For the Record

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 3, 2008 | Go to article overview
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For the Record


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The editorial "The GAO on Cuba" (Dec. 27) criticized a recent GAO report on enforcement of the Cuban embargo which concluded that U.S. border security agencies were directing inordinate time and resources enforcing sanctions on Cuba - at the expense of the war on terrorism and drug trafficking. Apparently unable to challenge the facts revealed by the GAO study, the editorial chose to question my motives in requesting it.

The most disturbing image in the report is well known to every narco-trafficker in Miami: During certain hours each day a handful of flights arrive from Havana. On orders from the U.S. government obsessed by its embargo on Cuba, most of the border patrol officers on duty rush to inspect their passengers. Mostly Americans, 20 percent of these travelers are subjected to a secondary search. Sometimes the agents confiscate Cuban cigars or bottles of rum. More often they find fraudulent travel licenses, purchased mainly by Cuban-Americans willing to violate the law in order to visit their families on the island.

Because of the diminished security force, passengers arriving on other international flights during the same hours are given lesser scrutiny. Many of them foreigners, these individuals are either delayed or passed through, but ultimately only 3 percent of them on average are subject to secondary searches, despite the risk of illegal entry by persons who pose a threat to the country. In Miami, the GAO report clearly shows, impressing hardliners in Florida with strict enforcement of the embargo on Cuba takes precedence over fighting terrorism and drug smuggling.

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