The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

April 10, 2014

Was 'Cuban Twitter' program political or not?

(Continued)

Former intelligence officers experienced in covert operations told the AP they could not recall the involvement of USAID in any previous similar intelligence activities. Former CIA Middle East operative Robert Baer called the aid agency's secret operation "frankly, nuts."

Baer questioned the agency's reliance on social media to promote democracy, noting that brief flourishes of Internet activism in Iran and Egypt were quickly snuffed out by authoritarian regimes.

"You can't run a revolution by Twitter," he said.

Draft messages produced for the nascent social media network were overtly political, documents obtained by the AP reveal. The Obama administration has said since last week that it did not send out political messages under the project, which it said was instead built to let Cubans speak freely among themselves.

Some messages sent to Cuban cellphones had sharp political commentary, according to the documents the AP obtained. One early message sent on Aug. 7, 2009, took aim at the former Cuban telecommunications minister, Ramiro Valdes, who once had warned that the Internet was a "wild colt" that "should be tamed."

"Latest: Cuban dies of electrical shock from laptop. 'I told you so,' declares a satisfied Ramiro. 'Those machines are weapons of the enemy!'"

Others were marked in documents as drafts, and it was not immediately clear whether they ultimately were transmitted by the service, which the U.S. government said ceased in 2012 because of a lack of funding.

Shah on Tuesday cited a study by the Government Accountability Office into democracy-promotion programs — including the Cuban Twitter project — that found them to be consistent with the law. But the author of the GAO study told the AP that investigators did not examine the question of whether the programs were covert.

Leahy and other lawmakers said it had been described only in broad terms and they were given no indications of the program's risks, its political nature or the extensive efforts to conceal Washington's involvement.

------

Associated Press writers Andrea Rodriguez in Havana, Lara Jakes and Matthew Lee in Washington, and Desmond Butler in Istanbul contributed to this report.

------

Contact the AP's Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations@ap.org. Follow on Twitter: Gillum at http://twitter.com/jackgillum, Butler at http://twitter.com/desmondbutler.

Text Only
AP National
  • Air travel a leap of faith for passengers WASHINGTON (AP) — Airline travel requires passengers to make a leap of faith, entrusting their lives to pilots, airlines, air traffic controllers and others who regulate air travel. Even after a week of multiple tragedies in worldwide aviation, "Ther

    July 25, 2014

  • Pot may be legal, but homeowner agreements can ban DENVER (AP) — Pot may be legal in some states — but the neighbors don't have to like it. Marijuana and hemp have joined wacky paint colors and unsightly fences as common neighborhood disputes facing homeowners' associations. Though a few HOAs have wi

    July 25, 2014

  • Central American leaders convening at White House WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at

    July 25, 2014

  • Little sunlight as Obama raises super PAC dollars WASHINGTON (AP) — For years President Barack Obama railed against the surge of unlimited spending flowing into American political campaigns, arguing that average voters were being shut out of a secretive system that lets special interests bankroll el

    July 25, 2014

  • Prosecutor: Man faces charges in hospital shooting DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A man who authorities say fatally shot a caseworker at a hospital complex near Philadelphia and was then shot by his psychiatrist remains listed in critical condition. District Attorney Jack Whelan said Richard Plotts would be arrai

    July 25, 2014

  • Social Security's $300M IT project doesn't work WASHINGTON (AP) — The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, but the agency can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will. Six years ago, Social Security embarke

    July 24, 2014

  • JFK returns to old look in new collectors' coins WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President John F. Kennedy is getting his old look back on new collectors' coins. The slain president's profile debuted on the half dollar 50 years ago, and the image was subtly tweaked and sharpened in the 1990s. Now the U.S.

    July 24, 2014

  • FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel. The end of the ban, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets, was effective at 11:45 p

    July 24, 2014

  • Man run over by own truck during road rage GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man in Florida apparently got a dose of road rage karma when police say he was run over by his own pickup truck after getting out to bang on another driver's window. It happened Tuesday evening in Gainesville, Florida. The

    July 24, 2014

  • New Jersey sues over Florida pizza shop logo TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants a Florida pizza shop to pay a big toll for using a logo similar to the Garden State Parkway's green and yellow signs. The agency sued Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Tuesday in federal court over th

    July 24, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National