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.

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City of Secrets: A Real Spy Is Never Who You Think They Are 1

DIA analyst Ana Belen Montes, 44, was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001 and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba. (Courtesy FBI)

By J.J. Green | @JJGreenWTOP June 19, 2019 4:50 am

In WTOP’s three-part series “City of Secrets,” WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green talks to some of the best in the espionage game to find how spies have infiltrated Washington, D.C. and what can be done to catch them.

Nothing stood out about her.

She lived in a modest two-bedroom cooperative apartment on a quiet tree-lined street in D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. She drove a red 2000 Toyota Echo. She banked at Riggs Bank in the District’s Friendship Heights section. She was bright, engaging, trusted and well-adjusted at work.

But she was also something else.

Ana Belen Montes, 44, was a spy — engaged in one of the most devastating espionage operations in the history of the United States.

She was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001, and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba.

Her arrest dealt a blow to the U.S. government, because she was a senior-level analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Her cover worked perfectly until, according to FBI documents, “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.”

Scott Carmichael, now a former senior security and counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was that “astute colleague.”

Another colleague who had suspicions was Chris Simmons, former chief of the Americas team with DIA’s counterintelligence research unit.

“There were gatherings in D.C. at various academic forums where Cuban intelligence officers would show up to do presentations, and she and other DIA employees went there. But they were warned by security to stop attending because ‘you’re at risk,’” Simmons said.

All the others stopped attending, he said, “but she refused.”

It wasn’t until she received an ultimatum, according to Simmons — “stop attending or get fired” — that she ceased going to the events.

Montes was so skilled at spying that during her years at DIA, even though security officials learned about her foreign policy views and were concerned about her access to sensitive information, they had no concrete reason to believe she was sharing secrets. Besides, she had passed a polygraph.

Feature continues here: Real Spies

 

 

 

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?

 

 

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

 

 

 

Rubio: CNN’s Cuban Spy Documentary A Reminder That Ana Belen Montes Belongs In U.S. Prison 2

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement after last night’s airing of CNN’s Original Series “Declassified” documentary on convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, who reports earlier this year indicated has been discussed by the U.S. government and Cuban regime as part of a potential prisoner exchange:‎

“In recent months, there have been reports about a potential prisoner exchange between the U.S. and the Castro regime involving convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes. After watching last night’s CNN documentary on Ana Belen Montes, I hope those who are contemplating making the mistake of releasing her, including anyone in the White House, realize how absurd an idea it is because of how her espionage against the U.S. endangered American lives, and that they drop this altogether.”

Last month, Rubio announced his opposition to the possibility of releasing Montes in exchange for Joanne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey police officer and has been harbored by Cuba for decades.

The Most Dangerous U.S. Spy You’ve Never Heard Of 4

Ana Montes with then-Deputy DCI George Tenet, after receiving an award.

Ana Montes with then-Deputy DCI George Tenet, after receiving an award.

By Thom Patterson, CNN

Programming note: Explore untold stories of American spies: CNN Original Series “Declassified” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT only on CNN.

(CNN) — She put American combat troops in harm’s way, betrayed her own people and handed over so many secrets that experts say the U.S. may never know the full extent of the damage.

Ana Montes was the Queen of Cuba, an American who from 1985 to the September 11, 2001 attacks handed over U.S. military secrets to Havana while working as a top analyst for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.

But despite her crimes, Montes remains largely unknown.

You might not think Cuba could do much harm to a superpower like the U.S., said retired DIA official Chris Simmons, appearing on CNN’s “Declassified.”

But you’d be wrong.

The threat increases, he said, when Havana goes on to sell those U.S. military secrets to nations like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.

Montes’ anger about U.S. foreign policy complicated her relationships and drew the attention of Cubans who enticed her to turn her back on friends, family and her own country.

The fascinating spycraft that surfaced from her case offers a rare glimpse into the invisible world of espionage, where some experts believe there could be as many as 100,000 foreign agents working inside the U.S.

The two Anas

Montes grew up like millions of other girls during the Cold War, in a large, middle-class family, the oldest of four children.

Born to Puerto Rican parents on a U.S. Army base in Germany in 1957, Montes‘ father served his country as an Army doctor. By the time Montes entered high school, her father had left the military and settled the family about an hour north of Washington, D.C., in Towson, Maryland.

She attended the University of Virginia, and in 1977 and 1978, she spent a liberating year studying in Spain. There, she met a Puerto Rican student named Ana Colon.

The two Anas quickly became friends — bonding through their Puerto Rican roots — not politics. “I had no political awareness whatsoever,” said Colon, now a Washington-area elementary school teacher.

Feature continues here:  Ana Montes

 

 

Havana Wants Prisoner Swap For American Spy Who Helped FMLN Guerrillas Kill 65 in El Salvador, including an American “Green Beret” 1

“Green Beret” Gregory A. Fronius

“Green Beret” Gregory A. Fronius

Cuba Wants Convicted Spy Released in U.S. Prisoner Swap

by Pete Williams and William M. Arkin

Cuba and the United States are discussing possible exchanges of prisoners, including the release of a woman considered one of the most damaging spies in recent history, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The discussions, said to be in their early stages, are part of efforts by the two countries toward normalization of diplomatic relations.

Among the names floated by Cuban leaders, officials say, is Ana Montes, convicted in 2002 of spying for the Cuban government for nearly two decades while working for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

Her espionage compromised many aspects of America’s efforts to spy on Cuba, “calling into question the reliability of all U.S. intelligence collected against Cuba,” according to Michelle Van Cleave, a former national counterintelligence executive.

While at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Montes became the top Cuban analyst. Investigators said she memorized classified information on the job, typed it on a laptop computer in the evenings at her apartment, stored it in coded form on disks, and passed the information to her Cuban handlers.

Montes was sentenced to 25 years in prison and is due to be released in 2023. For their part, American officials say the U.S. is interested in getting back Americans who sought refuge in Cuba from U.S. prosecution.

“Cuba has been a haven for U.S. fugitives,” said one federal law enforcement official.

Among those U.S. officials would like back is Joanne Chesimard, who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1979 where she was serving a life sentence for killing a state trooper by shooting him with his own gun at a traffic stop.

The State Department declined to discuss specifics. But a spokesman said, “The United States continues to seek the return from Cuba of fugitives from U.S. justice. The Department repeatedly raises fugitive cases with the Cuban government and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity.”

“I don’t think the idea of a prisoner exchange is surprising,” author David Wise, who has written several books about espionage cases, said. “We’ve swapped with the Russians since the early days of the Cold War. It’s by no means unprecedented.”

Editor’s Note:  Cuban-Supported FMLN guerrillas killed 65 soldiers, including American “Green Beret” Gregory A. Fronius, in a single three-hour battle. The surprise attack on the El Paraiso camp occurred on April 1, 1987 – shortly after Castro spy Ana Montes visited the camp as part of a five-week familiarization visit to the (then) war-torn nation. Montes then shared numerous U.S. secrets with her handler – to include the precise time to attack — on a date she knew 75% of El Paraiso’s garrison would be away conducting counter-insurgency operations.

La nueva batalla ideológica del castrismo 2

ABM_ParisLa libertad de Ana Belén Montes se anuncia como el próximo combate

Fernando Núñez  — CUBANET

PARÍS, Francia.- La libertad de Ana Belén Montes se anuncia como el próximo combate del aparato ideológico del castrismo y de sus adláteres a nivel mundial.

El portal de la Asociación France-Cuba hacía recientemente la publicidad para el documental ‘Revolucionarios’, una serie iniciada por el activista comunista Viktor Dedaj. A la derecha del portal aparece un widget donde se reclama la liberación de la espía que purga una condena de 25 años de privación de libertad “en condiciones inhumanas”.

El documental del señor Dedaj pretende contar la historia de la Revolución cubana, por aquellos anónimos que la llevaron a cabo. Fabricado con testimonios diversos, los autores esperan que las vivencias de unos y otros consigan hacer llegar al público lo que era la realidad cubana antes de la insurrección castrista y las razones por las cuales decidieron participar y comprometerse en la lucha contra la dictadura de Batista.

El señor Dedaj anima un portal llamado La gran noche, de gran audiencia, en referencia a esa noción comunista y teleologista que anuncia el final inminente del sistema capitalista. Por su parte, la asociación Francia-Cuba trabaja desde 1961 para estrechar los lazos de amistad entre los pueblos cubano y francés e intenta por su acción, ampliar los intercambios económicos, científicos y técnicos entre las dos naciones.  De más está decir, que el pueblo cubano al que hace referencia es el que sufre “el bloqueo económico más largo del  mundo”, una situación a la que el señor Dedaj, equiparó al genocidio nazi en un reciente artículo.

Numerosos indicios apuntan a que la campaña a favor de Montes está por comenzar, sino lo ha hecho ya. En un reciente viaje a España, Silvio Rodríguez, el cantautor contestatario, cantor oficial de la dictadura, se expresó en este sentido el mes pasado durante un concierto ante unas 4.000 personas en el Coliseum de la ciudad gallega de A Coruña cuando dedicó una de sus icónicas canciones, “La Maza”, a Montes.

Artículo continúa aquí:  Ana Belén Montes