Monday, November 30, 2015

Alan Gross interviewed on Sixty Minutes

Alan Gross gave his first interview last night on CBS 60 Minutes. He spoke of his suffering in prison, his 20 years as a contractor installing communication equipment in 54 countries, and his surprise at not being quickly freed by the US Government. The segment also told of the key role played by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont in arranging for the prisoner swap that freed Gross and the effort of Alan's wife Judy, who worked tirelessly to keep the case in the public eye -- losing her house in the process.

I have said that the equipment Alan Gross actually brought to Cuba would have had no political impact if he had succeeded -- it would have been a drop in the bucket and a waste of US resources. As it turned out, it provided Cuba with a propaganda opportunity and a bargaining chip in negotiations with the US. I think Alan Gross agreed with me in his Sixty Minutes interview last night -- he described it as a "cockamamie" program.

That opinion was shared by senator Leahy who considered the effort "stupid" and "a disservice to all the men and women who work so well for our country with USAID around the world."

I share Gross's belief that "access to information is a right for everyone" and am happy to see him home. The best part of the interview for me was to see Gross smiling and relaxed with a sense of humor.

(You can see more background on the Alan Gross case here).

Alan Gross, before, during and near the end of his imprisonment

Alan and Judy Gross when he returned

Gross being greeted by Secretary of State Kerry

Smiling and relaxed on Sixty Minutes

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