Rep. Omar to Commemorate Cuban Spy at Far-Left DC “Think Tank” 1

Congresswoman Omar

By Trevor Loudon, The Epoch Times

Controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is about to associate herself with one of the most subversive organizations in this country.

On Oct. 3, Omar will present the annual Letelier-Moffitt Awards at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The IPS is a center of both far-left policy formation and support for the Palestinian socialist cause. The Letelier-Moffitt Award is named after the late Orlando Letelier, a paid Cuban intelligence agent.

With Omar’s strong ties to radical groups such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Palestinian socialist cause, she is a perfect fit for the IPS—whose columnists have been defending her regular outrageous statements since her election to Congress.

Story continues here: Letelier award

 

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The Dangers of Monday-Morning Quarterbacks: A Contractor’s Flawed “Ana Montes Case Study” Reply

Ana Montes and the Cuban Flag (Credit: FBI/CSO staff illustration)

By Chris Simmons

Earlier this week, the cyber-security firm Haystax published a misleading and self-serving article called “Finding Ana Montes: A Haystax Use Case.”

This is an extract from their “assessment:”

{QUOTE} Below is a list of events taken from the DoD report that could have been paired with conventional computer and network monitoring systems data:

  • Montes’ nickname at the office translated to “The Outsider,” and she had few social relationships.
  • She found reasons to travel to Cuba for work.
  • She requested the results of her clearance, to send back to her Cuban handlers.
  • She was compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic to Cuba, but very quiet about it.
  • Prior to her post-graduate education she was politically inactive, became politically active at Johns Hopkins and then went quiet after graduating.
  • She was involved with academic groups, including CDI, that supported Cuba.

With the Haystax for Insider Threat solution, we would have captured all the normal indicators that alert DIA analysts, but we additionally could have given top analysts and investigators (with the appropriate permissions) the ability to capture more qualitative events like those listed above and feed them back as structured data into the probabilistic model that underlies our analytics platform. {ENDQUOTE}

The DoD Inspector General Report they cite was written years AFTER the Montes investigation ended and benefitted from tens of thousands of hours of investigative work.

But let’s take a deeper look:

Bullet #1: Point of fact, most analysts are introverts and thus have fewer relationships than extroverts. Bullet is irrelevant.

Bullet #2: Montes’s DIA work trips to Cuba were few and more importantly, almost every DIA analyst travels to the country or countries in their portfolio. Bullet is irrelevant.

Bullet #3: For a government employee to request a copy of their clearance investigation is only marginally different than a person requesting their credit report. You do it to ensure no erroneous information is in it. Bullet is irrelevant.

Bullet #4: Some Americans sympathize with Cuba’s dictatorship. This point alone is inadequate to open an investigation.

Bullet #5: Montes was politically active during her undergraduate years, a fact well documented during her summer in Madrid. The Haystax comment is incorrect.

Bullet #6:  Montes had been active in the Cuba Study Group, as were other analysts, until ordered to stop attending by DIA Security. Furthermore, she only attended one meeting hosted by the Center for Defense Information (CDI). The Haystax comment is partially correct.

Most importantly, Haystax’s conclusion that the Haystax for Insider Threat solution “would have been the only way the DIA could have caught Montes sooner” is false.

For example, Montes’ cited behavior on the Brothers to the Rescue Task Force was investigated and the allegations refuted or otherwise explained. The inquiry was closed by DIA because there was no credible information to open a case. Montes’ behavior in this episode had no bearing whatsoever on the investigation. This myth lives on largely due to a “based on actual events” DIA training video scripted to protect key aspects of the investigation.

Databases fed incorrect information by inexperienced analysts result in the proverbial “garbage in, garbage out” solution. Investigative tools, like databases, do aid professional, experienced intelligence officers. That said, these personnel must be qualified, respected and sufficiently trusted that other agencies are willing to share those diverse bits of intelligence that ultimately lead to the creation of an Unidentified Subject (“UNSUB”) case. That is precisely what happened with the Montes investigation as the DoD Inspector General found, calling it a model of interagency cooperation. The right people in the right place at the right time with the right information always generate amazing results.

U.S. Expels Two of Cuba’s U.N. Diplomats, Citing ‘Influence Operations’ 3

The Cuban Mission to the United Nation (MINREX photo)

Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Thursday ordered the expulsion from the United States of two members of Cuba’s delegation to the United Nations and restricted travel of the remaining mission members to Manhattan, drawing strong condemnation from Havana.

In an announcement just days before world leaders gather for the annual U.N. General Assembly, the U.S. State Department accused the two Cuban diplomats of trying to “conduct influence operations” harmful to U.S. national security but did not elaborate on the accusations or release their names.

It was the latest sign of deteriorating U.S. relations with communist-ruled Cuba, focusing especially on Havana’s support for Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro, since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

“The Department of State today notified the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the United States requires the imminent departure of two members of Cuba’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations for abusing their privileges of residence,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in statement.

“This is due to their attempts to conduct influence operations against the United States,” she said.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez rejected the U.S. actions as “unjustified,” saying on Twitter: “The imputation that they might have carried out actions incompatible with their diplomatic status is a vulgar slander.”

“The expulsion … has the aim of provoking a diplomatic spiral that would lead to the closure of bilateral embassies, further tightening of the (U.S.) blockade and creation of tensions between both countries,” he said.

Ortagus said the movements of other members of the Cuban delegation would “essentially” be limited to the island of Manhattan.

“We take any and all attempts against the national security of the United States seriously, and will continue to investigate any additional personnel who may be manipulating their privileges of residence.”

Feature continues here: Cuban Spy-Diplomats Expelled 

Editor’s Note: An “influence operation” is a tailored espionage mission subtly and skillfully using agents, collaborators, and the media to promote a nation’s objectives in ways either unattributable or marginally attributable to that power.

Cuban Spy Ring the Focus in Political Thriller ‘Wasp Network’ 1

A scene from director Olivier Assayas’ thriller, ‘Wasp Network,’ which stars Penélope Cruz.

Marie-Louise Gumuchian

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – A ring of Cuban operatives seeking to infiltrate anti-government groups exiled in Miami in the early 1990s is the focus of French director Olivier Assayas’ “Wasp Network”, a star-studded political thriller based on a true story.

Starring Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, Gael Garcia Bernal and Wagner Moura, the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, where it is competing with 20 others for the top Golden Lion prize.

The action begins in Havana with Cuban pilot Rene Gonzalez, played by Ramirez, flying off to the United States to defect, leaving his wife, Cruz’ Olga, and their daughter behind in the Communist state led by Fidel Castro.

While it appears at first that he wants to start a new life in Florida, he joins other exiled Cubans there as part of a ring known as the Wasp Network, a pro-Castro group.
Led by Garcia Bernal’s undercover operative Manuel Viramontez, they infiltrate Cuban-American groups that want to topple the Castro regime.

“I liked the idea of leading the audience in one direction and then twist it and then we see the other side of the game,” Assayas told a news conference.

Garcia Bernal described the key characters as “spies that are trying to stop violence”.

“There’s something very unique about this story that highlights the act of love that actually made them do this, and the people they left behind support them,” he said.

The film is based on the true story of The Cuban Five intelligence officers who were arrested in Florida in 1998, convicted of espionage and other activities and jailed, before eventually being released after lengthy jail terms as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries.

Assayas, known for “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper”, said shooting in Cuba was “what allowed this film to happen.”

“I thought there would be conditions, strings attached, the reality there was not. We were completely free to make the film as wanted. We were monitored to put it mildly, but there were no consequences on the film,” he said.

Article continues here: Hollywood Fiction

Editor’s Note: Any similarities between this movie and the real Wasp Network are purely coincidental. After all, the real Wasp Network played a central role in the premeditated murder of four Americans, influenced the U.S. political system at the local, state and Federal levels; spied on numerous military targets including SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, SOCOM, NAS Key West and Barksdale Air Force Base; indimidated American media outlets, manipulated the Cuban American community, etc.  

How Informers Prolong Agony Under The Cuban Dictatorship 1

The communist dictatorship is still in power in Cuba thanks, in large part, to the informer system. (Facebook)

7.6 million of the 12 million Cubans are members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. The regime rewards them or exposing its opponents.

By Mamela Fiallo Flor, PanAm Post

The longest dictatorship on the American continent is still in control after 60 years, thanks mainly to its job of infiltration in civil society that “purges” the streets of dissidents.

Its latest target was a 77-year-old woman who sells peanuts in the streets out of necessity, thus dismantling the propaganda of a welfare state that supposedly guarantees the care of all its inhabitants.

The visibly malnourished state of the lady, as well as her testimony, makes it clear that Cuba is not the utopia that its defenders claim.

The informers serving the regime, or “chivatones” as the opposition refers to them, reported this “counter-revolutionary” to the police because she exposes to the tourists the fact that the Cubans are suffering without necessities.

Two women, who claimed to work in the education sector, rebuked the older woman for not asking the government for help and instead receiving clothes and money from tourists. They screamed at her, saying that 5% of their salary went to the service of older people like her and questioned her for speaking ill about the government.

The allocation of funds that the regime steals from state employees is not public information because publishing official statistics is a mandate of the dictatorship.

The old lady had hand-wrapped peanut packages. She testified before cameras that she had been selling them for 30 years. She maintains that she does not harm anyone. Apparently, she is damaging the image of the regime, and her action was reason enough to be reported to the police.

According to the logic of state employees, it was reprehensible for a woman to work autonomously, rather than being dependent on the state and therefore on the taxpayer. Meanwhile, they think it is respectable to live at the expense of others, as they do working for the regime.

Feature continues here: Snitch-Nation

 

Special Report: How Cuba Taught Venezuela to Quash Military Dissent 1


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

By Angus Berwick, Reuters

CARACAS (Reuters) – In December 2007, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez suffered his first defeat at the polls.

Although still wildly popular among the working class that had propelled him to power nearly a decade earlier, voters rejected a referendum that would have enabled him to run for re-election repeatedly.

Stung, Chavez turned to a close confidant, according to three former advisors: Fidel Castro. The aging Cuban leader had mentored Chavez years before the Venezuelan became president, when he was still best known for leading a failed coup.

Now, deepening economic ties were making Cuba ever more reliant on oil-rich Venezuela, and Castro was eager to help Chavez stay in power, these advisors say. Castro’s advice: Ensure absolute control of the military.

Easier said than done.

Venezuela’s military had a history of uprisings, sometimes leading to coups of the sort that Chavez, when a lieutenant colonel in the army, had staged in 1992. A decade later, rivals waged a short-lived putsch against Chavez himself.

But if Chavez took the right steps, the Cuban instructed, he could hang on as long as Castro himself had, the advisors recalled. Cuba’s military, with Castro’s brother at the helm, controlled everything from security to key sectors of the economy.

Within months, the countries drew up two agreements, recently reviewed by Reuters, that gave Cuba deep access to Venezuela’s military – and wide latitude to spy on it and revamp it.

The agreements, specifics of which are reported here for the first time, led to the imposing of strict surveillance of Venezuelan troops through a Venezuelan intelligence service now known as the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, or DGCIM.

Under Cuban military advisors, Venezuela refashioned the intelligence unit into a service that spies on its own armed forces, instilling fear and paranoia and quashing dissent.

Now known for its repressive tactics, the DGCIM is accused by soldiers, opposition lawmakers, human rights groups and many foreign governments of abuses including torture and the recent death of a detained Navy captain.

Feature continues here: Crushing Opposition

 

 

 

Under A Watchful Eye: Cyber Surveillance in Cuba 1

In Cuba the possibility of state surveillance is never far away. (Photo: IWPR)

Public access to the internet has increased, but the state remains vigilant.
By Yoe Suárez, Institute For War & Peace Reporting

Álvaro felt like a spy during his four years working as a network administrator at the state news agency Prensa Latina (PL).

“Part of my work was maintaining computers,” he explained. “But sometimes my boss ordered me to monitor what a reporter or worker was Googling or looking at.”

Although this was not among the duties that he had signed up for when he joined the country’s most important news agency, Álvaro never questioned his superior’s orders.

“Then, I’d see the people that I’d been monitoring in the lunchroom or on the street and I felt terrible,” he said. “I tried to act naturally but I couldn’t stop thinking about the personal things I knew about them.”

In an office behind closed doors, Álvaro accessed other people’s computers, taking screenshots that he then filed. Sometimes he accessed private emails or instant messages during the screening process. The assignments even included monitoring the private communications of journalists about to travel outside Cuba as PL correspondents.

“It was a way of making sure that they wouldn’t abandon the ‘mission’ or make contact with inappropriate people abroad,” he said.

Ahead of trips abroad, reporters had to go through a verification process that included interviews with the heads of whatever political organizations they belonged to, references from the leaders of their Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, and a final verification from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Once deemed trustworthy, the reporters still had to go through the final filter of cyber surveillance at their place of work.

“In political and social organisations, people are being constantly evaluating others and it’s taken into account for anything, from getting a university position to deciding if you can be trusted for a job,” said Jesús Adonis Martínez, the agency’s correspondent in Caracas for two years. “In a totalitarian country everyone’s tracks are filed away.”

“There is even more surveillance for journalists who have collaborated with foreign or independent media,” added Álvaro, who asked to remain anonymous even though he no longer works for the agency.

“What they made me do was wrong,” he concluded.

Article continues here: Cyber-spying 

Failed Spy Turns Politician Reply

Editor’s Note: In 2014, Fernando González-Llort became Vice President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, better known by its Spanish acronym ICAP. While not technically a component of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), ICAP is an intelligence front with a long history since its creation in 1960. It consists of a large cadre of collaborators who are overseen by a small team of embedded DI officers. González-Llort is now the ICAP President and a member of Cuba’s one-party Parliament.

During his years as a spy in America, he served in the Wasp Network – the largest espionage ring ever known to have operated against the United States. This network targeted the U.S. military; U.S. politicians at the local, state and Federal level, Cuban-American exiles and played a central role in the 1996 shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft flying a humanitarian mission in international airspace.

Below readers will find an alternative version of this failed spy’s life from India’s “The Telegraph:

 

Fernando González Llort outside the CPM central committe office in New Delhi Picture by Pheroze L Vincent

One of Cuban Five: Soldier, Spy and now a Politician

‘If big business funds you, who are you going to serve after getting elected?’

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi

From 1998 to 2014, Left groups across the world usually greeted visiting American delegations with slogans demanding the release of the Cuban Five.

The five spies had infiltrated anti-communist militias of Cuban exiles in Florida and were arrested for espionage by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998.

The last of the five was released in December 2014 in exchange for a Cuban national in jail for spying for the US. One of them, Fernando González Llort, released in February 2014, went on to become a member of Cuba’s parliament last year. He is also president of the Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (abbreviated in Spanish as ICAP) — the island nation’s international solidarity front.

Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, González Llort, on a solidarity tour with Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida to mark 60 years of the Cuban revolution, said US President Donald Trump’s activation of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, 1996, in addition to the existing economic blockade, was “asphyxiating the Cuban economy”, especially its famed health sector.

Article continues here: Failed Spy Turns Politician

 

 

 

Cuba’s Intelligence Masterstroke in Venezuela Reply

Poster of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

By Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco, GeoPoliticalMonitor.com

Much has been said about the behavior of Venezuela’s Bolivarian regime, its evolving character, its dramatic economic mismanagement, and the impact it has projected throughout the American hemisphere, including its bilateral ties to Cuba.

At a first glance, it would seem that – based on classical international relations scholarship referents when it comes to assessing national power such as population, territory, natural resources, and sheer economic size – Venezuela is the senior partner. Yet a crucial factor is missing to examine how the balance of power truly works in the dynamic framework of said bilateral relation.

Beyond the evident ideological, political, and diplomatic affinities between the rulers of both countries, the crucial factor that has been overlooked even by most experts is the strong presence and operational intensity of Cuban intelligence agencies in Venezuela. A different picture – one that challenges conventional wisdom – might emerge when one considers this angle.

Such a topic is important considering its deep geopolitical implications. It also raises pertinent questions: What if Venezuela is not necessarily the senior partner after all? The fact that it has not been addressed is perhaps a result of the intrinsically covert nature of intelligence activities. Moreover, both regimes are not precisely known for their compliance with basic transparency standards. In practice, that means relevant and reliable information about it is notoriously scarce. Nevertheless, the analysis of what open sources provide is useful to elaborate a more or less accurate – yet broad – situational assessment.

Profile of Cuban Intelligence Services

According to conventional wisdom, effective foreign intelligence capabilities are usually associated with great powers. The American CIA, the British MI6, the Israeli Mossad, the Russian SVR and the like often come to mind whenever the term is mentioned. Of course, such perception is hardly unjustified. In contrast, Cuba is certainly far from being a great power, yet the reach of its intelligence services must not be underestimated.

The Cuban Intelligence Directorate – known as G2 – was initially trained by the Soviet KGB and the Stasi, the East German Ministry of State Security, the strongest intelligence agencies of the Socialist bloc during the Cold War. Moreover, the resilience that has played a key role in the survival of the Cuban communist regime for six decades can be at least partially attributed to its intelligence services’ abilities to monitor internal dissent, consolidate political rule, and keep at bay external rivals. It is even said that Fidel Castro himself was the target of hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts.

It is known that the Cuban intelligence community recruits promising college students, especially from social science programs. Its training and methods are based on the development of professionalism rather than improvisation, unlike other Latin American intelligence agencies. Furthermore, a heavy ideological ingredient promotes a strong morale.

Another aspect worth emphasizing is that Cuban intelligence has not just assumed a defensive position. Actually, it has been remarkably active abroad for decades. For instance, it supported several Marxist insurgencies in Central and South America during the Cold War. It has also managed to infiltrate US national security agencies and Cuban American political groups hostile to Havana’s socialist regime.

Last but not least, Cuban intelligence supported the military involvement of the country’s armed forces in extra-regional operational theatres such as Angola, Vietnam, and even the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War.

In short, despite Cuba’s structural limitations – including its precarious economy – the country’s intelligence services represent a big asset in terms of power projection. In effect, they need to be understood as a substantial force multiplier.

Article continues here: Cubans in Venezuela

 

City of Secrets: A Real Spy Is Never Who You Think They Are 1

DIA analyst Ana Belen Montes, 44, was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001 and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba. (Courtesy FBI)

By J.J. Green | @JJGreenWTOP June 19, 2019 4:50 am

In WTOP’s three-part series “City of Secrets,” WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green talks to some of the best in the espionage game to find how spies have infiltrated Washington, D.C. and what can be done to catch them.

Nothing stood out about her.

She lived in a modest two-bedroom cooperative apartment on a quiet tree-lined street in D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. She drove a red 2000 Toyota Echo. She banked at Riggs Bank in the District’s Friendship Heights section. She was bright, engaging, trusted and well-adjusted at work.

But she was also something else.

Ana Belen Montes, 44, was a spy — engaged in one of the most devastating espionage operations in the history of the United States.

She was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001, and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba.

Her arrest dealt a blow to the U.S. government, because she was a senior-level analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Her cover worked perfectly until, according to FBI documents, “an astute DIA colleague — acting on a gut feeling — reported to a security official that he felt Montes might be under the influence of Cuban intelligence.”

Scott Carmichael, now a former senior security and counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was that “astute colleague.”

Another colleague who had suspicions was Chris Simmons, former chief of the Americas team with DIA’s counterintelligence research unit.

“There were gatherings in D.C. at various academic forums where Cuban intelligence officers would show up to do presentations, and she and other DIA employees went there. But they were warned by security to stop attending because ‘you’re at risk,’” Simmons said.

All the others stopped attending, he said, “but she refused.”

It wasn’t until she received an ultimatum, according to Simmons — “stop attending or get fired” — that she ceased going to the events.

Montes was so skilled at spying that during her years at DIA, even though security officials learned about her foreign policy views and were concerned about her access to sensitive information, they had no concrete reason to believe she was sharing secrets. Besides, she had passed a polygraph.

Feature continues here: Real Spies