It’s not often that a U.S. government agency gets caught red-handed abiding by its charter and performing its publicly-avowed and legislatively-approved duties. But last week the AP "broke" a long and breathless story from Havana that nailed the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) for just that.
In their own words, "a secret plan aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government," was courageously exposed by the AP’s intrepid Havana bureau.
Such is the magnitude of the scandal that a red-faced and snarling Senator Patrick Leahy is now chairing hearings on Capitol Hill where he grills USAID director Rajiv Shah on his agency’s “cockamamie!” plan.
The diabolical cloak and dagger scheme hatched in 2008 during George Bush’s term, (which may account for Democratic Senator Leahy’s dudgeon) amounted to setting up a “Cuban Twitter” named ZunZuneo (Cuban slang for a hummingbird’s tweet) in order for Cuban youths to text each other without snooping by Castro’s KGB-mentored secret police…..
Caught your breath back?....Yes, amazingly such a scheme somehow escaped the imaginations of Ian Fleming, John Le Carre’ and Tom Clancy.
In sum, a brief effort was made (lasting from 2008-12, and involving 68,000 of Castro’s hapless subjects) to allow Cubans (who pre-Castro enjoyed more phones and TVs per-capita than most Europeans) to communicate with each other in the same manner as do teenagers today in such places as Sudan, Papua New Guinea and Laos.
Understandably this scheme to facilitate a tiny window of freedom for a tiny fraction of their subjects greatly alarmed Cuba’s Stalinist rulers. After all, it wasn’t easy converting a free and prosperous nation with a higher per-capita income than half of Europe, a flood of immigrants from same and the first Mercedes dealership in the Americas into a totalitarian pesthole that repels Haitians and features a glorious rebirth of communications by bongo-drum and transport by oxcart.
Well, the news was barely broken by Castro’s U.S. media allies when, as mentioned, Castro’s U.S. legislative allies picked up the signal from Havana and erupted in outrage—not against the KGB-mentored censorship by a terror-sponsor mind you. But against the U.S. attempt to foil it. No. This is not your father’s cold war.
Senator Patrick Leahy, true to his historic role as U.S. legislative messenger for Castro’s every whim and wish, promptly denounced the program as "dumb, dumb, dumb." "What in heaven's name are you thinking?" Leahy complained to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC about the USAID scheme. "This makes no sense at all."
What really “makes no sense at all” is Senator Leahy’s hypocritical carping during the hearings and to Andrea Mitchell--who, by the way-- is famous for gushing that “Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly—even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!”
Leahy’s carping features prominently in all the AP stories and raised a few suspicions among Cuba-watchers regarding the source of the story, because for a certain propensity Senator Leahy has long been nicknamed "Leaky Leahy," or “Leahy the Leaker.” This propensity reached such a level that in January 1987 Senator Leahy was forced to resign as vice chair of the Intelligence Committee after leaking classified information about the Iran-Contra affair.
(For you millennials, “Iran-Contra” was a Reagan administration plan to foil a Castro/Soviet takeover of Nicaragua. So naturally Senator Patrick Leahy sided the communists who came within a hair of nuking us.)
The Senator is also an unabashed champion of the very thing he now calls dumb and senseless. Here's language from a recent Appropriations bill sponsored by Leahy himself: State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill:
SEC. 7072. (a) Of the funds appropriated under titles 8 I and III of this Act, not less than $44,600,000 shall be made available for programs to promote Internet freedom globally: Provided, That such programs shall be prioritized for countries whose governments restrict freedom of expression on the Internet, and that are important to the national interests of the United States.
Well, as far as "restricting freedom of expression on the internet" the Stalinist Castro regime, according to rankings by Freedom House, holds top honors in the Western Hemisphere and 2nd place on planet earth. In fact Senator Leahy specifically sponsors ZunZuneo –type programs for Syria, Belarus, Burma, Bahrain, Sudan and Egypt. Yet Cuba’s ruthless and wholesale internet repression surpasses the internet restrictions by every one of these nations—and often by huge margins.
Given the above "inconsistencies" (let’s call them,) Senator Leahy’s monkeyshines (the snarls! The grimaces! The finger-pointing!) during the recent hearings certainly command the professional respect of many Cuba-watchers, especially the movie and Broadway aficionados.
Castro’s fiefdom is also an official "state sponsor of terrorism" whose master spy managed the deepest and most damaging penetration of the U.S. Department of Defense in U.S. history. The spy’s name is Ana Montes, known as "Castro’s Queen Jewel" in the intelligence community. In 2002 she was convicted of the same crimes as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and today she serves a 25-year sentence in Federal prison, only a plea bargain spared her from sizzling in the electric chair like the Rosenberg’s.
And speaking of Cuban spies. In one of their many stories exposing this hideous scandal, the AP consults one of its favorite Cuban sources Josefina Vidal, introducing her as "director of U.S. affairs at Cuba's Foreign Ministry." "The ZunZuneo program shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba," recites Ms Vidal.
It’s galling to be accused of something we no longer have the sense or guts to do, but it’s the AP’s innocuous description of Josefina Vidal that merits attention here, because in fact: Josefina Vidal was booted from the U.S. in 2003 for espionage.
This Stalinist, terror-sponsoring regime sitting 90 miles from U.S. shores also has the blood of countless American citizens on its hands, billions dollars worth of stolen U.S. property in its coffers and boasts a multi-documented record of craving to nuke us—and not only once and 50 years ago.
So it seems that if any nation merits the type of USAID attention championed by Senator Leahy its Cuba.
Don’t look for this anywhere in the MSM (especially the Associated Press!) but just three months ago the Castro regime announced that it would stop laundering funds linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
You read right. In essence the Castroites answered the famous gotcha question: “when did you stop beating your wife?” In other words, they’re implying that for years (and during a long period preceding, during and after the 9-11 terror–atrocity) they partnered financially with America’s terrorist enemies.
Now here’s a story, it seems to many Cuba watchers, worthy of a major media expose in the U.S. But we know better by now. Cuba’s Stalinist rulers, after all, don’t bestow Havana press bureaus randomly. And like all “control-freaks” they conduct frequent “performance evaluations” to monitor the toadyism of their U.S. media hirelings.
So regarding their Havana bureaus, the Associated Press and MSNBC must feel very secure. And consider Senator Leahy’s Cuba visa gold-plated.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.
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