FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Tale of a “Trusting Fool”

by SAUL LANDAU

What did Cuba do to the United States to merit 53 years of castigation?

In 1960, those dirty Caribbean Commies joined the “evil” side in the Cold War – the Soviets, one recalls, offered substantial aid, not threats. But in 1991 the USSR disappeared.

So what? Even without the Soviet façade the obsession remained: overthrow the Cuban government with tactics short of war, and some far worse than lies.

In the 1990s, under the FBI’s nose, in south Florida, Cuban exiles organized and financed terrorist acts in Cuba. They paid Salvadoran hirelings to plant bombs in Havana tourist spots.

In the 1990s Cuba sent agents to infiltrate south Florida terrorist groups. The infiltrators’ information got recycled to the FBI. But in 1998, the FBI busted the Cuban agents, and an intimidated Miami jury convicted them. A judge sentenced the Cuban Five to draconian terms.

By 2001, as Florida Republicans began erasing likely Democratic voters from the registration polls, “democracy” emerged as the official line to replace the Cold War against Cuba.  Mandated by Congress (Helms-Burton), USAID — not the CIA — set out on its Cuba ”regime change” plan.

One AID clandestine operation to subvert Cuba led to the 2009 arrest of Alan Gross, a US citizen contracted by a company that had won a USAID job to help overthrow the Cuban government. This plan called for setting up safe Internet technology for small dissident Jewish groups so they could communicate without Cuban State Security tracking or penetration. God forbid Cuba should learn the secret Matzo ball recipe!

A Cuban State Security agent, however, had located Gross early in his endeavor and other agents followed him as he distributed sophisticated equipment. They noted the people he met, the equipment he delivered and, on his fifth trip, arrested him. Gross got tried and convicted of actions subversive to the Cuban state. In 2010, he received 15 years.

Cries of “innocent,” arose from the State Department and mainstream Jewish groups. “He was only helping Cuban Jews get better Internet access.” For this “humanitarian gesture” he would receive a fee from a government contract of almost $600,000?

In December 2011, Fulton Armstrong, a former Senate staffer and National Security official, published an op-ed that revealed both the stupidity and illegality of Gross’ mission.

“When a covert action run by the CIA goes bad and a clandestine officer gets arrested, the U.S. government works up a strategy for negotiating his release. When a covert operator working for USAID gets arrested, Washington turns up the rhetoric, throws more money at the compromised program, and refuses to talk…to divulge even basic information about the programs.”

The programs, concluded Armstrong, “did not involve our Intelligence Community, but the secrecy surrounding them, the clandestine tradecraft (including the use of advanced encryption technologies) and the deliberate concealment of the U.S. hand, had all the markings of an intelligence covert operation.”

The Gross case has dramatized, Armstrong concluded, USAID’s role “as a covert warrior to undermine anti-U.S. regimes worldwide.” And, he added, “The regime-change focus of the programs is explicit.”

Surprise! Armstrong’s revelations could have been published only in Sanskrit because afterward neither State officials nor mainstream Jewish community leaders changed a note in their “Alan is innocent” arias.

In February, AP reporter Desmond Butler offered more details of the Gross case based on leaked “trip reports” Gross had filed. “Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.”

Butler continued. “Gross said at his trial in Cuba that he was a “trusting fool” who was duped. But his trip reports indicate that he knew his activities were illegal in Cuba and that he worried about the danger, including possible expulsion.

One report quoted a community leader. Gross “made it abundantly clear that we are all ‘playing with fire’.” On another occasion Gross said: “This is very risky business in no uncertain terms.”

Over the past weeks, State Department officials and Gross’ lawyer, ignoring Armstrong’s and Butler’s published pieces, have re-sung the “innocence aria” and complained that Cuba mistreats the ailing Alan.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland claimed she was “extremely concerned” over the state of the “innocent” Gross’ health. “He has degenerative arthritis that has worsened because he is not allowed to walk in his cell.”

Gross’ attorney, Peter J. Kahn, claimed his client was “having difficulty walking and has developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade.”

Cuba sent Gross’ medical records, claimed he was in good health and regretted “the distortions that are being spread” about his health.”

Washington insists that until Cuba frees Gross no bilateral progress is possible. Stalemate! 

The US government has thrown Alan Gross under the proverbial bus. Because, as Armstrong points out, Gross was not a CIA official the US government uses his imprisonment as propaganda against “inhumane” Cuba.

To counter this, we could push to “Free The Six,” Alan and the Cuban Five. Cuba has indicated its willingness to negotiate such reciprocal humanitarian gestures.

To convince Obama, Gross’ family could demonstrate for his freedom at the White House. After all, Alan was carrying out US policy.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP is available on dvd from cinemalibrestore.com. He’s an Institute for Policy Studies Fellow.

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail