Saturday, January 23, 2016

Legacy of Obama's Cuba Policy: Americans taken hostage, become bargaining chips

The cost in American lives and freedom is rising

Taken hostage in Iran and swapped by Obama Administration for Iranian criminals
The day that President Obama announced the administration's new Cuba policy and drive to normalize diplomatic relations the following observation was made on this blog:
First the news that three spies who had spied on military installations and congressmen on American soil, that had plotted terrorist acts in the United States, and were implicated in the February 24, 1996 murder of three American citizens and one American resident were freed in a swap to return to Cuba sends a terrible message. 
This led to the following prediction being made with regards to the Castro regime's behavior in the future:
Regime hardliners have won, thanks to the Obama Administration's actions today. Kidnapping an American and holding him for ransom for five years has paid off.  Moderate elements within the dictatorship, seeking to transition Cuba into a responsible member of the family of nations, will have to continue to remain silent and wait.
Over the past year there was an escalation in violent repression and a ten fold increase in religious repression in Cuba.  Worse yet, we now have learned that the Cuban government had obtained control of a Hellfire missile in 2014 that somehow ended up in Cuba. Despite repeated requests by the Obama Administration the weapon has not been returned as of today.
One day later on December 18, 2014 in another blog post explained how the behavior of the Obama administration would make American lives less secure:
Unfortunately, the consequences for Cuba and the Americas with these moral compromises by the Obama Administration will be "big and dangerous ones" generating new problems and challenges.  Make no mistake the message to enemies of the United States yesterday was crystal clear: Take an American hostage and hang on to him for years until your demands are met and you'll get what you want. It sets a terrible and dangerous precedent.
2015 and 2016 are shaping up to be difficult years for Americans traveling abroad. Consider the following: Kayla Jean Mueller, an aide worker captured in Northern Syria in 2013 was killed while in captivity on February 6, 2015. She had been repeatedly raped by the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. She is the fourth American to die in ISIS captivity since August 2014.

Kayla Jean Mueller taken hostage by ISIS, raped and killed
 Two American citizens Scott Darden, a 45-year-old working for a New Orleans logistics firm, and Sam Farran, a 54-year-old security consultant from Michigan were taken on March 27, 2015 and held for six months as hostages in Yemen before being released. At the same time as the Obama administration did before with Cuba swapping innocent hostages for convicted criminals he did it again in Iran. Politico reported on January 16, 2016 that:
As part of a prisoner swap with Iran, President Barack Obama granted clemency to seven men of Iranian origin either facing criminal charges in U.S. courts or already serving time in U.S. prison, an American official confirmed Saturday.
The deal led to the release of four Americans being held in Iran: Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian as well as Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, the official said. In a move that was not part of the prisoner deal, the Iranians have also released a fifth American in their custody, student Matthew Trevithick.
 The message remains clear: If the United States is holding criminals that another power wants then all it has to do is take innocent Americans hostage and exchange them. Meanwhile in Iran, Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent and contractor for the CIA who was kidnapped while working in Iran in 2007, and after appearing three years later in a video and then a series of photos made by his captors, he hasn’t been heard from since. The Obama administration has remained silent on his plight.With this new approach criminals, terrorists and intelligence officers are exchanged for innocent American hostages. The latest is a young student taken after a five day trip to North Korea:
A University of Virginia student honored as an “intellectual risk-taker” has been arrested in North Korea, its state-run media said Friday, accusing the American of an unspecified “hostile act” against the state. Otto Frederick Warmbier, 21, was detained Jan. 2 at Pyongyang airport as he prepared to leave after a five-day trip over the New Year’s holiday, said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, the agency that organized the trip. This was four days before North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test, and makes Warmbier the third Westerner known to be held in North Korea — a move that is certain to elevate already-high tensions with Washington.
 There is already speculation that North Korea wants to use the student as a bargaining chip. It has worked before in Cuba, Iran and with the hermit kingdom itself. A bad time to be an American traveling abroad. This is the end result of normalizing relations with abnormal regimes.

Hostage in North Korea: Otto Frederick Warmbier, age 21

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