The Obama administration on Wednesday ruled out handing over the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting a central demand of Cuban President Raul Castro for restoring normal relations between the two countries.
Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, also said the U.S. would continue transmitting radio and television broadcasts into Cuba that are opposed by Castro’s government. Washington believes that the broadcasts and Guantanamo are not likely to stand in the way of U.S. and Cuban embassies being re-established after a half-century interruption.
However, Raul Castro laid out last week his long-term objectives for the rapprochement, according to the AP.
They do include the U.S. returning the Guantanamo base and prison, lifting the embargo and compensating his country for damages. The U.S. established the naval base in 1903; Cuba’s communist government has sought its return since coming to power in 1959.
The U.S. is hoping to clinch an agreement with Cuba on embassies in the coming months.
An Associated Press-GfK poll found broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed supported full diplomatic relations between the Cold War foes, with only 15 percent opposing. Sixty percent backed the end of the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, with 35 percent for its continuation.
But the views expressed at Wednesday’s government hearing were different than those in the poll. Senior Republicans and Democrats took turns excoriating President Barack Obama for negotiating in secret a December spy swap that also included promises from him and Castro to turn a new page in the U.S.-Cuban relationship.
Dr. Rick Sacra is returning to Liberia after a surviving a battle with the deadly Ebola virus.
Sacra, 52, was a family physician from Massachusetts who survived Ebola. He underwent treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center after contracting the virus while treating patients in Liberia. He was released on Sept. 26.
In a bizarre attempt to rewrite history, the new chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, wrote to President Obama with an odd request: He wants the Dianne Feinstein Senate Intelligence Committee torture report back.
“Mr. Burr sent a letter last week to the White House saying that his Democratic predecessor, Senator Dianne Feinstein, should never have transmitted the entire 6,700-page report to numerous departments and agencies within the executive branch — and requested that all copies of the report be ‘returned immediately,’ according to people who have seen the letter.
“The Intelligence Committee publicly released only the report’s executive summary. But Congress has since changed hands, and the committee is now controlled by Republican lawmakers like Mr. Burr who have long opposed the committee’s detention investigation, which they said was a partisan effort to discredit the C.I.A. and the Bush administration.
It is a bizarre episode in which the right-wing senator is attempting to rewrite history by asking for the torture reports back to supposedly “bury” them.
New York Times:
“Mr. Burr’s unusual letter to Mr. Obama might have been written with an eye toward future Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
“Congress is not subject to such requests, and any success he has in getting the Obama administration to return all copies of the Senate report to the Intelligence Committee could hinder attempts to someday have the report declassified and released publicly.
The Times stated, “A spokeswoman for Mr. Burr did not return a request seeking comment on the letter. A White House spokesman declined to comment on how the Obama administration planned to respond.”
According to the New York Times, the director of the Federation of American Scientists project on government secrecy, Steven Aftergood, said he could recall no analogous case of the Senate’s trying to get the executive branch to return a document.
Last Wednesday, the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee in Utah voted 9-2 to approve legislation that would bring back firing squads for executions.
The bill, which will likely head to the full legislature early next year, would mandate a court hearing prior to an execution, in which a judge would determine whether the state had sufficient drugs to carry out a lethal injection. If the judge ruled that there were insufficient drugs, a firing squad would be mandated.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, State Rep. Paul Ray says the state currently doesn’t use them.