FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Do Reporters Read?

Less than 3 years ago, Cuban authorities arrested Alan Gross, who had an almost $600,000 contract with DIA.Inc., to carry out a USAID program in Cuba.

At his Havana trial, Gross heard Cuban authorities present his trip reports in which he revealed how he supplied a pre-selected group of mostly Jewish Cubans with sophisticated and illegal technology.

Gross smuggled the parts into Cuba “piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags.” These included “laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment,” wrote Desmond Butler. “The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was… 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.”

With Gross’ sophisticated SIM card the group could also defuse signal tracking. His secrecy was not intended to keep Cuban officials from learning Jewish matzo ball recipes.

The U.S. Agency for International Development funded the operation as part of its “democracy promotion” plan “to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.”

On May 11, 2012, some three months after Butler’s article appeared, State Department Press Briefing officer Victoria Nuland fielded a question.

“Yesterday, Josefina Vidal, a Cuban official …said [on CNN] that they’ve conveyed some kind of offer to the U.S. Government on the release of Alan Gross.  Is there any possibility at all of negotiation on that front?

NULAND: “Go back to an interview Secretary Clinton gave to CNN….  There is no equivalence between …convicted spies — [in the 1990s, Cuban agents infiltrated exile terrorist groups in Miami to stop their terrorism in Cuba. The agents fed their information via Havana to the FBI who after years of using their data arrested them. In 2001, a jury convicted and a judge sentenced them to draconian terms] — in the United States, and… an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place.”

Did she not read Butler’s piece?

“So we are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade.  The continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross is deplorable, it is wrong, and it’s an affront to human decency.  And the Cuban Government needs to do the right thing.”

QUESTION: “Why is it okay to talk about trading with the Taliban but not with the Cubans for a U.S. person that’s been in jail and is in poor health?”

MS. NULAND: “There’s no equivalency in these situations, and the Cuban Government knows that.  This is a matter of a sitting government [the Taliban governed Afghanistan before US troops invaded in 2001] having locked up an assistance worker on no basis whatsoever. …I mean, our view is he did nothing wrong.”

Ignoring facts in Butler’s AP story. the State Department insists Gross “was distributing laptops and standard computer equipment to help the Jewish community access the Internet.”

In fact, however, as La Alborada reported, Gross was establishing an infrastructure for an encrypted satellite-communications system to spread unrest in Cuba and permit US supervisors to build democracy. “Gross as its expert operator, was only a cover-up based on Gross’ being Jewish and an active supporter, in the US, of B’nai B’rith, presentable as a kind of Jewish Santa Claus for Internet-deprived Cubans of his religion.”

Cuba did not arrest Gross for “trying to help fellow Jews share religious and cultural information; he is in jail for being an agent of a foreign country in a program intended to destabilize …the government of Cuba.”

Why do we have a press if government officials don’t read or refer to it? Even reporters ignore it. Wolf Blitzer either faked ignorance or was uninformed when he interviewed Hilary Clinton and Alan Gross.

But Desmond Butler read Gross’ trip reports as did “USAID officials [who] received regular briefings on his progress, according to DAI spokesman Steven O’Connor.”

Butler shows how, in order “to avoid airport scrutiny, Gross enlisted the help of other American Jews to bring in electronic equipment a piece at a time. He instructed his helpers [Jews on religious trips to Cuba] to pack items, some of them banned in Cuba, in carry-on luggage, not checked bags.”

In her May 11 press briefing Nuland “categorically reject[ed] the charges against him, and the fact that he’s been locked up …with no cause” She also forgot to read, Judy Gross’ — his wife  — statement to a TV reporter. “We know now that he [Alan] did break Cuban law. He did not know that until he got to Cuba and was arrested.

Dear Judy,

Please send a copy of your interview to Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama and their press officers. Then, in front of the White House and State Department, hold up the key “Alan-did-break-Cuban-law” sentence on the off chance someone might notice.

Lots of luck. Saul.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens at NCORE in NYC June 1 at the Marquis Marriott, 1535 Broadway. Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail