Will Spy Wars Between Cuba and the U.S. End with Restored Relations? 3

spy_vs_spyHIGHLIGHTS

Since Fidel Castro seized power in January 1959, and over the next five decades, Havana built one of the world’s most active intelligence services

Some of the biggest crises in U.S.-Cuba relations can be traced to the involvement of Cuban spies and agents

Cuban espionage against the United States intensified in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan stepped up rhetoric against Cuba at the height of the Cold War

By Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald    achardy@elnuevoherald.com

Though the United States has restored relations with Cuba, and President Barack Obama is planning to visit the island later this month, it’s unclear if the two countries have declared a truce in the spy wars they have waged for more than 50 years.

Lawmakers in Congress have warned the Obama administration that allowing Cuba to operate an embassy in Washington and consulates throughout the country will only make it easier for Havana to deploy spies and agents in the United States.

“We are all too familiar with the Castro regime’s efforts to utilize their diplomats as intelligence agents tasked with the goal of committing espionage against the host countries,’’ according to a letter sent in 2015 to the U.S. Department of State by five Cuban-American lawmakers including Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, as well as presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J.

Since Fidel Castro seized power in January 1959, and over the next five decades, Havana built one of the world’s most active intelligence services — one that dispatched spies and agents to penetrate the highest levels of the American government and some of the leading Cuban exile organizations.

In fact, some of the biggest crises in U.S.-Cuba relations can be traced to the involvement of Cuban spies and agents — from the downing of two Brothers to the Rescue planes to the theft of U.S. military secrets at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the spying of U.S. military facilities in South Florida and infiltration of leading Cuban exile organizations in Miami by members of the now-defunct Wasp Network.

Story continues here: Miami Herald

Editors Note: It seems the Miami Herald didn’t pay attention during last month’s testimony by Director of National Intelligence, General James R. Clapper, who told Congress Russia, China, Iran & Cuba pose the greatest threat to the United States.

 

20 Years Ago Today: Cuban Military Kills 4 Americans As Part Of “Operation Scorpion” 4

Radio communications of the MiG29 responsible for the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down with the control tower in Cuba as the attack occurred killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (45 years old), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29).

Editor’s Note:  “Operation Scorpion” was a joint mission conducted by the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the Cuban Air Force. Approved at the highest levels of the Castro regime, the operation involved months of planning and espionage work. The two unarmed search-and-rescue aircraft were shot down in international airspace. The mission of Brothers to the Rescue was saving rafters who had fled Cuba.

On Malmierca’s Visit: Cuban Spies, Businessmen and ‘Useful Idiots’ 3

"Former" Cuban Spy and Current Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz

“Former” Cuban Spy and Current Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz

By Capitol Hill Cubans

This week, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, is visiting Washington, D.C., where he will discuss business with Obama Administration officials and be fêted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Let’s be clear: Malmierca is not “the Cuban people.”

This trip is not about doing business with “the Cuban people” or any of the discredited rhetoric of the Obama Administration and its new Chamber friends, led by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

During this trip, Malmierca will distribute the Cuban dictatorship’s glossy 168-page book of 246 business “opportunities” with Castro’s state monopolies, which are run by its military and intelligence services.

But it’s also about recruiting “useful idiots” (“poleznye idioty”).

You see — Malmierca is not simply Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX, Spanish acronym).

Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz is the son of Isidoro Malmierca Peoli, a historic Castro confidant and founder of Cuba’s counterintelligence and state security services. In the 1980s, Rodrigo himself entered Cuba’s intelligence services (known as “DGI“) as an officer in the Q-2 Department, which was tasked with “recruitment” and other operations against Cuban exiles. As a DGI officer, Rodrigo would serve under “diplomatic cover” at Castro’s Embassies in Brazil, Belgium and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York. Then, in 2009, he was named Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment.

Rodrigo Malmierca is not the first senior MINCEX official to visit the United States.

In 1995 (that’s right 1995), Cuba’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade, Ismael Sene Alegret, traveled throughout the Midwest as part of a month-long Cuban “trade delegation” in the United States. (Click here to see how familiar this article reads). His goal was to “recruit” allies in the agri-business community.

Like Malmierca, Sene Alegret was a senior DGI officer.

Sene Alegret officially served in Cuba’s DGI from 1967-1997. (That’s right, he was still a DGI officer while serving at MINCEX). He was a senior Cuban intelligence official in Eastern Europe — with close KGB ties — where he headed missions in the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Feature continues here: Spy-Diplomats

 

 

 

 

Obama Invites Enemy Spies to U.S. Military Brainstorming Sessions 2

General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

By Humberto Fontova, TownHall.com

This very week General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, testified that Castro’s spies remain a serious security threat to the U.S.:

“The threat from foreign intelligence entities…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…” (General James Clapper, Washington D.C. .Feb 9, 2016.)

But two weeks ago (Jan. 26-29th) when the U.S. military’s Southern Command held its annual “Caribbean regional security conference” senior members of Castro’s KGB-trained spy agency were kindly invited to participate.

“Aw come on, Humberto,” you say!  “All nations embed spies in their diplomatic corps, for crying out loud. Let’s give Obama’s people a break on this one. How are they supposed to know which Cubans are the spies? It’s a jungle out there, amigo!”

Good point. Very true. In fact, U.S. intelligence services, regardless of the president they served, do not have an exactly stellar record with regards to Castro. To wit:

“We’ve infiltrated Castro’s guerrilla group in the Sierra Mountains. The Castro brothers and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara have no affiliations with any Communists whatsoever.” (In Nov. 1958 Havana CIA station Chief Jim Noel, was reacting to warnings from “tacky right-wing Mc Carthyite!” Cubans.)

“Nothing but refugee rumors. Nothing in Cuba presents a threat to the United States. There’s no likelihood that the Soviets or Cubans would try and install an offensive capability (nuclear missile) in Cuba.”  (JFK’s National Security Advisor Mc George Bundy on ABC’s Issues and Answers, October 14, 1962. The sneering former Harvard Dean was reacting to warnings from “tacky right-wing McCarthyite!” Cuban-exiles.)

In fact, in 1987 Cuban Intelligence Officer Florentino Aspillaga defected in Prague and revealed that every single Cuban agent (4 dozen of them) the CIA had recruited to spy on the Castro regime since 1962 was in fact double-agent controlled personally by Fidel Castro.

While not renowned for its sense of humor, the Castro regime had fun with this one. In the Havana museum known as “ Hall of Glory to Cuba’s Security Services” sits a Rolex pulsar watch personally dedicated by U.S. Sec. of State (of the time) Henry Kissinger to CIA “Agent Zafiro.”  With his dedication the U.S. Sec. of State, (Harvard A.B., summa cum laude 1950, M.A. 1952, PhD 1954) was thanking KGB-trained Cuban Nicolas Sirgado (“Agent Zafiro”) for his ten years of loyal and invaluable services to the U.S.!

Feature continues here: Spies Invited

 

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.