National Security

Obama Ordered Intel Community To Find Ways To ‘Exchange Information’ With Cuba

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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In one of his last directives as president, Barack Obama ordered the intelligence community to explore opportunities to share information with Cuba, despite the communist nation’s persistent counterintelligence threat.

The order was part of a larger directive Obama signed in October, which intended to “normalize” relations with Cuba. It tasked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with finding opportunities to work with the communist regime on mutual security issues. Obama signed the directive despite former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s warning in February 2016 that Cuba still represented a counterintelligence threat, as The Federalist’s Sean Davis noted Tuesday.

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) will support broader United States Government efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, with Intelligence Community elements working to find opportunities for engagement on areas of common interest through which we could exchange information on mutual threats with Cuban counterparts,” said the directive.

It is unclear if this “exchange of information” included intelligence sharing, however, the Associated Press characterized the memo as a “pledge to share intelligence with Cuban state security” in a January report.

Obama later signed a law enforcement memorandum of understanding with Cuba “to deepen law enforcement cooperation and information sharing” days before leaving office in January.

The memo does not specify the sharing of classified materials, but it does call for an “exchange of information” pertaining to “sharing of experiences, good practices and methodologies, among other elements of bilateral interest; and coordinated operations to investigate events related to identified criminal activities.”

Obama’s “normalization” and subsequent push for information sharing with Cuba was met with criticism from some Republicans, yet the former president’s decision was met with little controversy, noted Davis.

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