Commerce Should Play No Role in Cuba's Terrorism Designation

Thursday, April 2, 2015
During a business conference in New York yesterday, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Stefan Selig, stated that Cuba will soon be removed from the state-sponsors of terrorism list.

"That will happen in the near term," Selig said.

Moreover, Selig added, "it should be eliminated from the list because the world has changed since its inclusion and it's inconsistent with President Obama's policy."

On December 17th, President Obama assigned the Secretary of State to review Cuba's designation as a state-sponsor of terrorism based on "law and fact."

Indeed, as we have previously outlined here -- an analysis based on "law and fact" would conclude that Cuba should remain on the terrorism list for its harboring of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and one of the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists; the outstanding indictments against Cuban military officials for the murder of Americans; and Cuba's role in arming, training and advising Venezuelan paramilitary groups.

Moreover, Cuba has been caught twice in the last 18 months illegally trafficking weapons, which gives no credibility to any assurances -- as required by law -- that Castro may purport to make regarding his regime's current and future support for rogue actors.

But the question at hand is -- why is the Commerce Department privy to the review of Cuba's terrorism designation?

According to the law, the review is to be conducted by the State Department, with input by the intelligence community, for a determination to be made by the President.

The Commerce Department is to play no role in such a determination.

Even less so, the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, whose legal purview is to U.S. promote trade and investment.

Undersecretary Selig's comments raise concerns of whether the determination is being influenced by the business community, which sees Cuba's terrorism label as an unpalatable stigma to doing business with Castro's monopolies.

Moreover, it also raises questions of whether the entire review is simply theatrics, for President Obama might have already negotiated the conclusion with General Raul Castro as part of his December 17th deal.

After all, Castro's dictatorship has made it very clear that Cuba's removal from the terrorism list remains a key demand for establishing diplomatic relations.

And, thus far, Obama has done nothing but oblige to the Castro regime's demands.