In the Monday press briefing, the State Department spokesman explains the
He also talks about the recent granting of licenses for sales of agricultural products, saying that licenses for sales of about $250 million have been granted since Hurricane Gustav. The licenses include lumber, which fits in the definition of agricultural products permitted for export. He lumps these exports together with the aid offer, just as Administration spokesmen have done on previous occasions with regard to humanitarian donations.
Regarding the aid, as discussed below, I think it was a good offer that
Regarding the licenses, it’s good that they are proceeding, but I find it hard to grant the Administration credit for simply allowing normal private activities to proceed. The agricultural sales have been routine since 2001. And while the Administration says it is expediting licensing of humanitarian donations, it would make far more sense if Americans were not required to get licenses from two federal agencies (Treasury and Commerce) if they want to make a charitable donation, say, to a church in Cuba.
Above all, this discussion diverts attention from the fact that the Administration has given the back of its hand to dissidents in