Judicial Watch Battles Government in New Elian Lawsuit

Three years have passed since Janet Reno ordered and executed the brutal raid of Miami’s "Little Havana" community in search of Elian Gonzalez. Today, little Elian is a nine-year old Cuban boy under the control of a terrorist regime, thanks to back door deals between the Clinton Administration and Castro. Judicial Watch, however, refuses to give up the fight for justice on behalf of Elian¹s Miami relatives, friends and supporters.

On March 13, 2003, JW filed a new lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the 130 peaceful protestors, including the Gonzalez family, who were gassed and beaten by Reno’s stormtroopers during the pre-dawn raid on April 22, 2000.

"Judicial Watch is as committed today is it was three years ago to see that Clinton officials are punished for their Gestapo-like invasion of Little Havana," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Justice will be done in the name of the Cuban Americans who were abused that day."

According to Grover Joseph Reese, a former general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1991 to 1993, Reno’s raid "employed counterterrorist tactics usually used in hostage situations," including the use of "obscenities and of violence against inanimate objects to intimidate and disorient the actual targets."

According to Judicial Watch’s complaint, the tactics crossed the line from cruel to criminal. For example,

* Tony Zumbado, an NBC cameraman inside the Gonzalez family home, said federal agents knocked him to the floor and kicked him in the lower back during the raid. His camera was then slammed down on his stomach while he was held at gunpoint on the floor.

* Hector Abelairas had been among the supporters who had assembled peacefully behind a barricade outside the Gonzalez home when federal agents doused him and other supporters with gas. Agents gassed Mr. Abelairas directly in the face, knocking him to the ground unconscious. He later awoke vomiting.

* When agents searched the house for Elian, they flipped over tables, broke doors and vandalized religious artifacts. When they couldn’t find Elian, they pointed a gun at the chest of Elian’s cousin Marileysis and said, "Give me the [expletive] boy or I’ll shoot." At one point, Elian was heard screaming, "Help me! Help me, Que Pasa, Que Pasa!?" just before he was ripped from the arms of Donato Dalrymple, the man who had saved Elian from drowning in the ocean.

Agents from the INS who carried out the raid showed no remorse after they completed their "mission." In fact, INS Director Robert Wallis said it was the "proudest moment of his life," when he saw a photo of an INS agent standing over the Gonzalez family bodyguard with a gun in his back. Wallis’ admission came during Judicial Watch’s successful efforts in a case on behalf of INS agent Rick Ramirez, who charged the Miami office with anti-Cuban, anti-Hispanic discrimination. Judicial Watch earned a favorable settlement on behalf of Mr. Ramirez.