Sen. Robert Menendez Seeks Probe of Alleged Cuban Plot to Smear Him Reply

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Carol D. Leonnig

Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter sent to Justice Department officials, the senator’s attorney asserts that the plot was timed to derail the ­political rise of Menendez (D-N.J.), one of Washington’s most ardent critics of the Castro regime. At the time, Menendez was running for reelection and was preparing to assume the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

According to a former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the CIA had obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and to efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media.

The alleged Cuba connection was laid out in an intelligence report provided last year to U.S. government officials and sent by secure cable to the FBI’s counterintelligence division, according to the former official and a second person with close ties to Menendez who had been briefed on the matter.

The intelligence information indicated that operatives from Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence helped create a fake tipster using the name “Pete Williams,” according to the former official. The tipster told FBI agents and others he had information about Menendez participating in poolside sex parties with underage prostitutes while vacationing at the Dominican Republic home of Salomon Melgen, a wealthy eye doctor, donor and friend of the senator.

Read more here:  Alleged Cuban Plot

 

 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

NPR Interviews Cuban “Official” Josefina Vidal – Fails to Acknowledge Her Spy Employment 2

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

 Cuba Maintains U.S. Embargo Is Harsh Financial Persecution

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

An NPR team spent last week in Cuba. This week, we are in Miami. It has given us a glimpse of both sides of one of the most enduring diplomatic standoffs. While in Cuba, we met up with the veteran diplomat who is Havana’s point person in that standoff. Her name is Josephina Vidal. She’s director of U.S. relations for the Cuban government. [emphasis added] We were brought into a small sitting room just off the lobby in the Foreign Ministry to chat. And I began by asking Vidal about President Obama and Raul Castro greeting each other at Nelson Mandela’s funeral back in December. Was it more than just a handshake?

JOSEPHINA VIDAL: This is what educated civilized people normally do, even though we haven’t had diplomatic trade and normal relations for more than 50 years now.

GREENE: As far as we know, the two governments aren’t even communicating about two cases that are really important to them. An American named Alan Gross was in Cuba as a USAID contractor. He was arrested for bringing communications equipment into the country, and now he’s in a Cuban prison serving a 15-year sentence. Meanwhile, three Cuban agents convicted of spying in the United States are also serving long sentences in a American prisons. They’re part of the so-called Cuban Five who are seen as heroes in Cuba. The U.S. government views these cases as fundamentally different, but Josephina Vidal says she sees the potential for some kind of deal.

VIDAL: This is what we have been saying to the United States for almost two years now. It is important to understand that Alan Gross came to Cuba, not because we invited him to come, he came to Cuba to implement a program of the United States government. That’s the reason why we tell the United States government that we need to sit down in order to talk about both our cases.

GREENE: And have any conversations started over those two cases at all?

VIDAL: Feeling responsible for our people and trying to look together for the best solution acceptable for both of us and that respond to our concerns. This is what I can say now.

Feature continues here:  Interview With Spy Josefina Vidal

Editor’s Note:  As longtime readers of Cuba Confidential are aware, Vidal was thrown out of the US in 2003 as part of a massive expulsion of Cuban diplomat spies. She was subsequently appointed to “official” duties as head of US relations within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

NPR’s handling of this interview begs the question, if a CIA officer were expelled from Cuba and the US then appointed her as head of the State Department’s Office of Cuban Affairs, would the media be so forgiving of her spy employment?  I think not……

Cuba Overhypes Literary Nomination of Castro Apologist Reply

Stephen Kimber

Stephen Kimber

By Chris Simmons

The headline of Prensa Latina’s press release is impressive:  Book About The Cuban Five is Finalist for Literary Award in Canada.”

While technically true, it’s the best lie of omission I’ve read in a long time.  Yes, Castro propagandist Stephen Kimber’s latest book was nominated for the Evelyn Richardson Award to the Best Non Fiction Book. However, this annual award is limited to writers on the tiny island of Nova Scotia, on Canada’s Atlantic Coast. The winner receives a 2000 dollar cash prize. Additionally, competition for the local award isn’t exactly fierce, given the province’s population of just 940,000 inhabitants.

While this Canadian island has been blessed with some amazing writers, Kimber is not one of them – nor for that matter can his writings be seriously considered non-fiction.

Editor’s Note: To our PRELA colleagues, your propaganda efforts would be enhanced by improved Quality Control efforts — a lot of errors in that press release. You may want to consider hiring a better translator and proofreader…..immediately.

Burned Spy Denies Cuban Role in Human Trafficking 1

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

On Friday, the State Department released its annual report on human trafficking, placing Cuba on a blacklist of 23 “human trafficking countries.” In response, Josefina Vidal, director-general of the US department with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded “The Cuban government rejects categorically as unfounded this unilateral move offending our people,” noted the Chinese news agency Xinhua. “Cuba has not requested the US assessment, nor needed recommendations from the US, a country with the gravest problem of trafficking children and women in the world,” Vidal went on to claim.

According to Xinhua, the regime newspaper – Granma – categorized the US report as “manipulative” and “politically motivated.”

Editor’s Note:  Vidal left the US in May 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of Cuban diplomat-spies. Despite her departure, she continues to insist she is not a career staffer with Havana’s primary foreign intelligence service, the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).

Internet Foils Disinformation Operation Regarding Funeral For Mother of Alan Gross 5

Spy vs spyBy Chris Simmons

Cuba’s once world-class propaganda operations suffered another self-inflicted blow late yesterday, this time by expelled Spy Josefina Vidal, who continues to serve undercover as director of the US Division within Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Vidal issued a press release claiming Havana is unable to award Gross a humanitarian visa for the funeral because “…neither the Cuban penitentiary system nor the US penitentiary system provide the possibility for inmates to travel abroad, no matter the reason…”

Before crafting this poorly conceived propaganda piece, Mrs. Vidal and her DI brethren should have searched the internet, where they would have found this Associated Press story on convicted Wasp Network spy Rene Gonzalez from April 12, 2013:  Judge approves Cuban spy visit home.

Is it really possible that the DI can’t even pull off a simple disinformation mission anymore without tripping over itself? Unbelievable! Ironically, readers will also note that the AP story is proudly displayed on the website by the National Committee to Free the Five.

Cuban Spy is Now ICAP Vice President 1

icapSPECIAL by Arnaldo M. Fernandez

Fernando González-Llort has been just appointed as Vice President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, better known by its Spanish acronym ICAP. Although it is not subordinate to the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), ICAP is an intelligence front with a long history since its creation in 1960, with a large pool of collaborators at the service overseen by a small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.

After graduating in the Higher Institute of International Relations (1987), González-Llort took part (1987-89) at the Cuban military campaign in Angola. Back in Cuba, he was trained to carry out spying operations in the U.S. and was part of the so-called Wasp Network dismantled by the FBI in 1998. He was sentenced to 19 years of imprisonment in 2001 and re-sentenced to 17 years, 9 months in 2009.

González-Llort was released on February 27, 2014, and immediately engaged with René Gonzalez (released October 7, 2011) in the agitprop campaigns for the freedom of the three members of the spy ring still in prison.

On March 29, 2014, González-Llort spoke before the Cuban National Assembly, praising the efforts and constant support of the Cuban government and the Communist Party. He also lauded the agitprop campaigns undertaken by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five and ICAP.

[Alleged] Cuban Double Agent Reveals CIA Machinations in Cuba 4

Enemigo by Raúl Capote, Editorial Jose Marti.

Enemigo by Raúl Capote, Editorial Jose Marti.

Review by Raidel López

In Enemigo (enemy), Cuban writer and university professor of history, Raúl Capote, reveals his life as a double agent; agent Pablo for the CIA, and agent Daniel for Cuban intelligence. This is not a work of fiction or a classic spy novel. It is the real experience narrated by the protagonist about plans by the CIA and its allies to destroy the Cuban Revolution. His story reveals one of the many facets of the US war against Cuba. For over half a century plans of espionage, sabotage, terrorist attacks, assassination, subversion, military, economic and political aggression, have been made and executed from the US. Most of these plans have failed, thanks to the work and sacrifice of men like Capote.

Capote does not consider himself to be anything but an ordinary Cuban. In the 1980s Capote was vice-director of the cultural association Hermanos Saiz, in Cienfuegos province. This organisation brings together artists, musicians, writers and others in the cultural field. Capote had published literature, which was known outside Cuba and was considered to be critical of Cuban society, even though it had been published by Cuban state publishers. This had caught the attention of the US Interests Section (USIS), a substitute for an embassy, in Havana. By the late 1980s, US officials had approached Capote offering him the chance to earn a lot of money by publishing ‘critical’ literature. Capote began working at the University Enrique José Barona in Havana as a history professor. CIA officials were interested in this work which allowed Capote to influence students. In the 1990s, USIS officials visited Capote with increasing frequency.

In May 2004, Capote was invited to dine at the home of Francisco Saen, a USIS official. The dinner was attended by diplomats and functionaries from several countries. There Capote met USIS officials Louis John Nigro Jr, Deputy Chief between June 2001 and June 2004, and Kelly Ann Keiderling, First Secretary of Press and Culture between July 2003 and June 2005. Keiderling befriended Capote and attempted to influence him and his family, inviting them to private dinners, giving them presents, promising them a prosperous future in the US, inculcating them with US ‘values’ and generally trying to influence their thinking. Keiderling was trying to recruit Capote to the CIA as part of a comprehensive plan to convert young Cuban intellectuals into enemies of the Revolution.

In 2005, the CIA concluded its studies and tests of Capote and he was officially recruited by Rene Greenwald, who used the pseudo name ‘El Gran Amigo’ (the great friend). Greenwald is a CIA veteran who participated in undercover actions against Cuba in the 1960s and worked in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, in dirty war operations to assist military dictatorships allied to the US government (p75). Meanwhile, Capote had signed up to work for Cuban intelligence, reflecting where his real loyalties lay. Capote recalls that the CIA tests never stopped, including putting him in threatening situations to see whether he would break. He never did.

Feature continues here:  Double Agent

 

 

Leftist magazine “The Nation” To Visit Cuba; Meet With Expelled Spy 1

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

A Magazine Leads a Trip to Cuba

By RACHEL LEE HARRIS, New York Times blog

Readers of The Nation are getting the chance to travel like (and with) the journalists whose work they admire.

This week the magazine will host its first educational exchange trip to Cuba, guided by Katrina vanden Heuvel, the publication’s editor and publisher, and Peter Kornbluh, a frequent contributor and the director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, who will serve as the group’s resident historian and scholar.

“The Nation for decades has covered Cuba in a way that I’d argue few publications have done or dared,” Ms. vanden Heuvel said in a telephone interview. “Everything from the beginnings of the economic embargo to the Bay of Pigs story; we’ve covered the current issues in U.S.-Cuban relations, the cultural and economic changes. So that is part of the backdrop to this trip, which is really trying to bring a group of people together as part of a good trip, for sure, but also an informed debate over policy.”

The group flew to Miami on Saturday to meet a charter to Havana on Sunday, at which point a itinerary of meetings with Cuban leaders began. The group will meet with city planners, architects, economic reformers, journalists, public health activists, historians, artists and small-business owners, Ms. vanden Heuvel said.

Among them will be Josefina Vidal, the director of North American Affairs for Cuba’s Foreign Ministry; Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raúl Castro and the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education; and Ricardo Alarcón, the former president of Cuba’s National Assembly and representative to the United Nations.

Feature continues here: The Nation

Editor’s Note: Senior Foreign Ministry (MINREX) officer Josefina Vidal is a career spy with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI). She was thrown out of the US in 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of over a dozen of Havana’s spy-diplomats.

LASA Conference Hosted Cuban 5 Event 3

The convicted spies lauded by Havana as the "Cuban Five"

The convicted spies lauded by Havana as the “Cuban Five”

Memorial Day weekend at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) 2014 Conference in Chicago featured an “Evening in Solidarity with the Cuban 5.” At this forum, Cuban and U.S. academics, as well as pro-Castro activists gathered for a reception where the myth of Cuban spy “anti-terrorists” featured prominently. According to Radio Havana Cuba, the event’s organizers included “the Chicago Cuba Coalition, the Chicago Cuban Five Committee, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and the ANSWER Coalition, among others.

Arturo Lopez-Levy (AKA “Havana Harry”) in HuffPo: Free Alan Gross by Freeing the Cuban Five 2

Arturo Lopez Levy

Arturo Lopez Levy

Alan Gross, an American imprisoned in Cuba since December 3, 2009, recently went on a hunger strike in Havana that lasted for eight days. He did so to protest the U.S. and Cuban governments’ inaction in negotiating a solution to his tragedy.

Gross is the latest victim in a long history of conflicts between Cuba and the United States. An international development expert subcontracted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gross entered Cuba as a non-registered foreign agent. His mission was to create a wireless internet satellite network based in Jewish community centers that would circumvent detection by the Cuban government.

Gross was quickly apprehended. But while the U.S. government has vigorously protested his treatment, it has proven unwilling to make the diplomatic overtures — like releasing the Cuban Five — that could secure his release.

Regime Change “Cockamamie”

The USAID program that landed Gross in prison was designed during the George W. Bush administration. It received approval under the Helms-Burton Act, a 1996 law that essentially committed the U.S. government to the overthrow of the Cuban regime.

Gross’ program took an indisputably covert and incendiary approach to democracy promotion, never bothering to obtain the informed consent of the Cuban Jewish community. Like most Cuban religious groups, Jews in Cuba have opposed any attempt to politicize religious organizations by turning them into tools to promote opposition to the regime. The Bush administration’s holy warriors at USAID, however, had aspirations far beyond the temple doors they aimed to overthrow the Cuban government. If that involved getting Cuban Jews in trouble without their consent, then so be it.

Propaganda piece continues here: Havana Harry

Editor’s Note:  Readers of this blog are familiar with Havana Harry’s past service as a regime intelligence officer. So the question becomes – between his spy career, his ties to the highest levels in the Castro regime, and his continued service as a de facto regime spokesman, why hasn’t the Justice Department arrested Lopez-Levy for failure to register as a foreign agent in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act?