Harder Line on Cuba in Alan Gross Push

After Election, Is Havana Confrontation Best Policy?

Havana Headache: President Obama’s reelection could open the way to talks to free Alan Gross. Are his supporters missing the boat by painting Cuba into a corner, instead of pinning hopes on better U.S. ties with the island nation.
courtesy of gross family
Havana Headache: President Obama’s reelection could open the way to talks to free Alan Gross. Are his supporters missing the boat by painting Cuba into a corner, instead of pinning hopes on better U.S. ties with the island nation.

By Paul Berger

Published November 19, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 5)

On November 16, another lawyer acting on behalf of the Gross family, sued the U.S. government and Development Alternatives Inc, the contractor that sent Gross to Cuba. The suit, seeking $60 million, claimed that DAI and the United States Agency for International Development negligently allowed Gross to make repeated trips to Cuba despite knowing of “specific risks” to his safety.

Armstrong said the lawsuit alone had the potential to undermine Gross’s case.

Gross has consistently insisted that his work in Cuba was an innocent attempt to improve internet access for the island’s tiny Jewish community. But the lawsuit claims USAID and DAI ignored repeated warnings from Gross that his work appeared to be drawing unwanted Cuban attention. It also claims that Gross should have been given counter intelligence training.

“This makes it sound like he was going in to do sensitive operations of a covert nature,” Armstrong said. “It’s not an admission he was doing intelligence…but it plays further into Cuban government hands that what he was doing was an intelligence style operation, [that] he knew he had been detected and that it was wrong.”

The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia by lawyer Scott Gilbert.

A DAI spokesman said the contractor was “disappointed” that the Gross family had filed a lawsuit. “We would like to address the numerous disagreements we have with the content of the complaint,” the spokesman said. “(But) doing so will not advance the cause of bringing Alan home, which remains our highest priority.”

A State Department spokesman referred questions to the Justice Department late on Friday.

The human rights lawyer, Genser, who has led the humanitarian campaign to free Gross since he replaced Peter Kahn in mid-July said he was not a part of the lawsuit and that his work was “focused on securing Alan’s freedom.”

Genser has helped liberate prisoners in some of the world’s most authoritarian countries, including Pakistan, Syria and Nicaragua. He won most of those cases through a nonprofit he founded ten years ago, Freedom Now, that represented Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi before her release from house arrest in 2010 and that continues to represent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.