In more stonewalling tactics of keeping information from the American people via their representatives, the Obama administration is keeping tight-lipped about the release of three convicted Cuban spies. A House staffer, who spoke to The Blaze, said that an attorney from the Department of Justice, who met with House committee leaders, told them that “everything is confidential” regarding the details between the White House and the DOJ.
Pete Kasperowicz reports:
That means members have no details about how the administration was able to decide that the release of the spies was in the best national security interest of the United States.
Another source told TheBlaze that the White House is claiming executive privilege, and said one way around that might be to ask if the FBI or other national security agencies recommended their release. In past years, national security agencies have often recommended against a release of a spy, only to be overridden by political officials.
Members of Congress were told that the White House led the negotiations with Cuba, not the State Department. The House aide said that news surprised several members, since past negotiations have been led by State.
“It’s really unprecedented for the White House to lead these negotiations,” the aide said.
USAID contractor Alan Gross was released following the decision and three convicted spies, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labanino, were returned to Cuba.
The White House has said that the release of Gross was a completely separate decision from the Cuban spy swap, but even White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says otherwise.
Following his statement that Gross’ release was not tied to the spy swap, Earnest told ABC’s Jonathan Karl, “The agreement on a spy swap would not have been reached, and was not reached, without the standalone agreement to release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds.”
With that statement, Earnest is clearly saying that Gross was not released because Cuba wanted to do the right thing, but that there was something else behind it, and the timing could not be more telling to imply that it had something to do with the negotiations between the Obama administration and the Castro regime.
Obviously, Congress should be aware of the details of the release. They are the people’s representatives and, in fact, they should have been consulted before a swap ever took place, much like they should have been consulted before Obama released five Islamists for American deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
With the swap, it seems that Obama is set to try and normalize relations with Cuba without the approval of Congress, something that he previously said would require more on the part of Cuba.
Byron York points out that Obama has, once again, abandoned the rhetoric he once promoted when he ran for president in 2008. Then, Senator Obama said Cuba would need to release its political prisoners before the US would normalize its relations with the Communist country.
Obama laid out his proposal in a May 23, 2008 speech in Miami. Noting the “unanswered cries of the political prisoners heard from the jails of Havana,” Obama said his policy toward Cuba “will be guided by one word: libertad.”
“The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners,” Obama said. The value of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Obama went on to explain, is that it “provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps towards democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations.”
Beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners. It was a pretty clear demand. Only after freedom was granted would Obama begin normalizing relations.
Fast forward six and a half years. In an address from the Cabinet Room Wednesday, President Obama announced that he would “begin to normalize relations” with Cuba through “the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years.” But the president did not insist on freedom for all political prisoners, which had once been a requirement for even the first steps toward normalization.
Instead of Obama holding Cuba’s feet to the fire concerning the release of political prisoners, we made a bad trade for three of their spies!
Some might claim that Obama is a bad negotiator in prisoner exchanges, or one could simply say that we believe he is getting exactly what he wants and knows exactly what he is doing in each case.
However, more concerning is not that Obama is doing what he holds to as his ideology, but the impotence of Congress to hold him accountable for his unlawful actions. Work is now underway, just like it was following the 2012 elections, to oust John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The question is, will we get a man that actually knows how to lead and deal with the criminal in the White House or will we get another GOP establishment puppet who will sell the American people out again?