Saturday, September 18, 2010

Landau and Valdés ask if former U.S. official lied

Earlier this week, Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdés wrote an article questioning former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega's tactics in Cuba. Noriega defended his actions and said he welcomes a debate on the issue.
Noriega helped lead pro-democracy efforts in Cuba during his tenure at the State Department. James Cason, then a career diplomat and chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, assisted Noriega. Landau and Valdés suggested in their Sept. 15 article that Noriega and Cason may have broken the law. I e-mailed Cason to ask if he'd like to comment on the accusation. Cason, a mayoral candidate in Coral Gables, has not responded.
Noriega said he's proud of his efforts to promote democracy in Cuba. And he said he wondered if Landau "watched Hogan's Heroes and cheered against the POWs."
Earlier today, Landau and Valdés sent me their response to Noriega's statement. I am reproducing it in full below:

REPLY TO NORIEGA'S STATEMENT

Saul Landau
Nelson P Valdés

Let's not quibble about whether Roger Noriega and James Cason actually fit the roles of Col. Klink and Sgt Schultz (Hogan's Heroes' villains); not suggesting that Rog and Jim were bribable (like the two comic villains), but rather they either didn't understand what was going on right under their noses or it's something we don't even care to think about.

Noriega claims he and Cason's "efforts were carried out in full compliance with the spirit and letter of the law." But how to square this with what he told the radio interviewer? He said he and Cason "opted for change even if it meant chaos. The Cubans had had too much stability over decades and it's true that the U.S. BUREAUCRACY AND MILITARY PREFERRED STABILITY." (our emphasis of his words) In other words, Rog and Jim acted to promote chaos against the wishes of the US government? Or was the promotion of CHAOS part of an unstated US policy?

Noriega doesn't answer the question.

The law states the United States government seeks PEACEFUL CHANGE in Cuba - words from the Helms Burton Bill (Section 201-6, 1996). If a secret US policy existed to promote chaos in Cuba, perhaps Noriega and Cason can reveal it. As Noriega told the radio interviewer, the US bureaucracy and military opposed creating chaos - the opposite of peacefulness.

Noriega also fails to acknowledge the point of his Klink-Schultz like scheming with Cason: to break the limited relations the two countries had. His radio conversation reveals that he and Cason maneuvered to provoke the Cuban government to oust Cason so Washington could shut down the Cuban Interest Section in Washington.

Last but not least, Noriega and Cason, by their bumbling attempts to circumvent the accepted rules of diplomacy were responsible for the incarceration of 75 Cuban dissidents - to whom they had pledged support.

Did Noriega lie (perish the thought) just mislead - under oath - the US Congress when he stated at a hearing in 2004 that "In Cuba ... our policy is to encourage a RAPID, peaceful transition to democracy..." [1]. Not quite, his actions intended to foster chaos.

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[1] Testimony of Roger F. Noriega, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State, Before the Committee on Foreign Relations United State Senate, March 2, 2004 ]

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