Among the new revelations:
- Prior to the ultra-sensitive talks conducted by the Obama White House to restore normal diplomatic relations, two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides conducted a two-year secret dialogue with Cuban Foreign Ministry officials focused on exchanging imprisoned U.S. citizen Alan Gross for the “Cuban Five” spies who were serving lengthy jail sentences in the United States.
- The secret talks between White House officials and Cuban negotiators close to Raul Castro came to an impasse in June 2014 over the administration’s demand that, in addition to Gross, Cuba release a CIA asset who had passed intelligence to the U.S. in the 1990s that led to the arrest of the Cuban Five spy network.
- The White House arranged a secret Rose Garden meeting between President Obama and the cardinal of Cuba, Jaime Ortega, who delivered a personal letter offering to assist on talks with Cuba from Pope Francis into the hands of the president.
- When President Obama met with Pope Francis in March 2014 at the Vatican, the focus of their meeting was on Cuba policy and the role the pope could play as an interlocutor during the secret negotiations.
- Prior to the Vatican meeting, Senator Patrick Leahy and key members of the policy/advocacy community enlisted several cardinals — including Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, and Washington’s Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — to brief Pope Francis on the need to help Obama change U.S. policy toward Cuba.
- Senator Leahy’s office was also instrumental in putting together a legal briefing paper for President Obama identifying options for a prisoner exchange that would gain freedom for Alan Gross, and open the door to normalizing relations with Cuba.
These materials are reproduced from www.nsarchive.org with the permission of the National Security Archive.