House Committee Votes to Condemn Russia For Cuban Spy Facility

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - With the Elian Gonzalez case thrusting Cuba into the national consciousness, a House committee has seized the opportunity to push a bill that's been in the hopper for a while - a bill with shades of the Cold War era.

On Thursday, the House International Relations Committee Thursday approved a measure to cut off debt reduction programs to Russia unless Russia shuts down its listening post in Cuba.

Committee members agree that Cuba is using the listening post to eavesdrop on US communications.

The measure includes a waiver that would allow the President to resume debt reduction programs to Russia if he deems them to be in the best interests of the United States.

During debate, the committee's ranking Democrat, Sam Gedjdenson (D-CT), said the United States should not penalize other nations for their espionage activities when the United States maintains several listening posts around the world.

Another committee Democrat, Alcee Hastings (D-Fla), suggested there might be a backlash against American listening posts if the United States attacks those of other nations.

But Gedjdenson also suggested there could be a benefit to the United States if the Russians keep their Cuban listening post operating.

He said it's possible to feed "misinformation" to the Cubans.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) responded, "It's absurd to hear that it's to the United States' benefit to have listening bases in Cuba. We're lying to our constituents that we're serious about this. Either the Cold War is over or it isn't."

Prospects for the bill's passage are uncertain.