1.Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) entering the chambers and shaking hands with Patrick Leahy, United States Democratic Senator for Vermont and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont:
"While we debate what USAID is doing in Cuba, US citizen Alan Gross remains in solitary confinement in his fifth year in capacity, solely because he was carrying out a USAID program which was dumb in its inception."
"The program was designed in 2007 and 2008, at that time frame. That said the legislation that crafts the purpose of the program."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont: ++OFF CAMERA, SHAH IN VISION++
"No, whose idea was it for this specific program? I've read the legislation. The legislation doesn't say anything about setting up a cockamamie idea in Cuba with Twitter accounts and all and something that the Cubans would be so easy to discover. Whose idea was this specific program to go to Cuba? Who? It's a simple question.
"Well first let me say and I know this is important sir and I greatly respect your point of view but that AP (Associated Press) story had a number of critical inaccuracies.
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont: ++OFF CAMERA, SHAH IN VISION++
"I've read USAID's statement and I'll put that in the record, I'll tell you what, I'll put it in the record, both your response to the AP story and the AP story. Having said that, do you know whose idea it was?
"I do not specifically, but I'll say this. Working on creating platforms to improve communication in Cuba and in many other parts of the world is a core part of what USAID has done for some time and continues to do. Our administration's policy is to continue to support efforts to allow for open communications. To the extent that the AP story and any other comment creates the impression that this effort or any other goes beyond that for other ulterior purposes. That is simply inaccurate."
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont: ++OFF CAMERA, SHAH IN VISION++
A key US Senator criticised during a hearing on Tuesday a Twitter-like social media network secretly created by the United States in Cuba, calling it a "cockamamie idea".
Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, who is also the chairman of a Senate panel that oversees the US Agency for International Development (USAID), demanded to know who came up with the idea to launch the project.
USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said he did not specifically know whose idea it was.
A key question for the hearings is whether the program endangered its users by concealing that the US government was behind it.
The network was publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross.
He was imprisoned there after travelling repeatedly on a separate, clandestine USAID mission to expand Cuban Internet access using sensitive technology that only governments use.
"While we debate what USAID is doing in Cuba, US citizen Alan Gross remains in solitary confinement in his fifth year in capacity, solely because he was carrying out a USAID program which was dumb in its inception," Leahy said.
He also added that the program had "no possibility of working" from its inception.
An AP investigation last week found the program evaded Cuba's Internet restrictions by creating a text-messaging service that could be used to organise political demonstrations.
It drew tens of thousands of subscribers who were unaware it was backed by the Obama administration.
Draft messages produced by the social network, obtained by AP, were overtly political and some taunted the ruling Castro family.
The new disclosures came as the head of the USAID told Congress on Tuesday that the program was never intended to stir unrest within Cuba's government.