While the United States State Department lists a multitude of requirements for residents of the Nifty Fifty who wish to visit Cuba and this website claims that Washington “…has essentially limited sanctioned travel to journalists, academics, government officials, those with immediate family members living on the island…”, there is one arm of the United States government that was offering free trips to the island nation just south of Florida.
That arm is the Department of Defense.
Last month, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) issued a press advisory that the American military was allocating seats on chartered aircraft for a trip starting from the Old Line State of Maryland to the beautiful sunny climes of Guantanamo Bay. To be more specific, travel terminates at the United States Naval Station there.
The reason for this not-quite-all-expenses-paid journey to Cuba is to watch the military commissions for Abd al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed Abdu Al-Nashiri, scheduled for January 15-17, and for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (and four others), scheduled for January 28-31.
I wouldn’t be surprised or shocked if you had said, “Who?” when you first read those two names.
Getting back to the plane to Cuba, not just anyone can claim a ticket. The press advisory states that people requesting seats on the chartered planes had to be members of the media that meet some of the following criteria:
…Media outlets that consistently reach a large audience;
…Media outlets that have a history of reporting on the Department of Defense, Guantanamo Bay, military commissions, or closely related topics;
…Outlets that represent a mix of mediums;
…Outlets that include both domestic and international news media; and
…Media that represent regional markets with a specific nexus to these commission proceedings.
So, sadly, not any blogger with the desire to visit the southern shores of Cuba could hitch a ride.
Sadly-squared is the additional fact that the deadline to reserve your seat and view the fruits of the Military Commission Act of 2009 was January 3.
Guess I’ll just have to watch the
trials…er, military commissions courtesy of my local television news outfit.
Or not according to this article.
I would so love to know how many of those Department of Defense-issued plane tickets were actually snapped up.