Despite administration denials, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thinks Obama wants Cuba spy-swap
Posted on Wednesday, 06.04.14
Despite administration denials, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thinks
Obama wants Cuba spy-swap
The Obama administration says it is not negotiating for the release of
Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor arrested in Cuba in 2009 on
alleged spy charges.
BY MARC CAPUTO
After news broke about President Barack Obama’s prisoner swap involving
five Taliban Guantánamo Bay detainees, many wondered about the fate of
another person, this one locked away in Cuba: Alan Gross, the U.S.
government contractor believed by many to have been railroaded on
trumped-up spy charges.
The Obama administration says it is not negotiating for Gross.
Yet U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican Cuban exile
leader, doesn’t think the administration is being honest.
“I seriously believe the administration is considering a swap,”
Ros-Lehtinen said. “The administration has shown itself not to be
faithful to the law and is not to be trusted.”
For instance, Ros-Lehtinen said, the administration two years ago
briefed her and other members of Congress in a closed-door intelligence
briefing on the proposed swap of the five Taliban for U.S. soldier Bowe
Bergdahl, a likely deserter during his tour in Afghanistan
Ros-Lehtinen, House Speaker John Boehner and others objected to
negotiating with terrorists.
“They said: ‘We hear you loud and clear.’ And two years later, what do
we have?” she asked. “A prisoner swap.”
In between, Congress passed a bill that would require notification of
any Gitmo prisoner transfers 30 days in advance. Obama, in signing the
law, issued a signing statement to essentially give him wiggle room to
ignore that under unique circumstances.
Obama, as a candidate in 2007, criticized the prior administration’s use
of signing statements, saying, “I will not use signing statements to
nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”
In the case of Gross, Ros-Lehtinen issued press releases earlier this
week in English and Spanish mischaracterizing news reports about Gross,
who was arrested in Cuba in 2009 after Cuban authorities said he
possessed satellite telephones and other banned communications
equipment. Gross said the equipment was intended for the Jewish
community on the island.
Ros-Lehtinen’s press release said that “news reports” indicated the
administration “may be considering” a swap with Cuba: Gross in return
for the three remaining “Cuban Five” espionage convicts imprisoned in
the United States.
The news reports at the time said Obama wasn’t considering it.
Ros-Lehtinen’s Spanish-language press release was more off the mark,
saying that Obama “is considering” a swap.
Ros-Lehtinen acknowledged the error, but she said it doesn’t matter. She
believes the administration is talking quietly with Cuba.
She pointed to a Tuesday back-and-forth between a reporter and State
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki , who was asked repeatedly about Gross.
In a final question, a reporter asked whether “the administration is
still opposed to any deal with the Cubans for Alan Gross that involves
the three remaining Cuban Five?”
Psaki: “Nothing has changed in that case, no.”
So, in public, Obama and Ros-Lehtinen have the same position.
Ros-Lehtinen said Psaki’s prior “evasions” — before the reporter asked
about “any deal with the Cubans” — suggested that something else was
So who’s right?
“We’ll see in two years,” Ros-Lehtinen said, referring to the end of
Source: Despite administration denials, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
thinks Obama wants Cuba spy-swap – Political Currents – MiamiHerald.com