Upon taking office, the Obama Administration can use its executive authority to the extent permitted by law to suspend many but not all of the limits on freedom of travel by Americans.
As a first step the new Secretary of the Treasury can instruct the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to establish general licenses for all non-tourist travel to
Still prohibited, according to the law and regulations, would only be "tourist activities" which simply "means any activity with respect to travel to, from, or within
OFAC's oversight and enforcement role regarding travel must be limited by the Secretary of the Treasury to providing information about the twelve authorized categories, the nature of a general license, and remaining restrictions on “tourist activities”, thus redeploying staff energies to real national security concerns. (Bush regulations should also be revoked that misuse customs agents to search for and confiscate personal goods and souvenirs brought from
Virtually any American with a serious interest will be immediately free to go to
The categories codified in 2000 entitled to a specific or general (self-qualifying) license are:
(2) Official business
(3) Journalistic activity
(4) Professional research
(5) Educational activities
(6) Religious activities
(7) Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and
(8) Support for the Cuban people
(9) Humanitarian projects
(10) Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
(11) Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
(12) Certain export transactions
Categories 4 to 9 offer particularly broad interpretation. “Educational activities” had already, under pre-2004 OFAC licensing, come to mean a wide range of people-to-people exchanges. The benefit of a general license is that no bureaucratic delay or partisan vetting is possible because prior approval and post-trip reporting are not required. Even if OFAC retained redundant
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