long predate the last Administration. As I have noted before, the controversies surrounding President Clinton’s pardons are not unique.

Other presidents raised substantial funds for their libraries while still in office. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation opened its doors and began fundraising in February 1985, nearly four years before President Reagan left office. By November 1991, the Foundation had raised between $45 and $65 million. Much of that amount came in large lump sums from big corporations – a source of funding that reportedly dried up when President Reagan returned to private life.

Fund raising for the Bush library also began while the president was still in the White House. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in an article dated May 25, 1997, quoted former Bush aide Jim Cicconi as saying that fund raising for the library remained "low key"and "very discreet" until the president left office in 1993. Established in 1991, while the president was campaigning for reelection, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation initially consisted of three people, including Mr. Cicconi and the president’s son, George W. Bush.

I should add that the donor lists for the Reagan and Bush libraries were not and have never been disclosed to the public, a failure of transparency for which President Clinton – but not his predecessors – has been roundly criticized.

President Clinton was also not the first Chief Executive to grant clemency to friends or family members of major contributors. The very first pardon granted by the elder President Bush went to Armand Hammer, the late chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, who pleaded guilty in 1975 to making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's reelection campaign. Not long before he received his pardon, Hammer gave over $100,000 to the Republican party and another $100,000 to the Bush-Quayle Inaugural Committee. The team of lawyers that won Hammer his pardon included former Reagan Justice Department official, Theodore Olson. While Mr. Olson’s name is well-known now – he was recently nominated to be Solicitor General – it was more important at the time that he was a close friend of C. Boyden Gray, the White House Counsel, and Richard Thornburgh, the Attorney General.

Let me note one more example from the end of the first Bush Administration: In January 1993 – two days before leaving the White House – President Bush pardoned Edwin Cox, Jr., the son of a wealthy Texas oilman. The Cox pardon was lobbied for by Bill Clements, the former governor of Texas, who contacted James Baker, then White House Chief of Staff. Not surprisingly, Mr. Baker mentioned the Cox family largesse in a note to the White House Counsel, referencing Edwin Cox Sr. as a "longtime supporter of the president’s." The Cox family had in fact contributed nearly $200,000 to the Bush family’s political campaigns and to other Republican campaign committees. Shortly after the president pardoned his son, Cox Sr. made a generous contribution to the Bush Presidential Library. His name is now etched in gold on the exterior of the Library alongside the names of other "benefactors" – those contributing between $100,000 and $250,000.

I mention these Bush-era pardons because they demonstrate that pardons which have become controversial and appear improper given the confluence of insider lobbying and financial contributions are not unique to the end of President Clinton’s term in office. The bill we introduce today will bring a greater degree of transparency into the clemency process and so reduce the appearance of impropriety that may otherwise attach to a presidential pardon.

I thank Senator Specter for the thoughtful and even-handed manner in which he conducted the Committee’s hearing last month, and commend him for seeking constructive and bipartisan solutions.

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  • 3 months later...
Orlando Bosch was born in Cuba. An opponent of Fidel Castro, Posada went to live in Miami.



I think you meant to write "...Bosch went to live in Miami." Otherwise, great post.

FWIW, Thomas


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It is my understanding that Bush did not pardon Bosch. Bush ordered that Bosch be released from prison and allowed to live in Florida. Technically I believe that is different from a pardon. I don't think there is any name for what Bush did.

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It is my understanding that Bush did not pardon Bosch. Bush ordered that Bosch be released from prison and allowed to live in Florida. Technically I believe that is different from a pardon. I don't think there is any name for what Bush did.

Perhaps the word is communtation? As in, his sentence was commuted.

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Both James Files and the late Chauncey Holt confirms that they saw Orlando Bosch in Dealey Plaza. Chauncey Holt also confirms that he saw two other Cuban-American CIA Operatives, such as Frank Sturgis and Luis Posada Carriles were also present in Dealey Plaza.


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Guest Stephen Turner
. I don't think there is any name for what Bush did.

There is Ron, its just that Forum rules on the use of profanity pervent us from using it B)

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Both James Files and the late Chauncey Holt confirms that they saw Orlando Bosch in Dealey Plaza. Chauncey Holt also confirms that he saw two other Cuban-American CIA Operatives, such as Frank Sturgis and Luis Posada Carriles were also present in Dealey Plaza.

Did Holt say he saw Bosch and Posada in DP, or did he just say that he had false credentials that were intended for them?

Somewhere there is a list of the people who Holt said he had credentials for. I believe that Bosch and Posada were names on that list, but I've lost the list, or rather the doc that contained it. It is not in Holt's interview, it was in some other doc.

Do you know the doc I'm talking about and where it can be found?

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Both James Files and the late Chauncey Holt confirms that they saw Orlando Bosch in Dealey Plaza. Chauncey Holt also confirms that he saw two other Cuban-American CIA Operatives, such as Frank Sturgis and Luis Posada Carriles were also present in Dealey Plaza.

Did Holt say he saw Bosch and Posada in DP, or did he just say that he had false credentials that were intended for them?

Somewhere there is a list of the people who Holt said he had credentials for. I believe that Bosch and Posada were names on that list, but I've lost the list, or rather the doc that contained it. It is not in Holt's interview, it was in some other doc.

Do you know the doc I'm talking about and where it can be found?

Hello Ron,

In the documentary "Spooks, Hoods and the hidden Elite", taped 8 days before his death he mentioned several characters he saw in Dealey Plaza. Two of them are Bosch and Carriles. Although the tape was never transmitted.


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The doc I'm thinking of was not a transcript. It may have been someone's email on the web. There was a list of several names of people whom Holt had said he had credentials for, he did not say that he saw all these people in person. Some of the names, including those of one or two Italian gangsters, were misspelled (in the doc, though I assume not in the alleged credentials!).

Though I don't buy all of Holt's story, it aggravates me that I lost that list with a lot of names that I now can't remember (except for Bosch and Posada). Somebody out there has it (not necessarily on this forum), because I copied it off of a JFK site on the web.

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Mark, what do you mean when you say "the tape was never transmitted"?

I believe the tape has not yet been released, its contents being asserted secondhand.


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