Briefing Skipper: Amiri, BP, Israel, Uganda, JDate in Cuba?
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Tuesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: On the mysterious travels of Shahram Amiri, who is headed back to Tehran, Crowley said: "He has been in the United States, you know, for some time. ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Tuesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- On the mysterious travels of Shahram Amiri, who is headed back to Tehran, Crowley said: "He has been in the United States, you know, for some time. The United States government has maintained contact with him. I can’t tell you specifically when he made this decision to return, you know, to Iran, but as we indicated today and as the secretary mentioned a bit ago, he’s here of his free will and he’s — this is his decision to depart, and we are helping to facilitate that departure."
- The State Department was aware that Amiri wanted to go back to Iran, did help him make the arrangements, but would not say why he was here or whether he gave intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to the U.S. government. "That is how we do things here in the United States," Crowley said. "We didn’t seize him and bring him here, and we’re not preventing him from returning to Iran," So if we didn’t kidnap him, how did he get here? "I’m not aware that we helped transport him here. In fact, I think he made his own way here," Crowley said.
- The State Deparment is "aware" of the letter from senators calling on them to engage the new British government to protest the old government’s decision to release Pan Am bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrah, which may have been tied to BP oil deals. He was released based on the presumption that he was dying of cancer, but he is still hanging on. "I’m not aware that we’ve had a conversation yet with the British government about this issue. It’s unclear that there’s anything that we can do at this point," Crowley said.
- Special Envoy George Mitchell is on his way back to the Middle East for another round of proximity talks now with a deadline in place. "He’ll have meetings with the parties and with other leaders in the region and Europe during that travel," Crowley said. The State Department is "conscious" that there is a Libyan ship on the way to Gaza now and "concerned" about more homes being demolished in East Jerusalem. "We continue to oppose, and will make clear to the government of Israel that we oppose, unilateral actions that prejudge negotiations," Crowley said.
- The FBI is sending a "significant" team to Uganda to help in the investigation of the bombing there that killed 76 people. There is already a small FBI presence on the ground and State’s Diplomatic Security is also involved. 1 American was killed, 5 were injured and have already been flown to Johannesburg or Nairobi for treatment.
- On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a reception for Hannah Rosenthal, the special envoy to monitor and combat anti- Semitism. "In the nearly seven months that Hannah has been our special envoy, she has traveled the world devising new strategies and engaging governments and people to confront anti-Semitism and to promote tolerance and non-discrimination," Clinton said. Clinton also hosted major American Jewish organizations, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and interfaith nongovernmental-organization representatives.
- One of the Jews at the reception was Judy Gross, wife of USAID contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested for passing out technology in Cuba and remains detained there. Did you know why Alan Gross was in Cuba in the first place? "He was in Cuba to help the Jewish community better communicate with one another and the world through the use of Internet technology," Clinton said. Really? Does Havana have JDate?
- Maybe if Gross was Catholic, he would be among the dozens of political prisoners that Cuba has been releasing at the behest of the archbishop of Havana. "We applaud the efforts of the Cuban Catholic church, Spain and others who have worked towards the release of prisoners of conscience from jails in Cuba," Crowley said.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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