www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-brochin-letter-20120326,0,2490476.story

baltimoresun.com

U.S. State Department must stop meddling in other nations' affairs

12:00 PM EDT, March 26, 2012

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Cuban accusations against American Alan Gross and recent Egyptian allegations against four Americans who were promoting democracy on Egyptian soil have some eerie similarities. Alan Gross, who has been confined in Cuba since 2009, and the four Americans in Egypt who recently had bail posted for them by the Government of Qatar, have been using United States taxpayers' money to promote openness and democracy in two countries that have no interest in the United States interfering in their internal affairs.

What's most troubling is that the State Department appears to be financing these groups, which then trick somewhat altruistic and naive Americans into a mission that can only lead to trouble. In fact, Mr. Gross, who is still detained in Cuba, has openly admitted that he feels as if he has been duped.

United States efforts in spreading democracy across countries that aren't interested in our way of life has had dubious results over the years. Whether or not the U.S. should continue this effort is a subject that is up for debate. What is not debatable is the State Department's reckless disregard for average U.S. citizens who are eager to help spread democracy without knowing the inherent risks they are about to undertake. The U.S. Government must stop taking advantage of average citizens and leave the work of spreading democracy to those who are trained in the intelligence community.

Sen. James Brochin, Towson

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 42nd Legislative District.