Columnist James Kirchick, in a blistering report for the Daily Beast, writes that, according to an unnamed source, no one ever sat down with Gross to extract any useful information from his captivity, although doing so is standard procedure.
Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009 and charged with crimes against the state after setting up Internet access for the Jewish community there while working as a contractor for USAID.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was freed in December following an agreement by the United States and Cuba to work to renew diplomatic relations.
In his only media interview, Gross told Moment magazine he got monthly visits from an official with the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
“I had my money in an account there, and they would use it to buy vegetables, cigars and things like that for me,” Gross said, adding: “Sometimes a State Department official traveling between Cuba and the United States would bring canned salmon, deodorant or toothpaste.”
But Kirchick reports Gross also met with several congressional delegations, though all the visits were monitored by Cuban officials.
“The most charitable explanation for the U.S. government’s failure to debrief Gross could be sheer incompetence: the bureaucratic left hand assuming that the bureaucratic right hand is doing the job,” Kirchick writes.
Adding to the impression, he writes, is the settlements Gross reached with both his employer and USAID after suing them for negligence.
“But an equally likely rationale for Washington’s decision not to debrief Gross — to glean whatever information it can about the Castro regime, its intelligence apparatus, and its penal system — is that the Obama administration isn’t at all eager to do so,” Kirchick writes.
“So determined is the Obama administration to normalize relations with the Castro regime that it resists treating Havana as an adversary.”
“This administration sees the normalization of relations with Havana as righting a grave, historical wrong perpetrated by the United States against the Cuban revolution and, by contrast, the gathering of intelligence that could be used to assist dissidents on the island and undermine their oppressors as superfluous,” Kirchick writes.
He also accuses President Barack Obama of removing Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors despite the fact that the island is “a Star Wars cantina of violent Cold War-era radicals and a collaborator with the Colombian FARC.”
Jill Zuckman, Gross’ spokesman, and Noel Clay, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment to the Daily Beast. Read more at NEWSMAX.