Congress: Cuba to Share Critical U.S. Intel With Iranian Spies 4

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. Iran’s foreign minister begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, declaring Iran and Cuba united by their histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities. Zarif also plans to visit Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. Iran’s foreign minister begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, declaring Iran and Cuba united by their histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities. Zarif also plans to visit Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Intel sharing with Cuba endangers America, lawmakers warn

BY: Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon 

Obama administration efforts to bolster the sharing of critical intelligence data with Cuba is likely to benefit Iran, which has been quietly bolstering its foothold in the country with the communist government’s approval, according to conversations with members of Congress and other sources familiar with the matter.

A little noticed Obama administration directive on Cuba, released Oct. 14, instructed the U.S. director of national intelligence to assist and cooperate with Cuba’s intelligence services.

The directive has raised red flags on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are concerned that Cuba will pass along critical U.S. intelligence to the Iranians, who have made moves in recent years to extend their influence in the communist country and other Latin American countries hostile to the United States.

Iran’s interest in Cuba was on fully display earlier this year when Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, went on a goodwill tour throughout Latin America that included stops in Cuba and Venezuela, among others.

The goal of this visit, sources told the Washington Free Beacon, was to solidify Iran’s growing terrorist network in the region and ensure the Islamic Republic maintains its presence along America’s doorstep.

“The Castro regime has shown no inclination to end its anti-American activities, including espionage,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) told the Free Beacon. “The Castro regime in August and September 2016 deepened ties with Iran through high level visits, and there are reports that Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah has established a base in Cuba.”

“The director of national intelligence, General James R. Clapper, testified in February 2016 that the Castro dictatorship remained an espionage threat at the level of Iran, behind only China and Russia,” Diaz-Balart added. “Under these circumstances, President Obama’s directive to encourage intelligence sharing with the Castro regime is reckless, dangerous, and contrary to U.S. national security interests.”

Iran has been interested in Latin America for years, but now has the resources to pursue a footprint in the region as a result of the cash windfall provided by last summer’s comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Hezbollah, the terror organization funded and directed by Iran, has had assets in the region for some time.

Feature continues here:  Cuba’s Dangerous Liaisons

 

 

 

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

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Obama Just Opened the Door for Castro’s Spies 1

President ObamaCuban intelligence will have a field day in the United States thanks to Obama’s latest outreach to Havana

By John R. Schindler • 10/14/16, Observer.com

Normalization of relations with Fidel Castro’s Cuba has been one of the big foreign policy initiatives of Barack Obama’s presidency. During his two terms in the White House, Washington has overturned more than a half-century’s worth of American policies toward the Communist regime in Havana.

Calling that legacy a “failed approach,” Obama’s outreach to Havana, particularly in his second term, has been pronounced, including a visit by the president and the first lady to Cuba. By the time he leaves office in three months, Obama will have substantially re-normalized relations with the Castro regime.

Obama has pressed forward over the opposition of many Cuban-Americans and human rights groups, who note that Washington’s gifts to Havana have not been reciprocated with greater respect for democracy and the rule of law in Cuba, as many had anticipated. In the words of Amnesty International, “Despite increasingly open diplomatic relations, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and movement continued. Thousands of cases of harassment of government critics and arbitrary arrests and detentions were reported.”

Obama seems unperturbed by all this, and today he issued revised guidance for the U.S. Government in its re-normalized dealings with Havana. Presidential Policy Directive 43 is likely to be this president’s last push on Cuban matters, and its call to Congress to drop the Cold War-legacy embargo on the Castro regime seems like to fall on deaf ears.

Most of PDD-43’s guidance won’t impact average Americans, unless they happen to travel to Cuba. Obama has now permitted them to bring back as much Cuban rum and cigars as they like—something Americans were last able to do when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House.

There’s the usual Obama boilerplate about promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba, though there’s nothing in PDD-43 that seems likely to make any impression on Havana. The document omits the word “Communist” entirely. Cubans expecting this president to demand concessions from the Castro regime in exchange for trade favors and diplomatic recognition have been let down yet again by Barack Obama.

Some of PDD-43’s guidance will have important national security implications. It directs the Defense Department to expand its relationship with Havana, especially in “humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and counternarcotics in the Caribbean.” It further orders the Pentagon to “support Cuba’s inclusion in the inter-American defense system…which will give Cuba a stake in hemispheric stability.”

It’s far from clear that Havana’s Communist rulers—whose entire worldview for more than a half-century has been based on resistance to Yankee hegemony—actually want to be part of any American-led defense apparatus in our hemisphere, but the Pentagon follows orders, so we can expect the U.S. military to have more meetings and conferences with Cuban counterparts at the table.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of PDD-43 is what it tells our Intelligence Community to do. Obama has ordered American spies “to find opportunities for engagement on areas of common interest through which we could exchange information on mutual threats with Cuban counterparts.”

Feature continues here:  Castro’s Spies 

Editor’s Note:  While much of the author’s assessment is correct, he errs on several significant facts. First of all, a spy war has not “raged between Washington and Havana since the early 1960s.”  It actually began before the Castro Revolution when Raul Castro met and partnered with the Russian KGB’s Latin America department. Subsequently, Castro and the other anti-Batista allies came to power in January 1959. By that May, roughly four dozen Cuban spies were reportedly active in South Florida according to the CIA.

Secondly, the Wasp Network did NOT consist “of five Cuban intelligence officers and their many agents.” The five Schindler is referring too are the small group of senior officers and agents who did not make a deal with the US government in exchange for a lighter sentence. In reality, most of the personnel in the 40-plus member network escaped to spy again.

Good Recording Taken YESTERDAY of Shortwave Radio Broadcasts to Cuban Spies in The Field 1

Good signal of Cuban Spy Numbers HM01, Oct.7

By Bulgarian DX blog

LZ2GPB and OBSERVER’s blog dedicated to the hobby of DX-ing: from longwave, mediumwave and shortwave all the way up to VHF radio and satellite monitoring.

NUMBERS STATION   Good signal of Cuban Spy Numbers HM01, Oct.7

0455-0550 on 10860 secret/hidden site (Bejucal) Spanish Sun/Mon/Wed/Fri

0555-0650 on 10345 secret/hidden site (Bejucal) Spanish Sun/Mon/Wed/Fri

0655-0750 on  9330 secret/hidden site (Bejucal) Spanish Sun/Mon/Wed/Fri

Editor’s Note:  Recorded YESTERDAY, three good quality recordings of Havana’s High Frequency (i.e., “shortwave” or “ham radio”) broadcasts to its officers and agents in the field. For the last 25 years, Cuba has been slowly transitioning from HF to internet-based communications. At this point, only its technological dinosaurs still use HF.

Management Lessons From the Espionage of Ana Montes 2

Credit: FBI/CSO staff illustration

Credit: FBI/CSO staff illustration

By Anthony N. Bishop

The best IT security is not enough to protect against the determined insider

The recurring media coverage of cyber attacks on the U.S. public and private sectors have undoubtedly advanced the rapid growth of IT security industry solutions for predicting, preventing, and responding to cyber threats. Reliable IT systems and infrastructure are crucial to the successful management, stability, and growth of most American companies.

A major data compromise can be damaging to profits, prestige, and strategy, not to mention disastrous to a company’s competitive edge and downright embarrassing. Add the risk of a potential Snowden insider to the threat of a cyber attack, and American businesses can hardly be blamed for perceiving computer vulnerabilities to be the biggest risk to company security and in turn focusing their risk management efforts and spending on IT security.

As companies shop for expensive IT security software packages, hire information assurance specialists, or enter into contracts with IT security firms to provide up-to-date cyber threat intelligence, they should not overlook the threats posed to company data from traditional espionage tradecraft. Not even the most robust computer security measures or the latest behavioral analytic/machine learning algorithms can defeat the insider who does not rely on a computer or the exploitation of to steal company information. In this respect, the espionage case of Ana Montes provides important lessons for every business.

MORE ON CSO: How to avoid phishing attacks

In 1984, Montes worked as a paralegal at the Department of Justice while attending Johns Hopkins University as a part-time graduate student. At the university, Montes’ outspoken views against U.S. policy in Latin America caught the attention of a fellow student who happened to be an access agent for the Cuban Intelligence Service. Identifying potential Cuban interest in Montes for the country’s clandestine war with the United States, the agent arranged to introduce her to Cuban intelligence officers in New York City. At this meeting, Montes impressed the Cuban intelligence officers with her views against U.S. foreign policy and sympathy toward the Cuban cause. It was clear to the Cubans that they had found a comrade.

Feature continues here: Lessons Learned – Ana Montes

 

Cuba OKs US air marshals on commercial flights Reply

air-marshallby Tribune News Service

MIAMI—Cuba will allow US air marshals on regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, island authorities announced on Friday.

Josefina Vidal, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s department for the United States, posted on her Twitter account that an “arrangement on the deployment of air marshals onboard airlines was amended to make it applicable to scheduled flights.”

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed the agreement in a statement on Friday.

“With regard to Federal Air Marshal Service [FAMS] coverage on flights to/from Cuba, TSA has an arrangement in place for charter and scheduled commercial flights,” the statement said. “As a general matter, to protect the operations and efficacy of our Federal Air Marshal program, TSA does not provide specific information about when or which flights are covered by our air marshals, as that could potentially compromise security.”

The twin announcements eliminate a confrontation between the Obama administration and members of Congress over the security of flights to and from Cuba.

The TSA admitted in mid-September that no federal air marshals were aboard the regularly scheduled commercial flights to Cuba that started in late August.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican-Florida, and other Congress members quickly accused the Obama administration of lying because TSA officials had declared earlier that a bilateral agreement for the air marshals would be in place by the time the flights started.

As the controversy continued, the House Committee on Homeland Security approved a measure to suspend the regular flights until the TSA certified that Cuban airports met all security requirements. The measure was submitted by Rep. John Katko, Republican-New York, chairman of the subcommittee on transportation security.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry also announced that representatives of the two countries had met in Washington on Wednesday to discuss “the security of the flow of people and goods between the two countries, and mutual concerns about cyber security.”

Officials from the Cuban Ministries of the Interior and Transportation, as well as the Customs Department took part in the meeting, along with US officials from the Departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security.

Representatives of both government also gathered in Washington Friday for the fourth round of meetings of the Bilateral Commission, to review progress on issues of “shared priority,” such as cooperation on commercial flights, public health and the fight against drug trafficking.

Editor’s Note:  Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina de la C. Vidal left the US in 2003 when 14 Cuban spy-diplomats were declared Persona Non Grata. Among the spies officially expelled was her husband, First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera. A First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section like her husband, Vidal “voluntarily” returned to Cuba.  Long known to US Intelligence as a spy, Vidal and another spy-wife left with their spouses, bringing the total to 16 Cuban spies removed from the United States. This is believed to be roughly half of the Cuban spy-diplomats then serving undercover in Washington and New York. For the last several years, she has served under shallow cover as head of the North America portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). She remains one of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs, but her expulsion will likely continue to limit her spy career until her retirement.

Havana Claims Student Visits to U.S. Incites Subversion 4

Josefina Vidal, Director General of the U.S. division at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, gestures as she speaks with the media at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. The United States and Cuba claimed progress Friday toward ending a half-century diplomatic freeze, suggesting they could clear some of the biggest obstacles to their new relationship within weeks. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Josefina Vidal, Director General of the U.S. division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

U.S. Summer Leadership Program provokes backlash from Cuban government

HAVANA (AP) –  A few months after President Barack Obama visited Cuba in March, a group of teenagers left the island for a month-long visit to the United States funded by the U.S. State Department.

The 16- to 18-year-olds spent 10 days learning about community service, followed by two-week homestays with families in Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, Oregon and Missouri. There, the Cuban teens volunteered at food banks and recycling centers and read books to young children, according to the Washington-based NGO that organized the activities.

Now, four months before Obama leaves office, the Summer Leadership Program for Cuban Youth has provoked a full-blown backlash from the Cuban government, which has organized a nationwide series of campus protests over the past week denouncing the program as a tool of American subversion in language hearkening back to the height of the Cold War.

“University students condemn new Yankee manipulation,” declared a headline in red ink above the lead story in Thursday’s edition of Granma, the official Communist Party newspaper. Cuba said it complained about the program at a meeting in Washington on Friday with the U.S. diplomats negotiating normalization with Cuba.

“We insisted once again that the financing of programs aimed at provoking internal change in Cuba needs to be eliminated, which would be an essential step toward normalizing bilateral relations,” Cuba’s director-general of U.S. affairs, Josefina Vidal, said in a video posted as part of a question-and-answer session on Twitter.

For most of the last half-century, the U.S tried to push Fidel Castro’s government toward collapse or fuel its overthrow in an anti-Communist uprising. The Obama administration abandoned that goal in favor of slowly encouraging Cubans to develop lives independent of a single-party system that, despite limited reforms, controls most aspects of life on the island, from theater programming to the distribution of agricultural supplies. The Obama goal of gradual change is supported by millions of dollars in funding for non-governmental organizations that attempt to work directly with Cubans in programs similar to U.S.-funded efforts around the world.

Cuba rejects the idea of any foreign government, above all the United States, working with Cubans independently of the government and the more than 2,000 state-run organizations that it describes as Cuba’s genuine civil society. Virtually any organization operating without state approval is viewed as illegal and potentially subversive, particularly if it receives foreign aid.

Cuba says such suspicions gained credibility with the publication of reports by The Associated Press in 2014 revealing that the U.S. Agency for International Development funded clandestine programs to undermine the Cuban government, including the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” social network, the dispatch of Latin American youth to recruit activists, and attempts to coopt Cuban rappers as unknowing agents of democratic change.

Feature continues here:  Freedom is Subversive

Editor’s Note:  Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal was among 16 Cuban spy-diplomats expelled from the US in May 2003.