A Florida congresswoman has joined five former U.S. diplomats in publicly urging President-elect Donald Trump to rescind President Obama’s recent directive that U.S. intelligence agencies share information with Cuba’s government.
Opponents, meantime, are defending the October 2016 directive.
The provisions on intelligence sharing were part of a 12-page directive Obama issued in October on trade and travel to Cuba. It instructs the U.S. director of national intelligence, the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to cooperate and share information with counterparts in Cuba on drug trafficking, immigration and counterterrorism.
Last week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., sent a letter to Trump asking him to rescind the intelligence-sharing directives, according to the Miami Herald.
Ros-Lehtinen, who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee, told FoxNews.com that such action was urgent.
“Any intelligence sharing with the Castro regime should cease as soon as the new administration takes power,” she said. “Sharing information with an avowed enemy of U.S. harms our national security interests because the Cuban regime has an advanced espionage apparatus that sells our intelligence to our adversaries across the world.”
The Cuban “dictatorship cannot be trusted with any kind of information,” she said, “and instead has developed strong ties with countries like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran who want to use Cuba as a launching pad for their spying capabilities against our nation.”
Ros-Lehtinen’s letter follows a Dec. 22 letter to Trump from five former U.S. diplomats – Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, James Cason, Everett Briggs and Jose Sorzano – that said the Cuban regime, which the U.S. long had included on a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, cannot be trusted and intelligence should not be shared with Havana.
Meanwhile, supporters of Obama’s directive say it is a practical step that merely extends an existing policy on ways to fight terrorism and drug trafficking.
William M. LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University and co-author of “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana,” told FoxNews.com that U.S.-Cuba intelligence sharing is not new and has existed for decades in areas such as immigration and fighting drug trafficking.
“For many years, it was a relatively low level of cooperation, on a case-by-case basis,” LeoGrande said. “If the U.S. Coast Guard spotted a trafficker with a plane or boat, going into Cuban airspace or waters, they’d contact the Cuban Coast Guard and cooperate with them in interdicting, and vice versa.”
Critics of expanded cooperation between the two countries, LeoGrande said, have a broader agenda of dismantling the renewed diplomatic ties.
“They’re overblowing it because they’re opposed to every aspect of normalizing relations,” he said. “There’s really no downside to this [sharing]. One has to trust the intelligence community to decide what things are too sensitive to share, and what things are not.”