The Obama Administration has gone to great lengths to distract from the major security concerns stemming from new commercial flights to Cuba.
At a Congressional hearing last month, it was revealed that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials privately expressed concerns to lawmakers about the security and infrastructure woes at Cuba's airports.
However, when the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives called a hearing to investigate these concerns, The White House immediately stonewalled its efforts.
The Committee had to succumb to subpoena threats in order to get one TSA official to testify.
Last week, the AP traveled to Havana with airline officials to access Cuba's airports. Its investigate report further underscored three major concerns:
1. The Obama Administration is dangerously cutting corners. As the AP reports, "The Department of Transportation on Friday granted American and five other airlines permission to fly to nine Cuban cities. Normally, airlines spend up to a year preparing for new foreign markets. In this case, flights must start within 90 days of the government awarding the route."
This is even more concerning when taking into consideration that Cuba isn't simply "a foreign market." Cuba is not Belize of Fiji -- it's a totalitarian dictatorship that was a state-sponsor of terrorism (until politically unlisted by the Obama Administration); which continues to harbor American hijackers and terrorists as heroes; controls passports and visas for Venezuela's government; traffics visas in Afghanistan; and remains a key ally of some of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations (including Hezbollah) and states (such as Iran and Syria).
See more regarding these security issues here.
2. There will be no independent personnel at Cuba's airports. As the AP reports, "[A]ll the workers are government employees, leading airlines to question if they will have a dedicated staff who can be trained in their policies and computer programs ... Check-in involves one long, snaking line for all U.S. flights, regardless of which airline passengers are flying. The same Cuban government workers process all flights. With the start of scheduled service, the U.S. carriers would prefer their own, dedicated staff — still Cuban government employees — handle check-in."
Again, sacrificing security for legacy, the Obama Administration is allowing these flights to proceed without the presence of any independent U.S. airline personnel or security officials on the ground. The Obama Administration is outsourcing all of the administrative and security functions for these direct flights to the U.S. to the Castro dictatorship.
This is the same Castro dictatorship that -- in addition to the security concerns listed above -- was recently named by the Director of National Intelligence as one of the top counter-intelligence threats to the United States and of which three senior air force officials remain indicted in U.S. federal courts for the murder of Americans.
3. U.S. flights relegated to oldest terminal. As the AP reports, "[a]ll U.S. charters arrive at Terminal 2 where passengers must use stairs to exit planes and then walk or take buses to the terminal. Airlines would prefer to use the more modern Terminal 3, which has eight jet bridges and is currently used by other foreign airlines."
In other words, all of the security, technology and infrastructure woes associated with commercial flights to Cuba are multiplied by the fact that the Castro regime is relegating them to Havana airport's oldest, most inadequate terminal. And if Havana's airport is bad, just imagine Cuba's small, accident-ridden, regional airports -- e.g. Holguin, Santa Clara, Santiago.
To understand the sheer magnitude of the risks entailed, consider the following:
As Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) stressed at last month's hearing, there are currently five direct flights per week to Egypt's Cairo airport, which is infinitely better suited from an infrastructure and security perspective than Havana's. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is proposing 110 direct flights per day to Cuba.
It's a security disaster waiting to happen.