Hillary Clinton was right when, a few weeks ago, she accused Russia of breaking into her e-mail server. There is more to the story, however, as Fox News reported last Thursday: “There’s about a 99 percent chance that up to five foreign intelligence agencies may have accessed and taken emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server.”
James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that the “targeting and collection of U.S. political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continue unabated. Russia and China pose the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale.” The general made no specific reference to Secretary Clinton’s e-mail server, or to the presidential race that was under way.
Still, on October 14, the White House announced a new policy directive on Cuba:
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.
That demands an answer from the president or Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, to the questions: Is Cuba one of the five nations given a “99 percent chance”? And did Cuba access Clinton’s e-mails? (Rhodes has been leading the continuing secret negotiations with Cuba’s Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín, son of Cuba’s president, Raul Castro, regarding the continuing rapprochement between the two nations.)
Clinton herself says American intelligence agencies “concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber-attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our elections.” For sure, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is interested in who wins the U.S. presidential election and has a larger agenda than just peeking at candidate Clinton’s e-mails. Putin is looking for classified communications among Clinton, the White House, the National Security Council, and other federal agencies responsible for American foreign and defense policies.
Candidate Clinton talks about Russia, the election, and her e-mails, but says little about Iran, Cuba, China, and North Korea, because to do so would raise many more significant questions about her tenure as secretary of state, and about President Obama’s foreign policy and “legacy.” Are the Kremlin, Tehran, Pyongyang, and Havana to conclude that if elected, she will continue to ignore or downplay pending issues with these countries to protect Obama’s legacy?
While Mrs. Clinton speaks softly or remains silent, America’s enemies are not subtle in their contempt for Washington. In Tehran, even after that nation has received the equivalent of $1.3 billion from the Obama administration, the “Death to America” chants continue; and in Havana, Raul Castro continues to organize anti-American rallies demanding still more concessions from Washington. Cuba’s former president, Fidel Castro (Raul’s brother), has published a column entitled “The Uncertain Destiny of the Human Species,” suggesting that Donald Trump and President Obama should be “awarded the Medal of Mud.”
While Mrs. Clinton speaks softly or remains silent, America’s enemies are not subtle in their contempt for Washington.
Fidel Castro apparently has already forgotten that President Obama removed Cuba from the Department of State’s list of governments that support international terrorism, and that the FBI still offers a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of an American terrorist residing in Havana: Joanne Chesimard, who was sentenced to life in prison for the cold-blooded killing of a New Jersey state trooper; she escaped prison, fled to Cuba, and has been enjoying the Castros’ hospitality for many years. She is not the only person in Cuba on the FBI’s “most wanted” list of fugitives; several dozen are living on the island, protected by the Castro regime.
For his part, President Obama probably doesn’t remember that a U.S. Hellfire missile, sent to Europe in 2014 for a NATO training exercise, inexplicably disappeared and was found in Cuba, as the Wall Street Journal reported. NPR reported that the missile was “originally designed to be launched from helicopters [and] also been used to arm drone aircraft.” It would be surprising if Havana did not share what it has learned about the missile’s technology with its Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean allies.
Does the president remember the North Korean ship intercepted before entering the Panama Canal with warplanes and missiles underneath tons of sugar? Raul Castro’s smuggling effort to Pyongyang was the largest violation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea. It took place while the Obama administration was discussing concessions to Havana.
The alliance between Moscow and Havana is also emblematic. On January 20, 2015, the Viktor Lenovo, a Russian spy ship, docked in Havana’s harbor. The next day a high-level American delegation arrived to continue negotiating the process of “normalizing” U.S. relations with Raul Castro’s regime. The Russian ship left immediately after the American diplomats departed for Washington. On October 7, 2016, the New York Times recounted a speech by Russia’s deputy defense minister, Nikolai A. Pando, to the country’s national parliament that the Putin government is “rethinking the decisions that were made earlier” when, in 2002, Russia closed its spy base at Lourdes, near Havana.
The Obama administration extended a hand of friendship to America’s enemies in Cuba, expecting the Castros to open their iron fists. President Obama and Secretary Clinton went on to “reset” relations with Moscow and give Tehran $1.3 billion. The ayatollah boasts that these funds are not restricted, and the Obama administration agrees. They can be used to support Iran’s allies, including terrorists. Money is fungible indeed, and Tehran recently forgave Cuba’s debt to Iran. During President Obama’s term, Iran has greatly increased its presence and influence in Latin America. It considers itself a world power, thus its nuclear ambitions.
#related#The president’s friendly overtures to decidedly hostile governments have wrought a more dangerous world. They negatively impact American interests and the security of many American allies. When our nation’s foreign policy is reappraised early next year by a new administration, there must be an honest accounting of how many American lives and much of America’s treasure will be required to repair the damage and reverse President Obama’s frightful “legacy.”
Very soon the elections will be over. But if James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, is right, Cuba will remain a cyber threat and its targets will not be limited to presidential campaigns. Beyond the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, Havana’s actions and its alliances with Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang need to be understood in their full dimensions.
— Frank Calzon is the executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C.