State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki repeatedly refused to answer questions this afternoon about the 53 political detainees Cuba promised to release as part of a deal with President Obama to normalize relations with the United States.
When asked about a lack of transparency in the prisoner exchange process, Psaki said, “Well, we know who’s on there. And the Cuban government knows who’s on there.”
The Cuban government hasn’t exactly been a model for transparency the last half century. Included in his deal with Cuba, Obama announced two weeks ago that the U.S. government had released three Cuban spies. The lack of progress in freeing the Cuban political prisoners increases the scrutiny on that White House decision.
After Psaki stated that she had no updates to provide, a befuddled Matt Lee asked, “Hold on — hold on a second. Can we — I mean, is it — what’s happening? Are they out? Are they not out? … Where are they?”
Psaki responded, “I don’t have any more updates to provide for you, Matt.”
Lee, frustrated, followed up, “So the Cubans don’t actually have to do anything?”
Psaki answered, “Matt, no. This is something they’ve agreed to. I would point you to them for any updates on the number of people or the people have been released.”
This State Department press briefing is sure to do little to settle concerns that the White House will not be able to keep Cuba accountable to keep their promises. Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal notes, “Now, little by little, what he says he got in the ‘negotiations’ seems to be evaporating while what he gave away appears reckless.”