The Miami Herald
Castro's 9/11 idea defended
A Cuban official attempted
to clarify Fidel Castro's comment that something
other than a plane hit the Pentagon during
the Sept. 11 attacks.
By Jacqueline Charles. jcharles@MiamiHerald.com.
Posted on Fri, Sep. 14, 2007
The president of Cuba's legislature, trying
to explain recent comments by Fidel Castro
that a ''projectile'' and not a plane slammed
into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, has said
that a more thorough investigation of the
terror attacks would clear up any misconceptions.
Castro, who has not been seen in public
for more than a year since becoming ill
last summer, wrote that there is evidence
that American Airlines Flight 77 did not
fly into the Pentagon six years ago and
that the United States has ''deceived''
the world about what really happened.
Castro's comments were published in an
essay in Granma and read over Cuban state
television on Tuesday -- the sixth anniversary
of the attacks.
"Only a projectile could have created
the geometrically round hole that the alleged
''We were deceived, as were the rest of
the planet's inhabitants,'' Castro wrote.
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation
Room Wednesday night, National Assembly
President Ricardo Alarcón said Castro's
comments were based on assertions that others
have made, including individuals in the
"President Castro was referring to
various allegations by scientists, even
by journalists, that suggest . . . contradictions
between the data that has been published
or known about the incidents.
''The fact is that a full investigation
of that event, as far as I know, didn't
take place,'' Alarcón said from Havana.
Asked by Blitzer about the DNA and other
evidence from the airplane, Alarcón
said "the best answer to that would
be a full investigation and a presentation
of every detail on every individual that
may have been responsibility by acts of
evolution of what happened.''
Blitzer told Alarcón that the 81-year-old
Castro's comments raise questions about
his state of mind.
When he asked Alarcón when was the
last time he saw the ailing leader, Alarcón
answered by saying "the last time I
was in touch with him personally was more
than a week ago.''
Three years ago, a report by the 9/11 Commission
found that an al Qaeda plot orchestrated
the two commercial airplane attacks against
the World Trade Center and a single jetliner
attack against the Pentagon. Another plane
crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers
revolted against al Qaeda hijackers.
Cuban dad's lawyers will call no witnesses
By Carol Marbin Miller,
cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com. Posted on Fri,
Sep. 14, 2007
In a surprising decision that will help
draw to a conclusion the controversial custody
dispute over a 5-year-old Cuban girl, the
attorneys for the girl's father told a judge
Friday morning they will call no witnesses
before resting their case.
Steven Weinger, one of three lawyers for
Cuban farmer Rafael Izquierdo, said the
state Department of Children & Families
has failed to offer sufficient evidence
to prove Izquierdo either neglected or abandoned
Weinger's comments came two days after
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen tossed
out a significant piece of the state's case
against Izquierdo: the contention that he
failed to protect his daughter by allowing
her to emigrate to the United States in
March 2005 with a mother he knew was depressed
and mentally unstable.
The most important argument remaining is
DCF's claim that Izquierdo abandoned his
daughter by allowing her to move to the
United States permanently and by doing little
to reclaim her after she came under the
care of DCF.
The little girl and her older half brother
were sheltered by DCF in December 2005 after
their mother, Elena Pérez, slashed
her wrists with a kitchen knife. The children
have been living the last 18 months with
Joe and Maria Cubas, a Coral Gables foster
family that already has adopted the 13-year-old
DCF and the Guardian-ad-Litem Program,
which is representing the girl's legal interests,
are asking the judge to order that the girl
remain permanently with the Cubas family
-- even if the judge finds that the father
is fit to raise her.
Izquierdo's lawyers are planning to put
into evidence a list of close to 50 phone
calls between Izquierdo and his daughter
and about 43 visits -- all of which were
ordered by Cohen. Most of the visits were
supervised and videotaped by the child's
therapist; a handful were unsupervised overnight
''He showed up for every visit,'' Cohen
said in court Friday morning. "There's
The trial bogged down for much of the morning
in a discussion of the visits, as Guardian-ad-Litem
attorney John O'Sullivan refused to agree
to the truth that the visits occurred. Cohen
became visibly angry, noting she had ordered
the visits and held numerous hearings in
court to discuss what occurred during them.
''I'm not going to have this,'' the judge
said. "This is very disingenuous, and
it isn't right.''
DCF and the guardian's office want to present
rebuttal evidence, they said, that will
show that although Izquierdo had many visits
with his daughter, they don't necessarily
prove he has a meaningful relationship with
The rebuttal testimony, said DCF chief
of staff Jason Dimitris, is meant ''to show
the quality of those contacts.'' As part
of their presentation, he said, the state
will show videos of some of the visits to
show Izquierdo has failed to bond with his
daughter. Dimitris is spearheading the state's
Dimitris said DCF also wants to show that
Izquierdo did not fight hard enough to reclaim
his daughter in phone calls with officials
and friends in Miami who were aware of her
plight. ''We will show how passive the father
was,'' Dimitris said. "One would expect
he would be taking better advantage of those
Weinger countered that, under Florida law,
the zeal with which Izquierdo sought custody
is irrelevant. The father, Weinger said,
must "evince a willful rejection of
being a parent to that child. Your decision
must be based on the standard of rejection
of his child, not on how passive he was.
''The fact is he showed up for 40-something
visits with his daughter,'' Weinger said,
adding there also is no question he was
involved in more than 40 phone calls. "The
issue is not whether he is the most talkative
man in world, or the best father you can
imagine. The issue is whether he willfully
rejected his child.''
Cohen again said the state will have a
very difficult time, given recent Florida
appeals court rulings, proving that Izquierdo
abandoned the girl. To prove that in Florida,
she has said, the state must show he ''willfully
rejected'' his "parental obligations.''
Proving such a failure on the father's
part ''will be extremely, extremely untenable
and difficult,'' Cohen said.
''I've seen the [visit] tapes, and they
don't lay out a case for abandonment,''
The judge also threatened to hold one of
the lawyers involved in the dispute in contempt.
Weinger tried to discuss in open court another
child welfare case involving a Cuban child
-- a matter the judge had brought up privately
with attorneys outside the presence of news
''If you bring it up, I will hold you in
direct criminal contempt, and you will spend
the weekend in jail,'' Cohen told Weinger.