ZERO TOLERANCE?….Here’s a quandary for the Bush administration: what do you do with a terrorist who happens to be on your side? On Tuesday, immigration officials finally arrested Luis Posada Carriles, a man convicted of bombing a Cuban airliner in 1976 and subsequently accused of numerous other acts of terrorism since he escaped from a Venezuelan jail 20 years ago. Venezuela wants him back, so shortly we’ll know what’s most important to the Bushies: punishing terrorists or thumbing their noses at Hugo Ch?vez.

And what does Florida’s famously righteous Cuban exile community think of this? The LA Times reports:

Luis Martinez-Fernandez, director of Latin American, Caribbean and Latino studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said he thought the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had made violence in service of a cause seem less palatable.

Damian Fernandez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, told the Chicago Tribune that he did not believe that Posada’s detention would spark protests among Cuban exiles in Miami because of the “lack of moral certitude” of Posada’s militant campaign.

“Less palatable”? “Lack of moral certitude”? The guy blew up an airplane. Isn’t punishing that more important than denying a trivial PR victory to Fidel Castro?

UPDATE: Ann Louise Bardach provides some background on Posada Carriles, who slipped into the country in March:

At a safe house and other locations in Aruba [in 1998], I spent three days tape-recording him for a series of articles that ran in the New York Times. The urbane and chatty Posada said that he had decided to speak with me in order to generate publicity for his bombing campaign of Cuba’s tourist industry ? and frighten away tourists. “Castro will never change, never,” Posada said. “Our job is to provide inspiration and explosives to the Cuban people.”

There’s more, of course. In Cuba Confidential, Bardach reminds us that George Bush Sr., at the behest of his son Jeb, intervened to release Posada’s fellow terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency:

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr’s administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.