Castro’s Dead, But His Spies Live On 2

castro_fidel_cuba_79831941By Sean Durns, The Hill

Although Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25, 2016, the influence of the intelligence services that he created lives on. Castro, who ruled Cuba with an iron fist for five decades, created a spy apparatus whose outsized impact has extended far from the shores of the Caribbean country.

Cuba did not have a professional foreign intelligence service before Castro seized power in 1959. Under Soviet auspices, it created one in 1961. Initially called the Direccion General de Inteligencia (DGI), and later renamed the Direccion de Inteligencia (DI), Cuba’s most important intelligence agency began training its officers in Moscow in 1962. KGB tutelage proved of enormous value, both to the Castro regime and to the USSR.

The DGI quickly developed into an elite service. Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst, noted in his 2012 book Castro’s Secrets, “Many retired CIA officials stand in awe of how Cuba, a small island nation, could have built up such exceptional clandestine capabilities and run so many successful operations against American targets.” In Latell’s opinion, “Cuban intelligence…ran circles around both” the CIA and the FBI.

William Rosenau and Ralph Espach, both senior analysts at the Virginia-based think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses, concurred with Latell’s conclusion. Writing in The National Interest, both offered the judgment: “Cuban intelligence services are widely regarded as among the best in the world—a significant accomplishment, given the country’s meager financial and technological resources (“Cuba’s Spies Still Punch Above Their Weight,” Sept. 29, 2013).”

The basis for this claim seems sound.

Cuban intelligence successfully penetrated U.S. national security agencies both during the Cold War and in the years since.  Following his 1987 defection to the U.S., Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, a top official in Castro’s intelligence agencies, exposed dozens of Cuban double agents who had infiltrated various segments of American society, from the government to non-profit organizations. Many of the spies had been living in the U.S. for years.

In retaliation, Castro ordered at least two-failed assassination attempts on Aspillaga—both of them, Latell pointed out, involving people the former Cuban spy knew.

Another of the DI’s successful plants, Ana Belen Montes, spied on behalf of Cuba for sixteen years. Montes, an analyst with the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was sentenced to a 25-year prison term in October 2002.

The damage caused by Montes was extensive. Scott Carmichael, the U.S. counterintelligence officer who helped bring Montes down, stated in his 2007 book True Believer that, among other actions, Montes divulged the existence of a secret U.S. Army base in El Salvador, resulting in an attack by Castro-friendly forces and the death of an American Green Beret. Additionally, Montes revealed U.S. assets in Cuba and, in the opinion of former U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, may have offered significant contributions to a 1998 intelligence report that minimized the danger Cuba poses to the U.S.

Feature continues here:  Cuba’s Spies Soldier On

 

Retired Cuban Master-Spy, Dr. Néstor García Iturbe:  Why I Believe Trump Will Lift the Blockade  2

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe

Why I Believe Trump Will Lift the Blockade 

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe, GRUPO HERALDO

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann

November 16, 2016.

A few persons have contacted me regarding the interview that I offered to VOCES DEL MUNDO where I said that, in my view, Donald Trump will lift the commercial, economic and financial blockade that the United States has maintained against Cuba for more than fifty years.

The reasons I put forward for saying this were explained in the interview, but because of a problem, seemingly a time limit in the radio program, they only broadcasted the claim, but not the reasoning behind it, which has created a logical question among all those who read the interview.

CubaNews, edited by Walter Lippmann, was interested in the subject and that is why I write this article. After it is published by CubaNews, I will also publish it in El Heraldo and send it to other recipients, because Walter showed interested in the subject and I consider he should have priority in spreading what I think.

The commercial, economic and financial blockade was imposed hoping it would stifle the Cuban Revolution and at a certain point the Cubans would have to apologize to the United States so they would lift it and we could survive.

None of this has happened; the Cuban Revolution, with difficulties, has continued to live and advance expanding its trade relations with other countries, while the United States has been absent and has therefore lost many commercial and economic opportunities. Had the blockade not existed, they would have participation and now it is other countries that benefit from those opportunities.

The outgoing President Barack Obama has repeatedly raised the futility of the blockade at this point in time and, in addition, has expressed his opinion that it should be lifted. I believe that Obama’s opinion is the reflection of companies and corporations eager to start having commercial relations with Cuba and make profits that the blockade prevents them from obtaining.

In statements made by Obama and the instructions he gave after December 17, 2014 in order to create the best possible conditions for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, he told his team that they should initiate talks with Congress aimed at lifting the blockade on Cuba. Something was done, but with no results.

In recent years, a small number of bills have been presented in the United States Congress aimed at releasing some aspects related to the blockade.

Feature continues here:  Dr. Néstor García Iturbe  

 

 

 

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe

 

 

22 Years is Long Enough – Give Cuba Backs its Mutinous Murderer 3

Cuban Navy Lieutenant Roberto Aguilar Reyes

Cuban Navy Lieutenant Roberto Aguilar Reyes

By Chris Simmons

In the early years of the post-Cold War, 19-year old Cuban Coast Guardsman Leonel Macías González hijacked a boat and fled to Florida with 23 friends and family to escape an oppressive dictatorship. Or at least that’s the fairy tale we were told.

The refugees were rescued by the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Monhegan, who found the overloaded and leaking vessel 60 miles southwest of Key West. The cutter took the Cubans aboard and sank the boat as it had become a hazard to maritime traffic.

Questioned by U.S. officials, the refugees told authorities the exact same story – one provided to them by Macías, who had been a machinist on the commandeered vessel. Macías claimed the ship’s officer attempted to stop the hijacking and fired twice at him. He returned fire, but said he was uncertain if he had hit the navy lieutenant. Shooting back, Macías insisted, was self-defense. During the brief gunfight, the officer seemed to have lost his footing and fell overboard. At gunpoint, Macías then forced the remaining three crewmen to jump overboard before he piloted the small auxiliary vessel to shore, picked up his friends and fled north to Florida.

Unfortunately for Leonel Macías González, Cuban authorities had already notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the vessel’s hijacking and the murder of Cuban Navy Lieutenant Roberto Aguilar Reyes on August 8, 1994.

The innocent refugees were granted asylum by the United States on August 11. Macías, however, was held in detention and questioned at length about his alleged crimes. Havana demanded the gunman’s return and offered to turn over a copy of its investigation. The U.S. rebuffed the Cuban government and authorities debated whether a crime had even occurred. After a lengthy investigation that went nowhere, government bureaucrats freed the alleged murder and admitted military mutineer and boat pirate. Leonel Macías was granted political asylum on April 17th, 1995.

He should never have been allowed to stay in this country. Our government’s irrational and illegal decision to overlook compelling evidence and allow Leonel Macías Gonzalez to walk free cannot be justified as lingering post-Cold War politics. America is supposed to be an example to the world, especially with regard to respect for the law and human rights.

The Federal government should immediately ask Havana for a copy of its criminal investigation. While awaiting Cuba’s response, the FBI can begin building a criminal case against Macías,  centered on the numerous statements he previously provided the government.

The lawyers can argue whether or not Lieutenant Aguilar Reyes was murdered. However, several facts are irrefutable. First of all, Macías’ claim of self-defense is completely false. Lieutenant Reyes was armed, a fact well known to Macías. The officer was in command of a small auxiliary vessel in the Cuban Navy. The notion that someone – especially a service member – may use a weapon to hijack a warship and not expect the crew to fight back is an idea that defies civil and military law worldwide. Self-defense? Never. Secondly, Macías freely admitted commandeering the naval ferry, which I suspect authorities would now agree constituted international piracy. The key point is that Macías has already confessed to these crimes.

After receipt of the evidence from Havana, we would need to return Macías to face justice in a Cuba court. While the lack of an extradition treaty may seem problematic, it really isn’t. For years, Havana and Washington have regularly returned criminals. Last December, U.S. Marshals flew to Havana to bring fugitive Shawn Wegman back to face firearms charges. In April of this year, 11 Cuban criminals were returned. Furthermore, Macías’ request for political asylum was fraudulent, which by itself is sufficient grounds for the revocation/ termination of his political asylum. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled their homeland without using their escape as a license to kill. Leonel Macías González has evaded justice – with U.S. assistance – far too long. Harboring this fugitive is unforgiveable. It needs to end – NOW.

New JFK Assassination Theory: Cuban Double Agent Led Plot 1

Rene Dussaq

                     Rene Dussaq

By Joshua Rhett Miller, New York Post

More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, new evidence uncovered in the secret diaries of a Cold War spy and assassin implicates another clandestine figure believed to be working as a double agent for Cuba, an explosive new book claims.

The never-before-revealed diaries of Douglas DeWitt Bazata, a decorated officer for the United States Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency — claim that his longtime close friend and fellow spy, René Alexander Dussaq, was a “primary organizer and plotter” of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

The diaries reveal that Dussaq might even have fired the fatal “shot or shots” that killed the 35th president of the United States, according to author Robert K. Wilcox’s latest book, “Target: JFK, The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?,” which goes on sale Nov. 14.

“Douglas Bazata was deeply embedded in the world of secrets, especially those surrounding JFK’s death,” Wilcox writes. “He was there at the birth of the CIA as an early and major player in that murkiest of worlds … He was an insider.”

In his diaries, Bazata wrote that the two men first met in Havana, Cuba, during the early 1930s, when Bazata, a US Marine, was given his first mission as a hitman: to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary. The mission failed, but the pair’s bond was sealed forever after Dussaq saved Bazata’s life.

The bond deepened in 1944, when both men were part of WWII’s Operation Jedburgh, in which more than 250 American and Allied paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines across France, the Netherlands and Belgium to fight against German occupation. Dussaq’s larger-than-life legend began here: He was nicknamed “Captain Bazooka” for demonstrating the Army’s new anti-tank rocket launchers to the Maquis, French resistance guerrillas. He’s also credited with bluffing a German general into believing he was surrounded by American troops, leading to the capture of up to 500 Nazis.

Dussaq — who was born in Buenos Aires and educated in Geneva and Cuba — became a naturalized US citizen in 1942. The son of a Cuban diplomat, he had tried to enlist after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor but was deemed a potential security risk. However, the US Army was desperate for infantrymen at the time and ultimately accepted him. Dussaq quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a lieutenant instructor for the elite 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles.”

One top-ranked OSS official told his counterparts in London that Dussaq, who spoke six languages, was an exceptional athlete and a master of “unusual and hazardous work of a physical nature,” references to earlier work as a deep-sea diver, treasure hunter and Hollywood movie stuntman.

Article continues here:  Cuban Double Agent Led JFK Plot

 

A New Cuban Connection to JFK’s Murder 1

target-jfkBy Robert K. Wilcox, American Thinker

Days after the John F. Kennedy assassination, top White House aides read an eyes-only report that Cuba was behind the shocking Dallas murder.  Castro had warned he’d retaliate if the Kennedy administration kept trying to kill him, and they continued.  New president Lyndon Johnson ordered the secret report buried.  If made public, the U.S. would have to attack Soviet-backed Cuba and thus start World War III.

It’s been 53 years since that terrible day in Dallas, and the “Cuban Connection” has resurfaced in newly revealed secret diaries of a deceased Cold War spy and assassin.  Douglas Bazata was a decorated OSS special forces “Jedburgh” in World War II and a celebrated freelance spy who, after the war, worked for the CIA, among other intelligence agencies.  His now decoded secret diaries tell for the first time the extraordinary story of his close friend, Rene A. Dussaq, a fellow “Jed” and larger-than-life clandestine, who, he says hatched the assassination plan and led it as a shooter in Dallas.  The fascinating story and evidence, pro and con, is in my new book, Target: JFK — The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?, a mystery story that could be the key to that famous murder.

Dussaq, Argentine-born and naturalized as an American in 1942, was the son of a Cuban diplomat.  While being educated in Switzerland, he spent summers in Cuba and considered himself Cuban.  Per the diaries, he hatched the assassination plan to free Cuba from U.S. domination – exploitation vividly illustrated in the movie The Godfather, when gangsters cut a cake shaped as Cuba.  Suave and fearless, Dussaq was an Olympic athlete, Cuban revolutionary, Hollywood stuntman, and deep sea diver and treasure hunter.  During WWII, he became the legendary “Captain Bazooka” in France, who helped the Maquis defeat the Nazis.  Almost singlehandedly, he captured a garrison of over 500 Germans.

Few in America have ever heard of Dussaq, although some of his exploits have been chronicled.  He kept a low profile as a successful post-WWII Los Angeles insurance agent while secretly working undercover for the FBI against Hollywood communists in the 1950s.  It also appears that he was a double, and perhaps triple, agent working ostensibly for the CIA, but also for Cuba, if not others.  Characteristically, the CIA will neither confirm nor deny that.  Bazata, too, after the war, worked for the CIA and was a good friend of William Colby, who headed the CIA from 1973 to 1976.  Because of who Bazata was and his level of access, his secret diaries must be taken seriously.

Dussaq and Bazata met in Cuba in the 1930s.  Bazata was a young marine assigned to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary.  The mission went awry, but Dussaq saved his life; therefore, Bazata was in his debt.  He also admired Dussaq for his intelligence and fearlessness.  As Jedburghs, both men jumped into occupied France, where their bond deepened.  After the war, writes Bazata, Dussaq grew angry at U.S. exploitation of Cuba, and once JFK became president, Kennedy’s administration’s Bay of Pigs invasion and continual attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro gave justification in Dussaq’s mind for implementing “Hydra-K,” the JFK kill-plot detailed in the diaries.

Read more: Target:  JFK

 

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

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.