Why is AP Using Secret, Encrypted Communications in Cuba, Venezuela?

Friday, August 8, 2014
The AP's charade on USAID's Cuba programs becomes more revealing by the minute.

This afternoon, the AP's Senior Managing Editor posted an "inside look" at how its reporting team "broke an important story about the U.S. government’s secret activities in Cuba."

It even awarded the eight reporters involved with a $500 prize for "best story" of the week.

With all the current crises in the world -- Russia-Ukraine, Israel-Gaza, ISIS-Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. -- things must be pretty bad in the AP's newsroom when a story about a 2009-2010 USAID program gets top billing.

But more importantly, this "inside look" provides us with some revealing insight, irony, irresponsibility and suspended disbelief.

First, the insight:

"Several weeks after that explosive [Cuban Twitter] piece hit the wire, reporter Desmond Butler‘s source gave him a new batch of documents."

As we've previously noted, the source is former CIA analyst and Senate staffer, Fulton Armstrong, which in itself explains the distortions, bias and hyperbole of the end-product.

(Click here to learn more about Fulton Armstrong.)

Then comes the irony:

"[The AP's Venezuela reporter] Hannah Dreier, like everyone else who joined the project, had to learn to use [a secure phone]. She also set up an account to receive encrypted email because communications in Venezuela, like Cuba, are not considered secure."

Why is the AP using secret, encrypted communications in Cuba and Venezuela?

Are they part of some nefarious, covert operation?

In case you missed the irony -- the AP's entire story is based on the assumption that the USAID program in question was some secret, covert operation, due to the prudent security measures taken by the Latin American NGOs involved.

It's also ironic because in the first chapter of the AP's series of attacks on the Cuba programs, it portrayed development worker Alan Gross as some "super-spy" due to the encryption technology he used to help the Cuban people overcome Castro's Internet censors.

Next, the irresponsibility:

"Dreier found four of the Venezuelan travelers, and got the money quote from a woman who acknowledged they were trying to 'stir rebellion.'"

Yet, as the Venezuelan human rights NGO, Renova, has denounced:

"[T]he AP published false testimonies from our members, completely changing the information that was given to them and textually placing words that were never said."

Finally, the suspended disbelief:

"In Cuba, [AP reporters Andrea] Rodriguez and [Peter] Orsi doggedly hunted down the Cuban participants, and Rodriguez persuaded them to speak to AP on camera, no small feat given the backlash they could have faced."

Talk about la-la land.

First, Rodriguez and Orsi asked Castro's International Press Center for permission to travel to Santa Clara.

They probably told their regime interlocutors who they were looking for -- and those "participants" were handed to them on a platter.

One thing is for sure: getting the "participants" on camera was no "feat" all. To the contrary, if they didn't go on camera to denounce the programs, they would have faced serious repercussions.

They may have now even been rewarded with an old Lada or something.