WASHINGTON – President Bush received a new report Thursday outlining U.S. policy toward the communist island of Cuba, a report developed by the Commission for the Assistance of a Free Cuba (search) under the direction of Secretary of State Colin Powell (search).
The new policy tightens already strict travel restrictions to Cuba. As in the past — it is a policy that is mostly stick without much carrot.
"We think this report represents a positive, constructive, proactive commitment to liberating the Cuban people, and that is to say helping them liberate themselves," said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega (search).
But questions have been raised about whether Powell believes this policy is the proper approach. Powell's chief of staff — a man said to be completely in sync with the secretary — was quoted in a new GQ magazine article saying the current isolationist approach to Cuba is the "dumbest policy on the face of the earth ... it's crazy."
Powell did not publicly endorse the policy on Thursday, and reporters were rushed out of the White House photo session without being given the opportunity to ask any questions about the Cuban policy — or about how the president might feel about another quote from that GQ article that characterizes Powell as spending much of his time "doing damage control."
Other critics of the Cuba policy say the report was politically motivated in order to appeal to anti-Fidel Castro (search) Cuban-Americans, many of them in Florida, before the November election.
Click here to watch a report by Fox News' Brian Wilson.