Her latest hobby horse is her recent trip to Cuba for a visit with Raul Castro - Fidel's little brother who for decades ran the army, secret police, intelligence services, hard currency laundering operations.
Lee led a congressional delegation to Havana for a 4-1/2 hour meeting with Raul Castro, telling reporters, "All of us are convinced that President Castro would like normal relations and would see normalization, ending the embargo, as beneficial to both countries." Reuters reported that Lee's delegation "avoided specifics" with Castro "but were struck by his humor, impressed by his involvement in Third World causes and firm in their belief that he wants to end U.S.-Cuba enmity."
The meeting between Castro, Lee, and five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, took place in secret without the customary presence of a US State Department official. No reporters attended, and according to the New York Times, Cuban television, which covered the visit, offered no details of what was said.
Xinhua, the Chinese propaganda agency, described the Castro-Lee meeting as a "closed-door discussion, whose details were undisclosed."
Barbara Lee presently chairs the Congressional Black Caucus. Her radicalism dates at least to the early 1970s when she was a confidential aide to Black Panther Party "Minister of Defense" Huey Newton (pictured at right, with shotgun). She has a long history of support for the Castro regime and its surrogates. She provided counterintelligence support to the regime in Grenada in 1980, tipping off the Cuban-backed government to a possible anti-communist spy in the office of Marxist-Leninist premier Maurice Bishop.
US military forces liberated Grenada in October 1983 (pictured at left), which President Ronald Reagan ordered.
Regime documents that US troops captured, now stored at the National Archives, show Lee's involvement with the Grenadan and Cuban governments.
When Lee received an envelope containing anti-regime material that had been mailed from Bishop's office, she immediately warned Bishop's ambassador to the Organization of American States, Dessima Williams. Williams sent Lee's counterintelligence tip back home to Bishop and musing about suspects. The memorandum read,
"On May 14, 1980, Barbara Lee called to say she had received a piece of anti-PRG [People's Revolutionary Government] propaganda stamped from the Prime Minister's Office, post-marked in Grenada. We collected it May 15, and it is herewith attached.
"Some obvious questions are: -
"What concerns us is: How is is possible for such vicious anti-government propaganda to be mailed and stamped from the Prime Minister's Office to a friendly Congressional Office?
"Barbara says that all those U.S. persons who went to Grenada for The First Anniversary [of the revolution] have been receiving G.I.S. News Releases regularly. Should this be so? To her knowledge, no one else except she has received this particular piece of anti-PRG material.
"Please advise us at an early time if this was a known or unknown error; if a conspiracy and/or sabotage, and how to handle it.
"Neither 'Shampoo' Norbert Douglas our Security Officer at the Mission here, nor I have a clue on this. Only speculations:
"1. Stanley Cyrus?
"2. A spy inside the Ministry?
"3. Is Roberta Salper involved? (see materials on her attached).
Click here for a PDF of the letter: Download Barbara Lee 1980 memo
Lee and Dellums' chief of staff, Carlottia Scott, had been trying to promote the regime for a few years before finally getting Dellums to become personally involved in discrediting the Reagan Administration's assessment that a large Cuban-built airstrip at Point Salines was designed to handle heavy Soviet military aircraft.
Dellums was then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction. He used that post to claim jurisdiction, and held his own "investigation" of the airstrip. Through the subcommittee, he concluded in a report that the airstrip was for civilian purposes only - mainly tourism - and was not for the Soviet bloc military.
The thing is, Lee and Scott wrote the report in collaboration with the regime - and sent it back to Bishop for his editing and approval before making the document public as a congressional report.
Scott was widely rumored to have been romantically involved with Bishop. Her personal letters, captured in Bishop's office after the US liberation, lend credence to those reports. One of the letters begins, "My darling comrade leader."
In a typewritten letter to Bishop on US House of Representatives letterhead, dated April 28, 1982, Scott describes how she and Lee got Dellums involved in promoting the Grenadan regime, and how Dellums processed his visit to the island during a stayover in Havana before returning to Washington.
Addressed to Bishop as "My Dearest, Just a brief note to let you know that I still love you madly," Scott wrote:
"When we left Grenada and arrived in Barbados, we met with what I would call a very ugly American, Ludlow Flowers, the Deputy Ambassador to B'dos from the U.S. In the most awesome exchange of dialogue, Ron battled this ass to the bitter end on U.S. policy toward Grenada. You would have been proud."
Scott described what she, Dellums and Lee were doing to run influence operations in Congress on behalf of the Cuban-backed government:
She told Bishop about the report they were authoring about the Cuban-built airstrip at Point Salines:
That would take some strategizing with Bishop. Scott continued,
Dellums' chief of staff then told Bishop that she, the congressman, and Barbara Lee met together in Havana after visiting Grenada:
Scott then told Bishop about a courier who would bring Dellums' materials for the hearings to Grenada, and wrote of the report on the Point Salines airstrip:
"Love you madly and hope to be able to prove it one of these days. Call me soon . . . ."
Scott signed her initials, then hand-wrote a postscript: "P.S. This is confidential rap as you well know. Let me know when you or one of the comrades will be taking a trip somewhere in this hemisphere so we can talk. Notice I said this hemisphere. So we can plan to meet and talk. Call me."
A PDF of of Scott's letter, the original of which is in the National Archives, can be downloaded here: Download Grenada - Scott letter
When Lee succeeded Dellums in Congress, Scott became her chief of staff.
Congresswoman Lee has some explaining to do. Her secretive Cuba trip looks like a replay of what she did more than 25 years ago for Castro's Grenada ally. Anything Lee says ior does on Cuba is suspect. So is anything that other lawmakers do with her.
Major US and European news organizations covered the meeting but did not publish a list of the congressmen in the meeting. The Cuban Communist Party daily Granma says that the lawmakers were: Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Melvin Luther Watt (D-CA), and Barbara Lee. "Also particpating were Patrice Willougby, executive assistant to the [Congressional] Black Caucus, and Eulada Watt, wife of Congressman Melvin Luther Watt," according to Granma.
Congressman Rush says he found Raul Castro "to be just the opposite of how he's being portrayed in the media." AP quotes Rush as saying, "I think what really surprised me, but also endeared to him was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities." At times, Rush said, the lawmakers and Castro chatted "like old family members."
Lee says she wants to influence President Barack Obama prior to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinadad and Tobago.
Prior to the trip, Lee told her hometown Oakland Tribune newspaper that the US had to open up to Cuba, but did not demand that the Cuban government open up; she blasted US policy as "based on antiquated Cold War-era thinking." She could have used those words to describe her own views.