Report: Obama Administration Failed to Debrief American Freed from Cuba

Alan Gross (Brendan Smialowski / Getty)
Brendan Smialowski / Getty

The Obama administration has yet to question American Alan Gross about his lengthy imprisonment in Cuba–six months after he returned home in a prisoner swap that set the stage for full normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations this week, the Daily Beast reports. Though Gross spent more than five years in a Cuban prison, and could potentially provide valuable intelligence on the regime, as well as information about political prisoners, the Obama administration showed no interest.

“The failure to debrief Gross fits into a pattern,” writes the Daily Beast’s James Kirchick. “So determined is the Obama administration to normalize relations with the Castro regime that it resists treating Havana as an adversary.”

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced the re-opening of American and Cuban embassies in the two countries’ respective capitals. He made no mention of political prisoners, nor did he cite any concessions the Cuban regime had made.

In fact, the only time Obama used the terms “imprisoned” and “hostage” referred to U.S. policy: “[W]e don’t have to be imprisoned by the past…’You can’t hold the future of Cuba hostage to what happened in the past.’”

The president also also ignored criticism by Cuban dissidents, many of whom have said they feel abandoned by the fact that the U.S. has provided the Castro brothers with an economic and diplomatic lifeline without winning political concessions.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is Cuban American, said: “It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President’s December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people.”

Gross, who suffered the loss of several teeth in Cuban custody, was a guest at the president’s State of the Union address in January. He told reporters, as he emerged from captivity, that he supports President Obama’s new outreach to the regime.

The Cuba deal comes as the U.S. is pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran. The fact that the Obama administration won virtually no concessions from the Cuban regime whatsoever is a sign, critics say, of an overall posture of weakness in negotiation.


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