The Cuban Empire 2

Ana Belen Montes

The threat few see

By Toby Westerman, Renew America

October 30, 2019

In America there is some awareness of the military threat posed by Russia and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). There have been warnings from the U.S. military concerning the PRC’s growing challenge to the U.S. in the Pacific. Russian ballistic missile and land forces are a reality to most Americans, a legacy from the Cold War, but all perspective relating to Moscow’s strategies and tactics are lost to millions in the U.S. on account of unsubstantiated charges of some effective interference in U.S. elections and the presence of Russian “agents.” While these assertions have been made loudly and received much media attention, solid proof has been lacking.

Not only has the Russian threat become a punch line in some political and media circles, but the very real danger coming from Russia and one of its most active client states seems to be ignored. The Communist gulag state of Cuba, an ally of Moscow for more than 60 years, poses an immediate threat to the United States both as a base for spying against the U.S. as well as a military danger to nations in the Western Hemisphere friendly to the U.S.

Within the U.S., Cuban espionage has been working to guide U.S. foreign policy, gather information on the readiness of the American military, and disrupt – even to the point of murdering – Cubans opposed to the Communist regime in Cuba. The arrest in 2001 of Ana Belen Montes, a former senior analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, provided a shocking example as to how effective Cuban intelligence could be.

Montes was the “go to” person on all things relating to Cuba, and her opinions helped mold U.S. policy toward Havana. While performing her top secret duties, she also informed her Cuban handlers of all the restricted information to which she was privy as a high ranking DIA advisor. (Montes is due to be released in 2027).

Earlier, in 1998, the FBI broke a spy ring referred to as the Wasp Network (La Red Avispa). Five of the ring were tried and convicted of charges ranging from being agents of a foreign power to conspiracy to commit murder. Sentences ranged from 15 years to two life terms for one individual. The U.S. Southern Command, which had recently moved from Panama to Florida, was a major target. [It should be noted that two served their sentences and three were released as part of a de facto prisoner swap.]

The reader should also be aware that the newly released spy-thriller, “Wasp Network,” by Oliver Assayas, has little in common with the actual activities of “La Red Avispa.” An editorial note on Cuba Confidential, which carries a September 2, 2019 review of the film, states “Any similarities between this movie and the real Wasp Network are purely coincidental…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; intimidated American media outlets, manipulated the Cuban American community, etc.”

Article continues here: The Cuban Empire

 

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.

No Sign of Release For The Last Cuban Spy in a US Jail 1

Despite thaw in relations, Ana Belén Montes looks set to serve last nine years of quarter-century sentence

Pablo de Llano, El Pais Corresponsal en Miami

On February 28, in her cell at a maximum security prison in Fort Worth, Texas, Ana Belén Montes turned 60 years of age. Once regarded as one of the Pentagon’s top analysts and an expert on Cuba’s military, the so-called “Queen of Cuba” was arrested in 2001 when her 17-year career as Cuban spy was discovered and she was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Despite the thaw in relations between Havana and Washington under Barack Obama, which saw three of the last Cuban spies returned home in 2014, Montes remains behind bars in a facility reserved for some of the most dangerous and mentally ill prisoners in the United States.

In 2016, a family member revealed that Montes had undergone surgery for breast cancer, although there has been no official confirmation of this.

Her release is currently scheduled for 2026, by which point she will be 69 years old.

Unlike the three prisoners released in 2014, the Cuban government has never officially campaigned for Montes’ freedom. In June 2016, Miami Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald reported that Cuban officials had asked after her during a meeting in the United States. A few months earlier, Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez had called for her release at a concert in Spain. The request was repeated a few days ago at one of his concerts in Puerto Rico. Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, posted a report from Venezuela’s official news agency mentioning that a campaign for Montes’ freedom had been organized in Cuba.

Writing in his blog on Montes’ birthday about her treatment by the regime, Cuban journalist Harold Cárdenas said: “The Cuban Foreign Ministry’s discretion is understandable. In contrast, the silence in the national media is shameful.”

There has been speculation that the United States and Cuba are negotiating Montes’ exchange for Assata Shakur, the Black Panther leader accused of shooting a police officer who managed to escape to Cuba in 1984, claiming political asylum. But a 2016 US State Department internal document rejects the option.

Montes is considered to be the Cuban agent who most deeply penetrated US intelligence. An analyst at the Pentagon, she was recruited by Havana in 1984, and after undergoing training, would report each night to her handlers via shortwave radio without ever having to make copies of documents, thanks to her remarkable memory.

Article continues here: Ana B Montes

Editor’s Note:  The El Pais claim that “The Cuban government has never officially campaigned for Montes’ freedom” is false. The current regime has been very public in its efforts to develop and sustain an international movement to force the U.S. to free this convicted spy. Cuba’s effort is led by Colonel (retired) Nestor Garcia Iturbe – believed to be the longest serving Castro spy to have ever operated in the United States. Additionally, Montes was not a “Cuban spy,” but rather an American citizen spying for Havana.

Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation of The Spy Ana Belen Montes 3

imagen-ana-belen-montes-facebook_cymima20170228_0004_16

Campaign image for the liberation of Ana Belen Montes. “Everyone is one country. In that ‘global country’ the principle of loving thy neighbor as much as thyself turns out top be an essential guide.”

(Courtesy:  Translating Cuba)

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana 27 February 2017 – This Tuesday, a campaign launches in Cuba for the liberation of Ana Belén Montes, a former intelligence analyst for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency, condemned for espionage and considered a “prisoner of conscience” by the government of Havana. The initiative includes concerts, conversations, and publications on social networks with the hashtag #FreeAnaBelenMontes.

The governing party seeks to revitalize the case of the spy, who was not included on the list of prisoners pardoned by Barack Obama at the end of his term. Now, efforts are focused on “getting her released through diplomatic negotiations,” according to official sources consulted by this newspaper.

Montes was arrested in September 2001 in Washington and sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage assisting the Havana government. Currently, after her cancer diagnosis and mastectomy, she remains imprisoned in the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Carswell, located on a U.S. Navy Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas.

For many years, the analyst provided substantial information to the Cuban Intelligence Agency, including military data following a visit to El Salvador, which Havana passed on to the FMLN guerillas (Marabundo Martî Front for National Liberation). That information served to inform an attack on a barracks in 1987 in which 65 soldiers perished, including an American.

Feature continues here:  Havana Demands Montes’ Release

 

“Soldier of Fortune” Magazine Hits New Low – Publishes Grossly Inaccurate Article Calling American Traitor Ana Montes a Heroine 5

True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy Paperback – October 1, 2009 by Scott W. Carmichael

True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy Paperback – October 1, 2009 by Scott W. Carmichael

Ana Montes: Cuban Spy: Traitor or Heroine?

Just 10 days after the attacks of 9/11, the FBI arrested a 44-year-old woman named Ana Belen Montes.

She had nothing to do with the terrorist strikes, but her arrest had everything to do with protecting the country at a time when national security was of paramount importance.

Montes, it turned out, was spying for the Cubans from inside the U.S. intelligence community itself—as a senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA. And she was soon to have access to classified information about America’s planned invasion of Afghanistan the following month. She had slipped under the radar for 16 years.

Montes was actually the DIA’s top Cuban analyst and was known throughout the U.S. intelligence community for her expertise. Little did anyone know how much of an expert she had become and how much she was leaking classified U.S. military information and deliberately distorting the government’s views on Cuba.

It began as a classic tale of recruitment. In 1984, Montes held a clerical job at the Department of Justice in Washington. She often spoke openly against the U.S. government’s policies towards Central America. Soon, her opinions caught the attention of Cuban “officials” who thought she’d be sympathetic to their cause. She met with them. Soon after, Montes agreed to help Cuba.

She knew she needed a job inside the intelligence community to do that, so she applied at DIA, a key producer of intelligence for the Pentagon. By the time she started work there in 1985, she was a fully recruited spy.

To escape detection, Montes never removed any documents from work, electronically or in hard copy. Instead, she kept the details in her head and went home and typed them up on her laptop. Then, she transferred the information onto encrypted disks. After receiving instructions from the Cubans in code via short-wave radio, she’d meet with her handler and turn over the disks.

During her years at DIA, security officials learned about her foreign policy views and were concerned about her access to sensitive information, but they had no reason to believe she was sharing secrets. And she had passed a polygraph.

Her downfall began in 1996, when 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. The official interviewed her, but she admitted nothing.

The security officer filed the interview away until four years later, when he learned that the FBI was working to uncover an unidentified Cuban agent operating in Washington. He contacted the Bureau with his suspicions. After a careful review of the facts, the FBI opened an investigation.

Through physical and electronic surveillance and covert searches, the FBI was able to build a case against Montes. Agents also wanted to identify her Cuban handler and were waiting for a face-to-face meeting between the two of them, which is why they held off arresting her for some time. However, outside events overtook the investigation—as a result of the 9/11 attacks, Montes was about to be assigned work related to U.S. war plans. The Bureau and DIA didn’t want that to happen, so she was arrested.

SOF story continues here:  Murderous Cuban Spy Ana Montes a Heroine?

 

 

Castro’s Dead, But His Spies Live On 3

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

 

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

 

U.S. Rules Out Swap of Jailed Cuban Spy Ana Belen Montes 3

Mugshot_of_DIA_s_Ana_5_1_IH64TF61_L166332774By NORA GÁMEZ TORRES, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The Obama administration “has no intention” of releasing or swapping jailed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, according to a letter sent by the U.S. Department of State to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Aug. 19 letter, obtained by el Nuevo Herald, followed a number of news reports pointing to the possibility of freeing Montes — a top Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst on Cuban affairs who is serving a 25-year prison sentence — in exchange for Cuba handing over American fugitive Assata Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard.

The letter, addressed to committee chairman U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., says the State Department “want(s) to assure you that the United States government has no intention of releasing or exchanging Montes.”

Nunes had written to Obama on July 12 urging the president not to release or swap Montes, calling her “one of the most brazen traitors in U.S. history.” The State Department wrote that it was “responding on the president’s behalf.”

Montes, one of the top foreign spies captured in recent years, authored some of the key U.S. intelligence assessments on Cuba. She was arrested in 2001 and was sentenced in 2002 after she pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba throughout her 16 years at the DIA.

Montes was — and remains — unrepentant. She betrayed the public trust, the security of the United States and her oath to support and defend the constitution while remaining loyal to the Castro brothers in Havana,” Nunes wrote. “Ana Belen Montes richly deserved her 25-year prison sentence, and must serve every day of it.”

“She betrayed the public trust, the security of the United States and her oath to support and defend the constitution while remaining loyal to the Castro brothers in Havana” — U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Montes, who is of Puerto Rican descent, declared in a 2015 interview with the blog Cayo Hueso, which supports the Cuban government, that she has not changed. “I will not be silenced. My commitment to the island cannot be ignored,” she was quoted as saying.

Nunes’ letter noted that because of her senior post at DIA, Montes has compromised every single U.S. intelligence collection program that targeted Cuba, revealed the identity of four covert U.S. intelligence agents who traveled to Cuba and provided Havana with information that could have wound up in the hands of other U.S. enemies.

“In short, Montes was one of the most damaging spies in the annals of American intelligence,” the committee chairman wrote.

Article continues here:  No Deal For Montes

 

This Traitor Belongs in Jail, Not Free in Cuba 4

Ana Montes in 1997 receives a commendation from then-CIA Director George Tenet. She was later revealed as spy for Cuba. Photo: Courtesy of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Montes spied on her own country for Castro, doing much damage, yet Obama may soon liberate her.

By Devin Nunes, Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration is reportedly in secret negotiations with Cuba that would result in the release from federal prison of one of the most damaging American spies in U.S. history. Such an extraordinary gesture would be preposterous for many reasons.

Ana Belén Montes, who is serving a 25-year sentence as part of a 2002 plea deal, was a U.S. Justice Department official with a top-secret security clearance when she was approached by Cuban intelligence agents in 1984. At the time the Cuban regime ran a pervasive spying program against the U.S., as it still does today, though then it often acted in conjunction with the Soviet Union. A devoted sympathizer of radical Latin American regimes, Ms. Montes quickly agreed to spy for Havana, thus beginning a 16-year-long betrayal of the U.S.

As prosecutors later showed, Ms. Montes took a secret trip to Cuba to meet with her new spymasters, then sought government positions with greater access to classified information that would be useful to the Castro regime. In 1985 she began working for the Defense Intelligence Agency, which specializes in military intelligence. Ms. Montes quickly rose through DIA ranks, eventually becoming the agency’s leading Cuba analyst. She was granted access to top-secret classified information that she would memorize at work and type up at home, later passing the information to her Cuban handlers.

As I conveyed in a July 12 letter to President Obama, it is difficult to overstate the damage caused by Ms. Montes’s treachery. In May 2012, Michelle Van Cleave, the former head of U.S. counterintelligence who oversaw completion of the damage assessment on Ms. Montes, told Congress that her activities likely “contributed to the death and injury of American and pro-American forces in Latin America,” and that she compromised other, broader intelligence programs.

Nevertheless, press reports indicate that the Obama administration is considering releasing Ms. Montes to the Castro regime as part of a prisoner swap for American fugitives from justice now sheltered in Cuba.

Feature continues here:  Traitor