Leahy grilled Shah, the head of USAID, which was behind the project.
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A Twitter-like Cuban social media network that the U.S. government built to stir unrest was a "cockamamie" idea doomed to discovery and failure, the chairman of a Senate panel that oversees the U.S. Agency for International Development said Tuesday.Shah said AP's report had a number of critical inaccuracies, but he was not asked to describe them and did not specify his complaints. He said the agency operated transparently and confirmed that he would discuss the Cuba program in Tuesday's open congressional hearing.The network was publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross.Gross is confined to his cell for 23 hours of every day, said Leahy, adding that the U.S. government had failed to take meaningful steps to secure his release.Shah defended the government's effort to free Gross.Shah said the ZunZuneo program was not covert, though "parts of it were done discreetly" to protect the people involved.He cited a study by the Government Accountability Office into democracy promotion projects run by USAID and the State Department, including the Cuban social network project, which found the programs to be consistent with the law.
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