Among the throng of Clinton regime retreads recruited for the Obama administration we find Gregory Craig. Craig served as Obama's advisor on Latin American during the campaign, and was appointed last week as chief White House Counsel.
The MSM has mentioned Craig's role as Bill Clinton's impeachment lawyer, but mostly has omitted mention of Craig's role as chief facilitator for Fidel Castro's shanghaiing of Elian Gonzalez.
Officially Craig served as attorney for Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. This humble man worked as a hotel doorman in a nation where the average monthly salary is $16. The high-rolling Gregory Craig worked for Washington D.C.'s elite firm, Williams & Connolly, one of America's highest-priced law firms.
Upon accepting the case, Gregory Craig had flown to Cuba for a meeting with Fidel Castro. Craig's remuneration, we learned shortly after his return, came from a "voluntary fund" set up by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and "administered" by the National Council of Churches. The same reporters and pundits, who routinely erupt with snide snorts midway through any statement by a Republican press secretary, reported this item with a straight face.
But then, this media also reports that Castro's Cuba provides free and exquisite health-care. And the explanation of Craig's funding issued from the same source.
In an interview with Tim Russert on June 6, 2000, Gregory Craig explained his motivation for accepting the case: "What I want to do is to set Juan Miguel free. I want the father to make a decision uncoerced from Havana, uncoerced from Miami, uncoerced by the press, independently and freely to make a decision where and how he wants to raise his family. That's all I'm concerned about."
Unfortunately for Mr. Craig we have an eyewitness to his definition of "uncoercion." During the taping of Dan Rather's 60 Minutes interview with Juan Miguel Gonzalez in April 2000,Pedro Porro served as Rather's in-studio translator. Dan would ask the question in English into Porro's earpiece and Porro would translate it into Spanish for Elian's heavily guarded father.
"Juan Miguel was never completely alone," says Pedro Porro. "He never smiled. His eyes kept shifting back and forth. It was obvious to me that he was under coercion. He was always surrounded by security agents from the Cuban Interest Section, as they called it. When these agents left him alone for a few seconds, Gregory Craig himself would be hovering over Juan Miguel."
Yes, Gregory Craig had led the Juan Miguel/Cuban-Security entourage into the studio, then presided over the interview as a movie director. "Most of the questions Dan Rather was asking Elian's father during that 60 Minutes interview were being handed to him by Gregory Craig," says Pedro Porro. "It was obvious that Greg Craig and Dan Rather where on very friendly terms. They were joshing and bantering back and forth, as Juan Miguel sat there petrified. Craig was stage-managing the whole thing. The taping would stop and Craig would walk over to Dan, hand him a little slip of paper, say something into his ear. Then Rather would read straight from the paper."
"At one point Craig stopped the taping almost like a movie director yelling, 'Cut!' I was confused for a moment, says Porro, "until Greg Craig complained that Juan Miguel's answers were not coming across from his translator with "sufficient emotion." "So Dan Rather shut everything down for a while and some of the crew drove to a drama school in New York. They hired a dramatic actor to act as a translator, and brought him back."
Okay roll 'em!
"I probably should have walked out," says Porro. "But I'd been hired by CBS in good faith and I didn't know exactly how the interview would be edited -- how it would come across on the screen. I mighta known, but you never know these things play out until you actually see it."
Midway through watching that "60 Minutes" broadcast, "I felt like throwing up," says Porro. "My stomach was in a knot." His worst fears were confirmed.
A week later Reno's INS maced, kicked, stomped, gun-butted and tear-gassed their way into Lazaro Gonzalez's house. Heavily armed INS agents wrenched a bawling 6-year-old child from his family at machine-gun point, and bundled him off to a Stalinist nation (against his father's true wishes.) They left 102 people injured, some seriously. Many of the injured were ladies who had brandished dangerous weapons. These weapons were rosaries. No "60 Minutes" "investigative report" on that however.
The New York Times' incomparable Thomas Friedman could not contain himself: "Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon ... warmed my heart."
Imagine getting a major TV network to act as unpaid aides, consultants, props and publicists for your case -- and during prime time. To cap it all, Gregory Craig at the time worked for the law firm Williams & Connolly -- that also represented CBS.
As mentioned, upon accepting the case, Gregory Craig had flown to Cuba to confer with "El Lider Maximo" (translates almost exactly to Führer in German). To effectively stage-manage the boy's shanghaiing, Craig explained to Castro, he needed Juan Miguel in the U.S. According to most accounts, Castro balked at this. No plantation owner likes his slaves traveling (unescorted) outside his plantation. Plus, Castro was no doubt privy to Juan Miguel's early communications with his Miami cousins, thanking them profusely and saying he'd be soon make his own escape and join Elian.
So it took a little doing, but Craig finally prevailed -- that Castro's "escorts" would constantly accompany Juan Miguel in the U.S. (as witnessed by Pedro Porro) was probably the gist of the deal with Craig.
So in effect, the man who will serve as chief White House Counsel, once agreed to function as a fully deputized agent for a Stalinist regime's KGB-trained secret police.
Porro's revelations appeared in a documentary by Cuban-American filmmaker Agustin Blazquez titled "The Rats Below." After interviewing Pedro Porro for my book, Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, this writer was asked to confront Craig with the accusations during a radio debate on a show by Accuracy In Media.
"You bet," I replied.
But Craig responded in print that my charges were unsound. Porro, he related, had turned out to be a very poor translator, barely knowing the English language, and obviously didn't understand what was going on.
Porro has lived in the U.S. for 45 years (outside of Miami), earned two college degrees from major U.S. universities and served for years as the U.S. Treasury Department's head architect. True, his profession did not require quite the glibness of Craig's. But he speaks better English, I suspect, than 70% of the native born.
"Funny to hear I was a lousy translator five years after the translation!" laughed Pedro when I conveyed Craig's accusation." CBS, which hired me for the job, complimented me on it and paid the entire fee without complaint."
Needless to say, no debate took place during the Accuracy In Media show. Craig was a no-show.
Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara. visit hfontova.com