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Hillary Never Wanted to Trade Cuban Spies For Gross

Image: Hillary Never Wanted to Trade Cuban Spies For Gross
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 09:44 AM

Potential Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were quick to condemn President Obama’s exchange of three of the imprisoned "Cuban Five" spies for American contractor Alan Gross, held in cramped confinement by the Castro regime for five years for the "crime" of bringing Internet access to a group of elderly Jewish Cubans.

But another widely expected 2016 candidate also considered it wrong to release committed Communists slapped with long jail terms by U.S. courts for committing espionage against America: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post, Time magazine and other mainstream news sources have been quoting from Clinton’s memoir, "Hard Choices," published in the summer, suggesting that she and Obama were of the same mind on Cuba, and that she would have liked to have been part of what looks to be an historic new opening of U.S. relations with the Caribbean island nation.

Clinton herself on Wednesday issued a statement saying, "I support President Obama’s decision to change course on Cuba policy."

Her book also confides that "One of my regrets as Secretary was our failure to bring Alan home," and that she advised Obama to "take another look at our embargo" against the Castro regime.

She also, however, made it clear she believed the Havana demands Obama has now conceded were unacceptable.

She wrote: "[D]espite the direct engagement with Cuban officials and numerous efforts by third parties, the Cubans refused to release him unless the United States released five convicted Cuban spies serving time in prison." The demand constituted "a stone wall from the regime in Havana," according to Hillary Clinton.

Two of the "Cuban Five" were already free, their reduced prison terms completed; the three others were released Wednesday under the agreement between President Obama and Cuban ruler Raul Castro.

They include Cuban spy cell ringleader Gerardo Hernandez, who in 2001 was convicted not only of conspiracy to commit espionage like his partners, but also of first-degree murder in the shooting down of two aircraft of one of the Cuban-American groups the spies infiltrated, Brothers to the Rescue. Four U.S. citizens perished on those planes.

Brothers to the Rescue’s activities including violating Cuban airspace to rescue those seeking escape from Cuba by boat, and to drop leaflets inside Cuba.

In infiltrating U.S. military facilities like Florida’s Key West Naval Air Station, the Cuban spies were able to provide Havana with detailed information made use of when Soviet-manufactured Cuban MiG jets shot the humanitarian group’s planes out of the sky in international airspace as they flew away from Cuba.

The spies’s sentences for delivering classified information to an enemy of the U.S. were severe, with Hernandez getting two life terms to be served consecutively, and the others variously getting life, 19 years and 15 years.

With the Castro government for years hyping the five spies as heroes, even erecting giant wall posters with photos of the faces of each in public places, their release is now sure to be a massive domestic propaganda victory for Cuba.

That is far removed from the approach Hillary Clinton considered best in bringing freedom to Cuba. In her memoir, the ex-first lady and U.S. senator wished "to expose its people to the values, information, and material comforts" of America and other democratic societies, "inspiring and emboldening the Cuban people" against their oppressive government.

The release and return by a U.S. government of five Castro spies that the Communist regime has long hailed as suffering martyrs for La Revolucion, in defiance of the decision of a jury and our criminal courts, sends a very different message to the Cuban people  — that Castro was right for all those years, and a guilt-ridden America wrong.

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Potential GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were quick to condemn President Obama's exchange of three of the imprisoned "Cuban Five" spies for American contractor Alan Gross, but another widely expected 2016 candidate also considered it wrong: Hillary Clinton.
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Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 09:44 AM
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