Alan Gross Takes Fight with Feds to U.S. Supreme Court 2

agBy Zoe Tillman, Legal Times, @zoetillman

Alan Gross, the American contractor freed after five years of detention in Cuba, is taking a lawsuit against the federal government to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gross wants the high court to review whether the government can be held responsible for injuries he and his wife claimed they suffered while he was detained in Cuba.

In a petition filed with the high court on Feb. 12, Gross and his wife Judith argued that a federal appeals court in Washington was wrong to find that the federal government was immune against all of the Gross’ claims, including economic losses in the United States and Judith Gross’ emotional distress. The appeals court found that those injuries stemmed from Gross’ incarceration in Cuba, triggering immunity for the feds.

“The decisions of the lower courts will have profound negative consequences for all U.S. residents who travel abroad, no matter how briefly, including those who travel for work,” Gross’ lawyers argued in the petition. “The decisions would mean that a U.S. resident who travels abroad for one day and suffers some injury during that limited time would have no redress for any subsequent harm occurring solely in the United States, even if that domestic injury dwarfs the foreign injuries.”

Gross was working as a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor in Cuba when he was detained by authorities there in 2009. In 2011, he was convicted of attempting to subvert the Cuban government and sentenced to 15 years in prison. While Gross was still incarcerated, he and his wife, who was in the United States, sued the federal government and the contractor who hired him, arguing they were negligent in failing to alert Gross to the riskiness of his work and in preparing him for those risks.

Gross reached a confidential settlement with the contractor, Developer Alternatives Inc. A federal district judge dismissed the case against the U.S. government in May 2013 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that decision in November—one month before Gross was released.

Gross’ lawyers at Gilbert LLP declined on Friday to discuss their petition to the Supreme Court.

On appeal to the high court, Gross and his wife are also arguing that the lower courts created an unconstitutional distinction between plaintiffs suing the federal government for injuries that took place solely in the United States and those who suffered some or all of their injuries abroad.

The government’s response is due March 16.

Editor’s Note:  Alan Gross already received $3.2 million from a 2014 lawsuit.

This Friday’s US-Cuba Talks to Focus on Reopening Embassies 2

State DepartmentU.S.-Cuba Talks on Re-Establishing Diplomatic Relations

Media Note

[US Department of State] Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

February 20, 2015

 

On February 27, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson will host a delegation from the Cuban government led by Josefina Vidal, general director of the U.S. Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss re-establishing diplomatic relations. The talks will take place at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. and will focus on matters related to reopening embassies, including the functions of diplomats in our respective countries.

These talks continue the dialogue initiated by the parties on January 22 in Havana, Cuba and are a key step in implementing the new direction in U.S.-Cuba relations announced by President Obama on December 17, 2014. It is in the interest of both countries to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies. A U.S. Embassy in Havana will allow the United States to more effectively promote our interests and values, and increase engagement with the Cuban people. As with the more complex process of normalizing relations, re-establishing diplomatic relations requires the agreement of the governments of both Cuba and the United States.

Editor’s Note: Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal was thrown out of the US in May 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of Cuban spy-diplomats.

Congressional Hearing Next Thursday: “The President’s New Cuba Policy and U.S. National Security” Reply

CongressSubcommittee Hearing: The President’s New Cuba Policy and U.S. National Security

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere | 2200 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Feb 26, 2015 10:00am to 1:00pm

Chairman Duncan on the hearing: “In 1982, Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for providing critical support to many terrorist organizations. Today, given the links between Cuba and China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia and the close proximity to the U.S. homeland, I am deeply concerned about the U.S. national security implications of the Administration’s Cuba policy change. Cuba continues to support terrorist organizations and it was caught red-handed proliferating weapons to North Korea as recently as last year. Cuba has also been stunningly successful in espionage against the U.S., in trafficking U.S. national security secrets to hostile regimes, and in benefiting from a criminal pipeline spanning Cuba to Florida. This hearing will examine the U.S. national security implications of the President’s Cuba policy change and potential vulnerabilities to Americans as a result.”

WITNESSES:

Mr. Chris Simmons:  Editor, Cuba Confidential

Mr. Fernando Menéndez:  Senior Fellow, Center for a Secure Free Society

José Azel, Ph.D.:  Senior Research Associate, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies – University of Miami

The Honorable Dennis K. Hays:  Director, The Emergence Group

***Any changes to witness list will be reflected above.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Leads Democratic Delegation in Meeting With Cuban Spy-Diplomat 4

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in Havana

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in Havana

By Chris Simmons

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez today met with Democratic Party members of Congress to Havana. At his side was expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, who continues to serve as head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America Division.

Democratic congressmen and women on the delegation include Eliot Engel, Rosa DeLauro, Collin Peterson, Anna Eshoo, Nydia Velazquez, Jim McGovern, Steve Israel and David Cicilline.

Next week, Vidal leads a Cuban delegation to Washington for the next round of normalization talks, which are scheduled for February 27.

NBC’s Perfidy Didn’t Start with Brian Williams 1

Brian WilliamsBy Humberto Fontova, Townhall

Brian Williams recently “shocked” many Americans with his disingenuous reporting. His claims of perilous combat coverage in Iraq and dramatic Hurricane Katrina coverage in New Orleans appear bogus. After suspending him for 6 months, NBC is now investigating its top anchor, attempting to “get at the truth.” Right. Same as the Warren Commission.

But in fact, Brian Williams’ style of NBC reporting has its adherents. Take the Castro regime. A red carpet, honor-guard and a 21-gun salute (figuratively speaking) is what NBC always finds upon their frequent visits to “report” from Cuba.

Gosh? I wonder why? Maybe these quotes provide a clue:

“Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” (Ernesto “Che” Guevara.)

“Propaganda is vital—propaganda is the heart of our struggle.” (Fidel Castro.)

“The vetting procedure starts the minute the (Cuban) regime receives your visa application. When your smiling Cuban “guides” greet you at the airport they know plenty about you, and from several angles.” (Chris Simmons, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuban spycatcher, now retired.)

“The Castro regime assigns 20 security agents to follow and monitor every foreign journalist. You play the regime’s game and practice self–censorship or you’re gone.” (Vicente Botin, reporter for Madrid’s El Pais who was booted from Cuba for taking his job title seriously.)

Nobody ever called the Castro brothers stupid. They instantly recognize an ally (or a sap)–which brings us to NBC.

During Brian Williams visit to Cuba last month, for instance, NBC introduced their frequent commentator-guest Arturo Lopez-Levy as “adjunct faculty at the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs.”

Feature continues here:  NBC’s Deception

CODEPINK’s Itinerary For This Week’s Visit to Cuba – Meet With Spies, More Spies & Even More Spies! 4

CODEPINK at their Havana press conference.

CODEPINK at their Havana press conference.

By Chris Simmons

The left-wing group, CODEPINK, is currently in Cuba as it heads a “a historic delegation” that – from February 8-15, “will have high-level meetings with government officials, visit members of the Cuban 5 who were recently released from US prison, talk to doctors who combated Ebola in Africa, and interact with local people about cultural, economic, environmental and health issues.”

However, a closer review of their agenda finds scheduled meetings with intelligence officers and co-opted agencies, including:

Monday, February 9 @9am:  Meeting with Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), followed by a possible meeting with Fernando Gonzalez and the rest of the Cuban 5.

Friday, February 13 @9:00am: Meeting with Josefina Vidal, an expelled Directorate of Intelligence officer currently serving “undercover” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more details on the intelligence activities of the highlighted groups and individuals, simply use the search tab. For CodePink’s full schedule, click here.

As Normalization Effort Continues, Cuban Spy Broadcasts Continue…… 3

numbers stationsAs expelled spy-diplomats Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin push for greater US concessions, their spy colleagues continue to go “old school” in targeting the US…..

Recent Cuban “Numbers Stations” broadcasts from Havana to the regime’s spies abroad:

February 9th

February 8th

February 6th

January 20th

January 16th

 

Chicago Tribune Laud’s Alberto Coll as “Chicago’s Cuba Expert” 4

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

By Chris Simmons

Disingenuous Chicago Tribune feature:  Chicago’s Cuba expert on the next steps for tourism, business

Fact-checking clearly isn’t a requirement at the Tribune, who’ve clearly forgotten that former Naval War College professor Alberto Coll was indicted following a counterespionage investigation. In 2005, Coll accepted a plea agreement in which he left Federal service, was striped of his security clearance, fined $5000, placed on probation, and banned from practicing law for a year. Coll’s lawyer, Francis Flanagan, indirectly acknowledged to the Associated Press his client was a (former) Naval Criminal Investigative Service source. Coll was regularly debriefed after his military-authorized visits to Cuba.

His indictment remains sealed.

Cuba Eyes Concessions as Part of Better U.S. Ties 1

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson (right) on Friday in Havana. She is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit in nearly 40 years. | REUTERS

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson (right) on Friday in Havana. She is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit in nearly 40 years. | REUTERS

HAVANA – (Associated Press) The start of talks on repairing 50 years of broken relations appears to have left Cuban President Raul Castro’s government focused on winning additional concessions without giving in to U.S. demands for greater freedoms, despite the seeming benefits that warmer ties could have for the country’s struggling economy.

Following the highest-level open talks in three decades between the two nations, Cuban officials remained firm in rejecting significant reforms pushed by the United States as part of President Barack Obama’s surprise move to re-establish ties and rebuild economic relations with the communist-led country.

“One can’t think that in order to improve and normalize relations with the U.S., Cuba has to give up the principles it believes in,” Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, said after the end of the talks. “Changes in Cuba aren’t negotiable.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Vidal said that before deciding whether to allow greater economic ties with the U.S., Cuba is seeking more answers about Obama’s dramatic of loosening the half-century-long trade embargo.

“I could make an endless list of questions and this is going to require a series of clarifications in order to really know where we are and what possibilities are going to open up,” Vidal said.

Obama also launched a review of Cuba’s inclusion on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and Vidal said “it will be difficult to conceive of the re-establishment of relations” while Cuba remains on that list, which imposes financial and other restrictions.

Vidal also said full normalization will be impossible until Congress lifts the many elements of the trade embargo that aren’t affected by Obama’s executive action — a step seen as unlikely with a Republican-dominated Congress. Among key prohibitions that remain is a ban on routine tourism to Cuba.

She also said Cuba has not softened its refusal to turn over U.S. fugitives granted asylum in Cuba.

Cubans said they were taken aback by the flow of information but wanted to know much more about what the new relationship with the U.S. means.

“We’ve seen so much, really so much more than what we’re used to, about very sensitive topics in our country,” said Diego Ferrer, a 68-year-old retired state worker. Jesus Rivero, also 68 and retired from government work, sat on a park bench in Old Havana reading a report in the official Communist Party newspaper, Granma, about Jacobson’s press conference.

“It’s good that Granma reports the press conference in the residence of the head of the Interests Section,” Rivero said. “But I think they should explain much more so that the whole population really understands what’s going on.”

Editor’s Note:  Josefina Vidal is a career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer. Her identity has been corroborated by both US and former Cuban intelligence personnel.

 

Havana’s Spies Seen as Big Winner in New US-Cuban Relations 9

Headquarters of Cuba's dreaded Ministry of the Interior (MININT) [Photo -- Havana Times

Headquarters of Cuba’s dreaded Ministry of the Interior (MININT) [Photo — Havana Times]

By Chris Simmons

Havana long ago earned the nickname “Intelligence Trafficker to the World” for its sale and barter of stolen US secrets. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the loss of Moscow’s $3 billion annual subsidy, Cuba’s auctioning of US classified information skyrocketed. Defectors and émigrés report the island’s leadership sees America’s secrets as a commodity to be sold or traded to the highest bidder. These sources say Cuba’s intelligence brokering is now a key revenue stream, earning hundreds of millions of dollars annually in cash, goods, and services for the regime.

Cuba’s intelligence and security services are undoubtedly celebrating the legacy-making breakthrough in US-Cuban relations ordered by President Obama. The US leader’s intentions – while noble – will be undercut by five apparently unanticipated consequences that will trigger an increase in Havana’s targeting of the United States.

First, opening Cuba to American travelers will bring a huge influx of desperately needed cash to Cuban coffers – more specifically, the intelligence and security services that – along with their military brethren – run every major component of the tourism industry as profit-making enterprises.

Second, an estimated million Americans are expected to visit Cuba yearly, as compared to the 60,000 US tourists it currently enjoys. This endless parade of Americans will provide Cuban spies unprecedented opportunities to assess and recruit new American traitors.

Third, unrestricted access to US technology will allow Havana significant upgrades in the technical aspects of espionage and internal repression. While it may seem counterintuitive, Fidel and Raul Castro have long viewed the Cuban people as the greatest threat to regime survival. This explains why their two counterintelligence entities remain Cuba’s largest spy services. Conversely, the island’s three “foreign intelligence” services are directed against a single target – the United States.

The fourth benefit Cuba receives is a huge enhancement in the long-cultivated notion that it poses “no threat” to the US. Spying against an unsuspecting enemy is infinitely easier than operating against a suspicious one. That’s the reason this well-choreographed myth has been aggressively promoted by major Cuban spies like Ana Montes and the husband-wife team of Kendall and Gwen Myers, as well as countless Castro apologists. The boost President Obama gave Havana with his new initiative elevates this myth to heights Havana could not have achieved by itself.

The fifth and final gain will be the end of travel restrictions on Cuba’s US-based diplomat-spies, whose unrestricted travel is currently limited to a 25 miles radius from Washington DC and New York City. Open travel throughout the nation will be a godsend to Cuba’s espionage operations. This new advantage will eventually be enhanced even further by the opening of Cuban diplomatic consulates and Prensa Latina news agencies from coast to coast.

The combination of cash, US tourists, American technology, new diplomatic facilities and unrestricted freedom to travel will markedly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Havana’s intelligence trafficking. In turn, this further incentivizes the regime to use this opportunity to drive up the profit margins and sales of US government and corporate secrets.

A crown jewel in Havana’s intelligence arsenal is its network of communications intercept sites headquartered at Bejucal. This facility — Cuba’s equivalent to NSA — is the only “signals intelligence” site in the downlink of almost every US satellite. This gives Havana a unique competitive advantage the intelligence services of China, Russia, and Iran can only dream about. Several well-placed defectors said the volume of Pentagon, White House, NASA, and other US communications collected by Bejucal is so vast Cuba only had staffing to process the crème de la crème of stolen secrets. When the Castro brother’s pair this daily flood of material with the information and insights contributed by hundreds of human spies serving covertly throughout the US, the result is a terrifyingly real danger to the United States.

Cuba is not a benign nation, but rather a hostile dictatorship that poses a significant, albeit one-dimensional threat to the United States. For example, the Castro regime has warned America’s enemies of every major military operation from the 1983 Grenada invasion through the most recent intervention in Iraq. Its spying has also resulted in the deaths of America citizens.

Cuba is a police state and its apparatchiks respect one thing:  power. As such, its spy services will see Washington’s olive branch as a sign of weakness. They will declare “open season” on the American government, its businesses, and Americans themselves to enrich and maintain the regime to which they have sworn their lives, loyalties, and families’ futures.