Cuban-Americans are worried about the appointment of Gregory Craig to the position of White House Counsel — owing, among other things, to his role in the infamous Elian Gonzalez case that resulted in the refugee youngster being forcibly returned to communist Cuba from Miami.
“It looks like there will be a clear change in policy towards Castro’s Cuba given that someone like Craig will be in the White House,” Miguel Perez, a journalism professor and former New York Daily News columnist, told the Wall Street Journal.
Gregory Craig worked for an Washington D.C.’s elite firm, Williams & Connolly, one of America’s priciest firms. That’s where he was “retained” by Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, a doorman at a Cuban hotel. Elian’s freedom-seeking mother drowned in the boat mishap that put Elian into the water off the Florida coast before he was rescued by U.S. authorities.
Craig’s fees were reportedly paid from a mysterious fund set up by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and administered by the National Council of Churches, according to a report in The American Thinker.
In short order, Craig flew to Cuba for an exclusive meeting about the case with none other than “El Lider Maximo” — Dictator Fidel Castro. The lawyer made his point to Castro that he absolutely needed Juan Miguel in the U.S. if he were ever to have a fighting chance to get the boy released to his surviving parent.
According to American Thinker, Castro was cool to the idea of letting the father go since it was feared that he wanted to make his own escape to the U.S. to join his son.
The end result of the Craig-Castro negotiations was that the father was permitted to travel to the U.S. — but always in the company of Castro’s select escorts.
“Juan Miguel was never completely alone,” described one witness to Juan Miguel’s famous and highly scripted interview with CBS anchor Dan Rather at a studio in New York City.
“He never smiled,” the witness continued. “His eyes kept shifting back and forth. It was obvious to me that he was under coercion. He was always surrounded by security agents from the Cuban Interests Section, as they called it. When these agents left him alone for a few seconds, Gregory Craig himself would be hovering over Juan Miguel.”
Just days later, the Cuban-American population, and Americans generally, were horrified to see machine gun-wielding agents of the INS push into the Miami home of Lazaro Gonzalez, a relative. The crying 6-year-old was removed at gunpoint to be returned with his father to Cuba.
Score one in the major victory column for Craig.
But as The Wall Street Journal quotes from a Weekly Standard report, the Castro connection is not all there is of Craig’s involvement with Latin America — an involvement that may not sit well with moderate Hispanics in the U.S.
“He has represented foreign officials accused of war crimes such as former Bolivian Defense Minister Carlos Sánchez-Berzaín and Pedro Miguel González, the president of Panama’s legislature, who is under federal indictment for the murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Zak Hernández Laporte.”
Craig was an aide at the side of Sen. Ted Kennedy when the Massachusetts lawmaker probed alleged abuses committed by the Contra rebels fighting the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
As the Journal pointed out in its coverage, it was later discovered that the prime witnesses — three Miskito Indians — were participating in the hearing at the behest of the Sandinistas.
At that same forum in 1984, another hearing witness, an American priest working inside Nicaragua, was photographed by a U.S. newspaper with a Soviet-made rifle in his hand. The quote in the caption: “To me it was a day of grace the day the Sandinistas took over, and I really mean it.”
Craig, Bill Clinton’s impeachment lawyer, who has also served such clients as would-be Reagan assassinator John Hinckley and accused rapist William Kennedy Smith, is not marching to his desk near the Oval Office without protest.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton recently lashed out: “Not only did Greg Craig defend the worst of the worst of the Clinton scandals but he also defended the violent government raid that delivered Elian Gonzalez back to Castro’s Cuba. In fact, we believe that Greg was working with communist Cuban government during the Elian affair. Greg Craig is the wrong lawyer to serve as White House Counsel in the Obama White House.”
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