Connect these dots if you will.
February 21st, 2013, The Boston Globe reports:
High-level US diplomats have concluded that Cuba should no longer be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, raising the prospect that Secretary of State John F. Kerry could remove a major obstacle to restoring relations with the Cold War-era foe, government officials said…“There is a pretty clear case . . . that they don’t really meet the standard anymore,” said a senior administration official with direct knowledge regarding US-Cuba policy who was not authorized to speak publicly. “They have neither the wherewithal nor are they doing much.”
Not even 24 hours later, EFE reports:
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland rejected the suggestion contained in an article published Thursday by The Boston Globe, which said that several top officials and members of Congress had concluded that Cuba should be removed from the list and had conveyed that idea to Secretary of State John Kerry…”I saw that report. Let me say firmly here it is incorrect. This Department has no current plans to remove Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list,” said Nuland at her daily press conference.
For the next three months, not so much as a peep from the State Department as to whether Cuba would or would not remain on the State Sponsors of Terror list. The updated version of the list was to be published on April 30th, 2013.
In the meantime, Cuba finds itself in a bit of an economic pickle after the death of Chavez and decides it needs to make new friends. Less than 24 hours after two American fugitives kidnapped their children and fled to Cuba, the Cuban government turned them in to US authorities. Then, in the wake of the Boston bombing, Josefina Vidal, the director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Division, expressed “the most heartfelt condolences of the people and government of Cuba to the people and government of the United States, particularly those directly affected by this tragedy.”…and, said that Cuba “rejects and condemns unequivocally all acts of terrorism, in any place, under any circumstance, and with whatever motivation.” As the AP reported, “one of the requirements for getting off the [state sponsors of terrorism] list is that countries publicly renounce terrorism.”
All while hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC.
At this point, the odds that Cuba will be removed from the list are looking pretty good. I mean, one would really have to grasp at straws to justify its presence on the list anymore, right?
Well, queue the bushels.
On April 25th, a mere five days before publication of the State sponsors of terror list, in a peculiar display of more-than-convenient timing, WashPo reports:
The Justice Department on Thursday announced the indictment of a former State Department employee for allegedly spying on behalf of Cuba, but it is unable to arrest her because she lives in Sweden, a country that does not extradite citizens accused of espionage…A grand jury in Washington indicted Velazquez in 2004 (!), but the charges remained sealed until Thursday.
On April 28th, The Hill reports that, like clockwork:
…four Cuban-Americans in the House are drafting a joint letter to Secretary of State John Kerry laying out why they think the communist island still meets the criteria established by the 1979 sanctions law. And the Senate’s three Cuban-Americans are also vocally opposed to delisting Cuba, which was first added in 1982.
Then yesterday, the news breaks:
A State Department spokesman said Wednesday that Washington has no plans to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan…The report was supposed to have been released Tuesday, but has been delayed. Officials say it is likely to come out later in May.
Finally today, Fox News reports that the Newark FBI office announced that a whole 40 years after Black Panther Joanne Chesimard killed a cop during a prison escape and fled to Cuba, she is just now being designated a “terrorist”:
Chesimard was serving a life term for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 when she escaped prison. After hiding out in a New Jersey safe house for several years, Chesimard managed to flee in 1979 to Cuba, where she has been living for decades under the name Assata Shakur. “Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist,” Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark division, said at a press conference Thursday. “She absolutely is a threat to America.”
What to make of all this? Will Sweden be added to the terrorism list for harboring Velasquez for 9 years? Are the Black Panthers now considered a domestic terrorist organization? Or have the hardliners taken over the DOJ? Now, now, those are all as ridiculous as Cuba’s continued presence on the list.
My take is that the Administration was getting holy hell from the Sapingo Six led by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Bob Menendez (and their combovered chihuahua Mauricio Claver-Carone) for moving to pull Cuba from the terrorism list. Garcia probably signed on to avoid the “soft on terror” GOP attack ads that would inevitably follow in his battlefield district.
The Obama administration, being the yellabellies they are, and not wanting to look soft on terror after Boston, decided to hold off for now on removing Cuba from the list (hence the delay in publishing the report), unsealing the Velasquez indictment to justify keeping Cuba on the list for the time being.
As for Chesimard, that has Bob Menendez’s name all over it. He probably got the administration to designate her a domestic terrorist to justify keeping Cuba on the terrorism list for years to come. The administration likely agreed, figuring that if the Cubans really want off the list, they’ll extradite Chesimard to the US.
So now it’s up to the Cuban government to move. If they’re smart, they’ll turn over Chesimard. But something tells me they are just as stubborn and hooked on the status-quo as the Sapingo Six.
I’m with Sapingos.