Chicago Tribune Laud’s Alberto Coll as “Chicago’s Cuba Expert” 4

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

By Chris Simmons

Disingenuous Chicago Tribune feature:  Chicago’s Cuba expert on the next steps for tourism, business

Fact-checking clearly isn’t a requirement at the Tribune, who’ve clearly forgotten that former Naval War College professor Alberto Coll was indicted following a counterespionage investigation. In 2005, Coll accepted a plea agreement in which he left Federal service, was striped of his security clearance, fined $5000, placed on probation, and banned from practicing law for a year. Coll’s lawyer, Francis Flanagan, indirectly acknowledged to the Associated Press his client was a (former) Naval Criminal Investigative Service source. Coll was regularly debriefed after his military-authorized visits to Cuba.

His indictment remains sealed.

Critics Question Sources for AP Report on Cuba Democracy Program 1





Say sources had political agenda to undermine U.S. policy

By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon

Critics are raising questions about the Associated Press’s recent report on a U.S. program to foster civil society in Cuba and have accused the news organization of cooperating with sources who have a political agenda against U.S. policy toward the island.

The AP recently reported on the program that sent Spanish-speaking youth to Cuba to help build health and civil society associations, which the news organization described as a “clandestine operation” with the goal of “ginning up rebellion.” Human rights groups involved in the program criticized the report and said it mischaracterized the nature of the civil society projects.

Defenders of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program say the AP has been less than forthright about the sources for its reporting. They also allege that the AP obtained information and documents from longstanding critics of U.S. policy toward Cuba’s communist government.

The anti-Castro website Capitol Hill Cubans alleged that the key source for the AP’s reporting on both the civil society program and a separate project, an attempt to develop a Twitter-like social media service for Cubans, was Fulton Armstrong. Armstrong is a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) staffer and senior intelligence analyst for Latin America.

Armstrong told the Washington Free Beacon in an email that although the AP contacted him, he was not the main source of information and documents. “The AP’s reports are pretty obviously based on documentary evidence provided by insiders concerned about the regime-change programs,” he said, adding that he was never fully briefed on what he called USAID’s “clandestine, covert operations.”

“Because the SFRC had investigated these scandalously run secret programs during my tenure on the Committee staff, and because my boss (Chairman [John] Kerry) was concerned enough to put a hold on the programs for a while, I was logically among the dozens of people to be called by the AP reporters,” he said.

Armstrong has long raised the ire of U.S. officials and activists advocating a tough line against the Castro regime. Foreign policy officials in the George W. Bush administration attempted to reassign Armstrong from Latin American intelligence after arguing that he was “soft” on threats from Cuba, according to a 2003 report by the New York Times.

Feature continues here:  Critics Question Credibility of AP Sources


This Date in History: Mexican Diplomat Accused of Espionage; US Media Coverage Repressed Reply

September 5, 1969:  Havana accused Mexican diplomat Humberto Carrillo Colon of spying against Cuba.  The Castro regime maintained that Carrillo, the Embassy Press Officer, was a CIA agent tasked to collect against both the Cuban and Mexican governments.  Havana asked Mexico to lift Carrillo’s diplomatic immunity so he could be tried in Cuba.  Mexico denied the regime’s claims, but agreed to remove him.  In part of its extensive coverage, Granma claimed that Carrillo gathered intelligence on senior Cuban government officials and sent his reports to the CIA using diplomatic pouches from the Mexican Embassy.

In contrast to Granma’s coverage, Havana-based Associated Press (AP) correspondent John F. Wheeler repeatedly questioned how Cuban Counterintelligence knew the contents of Mexico’s diplomatic mailings.  Wheeler also called on Havana to release its “irrefutable proof” of Carrillo’s espionage.  Cuba reacted to AP’s coverage by expelling Wheeler and his wife on September 8th.  The only resident American journalist in Cuba, he had served less than 32 months in Cuba. The Associated Press did not return to Cuba for almost 30 years.