Letter to Obama: Alan Gross not a “hostage”
Courtesy: Tracey Eaton – Along the Malecon
Below is the text of an open letter from Canadian journalist Steven Kimber to President Barack Obama. He is writing a book called, “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.”
Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
This is my first ever letter to an American president. That’s not just because I’m not an American citizen. I’m also a journalist, and journalists are not in the habit of writing letters to heads of governments.
But having spent the past three years researching the case of the Cuban Five, I believe I have an obligation to write to you.
The fact is American journalism hasn’t done a very good job of explaining to the American public the case of the five Cuban intelligence agents who have been incarcerated in the U.S. since 1998. As a result, your administration has mostly managed to avoid dealing with the issue at all or, when forced to comment, responding with the tired, rote rhetoric of the Cold War era.
But the case of the Cuban Five has recently been brought back into the public spotlight because of Alan Gross, the USAID subcontractor currently serving a 15-year jail term in Cuba for bringing satellite communication equipment into that country.
The media reporting of his case has been equally problematic, mostly parroting your own State Department line that Gross is a “humanitarian” who was arrested while trying to help Havana’s tiny Jewish community communicate with the outside world, and is now being held “hostage” by Havana.
You know that’s not true. So, of course, should the media. After all, it was Desmond Butler, a foreign affairs reporter for the Associated Press—a news agency subscribed to by most American media and unlikely ever to be mistaken for a tool of the Cuban regime—who documented the facts of the case.
Alan Gross was “paid a half-million dollars” by USAID, your government’s “democracy promoting” agency, to smuggle sophisticated communications equipment into Cuba. That technology included Internet satellite phones capable of avoiding detection and spy-quality SIM cards “most frequently” used by the Defense Department and the CIA.
The goal of all of this was not to assist Cuba’s Jewish community communicate, as your government has insisted (the Jewish community already had Internet connectivity) but to promote regime change—to overthrow the government of Cuba.
Gross’s own reports make clear he knew he was engaged in “very risky business” and that discovery of what he was up to “will be catastrophic.”
That said, Alan Gross’s family and friends, not surprisingly, want him freed.
Just as the Cubans want the Five—who are considered national heroes in their homeland—freed.
Your government’s unblinking response has been that there is simply “no equivalence.” The Cubans were trained intelligence agents convicted of trying to steal military secrets and conspiracy to murder four innocent civilians killed in the shootdown of two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue aircraft in 1996. By contrast, the American argument goes, Alan Gross was just a humanitarian do-gooder.
We now know Alan Gross was much more than that.
Story continues here: http://alongthemalecon.blogspot.com/2013/01/letter-to-obama-alan-gross-not-hostage.html