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

 

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American Heroes Channel to Premiere Documentary CASTRO: THE WORLD’S MOST WATCHED MAN, 10/22 1

ahcby TV News Desk

Notorious across the globe as one of the most controversial political figures in history, Cuban ruler Fidel Castro has lived an intriguing life under THE WATCH of millions. From a young revolutionary who overthrew a corrupt dictator using a small guerilla army to being the target for assassination allegedly 600 times, the longevity of Castro’s rule and iconic nature has been nothing short of remarkable.

CASTRO: THE WORLD’S MOST WATCHED MAN, a one-hour documentary looking at the life of Fidel Castro through the eyes of the spies who have observed him for over a half-century, premieres on AHC on Thursday, October 22 at 10/9c.

Revisiting more than 50 years of history and revealing the inner forces that have shaped his leadership, CASTRO: THE WORLD’S MOST WATCHED MAN uncovers a unique perspective on Castro’s life as a notorious figure. Throughout the special, viewers are offered unprecedented access to declassified documents, intense recreations and exclusive interviews with spies, KGB agents, CIA analysts, and Cuban exiles who have tracked Castro’s movements over the years, sharing intimate details, captivating anecdotes, and psychological insight to better understand the man behind the legend.

The global programming initiative between AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL (AHC) and Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic (DLA/USH) will also air on Discovery Networks International’s factual channels in more than 220 countries and territories this fall.

Interviewees include:

· Chris Simmons: Senior Counterintelligence Specialist at the Defence Intelligence Agency. He was a principal figure in most US Counterintelligence successes against Cuba from 1996-2004.

· Brian Latell: Former intelligence officer who began tracking Castro in 1964 for the CIA and the National Intelligence Council

· Peter Kornbluh: Director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, an organization that monitors the work of US secret services.

· Domingo Amuchstegui: Former head of the Cuban Embassy in Guatemala.

· Nicolai Leonov: Former Senior KGB officer who knew both Fidel and Raul Castro from the earliest days of the Revolution.

· Felix Rodriguez: Former CIA officer involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the capture of Che Guevara. Rodriguez was born in Cuba.

Feature continues here: AHC Premiere

Discovery Announces New Fidel Castro Documentary THROUGH THE EYES OF THE SPIES 1

DiscoveryNotorious across the globe as one of the most controversial political figures in history, Cuban ruler Fidel Castro has lived an intriguing life under THE WATCH of millions. From a young revolutionary who overthrew a corrupt dictator using a small guerilla army to being the target for assassination allegedly 600 times, the longevity of Castro’s rule and iconic nature has been nothing short of remarkable. Today, Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic (DLA/USH) and AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL (AHC) announced a global programming initiative to present CASTRO: THE WORLD’S MOST WATCHED MAN (wt) a one-hour documentary looking at the life of Fidel Castro through the eyes of the spies who have observed him for over a half-century. It will premiere on AHC in 4Q 2015 and on Discovery Networks International’s factual channels in more than 220 countries and territories this fall.

“The timely news of Cuba and the U.S. restoring relations, along with Castro’s deteriorating health conditions, opens up a momentous opportunity for us to document this iconic and unfolding story,” said Kevin Bennett, EVP and general manager of American Heroes Channel. “AHC is dedicated to telling the stories of not just heroes but all of history’s most legendary characters, and we are thrilled to partner with Discovery Latin America for a unique, international perspective on one of the world’s MOST INFAMOUS leaders.”

“Without a doubt, Fidel Castro is a controversial figure who has had an impact on generations of Cubans in and outside the island, as well as many people across Latin America,” noted Enrique R. Martinez, President and Managing Director, Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic and Canada. “This original production will deliver a unique perspective into the character of this polemic leader that is bound to spark robust discussions regarding his legacy and place in history.”

Revisiting more than 50 years of history and revealing the inner forces that have shaped his leadership, CASTRO: THE WORLD’S MOST WATCHED MAN uncovers a unique perspective on Castro’s life as a notorious figure. Throughout the special, viewers are offered unprecedented access to declassified documents, intense recreations and exclusive interviews with spies, KGB agents, CIA analysts, and Cuban exiles who have tracked Castro’s movements over the years, sharing intimate details, captivating anecdotes, and psychological insight to better understand the man behind the legend.

Interviewees include:

· Chris Simmons: Senior Counter Intelligence Specialist at the Defence Intelligence Agency. He was a principal figure in most US Counterintelligence successes against Cuba from 1996-2004.

· Brian Latell: Former intelligence officer who began tracking Castro in 1964 for the CIA and the National Intelligence Council

· Peter Kornbluh: Director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, an organization that monitors the work of US secret services.

· Domingo Amuchástegui: Former head of the Cuban Embassy in Guatemala.

Feature continues here: Through The Eyes Of Spies

 

 

Latell’s Latest Assessment Reveals Why Analysts Should Not Perform Counterintelligence 7

Ana Belen Montes

Ana Belen Montes

By Chris Simmons

Writing first in the Cuba Transition Project and then the Miami Herald, Dr Brian Latell recently energized readers with his feature, New revelations about Cuban spy Ana Montes

I, however, was greatly disappointed with the article. To start, he sensationalized several trivial issues and recycled old news stories (yes, she was a “true believer”  volunteer and yes, she was brought to the Cubans by talent-spotting agent Marta Rita Velazquez). None of this information is new.

However, he then misinterprets several key facts due to a lack of understanding regarding the field of counterintelligence, in layman’s terms – spy-catching.

For example, Latell claims that Montes met with her handlers “initially in New York, and later at her request in the Washington area…” Any Counterintelligence officer knows Havana would never consider running a penetration of the US government from 225 miles away. Having an agent or officer travel that distance once or twice a month for an extended period would be a huge risk to the security of the operation. Montes may have “asked” the Cubans for a DC-based spy handler, but the reality is she was going to be transferred to a local operative regardless of her wants and wishes.

More dangerous (and out of context) is his claim that during her interrogations, she was told that investigators “had information from a senior official in the Cuban intelligence service concerning a Cuban penetration agent that implicated Montes.” While that may be – in part – what the Pentagon document said, rare are the instances wherein an interrogator would truthfully tell a suspect they were betrayed by a colleague. That said, it is a common ploy to lie to a suspect and tell him/her their own people gave them up. This is what occurred with Montes.

Another major error is his wildly speculative and erroneous statement: “Did she work with other American spies? The report is ambiguous; it states that after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 pressure intensified to arrest Montes. The FBI preferred to wait, however, in order “to monitor Montes’s activities with the prospect that she may have eventually led the FBI to others in the Cuban spy network.”

The FBI wasn’t the only organization that preferred to wait – those of us in the Defense Intelligence Agency wanted to continue building the case as well. The “others in the Cuban spy network” weren’t part of some mysterious massive spy ring, but rather the compañeros she’d served during her espionage career.

Dr Latell is an exceptional analyst in his field. That said, Counterintelligence is a discipline unto itself, rendering any analytic generalist a poor job fit for analyzing spy services. Counterintelligence analysis is – and will always be — best performed by badge-carrying Special Agents skilled in investigations, operations, and collections.

Dr. Brian Latell – The Venezuelan Crisis: Implications for Cuba; Options for the U.S. 1

MODERATOR: Jaime Suchlicki, is the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor of History and Director of The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami. He also directs the Cuba Transition Project, and is the Editor of the Cuban Affairs Journal. His best-known books are Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition, and editor with lrving L. Horowitz of Cuban Communism, now in its eleventh edition. He is also the author of Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of the PAN and Breve Historia de Cuba

PANELISTS: Dr. Brian Latell, is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS). He was a Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University. Dr. Latell served as National Intelligence Officer for Latin America from 1990-1994. His work as a Latin America specialist for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Council began in the 1960s. He was awarded the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Latell has published extensively on Cuba, Mexico, other Latin America subjects, and on foreign intelligence issues. Dr. Latell is the author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba’s Revolution and of Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Pedro Roig, Esq. is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, historian, attorney and author of the book “The Death of a Dream: A History of Cuba.” He is a veteran of the Brigade 2506.

Dr. Jose Azel is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS), University of Miami. He was one of the founders of Pediatrix Medical Group, the nation’s leading provider of pediatric specialty services. Dr. Azel was an Adjunct Professor of International Business at the School of Business Administration, Department of Management, University of Miami. He is the author of Mañana in Cuba.

Dr. Susan Kaufman Purcell, Director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. Prior to assuming her current position, Dr. Purcell was Vice President of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society in New York, and from 1980-1981 she was a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff. She has written extensively on Latin America and on U.S. Policy.

The Anti-Latell Report Reply

By Arnaldo M. Fernandez, OpEdNews.com

Jim DiEugenio has coined the term Shenonism for a deceitful tactic used by former NYT investigative reporter Philip Shenon to tell his “secret history of the Kennedy assassination.” Shenon presents old things as new and conveys them to the reader as important issues that the Warren Commission (WC) should have known about.

That’s exactly what former CIA analyst Dr. Brian Latell had done in Castro’s Secrets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 2013) for involving Fidel Castro in the JFK death through a “conspiracy of silence[:] Fidel knew Oswald’s intentions to shoot President Kennedy and did nothing to deter the act” (page 247).

Thus, Dr. Latell supports the WC report of a lone gunman who shot a magic bullet with the oldest CIA backstop: Castro was somehow behind Oswald.

That’s exactly what Shenon did in A Cruel and Shocking Act (Henry Holt and Co., 2013). He dug up Mexican writer Elena Garro’s long-ago debunked story on Oswald at a “twist party” in Mexico City, and twisted that party into the occasion seized by Sylvia Duran, allegedly an agent of Castro’s General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI), for putting Oswald up to kill Kennedy (page 556).

The paperback edition of Castro’s Secrets (2013) changed the subtitle from The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine to Cuban Intelligence, the CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Dr. Latell’s purpose-built stage allowed for more JFK walking dead, like U.S. Ambassador Thomas Mann, who believed even “that the DGI used Oswald’s hotel [in Mexico City] foe intelligence purposes,” although no shred of evidence was ever found.

Latellism is the lightest version of “Castro did it” as “Castro knew it.” Such an uncommon nonsense thrives on claques of both people who cannot think logically for many reasons and people who will not think logically because they have a fanatical anti-Castro agenda. Beneath a scholarly veneer: the “indicators of Cuban regimen deception –and apparent DGI engagement with Oswald– have never been properly evaluated” (page xiii), Dr. Latell performs a media gag in six acts:

*The Oswald’s contacts with Los Angeles Cuban Consulate were overlooked by the FBI and the WC
*The CIA did not inform the WC of Luisa Calderon’s November 22,1963 phone conversation
*Cuban defector Vladimir Rodriguez-Lahera’s [AMMUG-1] knowledge that Castro had lied apparently was not shared with the WC
*Cuban consul Alfredo Mirabal-Daz’s incriminating error before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) went unnoticed
*In June 1964 FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover submitted a report that minimized and distorted the meaning of the Operation SOLO information acquired from Castro
*Cuban defector Florentino Aspillaga’s story was not publicly revealed until the initial publication of Dr. Latell’s book (2012)

The more “findings” Dr. Latell uses for tying Oswald to DGI, the lesser good reasons are left for explaining why he was missed as a security risk before the JFK assassination, unless the CIA were plotting with Castro. However, Dr. Latell’s itemized scheme is an intellectual breakthrough. It outlines how to disprove his intellectually destitute conspiracy theory:

*Oswald’s contacts with the Cuban Consulate in L.A. were irrelevant
*Calderón’s phone conversation is not a piece of evidence in any way

Article continues here: The Anti-Latell Report

Rolando Cubela: A Castro Agent? Reply

By Arnaldo M. Fernandez (about the author)

The outstanding e-book State Secret, by Bill Simpich, concurs with the scholarly destitute paperback edition of Castro’s Secrets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), by Dr. Brian Latell, in deeming CIA agent Rolando Cubela (AMLASH-1) as a double agent ultimately loyal to Castro.

The CIA operation AMLASH (1961-65) began by simply recruiting Cubela, but turned into a plot to kill Castro. It would be twisted in a manner that Senator Robert Morgan (D/N.C.) summed up as follows: “JFK was assassinated by Fidel Castro or someone under his influence in retaliation for our efforts to assassinate him [and] this fellow [Cubela] was nothing but a double agent.”

The retaliation hypothesis is neither logically nor circumstantially justified. Castro knew that risking everything to kill a sitting U.S. President would result in gaining nothing else than another U.S. President. And even declassified files in Eastern Europe show that he considered Kennedy the best option among the possible U.S. presidents emerging from the 1964 elections.

Moreover, in 1984 Castro knew about an extreme right-wing conspiracy to kill the worst U.S. president for him, Ronald Reagan. The Castroit General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) furnished the intel to the U.S. Security Chief at United Nations, Robert Muller, and the FBI proceeded to dismantle the plot in North Carolina.

The plain fact is that Castro dodged the efforts to assassinate him by penetrating the Cuban exile and the CIA with DGI agents who told him right back what his enemies were up to. And he cautiously made no distinction. Long before the AMLASH plot, Castro assumed that the CIA stood behind any anti-Castro deed.

That’s why Simpich is wrong by embracing Dr. Latell and asserting that only when the CIA cut all ties with Cubela, “only then did Castro arrest [him], have him tried on disloyalty charges unrelated to his CIA activities, and give him a jail sentence that was combined with big freedoms.”

The Cubela Criminal Case

On March 1, 1966, the Cuban official newspaper Granma broke the news that Rolando Cubela and Ramon Guin had been arrested “due to counterrevolutionary activities in connection with the CIA.” The coverage followed with a communiqué of the Interior Ministry: “The traitors Cubela and Guin were plotting an attempt against Fidel” (March 5), the announcement of their confession (March 8), the trial (March 9 and 10), and the sentence (March 11).

Article continues here: Rolando Cubela: A Castro Agent?

Castro-Oswald-Kennedy: Conundrum or Nonsense? Reply

By Miguel Fernandez

Last Monday, ex-CIA analyst Dr. Brian Latell and Miami Herald journalist Glen Garvin addressed it at the University of Miami. The thesis statement, “Castro and the Kennedy Assassination,” became ironical.

After clumsily manipulating the reports of both FBI super spy Jack Childs and Cuban Consul Alfredo Mirabal, recycling the fairy tales of foreknowledge with Luisa Calderon and Vladimir Rodriguez-Lahera (AMMUG-1) in the leading roles, and re-telling “the Jaimanitas story” by Florentino Aspillada (TOUCHDOWN), Dr. Latell added a “new discovery” for proving a connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and the Castro’s intelligence machine: Oswald stayed for six days at the center of the pro-Castro activities in Mexico City.

That’s an old story from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Mann. Dr. Latell used it for the same original purpose of pushing “the Cuban conspiracy.” However, the more dots are connecting to work against the lack of conclusive evidence for accusing Castro, the lesser options are left for a rational explanation of Oswald’s actions. Actually Dr. Latell’s approach leads to the crossroad of a conspiracy between Castro and the CIA, or a despicable mishandling by the CIA. Since the former is preposterous, as Dr. Latell rightly said, the latter is the point d´honeur.

Uncommon Nonsense

To a certain extent, Dr. Latell exemplifies the analytical shortcomings of the CIA facing Castro. Any conspiracy theory on Castro not only presumes he took the greatest risk for winning nothing with Lyndon B. Johnson as President. It also assumes that an ex-Marine re-defector from the Soviet Union was not an intelligence bonanza in 1963.

Dr. Latell’s legend affirms that a true believer of Communism and Cuban Revolution, connected to several leftwing newspaper and organizations, after leafleting for Castro and clashing with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, got a brand new passport, traveled to Mexico City, stayed at the Castroit Hotel El Comercio, visited several times the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic compounds, asked to illegally travel to Cuba with the Soviet Union as final destination, was encouraged by Castro intelligence offices to kill Kennedy, and returned to Dallas for accomplishing the mission.

Oswald had pre-assassination files in both the FBI (105-82555) and the CIA (201-289248). The routing slips of the latter show that he was under close scrutiny by three teams inside the company: the Counterintelligence Special Investigation Group (CI-SIG), the Counterintelligence Operation Group (CI-OPS) and the Counter-Espionage Unit of the Soviet Russia Division (CE-SR/6).

However, the CIA Inspector General flatly stated: “It was not until 22 November 1963 [that the CIA] Station learned (…) Oswald had also visited the Cuban Embassy.” Thus, Oswald would have passed unnoticed by the CIA surveillance teams in Mexico City despite his three visits to the Cuban Consulate on September 27, 1963, and a call about his immigration proceedings from a Cuban employee to a phone taped by the CIA at the Soviet Consulate.

The Cables of October

Moreover, the CIA revealed a keen interest in Oswald on the “need to know” basis during his stay in Mexico City.
• October 8, 1963. The cable 6453 from Mexico City CIA Station to Langley reported wit delay that “an American male who spoke broken Russian” had said by phone his name was “Lee Oswald.” He had visited the Soviet Embassy on September 28 and spoke with Consul Vareliy V. Kostikov. It was also provided a description of a presumed American male entering the Soviet Embassy on October 1st.
• October 10. The cable 74830 from Langley replied that Lee Oswald “probably” was Lee Henry Oswald and specified that latest info was an ODACID [State Department] report from May 1962. Langley gave a description of Oswald and concealed two FBI reports recently added to his file: from Dallas (September 24, 1963) on his leftist political activities and form New Orleans (October 4) on his clashes with Cuban exiles.
• October 10. The cable 74673, drafted by the same CIA officers at Langley on the same day for ODACID, ODENVY (FBI), and ODOATH (Navy), gave as Oswald’s the description of the “presumed American male” from the cable 6453 and left out the most important hint from Mexico: that Oswald had spoken with the well-known KGB officer Kostikov.

To cap it all, the CIA Station never produced a photo or an audio tape from Oswald. One of each item was immediately sent to the FBI in Dallas, but Director J. Edgar Hoover had to call the already sitting President LBJ for advising that “the picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance.” At least, Oswald was telephonically impersonated in Mexico City.

Coda

Even if nobody aided and abetted Oswald, the crucial problem is how the CIA failed to prevent him from killing the U.S. President in broad daylight at Dealey Plaza. The conspiracy debate turns a blind eye to it.

By pure chance, Oswald got a job at the Texas School Books Depository on October 16, 1963. A week before, FBI supervisor Marvin Gheesling had cancelled the FLASH card issued on Oswald when he defected to the USSR. The day after the cancellation, the CIA sent DIR 74673 to FBI with phony items about Oswald, but enough information for putting him again in the watch list. Since the FLASH was off, Oswald would come back under the spotlight too late.

Nobody from the CIA or the FBI took responsibility, and the CIA still retains about 1,100 secret documents related to the assassination. Thus, the debate should not be about conspiracies, but rather about transparency and justice.

The Shadow Cuban Intelligence Service 6

By Brian Latell, The Latell Report

At the height of the Cold War, when Miami was a cauldron of international intrigue and conspiracy, intelligence agents and services abounded. Enemy operatives stalked one another, competing, carrying out high stakes missions, recruiting spies, and mounting counterintelligence dragnets. But it is scarcely known even today that from 1961 until 1975 two of the rival espionage services that operated here were Cuban.

The larger and more aggressive was Fidel Castro’s General Directorate of Intelligence, the DGI, run by Manuel Pineiro, the notorious Redbeard. The other service, lean and obscurely proficient, was staffed entirely by courageous Cuban-American men and women. Collectively they were known –inside the CIA at least– by a curious cryptonym. They were the AMOTS.

The shadow intelligence service they staffed was intended to relocate to Havana following the expected collapse of the Castro government, and then to serve the security needs of a democratic Cuba. They would form the agile, ready core of a much larger intelligence service. The AMOTS were a “miniature CIA,” according to an Agency veteran who worked with them.

Members were recruited, tasked, and funded by the Agency, and managed by JMWAVE in Coral Gables, the largest CIA station anywhere in the world in the early 1960’s. A few CIA officers were posted at the separate AMOTS headquarters building near Miami International Airport but for security and cover reasons there was little personal interaction between the two.

“Telephone contact with JMWAVE was frequent,” the resident CIA case officer at the AMOT installation, recalled. He said his visits to the CIA station “were rare.” “Each day I would meet with a station courier to pass on all of our processed materials and to receive station requirements.” The AMOTS were obviously highly productive, operating in secrecy largely on their own.

There were about 150 of them, veterans of many professions in their previous lives in Cuba, trained in virtually the entire spectrum of operational and analytic tradecraft. Many were intellectuals and scholars, not inclined to volunteer for the dangerous infiltration and commando operations run by JMWAVE into Cuba. But their unsung contributions were of enormous value.

What did they do? Ted Shackley, the legendary chief at JMWAVE testified about their work before a Senate committee, citing what may have been a hypothetical example. “We’d say, we are looking for a Cuban diesel engineer with a license, and they’d come up with one.” Miami exiles with special or exotic skills needed by JMWAVE were identified and recruited this way.
Another CIA officer involved in Cuba operations testified that the AMOTS served as access agents, as “eyes and ears in the Cuban community.” They helped CIA, he said, in targeting potential agents, “hand holding defectors, and compiling personal and psychological information.” Some AMOTS, extensively trained in espionage tradecraft, “were sent overseas to help prepare other (intelligence) services.” He said that AMOTS managed safe houses and listening posts.

They performed information-gathering and counterintelligence functions on a large scale. Dossiers were kept on prominent Cuban leaders. A monthly analytic newsletter about developments on the island was issued. Most refugees arriving from Cuba were first screened and interviewed by teams of specialists that provided raw intelligence that was valued by Washington analysts. Reporting about Cuban leadership dynamics, the economy, military maneuvers flowed into analysts’ inboxes. New arrivals from Cuba were also screened for counterintelligence purposes by specially trained AMOTS.

Occasionally they provided American law enforcement with information used to detect and prosecute criminal activities. The most dramatic case centered on Che Guevara when he delivered an anti-American diatribe at the United Nations in New York in December 1964. AMOTS in Miami learned of a military-style attack against him planned by an exile faction. JMWAVE informed the FBI and arrests were subsequently made.

In fact, nonetheless, the militants managed to fire a remote-controlled bazooka at the UN building just as Guevara was in the midst of his harangue. The shell fell harmlessly into the East River a few hundred yards short of the building, causing a geyser and rattling the windows of the building. No one was hurt, but had the UN been struck, casualties would have been likely.

Until now, with the declassification of once highly sensitive intelligence records, the existence of the AMOT operations was known to few beyond the confines of the CIA. Sadly, therefore, the contributions of these anonymous Cuban-Americans have never been properly acknowledged. They served their new country –and the free Cuba they desired– with dedication, enthusiasm, and modesty. I am not aware that any former AMOTS have ever sought credit or fame by violating the secrecy oaths they swore to many years ago.