U.S. Terror List 2011: Cuba, seriously?

August 26, 2011

Busy with dealing with Libya, Gadhafi, earthquakes in New York and hurricanes in D.C., the Obama administration still managed to release its 2010 State Department report on countries that sponsor terrorism, the so-called “terrorist countries” list.

On it: Iran, Sudan, Syria and, holding the all-time spot since 1982, Cuba.

Off it: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Now look at the report’s opening graf: “Al-Qa’ida (AQ) remained the preeminent terrorist threat to the United States in 2010. Though the AQ core in Pakistan has become weaker, it retained the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks. Cooperation between AQ and Afghanistan- and Pakistan-based militants was critical to the threat the group posed.”

Seriously?

What kind of credibility can such a report have when its own description of the “preeminent terrorist threat” to this country names two countries not on the list?

And Cuba?

The report’s first mention — in its focus on the Western Hemisphere — is actually laughable: “In July, Venezuelan officials arrested and extradited the Salvadoran Francisco Chavez Abarca in connection with the bombings of Cuban hotels in 1997.”

In other words, Cuba as victim, not perpetrator, of terrorism. Just a tad ironic?

In fact, this is pretty much the nut on Cuba in the whole report:

“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing in 2010, but there was no evidence that it had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and recent media reports indicate some current and former members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Available information suggested that the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members, but there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support. In March, the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of suspected ETA members.”

In other words, Cuba may still have relations with FARC but we’re not sure the extent. It doesn’t look like they’re giving them money or anything else. And while some Basque terrorists continue to live in exile in Cuba, Cuba is cooperating with Spain about them.

“Cuba has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United State. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island.”

Look carefully at the last sentence: the TSA is a U.S. government entity — in other words, Cuba is cooperating with the U.S. on airport security. That sounds like a warmer, fuzzier relationship than we have with our close allies Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And here’s the rest: “Cuba did not pass new counterterrorism legislation in 2010. The Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba. In July, Venezuela extradited Salvadoran national Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca to Cuba for his alleged role in a number of hotel and tourist location bombings in the mid to late 1990s. In December, a Cuban court convicted Chavez Abarca on terrorism charges and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Also in December, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorans, René Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena, who had been convicted of terrorism, and sentenced them both to 30 years.”

In other words, Cuba is prosecuting people who have committed terrorism against the island, much like we in the U.S. prosecute terrorists who have sought to harm us.

“Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.”

Basically, Cuba is busy trying not to sink economically into the sea. Can not attending conferences actually be a basis for being considered a terrorist state?

And lastly: “Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power.”

We can argue all day long about the second part of the sentence but why is this even in the report? Does criticizing the U.S. serve as a basis for being labeled a terrorist? If that’s so, most of the world — including many of our Western European allies — would have to be included.

God knows there’s plenty to bitch about with Cuba — and its inclusion on this list in the past may have been justifiable — but when President Obama and Secretary Clinton release a report such as this, it does nothing but diminish U.S. credibility and demean our status.

Get real: Take Cuba off the damn list. The South Florida vote isn’t gonna come because of this. (Hint: Jobs. And then maybe.)

Add Pakistan, Afghanistan and, if you really wanna get real, throw Saudi Arabia on there.