from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Cuba and the Terrorism List

May 29, 2015

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The Obama administration announced today that Cuba comes off the "terrorism list."

Here is some of what it said:

the President in December instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and conclude that review within six months. In April, the Secretary of State completed that review and recommended to the President that Cuba should no longer be designated as a State Sponsors of Terrorism. The President then submitted to Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.

The 45-day Congressional pre-notification period is now complete and we are pleased to note that today the Secretary of State has rescinded Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. The rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission. While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a state sponsor of terrorism designation.

This statement completely ignores the two main objections that have been raised.

First, procedurally, this administration has year after year repeatedly kept Cuba on the list and said it merited being there. What has changed? If Cuba does not deserve to be on the list in 2015, why did it deserve to be there in previous years? Why did Secretary Kerry not say this in 2014, 2013, and so on? Was the administration abusing the statute, and misinforming the American people and Congress?

Second, substantively, I note that the administration statement ignores the fact that Cuba continues to harbor and protect fugitives and terrorists, including the American Joanne Chesimard, convicted of first-degree murder of a New Jersey State Trooper.

In previously designating Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, John Kerry’s Department of State said this:

Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)....The Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States.

Right-- true when said, and true today. So what has changed?  Quite obviously the administration has decided to ignore the criteria it previously considered binding. Safe haven for terrorists and fugitives is apparently no longer a matter of concern to the United States, at least not when it gets in the way of other policy goals--such as a rapprochement with Castro’s Cuba.

More on:

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