A recent article in the Miami Herald discussed the bureaucratic entanglements involved when world-famous athlete Diana Nyad wanted to make a historic swim between Florida and Cuba. She needed an OFAC license to visit Cuba. Her support team needed a BIS license to take their boats into Cuban waters. And the response in Washington to Nyad’s request was this: Diana Nyad? Diana who? She wants to swim to Cuba? Why would anyone want to do that? Get back in line, lady, and wait your turn. We’re busy.
Well one of the interesting finds in Hilary Clinton’s emails (outside the awesome international trade kerfuffle over gefilte fish), according to the Miami Herald, was that it seems the only way that Diana got permission on time was that Hilary Rosen called Hillary Clinton and asked for help. The article had this money quote from Nyad:
You want to go to Cuba, especially with boats and vessels, you need an OFAC license … . You need the Treasury Department. You need the Department of Commerce.
It was difficult to train for something, doing 14-, 16-, 18-hour swims, trying to raise money, got a team taking off their jobs and families with no pay, and you don’t really know if it’s ever going to happen. You file those darn OFAC licenses and have no one to call. It’s very governmental, shall we say, bureaucratic paperwork.
First, Nyad wrote to her representative in DC, Debbi Wasserman Schulz, and asked for help, saying: “I have been told by lawyers within the Treasury that it will take either Hilary (sic) Clinton or Obama himself to clear my event.” No dice.
So Diana had Hilary Rosen email Hillary Clinton to ask for help. Hillary asked one of her advisors to help get the license and within 24 hours she had a license from OFAC. No you know what it takes. You need to be a world famous athlete and you need to get the ear of the Secretary of State. The rest of you, get back in line and wait (and wait and wait) for your turn.