Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taking Cuba Off State Sponsor of Terrorism List

My FrontPage magazine article today:

Taking Cuba Off State Sponsor of Terrorism List

By Matthew Vadum

President Obama wielded his pen yesterday to begin the process of removing the longstanding U.S. designation of Communist Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, a move that pushes the U.S. closer to restoring full diplomatic ties with the brutal Caribbean dictatorship.

Obama’s action comes as watchdog group Judicial Watch yesterday claimed [1] that America has a terrorist problem closer to home than Cuba which is 90 miles away from the U.S. coast in Florida.

The group says the Muslim terrorists of Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL) are operating a camp about eight miles from the U.S. border near El Paso, Texas. The base is located in an area called Anapra which is west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another Islamic State cell is located in Puerto Palomas and is targeting Columbus and Deming, N.M., for easy access to the U.S. Sources for the information include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector, according to Judicial Watch.

It is unclear what, if anything, the Obama administration is doing about this.

Meanwhile, in a written message to Congress, Obama formally certified, as required under federal law, that “the government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period,” and “has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”

This is, of course, at odds with reality.

Cuba is a longtime state sponsor of terrorism and has meddled militarily and otherwise in the affairs of its neighbors and in faraway countries such as the African nation of Angola. The State Department labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982, citing “Fidel Castro’s training and arming of communist rebels in Africa and Latin America.” President Reagan ordered an invasion of Grenada after its Marxist dictatorship grew too close to Cuba and he struggled heroically to aid the anticommunist contras in their war against the Cuban-backed Communist regime in Nicaragua.

More recently Cuba has provided support to the Marxist narco-trafficking terrorists of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and has aided Venezuela’s communist dictators. FARC, in turn, reportedly has ties to al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The State Department acknowledged last year that Cuba has long been a haven for members of FARC and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA).

There was no official statement on the White House website heralding the administration’s new policy. There was only a brief statement on Twitter by an underling almost no one in America has heard of because President Obama is way too cool to condescend to speak to the American people or the media about such an important policy shift.

“Put simply, [President Obama] is acting to remove #Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list because Cuba is not a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” Obama’s foreign policy wunderkind Ben Rhodes, tweeted [2] at 3:18 in the afternoon.

But just because Rhodes says it, that doesn’t mean it’s true. The deputy national security adviser and speechwriter to the president, has quite a track record [3].

This fabulist, who has a master’s degree in creative writing from New York University, may have been behind the whitewashing of the Benghazi scandal. That fog of misinformation was apparently calculated to deflect blame away from the Obama administration in the fall of 2012 long enough to get an embattled president with an embarrassing national security record reelected.

Rhodes urged Obama to arm the Islamist terrorists fighting against the dictator of Syria.

He may also be behind the president’s bizarre “fact-sheet” that supposedly details what Iran recently agreed to with respect to its nuclear program.

As Ed Lasky writes [4] at American Thinker:
 “The version Barack Obama has been peddling to Congress and to America is very sharply at variance with the one the Iranians have been presenting as the ‘fact-sheet.’ The American version conveys assurances regarding sanctions, inspections, uranium stockpiles, and enrichment capabilities that the White House has been boasting is a ‘historic’ deal, the ‘best bet’ to stop a nuclear Iran, and the only alternative to war. The Iranians are boasting that none of these assurances are correct, that the White House is engaging in spin and that they ‘won’ in these negotiations.”
Rhodes is credited [5] with writing Obama’s beloved but fanciful June 2009 Cairo speech, a piece of public relations outreach intended to flatter Muslims. In it, Obama declared that government ought to “reflect the will of the people,” a phrase that foreshadowed the administration’s later treatment of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.

Because the United States and Christendom have been so mean to the Muslim world, this breathtaking work of fiction by Rhodes whitewashes the spectacularly cruel, blood-drenched history of Islam and falsely attributes accomplishments such as printing, navigation, and medicine to the Islamic world.

There can be little doubt that the invisible hand of Rhodes has been behind the juggernaut of lies aimed at justifying kissing and making up with the Castro junta.

Armed with dishonest talking points, administration figures have been out in force rationalizing Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with the Cuban regime that turned a friendly, wealthy island paradise into a hostile, impoverished prison camp where political dissent is promptly and viciously crushed. 

They skate over the fact that Cuba, a dilapidated Stalinist state that, thanks to the absence of good paying jobs, serves largely as a seedy sex tourism destination for Europeans, and hardly has an economy at all.

Obama’s decision to throw the Castro brothers a lifeline came after Foggy Bottom bureaucrats suddenly decided after a Cold War and decades of international tension, that Cuba had earned the right to be taken off the list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said that the recommendation:
“reflects the Department’s assessment [of last week] that Cuba meets the criteria established by Congress for rescission [of state sponsor of terrorism status]. While the United States has had, and continues to have, significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these concerns and disagreements fall outside the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
The agency’s review “focused on the narrow questions” of recent or continuing aid to international terrorism “consistent with the statutory standard for rescission.”

“Circumstances have changed since 1982,” Kerry said.

When Cuba was listed in 1982 it was “because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America.” he said. “Our hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago.”

Many lawmakers remain unconvinced of the wisdom of Obama’s move.

Cuban-American Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) say Cuba’s refusal to hand over American fugitives living there ought to be considered an act of international terrorism.

“I think it would be nice if the Cubans sent back the terrorists that they’re harboring who have killed American law enforcement officers,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday. “It might be a nice gesture, but it’s not going to happen.”

Cuba continues to harbor American terrorists such as Assata Shakur and William Morales.

Shakur, previously known as Joanne Chesimard, was found guilty in 1977 of first-degree murder in the 1973 killing of a New Jersey State Trooper. Shakur had been part of a Black Panther spinoff group known as the Black Liberation Army. This armed organization, according to New Jersey State Police, was “a radical left wing terror group that felt justified killing law enforcement officers … This group conducted assaults on police stations and murdered police officers.” No mere foot soldier, Shakur was “the soul of the Black Liberation Army,” according to former assistant FBI director John Miller.

In 1978 Morales, a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a Puerto Rican militant group, lost nine of his fingers when a bomb he was making detonated. He received a sentence of 89 years imprisonment in New York on weapons charges. In 1979 he broke out of New York’s Bellevue Hospital and relocated to Mexico, where he is thought to have worked for a revolutionary organization. He was jailed in Mexico in 1983 following a shootout with police. When his sentence was satisfied in 1998, he was permitted to leave for Cuba where he reportedly still resides.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also weighed in, saying yesterday that the decision “is a terrible one, but not surprising unfortunately.” He continued:
“Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. They harbor fugitives of American justice, including someone who killed a police officer in New Jersey over 30 years ago. It’s also the country that’s helping North Korea evade weapons sanctions by the United Nations. They should have remained on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and I think [this] sends a chilling message to our enemies abroad that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name.”
Rubio, who announced this week he was seeking the presidency, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.

The removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism isn’t quite a done deal and even if it takes effect, various U.S. sanctions will remain in place.

Congress has 45 days to pass legislation to block the removal of the terrorism-related designation. Given the state of Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, don’t count on it. President Obama could then veto any legislation sent to him.

And this won’t be the first time President Obama has helped terrorists.

He aided Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by providing money and moral support. During anti-government unrest that began in Iran in 2009, Obama effectively propped up the terrorism-supporting Islamist regime in Tehran by doing nothing –not even offering words of support to the resistance– to oppose it.

Obama’s snub of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress last month no doubt emboldened anti-Israel terrorist groups.

Obama delights in trading Americans who hate America for foreign terrorists and murderers who also hate America. Not so long ago there was the swap of U.S Army deserter and Haqqani network collaborator Bowe Bergdahl, who abandoned his post in the Afghan theater of war, for five members of the Taliban’s high command.

The Obama administration overthrew Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, a move that ceded Libya to jihadists.

The move to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism is just another day at the office for President Obama.

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