Is Clinton responsible for NJ cop-killer’s Chesimard’s freedom? The facts and history Reply

By Louis C. Hochman, New Jersey 101.5

Above: Joanne Chesimard was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 2013.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the stage at the Republican National Convention Tuesday prepared to attack.

He presented a seething indictment of former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — holding her to account for everything from Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 200 girls to the bloody civil war in Syria that’s cost more then 400,000 lives.

Fact-checkers have been giving the allegations a mixed rating — the consensus is most of Christie’s statements had at least some truth, but some were missing important context.

For instance: Clinton’s State Department did hold off on naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, but as part of a strategy it hoped would more successfully curb the group’s activities without lending it credibility in the region, and while putting many of its leaders on terror lists. The State Department eventually named Boko Haram a terrorist organization in late 2013, several months after Clinton’s tenure as secretary ended.

But perhaps the most striking allegation for New Jersey residents — that Clinton, in effect, “rewarded” the convicted murderer of a New Jersey State Trooper with safety in Cuba.

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Bill Clinton Says Future of U.S.-Cuban Relations Hinge on Fate of Alan Gross 2

Bill Clinton Says Future of U.S.-Cuban Relations Hinge on Fate of Alan Gross

Bill Clinton Says Future of U.S.-Cuban Relations Hinge on Fate of Alan Gross

Fox News Latino

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton hinted Thursday that any future relations between Washington and Havana hinge on the Cuban government releasing USAID subcontractor Alan Gross from prison.

Speaking with the Miami Herald, Clinton said that his wife and prospective Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, was in favor of ending the 50-plus years long embargo with Cuba.

“I think we would be well on our way to doing it [ending the blockade] if they released Alan Gross,” he said of the contractor who has served five years of a 15-year sentence. “It is really foolish to allow what is clearly a questionable incarceration to imperil the whole future of U.S.-Cuban relations, but that’s not my call to make.”

The White House last week also urged Cuba to release U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence on the Communist-ruled island after being convicted for subversion.

“Five years ago today Alan Gross was arrested for his efforts to help ordinary Cuban citizens have greater access to information through the Internet,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

President Barack Obama’s administration “remains focused on securing Alan’s freedom from a Cuban prison” and officials in Washington are “deeply concerned” about the health of the 65-year-old Gross, Earnest said.

“The Cuban Government’s release of Alan on humanitarian grounds would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba,” the statement concluded.

Gross was arrested in Havana in December 2009 with satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

He traveled to the island for Development Alternatives Inc., a Maryland company acting under a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development to expand Internet access and the flow of information in Cuba.

In his interview with the Miami Herald, Clinton also took on a more open approach to Cuba than he or most other U.S. presidents have taken while in office. He praised the country’s role in responding to the devastation in the wake of Haiti’s massive earthquake and in responding to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Feature continues here: Bill Clinton


“Former” Spy Arturo Lopez-Levy Markets Travel to Cuba in HuffPo 7

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy, now believed to be in his 8th year as a doctorate candidate.....

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy, now believed to be in his 8th year as a doctorate candidate…..

Hypocrisy and The Right to Travel to Cuba

By Arturo Lopez Levy

Political hypocrisy and cynicism are cancers on the body politics. Most people don’t realize the damage they are doing until it is too late. When elected officials set different standards for themselves while advocating policies that limit the constitutional rights of Americans, the credibility of the political system suffers and the political capital of democratic institutions erodes. The case of staffers for Senator Rubio and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen travelling to China on a trip hosted by the Chinese communist party-state is a painful example. For decades, Cuban-American legislators have fiercely opposed travel to Cuba and reprimanded any colleague who went to Cuba or sent staffers on a fact finding mission or to talk with the government. Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen made the issue of not traveling to communist countries and not giving a dime to the coffers of non-democratic regimes a test of fidelity to human rights. Rubio has often said on the Senate that every dollar spent on a trip to a communist country goes directly to fund repression; every dollar except those spent by his staff on their state-sponsored China junket.

It is at such times of exposed hypocrisy, when leaders must take sides and make clear what our democratic principles are. Integrity differentiates those who predicate their anti-Castro policies on violating Americans’ right to travel, while they travel to China, and those who believe that American travelers are-as Hillary Clinton put it- “walking advertisements” for the benefits of an open society and American democracy, in Cuba and in China.

Yet, when hypocrites like Senator Rubio and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen aggressively questioned the morality and logic of the White House’s decisions to restore family travel and expand remittances to Cuba the Obama administration all too often reacted shyly or not at all. Obama’s officials seem to forget the president’s own discourse about the importance of engaging with Cuban civil society and updating a policy conceived before he was even born.

Many Cuban Americans who voted for President Obama twice are disappointed because the president gives too much to pro-embargo politicians and listens too little to those who defend his promises of a new policy based on dialogue and communication with Cuba. After his reelection in 2012, winning a majority of Cuban Americans who supported his travel reforms, Secretary Clinton advised President Obama to “take another look at our embargo. It wasn’t achieving its goals, and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America”. Has he done so?

Feature continues here: HuffPo 

In New Book, Ex-Secretary of State Clinton Says She Urged Obama to End Cuba Embargo 2

obama-clinton-300x159(Atlanta BlackStar) In her new book, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she pushed President Barack Obama to lift or ease the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba because it was no longer useful to American interests or promoting change on the communist island.

In excerpts of the book Hard Choices obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release next week, Clinton writes that the embargo has given communist leaders Fidel and Raul Castro an excuse not to enact democratic reforms. And she says opposition from some in Congress to normalizing relations — “to keep Cuba in a deep freeze” — has hurt both the United States and the Cuban people. She says the 2009 arrest by Cuba of USAID contractor Alan Gross and Havana’s refusal to release him on humanitarian grounds is a “tragedy” for improving ties.

“Since 1960, the United States had maintained an embargo against the island in hopes of squeezing Castro from power, but it only succeeded in giving him a foil to blame for Cuba’s economic woes,” she writes. She says her husband, former President Bill Clinton, tried to improve relations with Cuba in the 1990s, but the Castro government did not respond to the easing in some sanctions. Nonetheless, Obama was determined to continue the effort, she writes.

She says that late in her term in office she urged Obama to reconsider the U.S. embargo. “It wasn’t achieving its goals,” she writes, “and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America. … I thought we should shift the onus onto the Castros to explain why they remained undemocratic and abusive.”

Clinton writes that in the face of “a stone wall” from the Castro regime, she and Obama decided to engage directly with the Cuban people.

“We believed that the best way to bring change to Cuba would be to expose its people to the values, information and material comforts of the outside world,” she says.

The steps that Obama took, including allowing more travel to the island and increasing the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send back to the island, have had a positive effect, she writes.

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John Kerry’s Nomination as Secretary of State Raises Hopes, Fears 1

John Kerry’s nomination as secretary of state raises hopes, fears over Cuba policy

Sen. John Kerry has questioned U.S. pro-democracy spending in Cuba, and endorsed the embargo but favors liberal travel to the island.

By Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@elNuevoHerald,com

Both hopes for and fears of significant changes in Cuba policies during President Barack Obama’s second term heightened Friday with the nomination of Sen. John Kerry as the next U.S. Secretary of State. The Massachusetts Democrat in the past has endorsed the embargo but proposed allowing all travel to the island, including tourist trips, and criticized both Radio/TV Marti and the U.S. government’s pro-democracy programs in Cuba. His nomination to succeed Hillary Clinton is expected to sail through Senate confirmation because Kerry has served in the Senate since 1984 and chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Kerry’s long-telegraphed move to the State Department won applause from backers of the Obama administration’s policy of expanding ties and assistance to the Cuban people while waiting for the government to move toward democracy and human rights. “The president’s positions on Cuba are clear, and he (Kerry) is a good pick to implement them,” said Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat elected to Congress last month. “He’s a thoughtful, experienced foreign policy expert.” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat who is likely to succeed Kerry as chairman of the foreign relations committee, favors strong sanctions on Cuba. He praised Kerry for his knowledge of foreign policy but did not mention his stands on Cuba. “The high-level relationships that he has built with world leaders will allow him to step seamlessly into the position and to ensure that there is no decline in U.S. leadership on important global issues during a transition,” Menendez said. Even Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the pro-sanctions U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, described Kerry as “reasonable and willing to listen to all sides.”

During his first term Obama lifted almost all limits on Cuban-American travel and remittances to the island and reopened educational “people-to-people” visits by all U.S. residents, although tourism remains banned. Further openings were stalled by Cuba’s detention of Alan Gross, a Maryland man serving a15-year sentence in Havana on charges Washington views as spurious. But Kerry’s impending move to the State Department also sparked fears among some Cuban-Americans that he will be too willing to seek accommodations with Havana and other repressive governments around the world. “He comes from a mentality that can tolerate a dictatorship like Cuba’s but cannot tolerate that a (U.S.) person can’t travel to Cuba” because the U.S. government wants to deny tourist dollars to Havana, said Miami radio commentator Ninoska Perez Castellón.

Kerry backed the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, a 2009 bill that would have allowed unrestricted travel to Cuba, arguing that U.S. authorities should not limit the right of private citizens to travel anywhere. The bill was never voted on. The senator also has been critical of the millions of dollars spent on the U.S. government’s Radio/TV Martí, complaining that the stations are badly run and that their biased programming has little or no impact on the island. “After 18 years TV Martí still has no significant audience in Cuba. U.S. civil society programs may have noble objectives, but we need to examine whether we’re achieving them,” he wrote in a 2009 column on Cuba printed in the Tampa Bay Times.
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Clinton Meets Wife of US Aid Worker Jailed in Cuba Reply

(AFP) May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met  with the wife of Alan Gross, an American aid contractor jailed in Cuba on espionage charges, and pledged to keep up efforts to secure his freedom.

“We have used, and continue to use, every appropriate diplomatic channel, publicly and privately, to press for Mr Gross’s release,” said State Department spokesman William Ostick in a statement after Clinton’s talks with Judy Gross.

Describing Gross’s incarceration as “unjust,” it said the United States had urged governments around the world, prominent figures traveling to Cuba, and religious leaders to press for Gross’s release.

“We call on people around the world to raise this issue with the Cuban government, because Mr Gross deserves to come home to be with his family,” the statement added, without giving any further detail about Tuesday’s meeting.

Gross, who is 63, was arrested in December 2009 for distributing laptops and communications equipment to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community under a US State Department contract.

He was found guilty in March 2011 of “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of Cuba and sentenced to 15 years prison.

Gross has always denied the charges against him and said earlier this month that he had lost about 100 pounds in weight since his arrest.

Cuba has indicated that they would consider releasing Gross if the United States frees members of the Cuban Five espionage ring.

Those five men were found guilty in 2001 of trying to infiltrate US military installations in southern Florida and were given long prison terms, ranging from 15 years to life.

Cuba has acknowledged the five were intelligence agents, but says they were gathering information on “terrorist” plots by Cuban expatriates in Florida, not spying on the US government.