The Cuban statement also said that Gross’ weight is “normal” and he engages in a “voluntary regimen of systematic physical exercise” that, together with “a balanced diet of his choice,” has eliminated “his previous condition of obesity.”
Gross’ lawyer, Jared Genser, responded today with a complaint that Cuba had released information on his client’s medical condition that should be treated confidentially. (Genser himself had no compunction about releasing last month a report on Gross’ medical condition written by a U.S. doctor who had not examined him.)
Here are stories from AP and the New York Times. Also, an AP article from yesterday on a visit made to Mr. Gross by a U.S. physician who is also a rabbi, another from Global Post, and a ridiculous article by Professor Jaime Suchlicki of the University of Miami.
Several of these articles mention a lawsuit that attorneys for Mr. Gross filed against the U.S. government seeking compensation for his suffering based on the government’s alleged negligence. Today’s Times story includes this:
Scott Gilbert, one of the Gross family’s lawyers, said the case could be especially damaging for the State Department and DAI if the discovery process produces more examples of unqualified and ill-prepared contractors sent to Cuba. He said the suit would draw attention to the American government’s pro-democracy effort, which Mr. Gilbert described as “flawed in conception” and “completely messed up” in execution.
The main complaint in the lawsuit is here (pdf). Some points of interest:
· It sets out very clearly (p.9) that the USAID program derives from the Helms-Burton law and is geared toward changing the political order in Cuba.
· It cites elements of USAID manuals that discuss counterintelligence training (p.11).
· It claims that the U.S. Interests Section and USAID were supposed to be communicating with each other regarding Mr. Gross’ trips (p.19). What I understand from U.S. officials is that at the time of the arrest, U.S. diplomats in Cuba had no idea who he was or what he was doing, and that only after this episode was a mechanism established whereby the State Department would be informed when USAID operatives were going into Cuba.
· Beginning on page 20, it reviews Mr. Gross’ trips to Cuba, noting that in each instance he came home, he warned his employer (DAI, a USAID contractor based in Maryland) about the risks inherent in his activity (perceived by him and the Cubans with whom he was working), those warnings were ignored, he was often urged by DAI to get on with the program, he returned to Cuba, and DAI continued making money from the program.
Of course Mr. Gross was making plenty of money too, and it sort of jumps off the page that the lawsuit assigns responsibility to everyone but Mr. Gross for the trips that he himself made to Cuba, even after perceiving the dangers. It should also be noted that while Mr. Gross was issuing his warnings, he also continued his modus operandi of traveling to Cuba along with American Jewish delegations and having unwitting members of those delegations carry some of his equipment. Not a nice guy.
The lawsuit seeks payment of damages from DAI and the U.S. government, and it is clearly part of a strategy to press the Obama Administration to negotiate for Mr. Gross’ release. In that vein, the lawyer’s threat to use the discovery process to disclose lots if information about USAID’s Cuba activities give the Administration heartburn. As for the contention that the government was negligent, I don’t know if I have ever seen a USAID document about the Cuba program that does not warn of the risks involved in its Cuba operations, and some even state explicitly that the program violates Cuban law.