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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail