Opinion

What Senator Patrick Leahy and the Associated Press aren’t telling you about Cuban Twitter

Humberto Fontova Author of The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro

It’s not often that a U.S. government agency gets caught red-handed abiding by its charter and performing its publicly-avowed and legislatively-approved duties. But last week the AP “broke” a long and breathless story from Havana that nailed the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) for just that.

In their own words, “a secret plan aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government,” was courageously exposed by the AP’s intrepid Havana bureau.

Such is the magnitude of the scandal that even as I write, a red-faced and snarling Senator Patrick Leahy is chairing hearings on Capitol Hill, grilling USAID director Rajiv Shah on his agency’s “cockamamie!” plan.

The diabolical cloak and dagger scheme was hatched in 2008 during George Bush’s term, (which may account for Democratic Senator Leahy’s dudgeon) amounted to setting up a “Cuban Twitter” named ZunZuneo (Cuban slang for a hummingbird’s tweet) in order for Cuban youths to text each other without  being snooped on by Castro’s KGB-mentored secret police.

Caught your breath back? Yes, amazingly such a scheme somehow escaped the imaginations of Ian Fleming, John Le Carré, and Tom Clancy.

In sum, a brief  effort was made (lasting from 2008-12, and involving 68,000 of Castro’s hapless subjects)  to allow Cubans (who pre-Castro enjoyed more phones and TVs per-capita than most Europeans)  to communicate with each other in the same manner as do teenagers today in such places as Sudan, Papua New Guinea, and Laos.

Understandably this scheme to facilitate a tiny window of freedom for a tiny fraction of their subjects greatly alarmed Cuba’s communist rulers. After all, it wasn’t easy converting a free and prosperous nation with a higher per-capita income than half of Europe, a flood of immigrants, and the first Mercedes dealership in the Americas into a totalitarian pesthole that repels Haitians and is marked by a glorious rebirth of communications by bongo drum and oxcart transportation.

The news was barely broken by Castro’s U.S. media allies when, as mentioned, Castro’s U.S. legislative allies picked up the signal from Havana and erupted in outrage — not against the KGB-mentored censorship by a terror sponsor mind you. Against the U.S. attempt to foil it. This is not your father’s Cold War.

After all, it took a lot of work to produce a properly cowed and servile plantation population. The Castro family dynasty and their minions aren’t about to sit back and see all their hard work undermined by a handful of American do-gooders.

Senator Patrick Leahy, true to his historic role as U.S. legislative messenger for Castro’s every whim and wish, promptly denounced the program as “dumb, dumb, dumb.” “What in heaven’s name are you thinking?”‘ Leahy complained to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC about the USAID scheme. “This makes no sense at all.”

What really “makes no sense at all” is Senator Leahy’s hypocritical carping  during the hearings and to Andrea Mitchell — who, by the way — is famous for gushing that  “Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly — even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!”

Leahy’s carping figures prominently in all the AP stories and raised a few suspicions among Cuba-watchers regarding the source of the story — Senator Leahy has long been nicknamed “Leaky Leahy,” or “Leahy the Leaker,” for a certain propensity of his to let sensitive information out in a politically selective way.  This propensity reached such a level that in January 1987 Senator Leahy was forced to resign as vice chair of the Intelligence Committee after leaking classified information about the Iran-Contra affair.

The Senator is also an unabashed champion of the very thing he now calls dumb and senseless. Here’s language from a recent appropriations bill sponsored by Leahy himself

SEC. 7072. (a) Of the funds appropriated under titles 8 I and III of this Act, not less than $44,600,000 shall be made available for programs to promote Internet freedom globally: Provided, That such programs shall be prioritized for countries whose governments restrict freedom of expression on the Internet, and that are important to the national interests of the United State.

As far as “restricting freedom of expression on the internet” goes, the Stalinist Castro regime, according to rankings by Freedom House, holds top honors in the Western Hemisphere and 2nd place on planet Earth.

Castro’s fiefdom is also an official “state sponsor of terrorism” whose master spy managed the deepest and most damaging penetration of the U.S. Department of Defense in U.S. history. The spy’s name is Ana Montes, known as “Castro’s Queen Jewel” in the intelligence community. In 2002 she was convicted of the same crimes as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg  and today she is serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison; only a plea bargain spared her  from sizzling in the electric chair like the Rosenberg’s.

And speaking of Cuban spies. In one of their many stories exposing this hideous scandal, the AP consults one of its favorite Cuban sources Josefina Vidal, introducing her as “director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.”  “The ZunZuneo program shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba,” recites Vidal.

It’s galling to be accused of something we no longer have the sense or guts to do, but it’s the AP’s innocuous description of Josefina Vidal that merits attention here, because in fact: Josefina Vidal was booted from the U.S. in 2003 for espionage.

This Stalinist, terror-sponsoring regime sitting 90 miles from U.S. shores also has the blood of countless American citizens on its hands, billions dollars worth of stolen U.S. property in its coffers, and boasts a documented record of craving to nuke us — and not only once 50 years ago.

It seems that if any nation merits the type of USAID attention championed by Senator Leahy, it’s Cuba.

Don’t look for this anywhere in the MSM (especially the Associated Press!) but just three months ago, the Castro regime announced that it would stop laundering funds linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The implication is that for years (and during a long period preceding, during and after the 9/11 atrocity atrocity) they partnered financially with America’s terrorist enemies.

Now there’s a story worthy of a major media expose in the U.S. But we know better by now. Cuba’s communist rulers, after all, don’t bestow Havana press bureaus randomly. And like all “control-freaks” they conduct frequent “performance evaluations” to monitor the toadyism of their U.S. media hirelings.

So regarding their Havana bureaus, the Associated Press and MSNBC must feel very secure.