Director of National Intelligence Tells Congress: Russia, China, Iran & Cuba Pose Greatest Espionage Threat to US 2

General James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

General James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

In testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, said (in part):

Moving to counterintelligence, the threat from foreign intelligence entities, both state and nonstate, is persistent, complex, and evolving. Targeting and collection of US political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated. Russia and China pose the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale. As well, the threat from insiders taking advantage of their access to collect and remove sensitive national security information will remain a persistent challenge for us.”

Complete testimony here:  DNI Testimony

Freed Journalist Believes Cuba’s 2003 “Black Spring” Arrests Were a Failed Attempt at a Spy Swap 1

Exiled Cuban Journalist Omar Rodríguez: “The whole detention was a “mafia action to trade us” for the Cuban spies in prison in the U.S.”

Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes

Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes

Cuba’s ‘Black Spring’ Still Haunts Journalists

By David Soler, Global Journalist

Years after their release, two Cuban journalists look back at lost years.

In March 2003 the world’s attention was transfixed on Iraq as the United States prepared to launch a divisive military assault on Saddam Hussein’s government. Meanwhile just 90 miles from U.S. shores, Cuban President Fidel Castro seized the opportunity to launch an assault of his own on internal critics–an offensive that drew little attention from an international community focused on the  prospect of war in the Middle East.

On April 2, as U.S. forces neared Baghdad, Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes returned to his home in Havana late. There, Cuban police were waiting for him. They searched his house, finding a 2002 New York Times’ article highlighting his work as one of about 100 independent journalists working in the Communist nation. “I remember they shouted with surprise: ‘Look at this!’” says Rodríguez. “For them that was as if they found a bomb.”

Rodríguez was one of 75 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents arrested in a sweep that became known as Cuba’s “Black Spring.” For Rodríguez and others rounded-up, the arrest was a life-changing event. All would languish in prison for years after show-trials on charges of undermining the government.  “This is following Sept. 11th, the world is focused on the U.S. intervention in Iraq,” says Ted Henken, a Latin American studies researcher at Baruch College in New York. “The suspicion is that it was done because no one was paying attention.”

Rodríguez, a former shipyard worker who loved photography, was recruited into journalism in the early 1990s by Raúl Rivero, a poet and former correspondent for Cuban state media who broke with the regime in the late 1980s and became a leader of Cuba’s fledgling independent press. Rodríguez would walk and bicycle about the countryside taking pictures “trying to show the contrast between the government’s narrative and the real destruction” of Cuba’s economy and political freedoms.

Since independent news media is banned inside Cuba and Internet access is a luxury for the rich even today, Rodríguez’s news agency, Nueva Prensa Cubana, mainly distributed his photos and reports to a U.S. audience of Cuban exiles. “Our job was to show our reality to the outside world,” he says.

Feature continues here: Was “Black Spring” A Failed Attempt at a Spy Swap?

 

The Left’s Love Affair With American Traitor, Ana Belen Montes 2

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes

by W. T. Whitney, Counterpunch

The U.S. government has imprisoned Ana Belen Montes for almost 15 years. Now an international campaign on her behalf is gaining steam with committees active in Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the United States. Arrested by the FBI two weeks after September 11, 2001, and charged with conspiring to commit espionage for Cuba, this high – level analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Service avoided a death sentence for treason by pleading guilty and telling all to the U. S. Justice Department.

Ana Belen Montes received no money. The former specialist in Cuban and Latin American affairs is serving a 25-year jail term.

Three petitions, accessible here, here and here, are circulating; one asks for her release, two for humane treatment. Defenders charge that in prison in Texas, Montes is isolated from the general prison population and prevented from receiving visitors, telephone calls and emails.

Advocates face an uphill battle. Documents relating to her trial and press reports then and since portray her as a U. S. citizen who took the wrong side in a U. S. war. Government officials probably despised one of their own who betrayed them. Maybe her family’s Puerto Rican origins gave rise to suspicions she sympathized with Cuba and Puerto Rico’s shared anti-colonial struggle. True or not, her fate stands as a warning for Puerto Ricans.

With U. S. war against Cuba continuing, the U.S. government likely will resist both easing up on her prison conditions and releasing her. For the new solidarity movement she is a hero, but really she’s a special kind of hero: a prisoner of war true to her cause.

There was a war. While the U. S. government shied away from military invasion after the failed Bay of Pigs venture in 1961, warlike aggression was the norm until the 1990s. At one time or another, U. S. government agents or proxy warriors carried out sabotage, armed thuggery in the Cuban hinterlands, microbiological warfare, bombings of tourist facilities, and miscellaneous terror attacks throughout the island. Few would deny that the bombing of a fully loaded Cuban passenger plane in 1976 was an act of war.

The U. S. economic blockade, engineered to deprive Cubans of goods and services essential for their survival, caused yet more distress. U. S. government leaders believed misery would induce Cubans to overthrow their government. Aggressors within the George W. Bush administration had a replacement government waiting in the wings.

Feature continues here: Left Lionizes Montes

 

Jennifer Lawrence To Play Fidel Castro’s Lover/Spy 1

jennifer-lawrenceJennifer Lawrence will play Fidel Castro’s lover in the forthcoming movie, “Marita.”

The actress is being cast a Marita Lorenz, a young German woman who had an affair with Castro. The movie “centers on Lorenz and how she met and began an affair with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1959 when she was 19 years old,” claims the Hollywood Reporter. “After living with Castro for a spell, Lorenz left Cuba and joined anti-communists in the U.S., where she was recruited by the CIA for an assassination mission. In 1960, she returned to Cuba to carry out the mission but, according to lore, yielded to love.”

Editor’s Note: The Publisher’s Weekly review of the book, Marita: One Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of Love and Espionage from Castro to Kennedy concluded, “Like other sensational conspiracy stories, this one presses the limits of credibility…”  Similarly, Lorenz was interviewed by Castro apologist Ann Louise Bardach in 1993 for a feature in Vanity Fair. Bardach subsequently wrote:  “at least half of her story is readily documented by the accounts of others and FBI memorandum, the other half lacks any corroboration, at times, flies in the face of existing evidence.”

 

 

Tampa Tribune’s “Pro-Consulate” Argument Fatally Flawed 5

macdillBy Chris Simmons

The Tampa Tribune’s recent editorial, “Get behind consulate effort,” is an interesting read, mostly because of its total lack of understanding of US national security and Castro’s Cuba. For example, the feature claims “warnings by several former military officials that the local Cuban consulate would become a hotbed for espionage seem to us overwrought.” It then concedes that Havana undoubtedly DOES collect against MacDill Air Force Base, but proposes that a consulate would actually “make it easier to keep tabs on Cuban officials.”

It seems the Tribune is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Just last month, it ran a story highlighting several Cuban espionage operations in the area. Now it insists adding more spies – this time based out of consulate – would make it easier to find them.

What the paper meant to say is finding spies hidden among a consulate’s diplomats is easier then finding them operating somewhere within the greater Tampa/St Pete metropolitan area. That point is true – and totally irrelevant. Operationally, the local Cuban spy networks already in play would avoid contact with any of their diplomatic facilities because of the inherent risks. These covert spies – when caught – go to jail – as did many members of Cuba’s Wasp Network, a branch of which was headquartered in Tampa. Diplomat-spies are different, as immunity precludes their arrest.

Furthermore, who will monitor these new Cuban spies? I suspect local counterintelligence entities are already busy hunting down other clandestine networks run by the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Cubans, ISIS, etc. What will local politicians say when these unmonitored Cubans are later caught conducting economic espionage against local businesses?

Havana’s acquisition of a Hellfire missile should remind everyone that US secrets are for sale around the clock. Cuba’s intelligence services would welcome the opening of a Tampa consulate – but only as a tool augmenting a very lucrative revenue stream.

How Cuba Got Our Missile 4

A Hellfire missile with sensitive US technology somehow ended up in Cuba - Business Insider

A Hellfire missile with sensitive US technology somehow ended up in Cuba – Business Insider

The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC) A powerful U.S. air-to-ground missile whose design and electronics are a military secret has ended up in the hands of the Cuban government through a series of bizarre mishaps or deliberate theft that could be the plot for a Cold War comedy — or something much darker.

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. officials fear that whether it got the missile by accident or design, the Cuban government has likely shared its secrets with countries like China, North Korea or Russia, and that copies could soon turn up on the international arms market.

Despite thawing U.S. relations with Cuba, the State Department has reportedly been unable to get the missile back or find out what happened to it.

According to the Journal, an unarmed version of the Hellfire air-to-ground missile, designed to kill tanks, was loaned by its manufacturer, Lockheed-Martin, to NATO for a training exercise in Spain. It was supposed to be returned by air from Madrid via Frankfurt, Germany, but its clearly marked shipping case somehow ended up going to Paris where it was loaded on an Air France flight to Havana, and there it vanished.

The FBI and U.S. intelligence agents are still trying to figure out whether the diversion of the missile to Cuba was purely accidental or a clever Cuban intelligence coup.

Article continues here: Did Cuba Steal US Missile?

 

Did Cuban SPIES steal US missile? Hellfire rocket bound for Florida shows up in HAVANA 3

The Hellfire missile can be attached to helicopters or drones

The Hellfire missile can be attached to helicopters or drones

ESPIONAGE was suspected after it was revealed a high-tech US missile was accidentally shipped to Cuba.

By Fraser Moore,  (London) Sunday Express

A Lockheed Martin Hellfire missile was mistakenly shipped from Europe there in 2014.

It was supposed to go from France to Florida, but ended up in the Caribbean country under suspicious circumstances.

The dummy missile is a laser-guided, air-to-surface missile that weighs about 45kg (100lb). It can be deployed from an attack helicopter such as the Apache or an unmanned drone such as the Predator.

There are worries that the advanced technology could be passed on from Cuba to US rivals such as Russia or North Korea. In the wake of North Korea’s supposed H-bomb test, US officials say that they are trying their best to retrieve the missile.

Communist Cuba experienced a diplomatic thaw with Washington in July last year after more than 50 years of hostilities. But an embargo barring US trade and travel to the Caribbean island is still in place. And Cuba, made famous by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, still has a dire human rights record.

Former CIA Historian: ALL Agency Assets in Cuba, East Germany & Russia Were “Double Agents” 11

CIACIA Fooled by Massive Cold War Double-Agent Failure

All recruits in East Germany, Cuba, and Russia fooled agency

BY: Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

The CIA was fooled by scores of double agents pretending to be working for the agency but secretly loyal to communist spy agencies during the Cold War and beyond, according to a former CIA analyst, operations officer, and historian.

The large-scale deception included nearly 100 fake CIA recruits in East Germany, Cuba, as well as the Soviet Union (and later Russia) who supplied false intelligence that was passed on to senior U.S. policymakers for decades.

“During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency bucked the law of averages by recruiting double agents on an industrial scale; it was hoodwinked not a few but many times,” writes Benjamin B. Fischer, CIA’s former chief historian.

“The result was a massive but largely ignored intelligence failure,” he stated in a journal article published last week.

The failure to recognize the double agents and their disinformation designed to influence U.S. policies “wreaked havoc” on the agency, Fischer wrote in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

Fischer stated that the failure to prevent the double agent deception was dismissed by the CIA as insignificant, and that congressional oversight committees also did not press the agency to reform its vetting processes.

Fischer was a career CIA officer who joined the agency in 1973 and worked in the Soviet affairs division during the Cold War. He later sued the agency in 1996, charging he was mistreated for criticizing the agency for mishandling the 1994 case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence official, who was unmasked as a long time KGB plant.

Critics have charged the agency with harboring an aversion to counterintelligence—the practice of countering foreign spies and the vetting of the legitimacy of both agents and career officers. Beginning in the 1970s, many in the CIA criticized counter-spying, which often involved questioning the loyalties of intelligence personnel, as “sickthink.”

The agency’s ability to discern false agents turned deadly in 2009 when a Jordanian recruit pretending to work for CIA killed a group of seven CIA officers and contractors in a suicide bombing at a camp in Afghanistan.

Feature continues here: CIA’s Total Failure

 

A Cautionary Lesson For America: “In Tourist-Deluged Cuba, Canadian Firms Are Noticeably Absent” Reply

Stephanie Nolen

Stephanie Nolen

Stephanie Nolen  — The Globe and Mail

HAVANA – The cobbled streets of Old Havana are choked with tourists these days: sweaty, sunburned tourists from the United States, most of them, who make the rounds of the small hotels in the morning to beg and plead. But it does little good: There isn’t a room – or, often, a café table or a taxi – to be had. The tourists just keep coming – arrivals are up 62 per cent this year. But the city’s limited tourist infrastructure is bursting at the seams.

“It’s a big problem,” said Omar Everleny, an economist at the Centre for the Study of the Cuban Economy in the capital. “Havana is 100 per cent full.” The U.S. visitors have seized on new freedom to visit since the United States and Cuba normalized relations a year ago this week, but they are still mostly restricted to Havana. Yet beyond the capital, in the beach resort mecca of Varadero or the keys to the north, occupancy is also near-full, and there is a huge unmet market for beachfront rooms, sailboat slips and villas. A much-heralded process of economic reform is under way in Cuba, and foreign investment laws were made significantly more favourable for investors earlier this year – and yet the level of building pales in comparison to the size of the demand, in tourism and other sectors.

That’s due in part to the U.S. embargo, which remains firmly in place despite a year of détente. The ongoing tight control of all major economic activity by the state, and the still-strangling bureaucracy, means everything happens slowly.

But many people here – both Cubans and the handful of foreigners based in the country on behalf of international firms – express surprise that Canadian companies, in particular, aren’t a bigger presence, taking advantage of the lull before the looming U.S. storm, to build on their historical edge.

“Canadian companies could and should take advantage of the fact that they can be here already and know Cuban institutions,” said Raul Rodriguez, a researcher with the Centre for Hemispheric and United States Studies at the University of Havana. “Why aren’t there more Canadian infrastructure companies, more interests, given that there are more than one million Canadian tourists?”

“There should be a Tim Hortons in Varadero,” he added.

Feature Continues Here: Canadian Businesses Avoid Cuba