Living and Loving the Cold War: The Wild Ride of a Canadian Diplomat and Spy Reply

Former Canadian high commissioner Bill Warden, centre, stands with his daughter, Lisa, in an arms bazaar in Darra, Pakistan, 1982. (Submitted by Lisa Warden)

From spying for the CIA and dodging the KGB, to rallying Afghan warlords, Bill Warden’s life was an adventure

(CBCNews – Canada) They don’t make careers like this anymore.

Dodging the secret police in Cold War Berlin. Cranking up the music to deafen the KGB bugs in Moscow. Spying for the CIA in Havana. Rallying Afghan warlords to thrash the Russians. Wrangling former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s meditation session with Indira Gandhi. Faking documents to spirit a hostage out of Tehran.

Diplomacy is not designed to be a wild ride, but Bill Warden’s lasted three decades. He died in 2011, before his vivid journals were collected and published this fall by his daughter, Lisa, under the title, Diplomat, Dissident, Spook.

A sometime spy and eventual peacenik, Warden is little known to Canadians but well known to the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, who writes a glowing forward to the book.

Roaming, off the radar, from Havana to Hong Kong, Warden relished the halcyon days of diplomacy when real spies wore fedoras and before, he says, ambassadors became trade commissioners. He watched the “Great Game” of the superpowers from the front row and didn’t mind jumping into the ring.

To all appearances, the polite Niagara Falls, Ont., kid was a dutiful member of the striped-pants set, patiently enduring the rants of Iranian mullahs or Fidel Castro.

But behind the scenes, his life was intrigue and adventure.

A typical chapter begins like this:

“Berlin, 1961. As I rounded the corner onto Unter den Linden and headed for the café, the black Wartburg sedan slid to a halt and four men in the black uniforms of the East German Security Service emerged looking as if they meant business. My back was drenched in instant perspiration.”

That’s where Bill Warden got his start, as a student in the world’s spy capital — ambling with fake nonchalance from the West to the​ Communist East, before the Berlin Wall was built. He rebuffed the CIA’s bid to recruit him and soon, RCMP officers back in Niagara Falls came to grill his father about why young Bill was spending so much time in the East.

Cockroaches and the KGB

His interest in fighting the Cold War was the reason — and he got his wish in his first Foreign Service posting: Moscow, in the tense aftermath of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

Warden was constantly tailed by KGB goons, partly because he spoke Russian — so there was a danger he might learn something.

Article continues here:  Canadian Spy in Cuba

 

 

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US Spies in Cuba Were Among First Victims of Mysterious Sonic ‘Attacks’ 8


The Hotel Capri in Havana is one of the sites of apparent sonic ‘attacks’ on US diplomatic personnel. Photograph: Desmond Boylan/AP

The incidents, which have caused hearing loss and brain injury, began within days of Donald Trump’s election but the motives and culprits remain obscure

(The Guardian) US intelligence operatives in Cuba were among the first and most severely affected victims of a string of baffling sonic attacks which has prompted Washington to pull out more than half of its diplomatic staff from Havana, the Associated Press has learned.

 It was not until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.

 The attacks started within days of Donald Trump’s surprise election win in November, but the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The US has called the situation “ongoing”.

 To date, the Trump administration has largely described the 21 victims as US embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community”. That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting US-Cuban relations.

Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the US embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.

The state department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.

The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half centuryBut the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.

Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several US officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.

Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.

Feature continues here:  “US Spies Were Targets of “Sonic Attacks”

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fidel Castro’s Sexy Mistress Almost Took Him Down 5

Marita Lorenz and Fidel Castro (AP)

By Stefanie Cohen, The New York Post

Marita Lorenz is the Forrest Gump of the Cold War. She was Fidel Castro’s lover and his would-be assassin. She was also seemingly involved in or present for almost every important geo-political event of that era: from the founding of communist Cuba to the Bay of Pigs invasion to the Kennedy assassination.

By all accounts, she seems to be a woman attracted to danger. But she’s rather blasé about it all. According to Lorenz: “One thing just led to another.”

Lorenz, who is now 78 and living in her son’s workspace in Brooklyn, has penned a book about her cloak-and-dagger life: “Marita: The Spy Who Loved Castro” (Pegasus Books, out Sept. 5). This is at least the sixth version of her torrid life story. There are a total of three books, including this newest one, and two movies based on her. A third movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Marita, is slated to for release from Sony Pictures in 2018.

“I’m honored,” says Lorenz of having the starlet portray her. “I think she will be able to capture the way I lived. I would like to meet her. I want to talk to her about my intimate feelings about my life.”

Even Lorenz’s early years were dramatic. Raised in Germany, her mother was an anti-Nazi American and her father was a German cruise ship captain. At age 6 she was thrown in Bergen Belsen concentration camp with her mom, and when she was freed, at age 7, she was raped by an American soldier who lived nearby. The early wounds seemed to make her immune to drama and danger.

When she was 19, she was aboard her father’s ship in Havana Harbor when two boats approached, filled with bearded men dressed in military uniforms. One of them caught her attention. “His face fascinated me,” she writes. This was the face of Fidel Castro, who only a month before had taken over Cuba from Fulgencio Batista in the famed 26 of July Revolution. “I will never forget the first time I beheld that penetrating stare, that beautiful face, that wicked and seductive smile,” she writes.

“I am Dr. Castro,” he said. “Fidel. I am Cuba. I have come to visit your large ship.”

The two exchanged glances, and mere moments later they embraced in her cabin below decks — the start of an affair that would change the course of her life. He called her Alemanita — “Little German Girl,” and as soon as she returned to America, he sent a private plane to collect her. She stayed in Cuba with him for seven months, in his suite at the Havana Hilton.

Feature continues here:  Fidel’s Lover

What Could a Mysterious U.S. Spy Know About the JFK Assassination? 2

A photograph of June Cobb from an August 1962 profile in Parade magazine. | Parade Magazine

John F. Kennedy buffs are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination.

By Philip Shenon May 20, 2017

She may have been one of the bravest and best-placed American spies in the history of the Cold War, but few people outside the CIA know the mysterious story of June Cobb.

The existing information in the spy agency’s declassified files depicts Cobb as an American Mata Hari—an adventure-loving, death-defying globetrotter who moved to Cuba to work for Fidel Castro, the country’s newly installed strongman, then found herself recruited to spy for the CIA after growing disenchanted with Castro’s revolution. The era’s rampant sexism is obvious in her job evaluation reports: Cobb’s CIA handlers wrote down speculation about her sex life and her failed romance in the 1950s with an opium farmer in the jungles of South America. And the reports are filled with appraisals of Cobb’s looks, noting especially her fetching blue eyes. “Miss Cobb is not unattractive,” her CIA recruiter wrote in 1960. “She is blonde, has a slender figure, although she has a somewhat hard look, making her appear somewhat older than her 33 years.”

According to another, undated evaluation, she had a “wiry” figure but had been attractive enough to catch the Cuban dictator’s eye. Cobb, the report said, was reputedly “a former girlfriend of Castro’s.” True or not, she was close enough to get a job on the Cuban dictator’s senior staff in Havana in 1960, the perfect perch to spy for the CIA. Cobb’s agency work in Havana and later in Mexico leads us to the most puzzling aspect of her life—that she later found herself drawn deeply into the mysteries of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. After the murder, she reported to her CIA bosses that she had identified a trio of witnesses who could tie Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, to Cuban diplomats and spies in Mexico City, where Oswald had traveled just weeks before the assassination.

What did June Cobb know at the time? Historians of the Cold War—and anyone with an interest in JFK’s 1963 assassination and the possibility of Cuban involvement—are on the verge of learning much more about the extraordinary, often bizarre, sometimes tragic life of the American spy who was born Viola June Cobb, the full name that appeared on her birth certificate back home in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1927. The National Archives has recently acknowledged that it is preparing to release a 221-page file of long-secret CIA documents about Cobb that—for reasons the Archives says it cannot yet divulge—are somehow linked to JFK’s murder.

Feature continues here:  CIA’s Spy Tied Cubans to JFK Assassination

 

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

 

A New Cuban Connection to JFK’s Murder 1

target-jfkBy Robert K. Wilcox, American Thinker

Days after the John F. Kennedy assassination, top White House aides read an eyes-only report that Cuba was behind the shocking Dallas murder.  Castro had warned he’d retaliate if the Kennedy administration kept trying to kill him, and they continued.  New president Lyndon Johnson ordered the secret report buried.  If made public, the U.S. would have to attack Soviet-backed Cuba and thus start World War III.

It’s been 53 years since that terrible day in Dallas, and the “Cuban Connection” has resurfaced in newly revealed secret diaries of a deceased Cold War spy and assassin.  Douglas Bazata was a decorated OSS special forces “Jedburgh” in World War II and a celebrated freelance spy who, after the war, worked for the CIA, among other intelligence agencies.  His now decoded secret diaries tell for the first time the extraordinary story of his close friend, Rene A. Dussaq, a fellow “Jed” and larger-than-life clandestine, who, he says hatched the assassination plan and led it as a shooter in Dallas.  The fascinating story and evidence, pro and con, is in my new book, Target: JFK — The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?, a mystery story that could be the key to that famous murder.

Dussaq, Argentine-born and naturalized as an American in 1942, was the son of a Cuban diplomat.  While being educated in Switzerland, he spent summers in Cuba and considered himself Cuban.  Per the diaries, he hatched the assassination plan to free Cuba from U.S. domination – exploitation vividly illustrated in the movie The Godfather, when gangsters cut a cake shaped as Cuba.  Suave and fearless, Dussaq was an Olympic athlete, Cuban revolutionary, Hollywood stuntman, and deep sea diver and treasure hunter.  During WWII, he became the legendary “Captain Bazooka” in France, who helped the Maquis defeat the Nazis.  Almost singlehandedly, he captured a garrison of over 500 Germans.

Few in America have ever heard of Dussaq, although some of his exploits have been chronicled.  He kept a low profile as a successful post-WWII Los Angeles insurance agent while secretly working undercover for the FBI against Hollywood communists in the 1950s.  It also appears that he was a double, and perhaps triple, agent working ostensibly for the CIA, but also for Cuba, if not others.  Characteristically, the CIA will neither confirm nor deny that.  Bazata, too, after the war, worked for the CIA and was a good friend of William Colby, who headed the CIA from 1973 to 1976.  Because of who Bazata was and his level of access, his secret diaries must be taken seriously.

Dussaq and Bazata met in Cuba in the 1930s.  Bazata was a young marine assigned to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary.  The mission went awry, but Dussaq saved his life; therefore, Bazata was in his debt.  He also admired Dussaq for his intelligence and fearlessness.  As Jedburghs, both men jumped into occupied France, where their bond deepened.  After the war, writes Bazata, Dussaq grew angry at U.S. exploitation of Cuba, and once JFK became president, Kennedy’s administration’s Bay of Pigs invasion and continual attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro gave justification in Dussaq’s mind for implementing “Hydra-K,” the JFK kill-plot detailed in the diaries.

Read more: Target:  JFK

 

The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode 1

Numbers station_The Daily BeastEvery day, hour after hour, the world’s spies send top secret information you can easily listen in on.

By Shan Harris, The Daily Beast

When I was 10 years old, I found a shortwave radio in a crumbling old leather trunk where we kept family photos and other memorabilia. As I spun the dial, tinny, modulating noises, like the song of an electronic slide whistle, emanated from the radio’s small speaker. Staticky cracks and pops competed for airtime. The sounds swished and swirled, unintelligible and unremarkable. But then, emerging through the clamor, was a voice.

I might have run right over it with the dial, but the voice’s rhythmic, steady pacing caught me up short. It wasn’t a deejay. Nor a commercial. And he wasn’t singing. He was just speaking. The same line, over and over again.

“7…6…7…4…3.” Pause. “7…6…7…4…3.”

I don’t remember if those were the exact numbers. But they were numbers. A repeated sequence which had no obvious meaning, and was entirely devoid of context. To find him here, amidst the screeches and howls of the shortwave frequencies, was like coming upon a man standing in the middle of a forest, talking out loud to no one.

How long had he been here? Who was he talking to? He had that officious tone of the recorded telephone operators who chastised you for dialing a wrong number. “Please hang up, check the number, and dial again.” And the same distracting static I’d heard in those messages filled the background. I wasn’t sure if he was speaking live, or if he’d been recorded and set loose to play into the air.

But there was an urgency to his tone. And a purpose. As if he were talking to me. Imploring. Listen. Hear me now. 7…6…7…4…3. Did you get that? 7…6…7…4…3.

I was simultaneously terrified and captivated.

I never touched the radio again. My curiosity was suppressed by a feeling of dread that I had heard something not meant for me. But I never stopped thinking about it. The voice became a character I passed around with friends during late-night ghost stories. The Bell Witch. The Killer in the Back Seat. The Numbers Man.

Article continues here: Numbers Stations

 

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

 

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.”

 

 

Former CIA Historian: ALL Agency Assets in Cuba, East Germany & Russia Were “Double Agents” 11

CIACIA Fooled by Massive Cold War Double-Agent Failure

All recruits in East Germany, Cuba, and Russia fooled agency

BY: Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

The CIA was fooled by scores of double agents pretending to be working for the agency but secretly loyal to communist spy agencies during the Cold War and beyond, according to a former CIA analyst, operations officer, and historian.

The large-scale deception included nearly 100 fake CIA recruits in East Germany, Cuba, as well as the Soviet Union (and later Russia) who supplied false intelligence that was passed on to senior U.S. policymakers for decades.

“During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency bucked the law of averages by recruiting double agents on an industrial scale; it was hoodwinked not a few but many times,” writes Benjamin B. Fischer, CIA’s former chief historian.

“The result was a massive but largely ignored intelligence failure,” he stated in a journal article published last week.

The failure to recognize the double agents and their disinformation designed to influence U.S. policies “wreaked havoc” on the agency, Fischer wrote in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

Fischer stated that the failure to prevent the double agent deception was dismissed by the CIA as insignificant, and that congressional oversight committees also did not press the agency to reform its vetting processes.

Fischer was a career CIA officer who joined the agency in 1973 and worked in the Soviet affairs division during the Cold War. He later sued the agency in 1996, charging he was mistreated for criticizing the agency for mishandling the 1994 case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence official, who was unmasked as a long time KGB plant.

Critics have charged the agency with harboring an aversion to counterintelligence—the practice of countering foreign spies and the vetting of the legitimacy of both agents and career officers. Beginning in the 1970s, many in the CIA criticized counter-spying, which often involved questioning the loyalties of intelligence personnel, as “sickthink.”

The agency’s ability to discern false agents turned deadly in 2009 when a Jordanian recruit pretending to work for CIA killed a group of seven CIA officers and contractors in a suicide bombing at a camp in Afghanistan.

Feature continues here: CIA’s Total Failure