Where is the Consistency in the War on Terrorism?
That's the headline of Marcela Sanchez' column today in the Washington Post. There's nothing new here, but like Rigoberta Menchu's New York Times op-ed this week, she gives important play to an otherwise obscured issue. Sanchez dismisses charges that the U.S. was behind the pardon -- saying that Panama's president was right to assume that the four Cubans pardoned would have been tried and executed in Cuba. (Of course, when Europeans fail to extradite accused terrorists to the U.S. for this same reason, it's an outrage, according to U.S. policymakers.) But she also notes that the U.S. -- make that Colin Powell -- had nothing to say on the matter other than that it is an "internal" matter for the Panamanians, and diplomatically upbraids the U.S. government:
But must the United States welcome terrorists as heroes to avert further injustice?
There was room for moral consistency. Washington could always persuade Panama to deny extradition to Cuba without having to now look so conspicuously acquiescent with the pardon. That would have demonstrated Washington's intolerance for terrorists and allowed Panama to prove itself a strong and unquestionable ally in the larger war against terrorism. But U.S. officials made a decision altogether different.