In Age Of Terror, Why's Obama Rushing Cuba Flights?

Friday, July 15, 2016
By Mike Gonzalez in Forbes:

In Age Of Terror, Why Is Obama Rushing to Open Daily Flights With Cuba?

As the horrific attack in Nice made clear again Thursday night, America is in the midst of a global war against terrorists who seek to exploit whatever weak spots there are. Why, then, is the Obama administration in an unseemly rush to open daily flights with a communist dictatorship that shares intelligence and weapons with our enemies and has no apparent passenger screening capabilities?

In other words, why has the Obama Administration given eight U.S. airlines approval to operate daily flights to Cuba?

Some in Congress have noticed and have taken steps to stop what looks like another mad dash to hang another ball on President Obama’s legacy tree. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) introduced this week a bill that would pretty much halt the flights until Havana agrees to a number of security guarantees—concessions which Raul Castro will be reluctant to make.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has also been vocal on the issue and may soon introduce a Senate version.

The House bill asks that the Transportation Security Administration submit to Congress details about the type of equipment Cuba uses at its screening checkpoints, an assessment of the ability of known terrorists to access Cuba as a gateway and information on how Cuba vets its airport employees, who are all government workers.

Cuba’s communist government last month wouldn’t even let a bipartisan delegation of the House Homeland Security Committee visit the island nation, where they had expected to inspect the security of Cuban airports.

And a few days later Raul Castro’s government announced that it had given the contract for creating the country’s new air traffic control system to Russia’s largest manufacturer of electronic devices. The contract between Russia’s Azimut and Cuba’s military-owned importer Aviaimport, which has an extensive history of deals with Russia, calls for the transfer of technology, information and research in civil aeronautics.

Azimut is a holding of Ruselectronics, which is part of Rostec, a state-owned tech/defense company whose general director is appointed by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Rostec also supplies Kalashnikovs and other military/defense equipment.

In other words, Congress may be doing President Obama a favor in trying to deny him this latest adornment to his legacy. The 110 potential direct flights per day to Cuba would not only give the repressive machine of Cuba’s government additional funds, it could put America’s security at risk.

As retired General Michael Flynn, whom Obama fired from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for political reasons, put it in an op-ed in the New York Post last week:

We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela. Along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organizations such as Iran, al Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State.

Here’s the Cuban government’s recent record, as compiled in the Cuba Country Report 2016 of the group Cuban Exile Quarter:

According to a French intelligence outlet, just two months ago, Cuba agreed to share intelligence and armaments with North Korea, a fellow communist dictatorship that routinely destabilizes its region and the world and has a horrendous human rights record equal to that of the Castros.

Lest we forget, in 2013, Cuba violated UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea by shipping it operational weaponry including Russian-made MIG fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and explosives. A year later, Cuba tried to stop bringing North Korea to the International Criminal Court of Justice for crimes against humanity.

In Venezuela, a fellow socialist country spiraling out of control after years of economic mismanagement and political oppression, the head of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, said in May that Cuban General Raul Acosta Gregorich was heading a contingent of 60 Cuban military officers trying to stop the Castro-friendly ally from toppling.

As for the Middle East, Katko said Tuesday that Homeland Security officials have noted an increase in Cuban passports showing up in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Cuba’s close ties with North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and other anti-social global citizens, combined with the woes at Cuba’s airport, should be enough to hit the pause button on the planned flights.

Lawmakers say that TSA officials have told them privately of their grave misgivings about the level of security at Cuba’s airport. The administration says publicly that TSA has thoroughly scrutinized the airports. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for example told the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday “What I’ve told our people at TSA is I want an assurance that any last point of departure airport from Cuba satisfies our U.S. screening standards, not just international screening standards.” But Katko says that, behind closed doors, TSA officials complain about “mangy street dogs” being used as “canine units” at Cuban airports.

There are better ways to make money for American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines—the companies that the Department of Transportation has told they can start getting ready to operate the routes. Helping the Cuban government’s repressive machine and putting Americans in danger is not a commendable business plan.