Just a few blocks from the White House, in the basement of a black Baptist church, the chief of the Cuban Interests Section plotted with former terrorists and members of the communist Workers World Party this past week to convince President Obama to release communist spies and terrorists from American prisons.
Coming in the wake of freed U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, in a trade for terrorists arranged by the Obama administration, these possible developments cannot be dismissed out of hand.
The conference dramatized how the far-left “progressives,” operating under the direction of Cuba, have calculated that Obama’s last two or so years in office represent the perfect opportunity for their comrades to leave prison with presidential pardons, clemencies, or commutations, and then return to the “struggle,” or “resistance,” in the streets.
The two-day event, the main focus of the “Five Days for the Cuban Five” campaign, was open to the press, enabling this columnist to attend and film the activities of the hard left as they operated under the watchful eyes of José Ramón Cabañas, Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., and his agents. About 150 people attended the event.
The Cuban Interests Section functions as Castro’s embassy, in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, and operates as a front for the Cuban intelligence service, the DGI.
Even the Obama administration has conceded that the “Cuban Five” were members of a Castro spy network.
Before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan was Obama’s solicitor general and submitted a legal brief in the case. She noted in the brief that members of the “Cuban five” were affiliated with the Cuban intelligence service and the “Wasp Network,” whose purpose included penetrating U.S. military facilities and transmitting information about the facilities’ operations and layout to Cuba, and infiltrating Cuban-American groups.
The brief noted that three Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) planes made a scheduled flight over the Florida Straits to search for rafters, and that the flight plans were transmitted to Cuba. “When the planes passed the boundary between Miami and Havana air traffic control, which lies in international airspace, they identified themselves to Havana,” it said. “Within minutes, Cuban fighter jets pursued two of the BTTR planes. The Cuban fighters shot down both planes, killing all four men aboard, three of whom were U.S. citizens. Both planes were in international airspace, heading away from Cuba, when they were shot down. Neither plane had entered Cuban airspace.”
Featured speakers at the “Free the Cuban Five” conference included:
Linda Evans, a Weather Underground terrorist pardoned by President Clinton
Rafael Cancel Miranda, a Puerto Rican terrorist who opened fire on the House of Representatives in 1954, and was pardoned by President Jimmy Carter in 1979
Cindy Sheehan, the former anti-Iraq War activist who just ran unsuccessfully for California governor on the “Peace and Freedom” party ticket
One “Justice for the Cuban Five” banner featured the logos of the Service Employees International Union, the United Steel Workers and the Teamsters.
Unrepentant terrorists Linda Evans and Rafael Cancel Miranda emphasized this opportunity to get their comrades released from prison—most notably Oscar Lopez Rivera, a member of the Cuban-supported Puerto Rican FALN.
Joe Connor, whose father was murdered in an FALN bomb blast in New York, has strongly opposed efforts to get parole for Lopez, and protested the decision by organizers of the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade to honor the convicted terrorist. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito supports freedom for Lopez.
New York City Mayor “Red Bill” de Blasio and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) led the parade.
Interestingly, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, a former “black power” activist, was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and was involved in pardons for members of the FALN and the Weather Underground. As Attorney General, he approved the early release from prison of communist terrorist Marilyn Buck, a member of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army.
FALN terrorist leader William Morales and Black Liberation Army cop-killer Joanne Chesimard are currently living in Cuba, under the protection of the Cuban regime.
Members of the Workers World Party (WWP), a hard-core Marxist-Leninist group known for its devotion to North Korea, organized the Washington, D.C. event on behalf of the Cuban Interests Section. The WWP activists who appeared to be in charge were Cheryl LaBash and Paul Teitelbaum.
Teitelbaum works for the International Action Center, a WWP front, and is also conducting a “U.S. Hands Off Russia and the Ukraine” campaign, arguing against any effort to stop the Russian takeover of its former Soviet republic. He says, “…it’s important to gather and learn about the role of U.S. imperialism in creating the crisis in Ukraine and the relationship between the imperialists and the fascists.”
Washington Post reporter David Montgomery covered the conference in a superficial story hailed by conference organizers. He called it “Rapping and Rallying for the ‘Cuban Five.’”
The Post emphasized the appearance of actor Danny Glover, who “had tears in his eyes as he addressed the audience at Calvary Baptist Church,” and spoke of the need to release the last three of the “Cuban Five” who remain in U.S. prisons.
The rap group known as “Dead Prez” performed on Friday night for the participants, followed by a rally across from the White House on Saturday, and two days of lobbying Congress, concluding on Tuesday of this week.
They were also seeking “justice” for Zimbabwe, ruled by the racist black Marxist Robert Mugabe.
It appears that the Cuban regime believes that rap music is a means by which to reach young blacks in the U.S. with a revolutionary, pro-communist message.
Louis Wolf, a former associate of CIA defector Philip Agee, was on hand, wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. Agee worked with the Cuban and Soviet intelligence services before his death in Havana.
Edward Snowden is now doing to the NSA—also with the help of the Russians—what Agee did to the CIA.
In response to the convictions and imprisonment of the “Cuban Five,” Castro’s dictatorship took American aid worker Alan Gross hostage in 2009 as leverage. and ransom. to force their release. Gross remains in a communist prison today, suffering health problems. A website devoted to his return says he has lost over 100 pounds, he suffers from chronic pain and his mental health is deteriorating.
The Obama administration claims it opposes trading the three remaining members of the “Cuban Five” in U.S. custody for Alan Gross. But the Miami Herald quotes Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) as saying she doesn’t think the administration is being honest. “I seriously believe the administration is considering a swap,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The administration has shown itself not to be faithful to the law and is not to be trusted.”
The release of Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, in exchange for five terrorists, gives the “progressives” great hope.
Indeed, Mary Ann Wright, a former United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, attended the “Free the Cuban Five” event, along with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink. Wright just signed a Code Pink message to supporters expressing support for Bergdahl and opposing critical media coverage of the deal that released him.
On cue, one of the members of the “Cuban Five” spy apparatus, already released from a U.S. federal prison, cited the Bergdahl case in arguing that Alan Gross should be traded for his comrades.
But the Cuban-backed terrorists want even more than the three spies.
In a radio interview, Evans explained their strategy: “We have some opportunities coming up for our federal prisoners, I believe, because of Obama and the fact that it’s going to be his second and last term. And we need to create campaigns and participate in existing campaigns that can really take advantage of that. Some of our political prisoners are in federal custody.”
In addition to Oscar Lopez of the FALN, which has claimed responsibility for over 140 bombings in the U.S., members of the Weather Underground remain in prison. Members of the May 19th Communist Organization, a support apparatus for the Weather Underground, remain on the loose, along with animal rights and “earth rights” activists.
The Marxist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) assisted the Workers World Party in organizing the conference and rally. The late Saul Landau, a longtime fellow at IPS, produced a film before his death, “Cuba Sexual Revolution,” which was played for conference participants.
The film claims that real freedom is coming to Cuba in the form of the regime allowing residents to choose to be homosexuals and get sex-change operations. This effort is being led by Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela, a star of the Landau film.
While Obama has left an American hostage, Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba, his administration granted a visa to Mariela Castro in 2012 to visit the United States to campaign for gay rights.
She used the occasion to endorse Obama for president. “As a citizen of the world, I would like him [Obama] to win,” she said in an interview with CNN during her U.S. tour. She added that Obama “wants to do much more than what he’s been able to do,” in terms of normalizing relations with Cuba. “I believe that Obama needs another opportunity and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart.”
Despite the imprisonment of Alan Gross, Obama has lifted many restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. However, he cannot lift the economic embargo without the acquiescence of Congress.
But pardons, clemencies, and commutations are within his presidential powers.
Danny Glover, one of the conference speakers, and Edward Asner are co-chairs of “Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5,” and have already asked Obama to issue an Executive Clemency order on behalf of the spies.
Another signer, Oliver Stone, recently announced that he will direct a movie about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, now living in Russia.
Not surprisingly, there is also a movement to have Obama give Snowden “a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed…” Former President Carter, who pardoned the Puerto Rican terrorists who opened fire on Congress, says that he would consider a pardon for Snowden if it was up to him.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].