Documents released by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, hearing a $60 million lawsuit filed by imprisoned USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, describe a broad mission vastly exceeding State Department explanations of his activities.
The plan Gross wrote and submitted to his employer DAI, a federal contractor in Maryland, was conceived, in his words, to “change the status quo” and “hasten a transition to democracy,” using U.S. government funds set aside for “transition-to-democracy initiatives.”
According to a detailed analysis by Tracey Eaton, an investigative journalist, Gross’s plan cited the strategic importance of Cuba’s Jewish community, which he believed could be used as a “secure springboard” to reach others in Cuba, including 30,000 members of the country’s Masonic Lodges.
An infographic included in his plan also cites additional targets: “Youth, women and Afro-Cubans.”
Gross’s plan says U.S.-based humanitarian organizations that take computers and other supplies to Jews in Cuba could be useful in DAI’s democracy project. He didn’t explain in detail what he had in mind, but one possibility is that these groups could be used, perhaps unwittingly, to shuttle equipment to Cuba.
Rather than disclosing the larger purpose of his mission, the State Department has responded to questions from reporters by claiming Mr. Gross was focused only on connecting Cuba’s Jewish community to the Internet.
For example, Victoria Nuland, State Department Spokesperson, told reporters on November 28, 2012, “Alan Gross was given a 15-year prison term simply for the supposed crime of helping the Jewish community of Cuba communicate with the outside world.”
The new documents demonstrate that this is not the case.
“Our organization has visited Mr. Gross in prison on two occasions and we are eager to see him come home,” said Sarah Stephens, executive director of CDA. “But, his words describe regime change activities he had underway, paid for by regime change funds. The U.S. government really should stop repeating ad nauseam a cover story that is untrue, appears aimed at deceiving the U.S. public and avoiding blame for his predicament, and is contradicted by the plan Mr. Gross was putting into effect and the reports he filed to describe it.”
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