This Day in History — Cuban Intelligence Crippled 2

May 13, 2003:  The U.S. expelled 14 Cuban diplomats for espionage.  Seven diplomats were based at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) and the other seven at the Interests Section.  At the time, 37 Cuban diplomats were assigned to CMUN and 26 at the Interests Section.

This action was the largest expulsion of Cuban Intelligence Officers and the third largest ejection of diplomats in U.S. history.  All previous efforts against Cuban diplomat-spies had been very small, consisting of only one to four officers.  The FBI stated that the carefully planned expulsion was led by the State Department and the Bush administration, rather than as a direct result of US Counterintelligence activities.  Intended to send a very strong message to Havana, President Bush may have personally approved the expulsion.

Media reports mistakenly speculated that the expulsions were a result of the growing tensions between Havana and Washington.  The real reason remained concealed for another eight months. The US and its coalition partners attacked Iraq on March 19, 2003 in a mission called Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  After the war, a senior Pentagon official told Washington Times columnist Bill Gertz that Cuba shared intelligence on the U.S. with Iraq.  Havana provided Iraqi Intelligence with information on U.S. troop movements and associated military activities.

The expulsions occurred less than eight weeks after the war started.  This fact, coupled with the deadly nature of the intelligence Havana provided to Baghdad, strongly suggests that Cuba’s passage of time-sensitive intelligence on U.S. forces pre-dated the start of the war.  Cuba’s high-risk adventurism occurred on the heels of the revelations of Aba Belen Montes’ treachery, including her efforts to kill U.S. and host nation soldiers during the war against leftist guerrillas in El Salvador.  Cuba arrogantly assumed it could again put the lives of U.S. military personnel at risk.  This strategic blunder made a major U.S. response a fait accompli.

The expulsions crippled Cuban intelligence operations in the United States, since — according to defectors — Havana generally maintains approximately about 35 spies under diplomatic cover.  Cuba is allowed a permanent staff of 26 officials at the Interests Section and 51 at the CMUN.  Officials on temporary tours often augment the permanent staff.

JFK Assassination Scholar John McAdams’ Unkind Review of Brian Latell’s “Castro’s Secrets” Reply

Professor John McAdams teaches American politics, public opinion, and voter behavior at Marquette University.  He is the author of “JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think about Claims of Conspiracy” (Potomac, 2012).   McAdams condemn’s Latell’s work with faint praise, before concluding “While Castro’s Secrets is hardly without value, it is marred by Latell’s poor historical judgment, especially when it deals with the JFK assassination. He has fallen into the morass that is assassination “scholarship.” It’s ironic that Latell, who rightly laments the failures of the CIA in dealing with Castro, exemplifies the analytical shortcomings he deplores.”

State Department Rebuffs Cuba on Prisoner Exchange Reply


Victoria Nuland

Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

May 11, 2012

[Extract includes only the Cuba portion of the briefing]

QUESTION: Yesterday, a Cuban official gave an interview to CNN. Josefina Vidal is her name. She said that they’ve conveyed some kind of offer to the U.S. Government on the release of Alan Gross. Is there any possibility at all of negotiation on that front?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think if you go back to an interview that Secretary Clinton gave to CNN earlier in the week from New Delhi, she was very clear on this subject. There is no equivalence between these situations. On the one hand, you have convicted spies in the United States, and on the other hand, you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place. So we are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade. The continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross is deplorable, it is wrong, and it’s an affront to human decency. And the Cuban Government needs to do the right thing.

QUESTION: So – okay.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So you are confirming that this offer was related to the Cuban Five, because she didn’t confirm it in the —

MS. NULAND: The Cuban Government has regularly tried to link these things, and we regularly reject the linkage.

QUESTION: Well – but I mean, why is it okay – I mean, and several officials have discussed that in those discussions with the Taliban on trading five Taliban prisoners, and Bowe Bergdahl was involved, possibly involved in the trade – why is it okay to talk about trading with the Taliban but not with the Cubans for a U.S. person that’s been in jail and is in poor health?

MS. NULAND: There’s no equivalency in these situations, and the Cuban Government knows that. This is a matter of a sitting government having locked up a human – an assistance worker on no basis whatsoever. And one ought to be able to work with an established government to deal with an American citizen in an appropriate manner, and we have so far failed to do that with this government.

QUESTION: All right. But you say that he did not break Cuban law?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to what – one way or the other.

QUESTION: Well, I mean —

MS. NULAND: I mean, our view is he did nothing wrong.

QUESTION: Well, then why is it – well —

MS. NULAND: He did nothing wrong, and we don’t – we think that his —

QUESTION: His activities – the Cubans say that his activities violated Cuban law. Now whether you agree or disagree with what the Cuban law says, that’s an entirely different story.


QUESTION: However, he – what he was doing, they say, broke their law. Now —

MS. NULAND: Well, we categorically reject —

QUESTION: That – alas – so why is this – okay, but you categorically reject that he broke their law?

MS. NULAND: We categorically reject the charges against him, and the fact that he’s been locked up.

QUESTION: Okay. But you said this is an affront to human decency.

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why? Because he’s sick? Because – why is it an affront to human decency?

MS. NULAND: Because they locked him up with no cause. They are refusing even basic humanitarian consideration for him. Let me just give you one comparison that we do consider of note in this case.

Even with the Cuban Five, all right, we had one of them, Rene Gonzalez, who had served 15 years for spying. He was on parole in the United States. He asked to be able to go back to Cuba to visit a sick relative. We granted him the ability to go back to Cuba. He did that and he came back. That was a humanitarian gesture; again, a completely different situation. But the Cuban Government can’t even grant that kind of humanity in a totally (inaudible) situation to begin with, so hence the language.

QUESTION: On that —


QUESTION: — yesterday, the Cuban officials said that he can’t travel to the United States to see his mother because he’s at the start of his sentence. What do you say to that?

MS. NULAND: Look, we just reject the whole business, any equivalency and any sort of position by the Cuban Government that this is anything but completely unjust.

Counterintelligence Officer Loses Credentials During Attack on Dissident Reply

Babalu blog exposes repressive actions of Jorge Galvez Botolengo, a member of the dreaded Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) within the Ministry of the Interior.  It was formerly known as the Directorate General of Counterintelligence (DGCI), which is the title used on Galvez Botolengo‘s “lost” credentials.


Uruguayan President Meets with Wife of Spy Rene Gonzalez Reply

Uruguayan President Meets with Wife of Spy Rene Gonzalez

Havana succeds in yet another “Influence Operation.”  Cuban spy Olga Salanueva, wife of Cuban 5 spy René González, met with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica and secured his support for the Cuban Five.  Salanueva was deported from the US on humanitarian grounds to raise her children after González was arrested for espionage in 1998.