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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cheat Sheet - Obama Smarter Than 10 Presidents on Cuba

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December 17, 2014

President Obama opened diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of failed efforts to break the Castro regime. In addition to the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, the U.S. has exchanged three Cuban spies for an unnamed U.S. intelligence agent, report Christopher Dickey and Romina Ruiz-Goiriena. The U.S. will also significantly lift travel and commerce prohibitions and reopen the embassy that has been closed since 1961.


Pope Francis and the Vatican played a significant role in reopening diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. The Vatican not only hosted in-person meetings between Cuban and U.S. officials, but actively played a role in the discussions, according to senior Obama administration officials. The meeting to finalize the reopening of relations was also held at the Vatican this past fall. The Vatican sent a personal letter to President Obama regarding Cuban relations. "That gave us greater impetus and momentum," a senior administration official said. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Vatican wrote, "The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history."


Senior Obama administration officials clarified that the release of Alan Gross was not part of the prisoner swap with Cuba announced Wednesday. Three Cuban spies who had been held in the U.S. for over 15 years were released in exchange for a U.S. intelligence agent who had been held in Cuba for about 20 years, according to adminsitration officials. "Alan Gross was not part of the exchange because he is not an intellgience asset. He was released on humantiarian grounds," said a senior adminsitration official. "We believe Alan was wrongfully imprisoned, and we are overwhelmed with joy he will be reunited with his family."


Guantanamo Bay, CUBA -- U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay were taken aback by the sudden announcement of a reconciliation in U.S-Cuban relations. "Things have been operating as normal here," Kelly Wirfel, a spokeswoman for Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, told The Daily Beast. "Nothing gets discussed with Cuba except administrative issues." While there are monthly meetings between the Naval Station Guantanamo Commander and his Cuban Army counterpart, Wirfel noted there has been "nothing out of the ordinary" in the exchanges.


For decades, Pakistan's generals have treated jihadi groups as assets to use agains India. Chris Albritton reports on how the country's dance with terrorists just backfired and left 132 children dead.

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