The Forgotten Spy: Ana Belen Montes 1

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

By Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), THE HILL

In the 12 months since President Obama publically announced his normalization effort with the communist Castro regime, the White House should have learned two painful lessons. First, the Castro brothers have not and will not change their oppressive ways. Second, the regime’s role as “intelligence trafficker to the world” ensures it will continue seeking opportunities to undermine U.S. national security.

The Cuban military and intelligence service will use this rapprochement as a pretext to expand Cuba’s espionage efforts within our borders.

One year ago, as a concession to the Castro regime, Obama made the grave mistake of releasing the last three of five incarcerated Cuban spies known as the “Cuban Five.” These five Cuban intelligence agents were arrested by federal authorities in 1998 and subsequently convicted on several counts, including failing to register as a foreign agents, using false identities, and conspiracy to commit espionage. The network’s leader, Gerardo Hernandez, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in the shoot down of two U.S. search and rescue aircraft operated by Brothers to the Rescue, which led to the murder of three U.S. citizens and one U.S. legal permanent resident.

Cuban Military Intelligence officer Hernandez, head of the espionage ring known as the Wasp Network, was convicted in 2001. Soon thereafter, the Cubans aggressively aided the San Francisco-based National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Now, the Cuban regime and their sympathizers are taking similar actions on behalf of Ana Belen Montes. Press reports suggest Washington and Havana are thinking about another spy trade, but this time for Montes, the highest-ranking American ever convicted of spying for Fidel Castro in our history.

A senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Montes was arrested on September 21, 2001, just ten days after September 11. She later pled guilty to spying and was sentenced to a 25-year prison term. The timing of her arrest was based on the fact that the U.S. government did not want a spy in the Pentagon to endanger American combatants headed to Afghanistan.

Montes had learned of military plans for our operations in Afghanistan and we did not want her to pass along that information to our adversaries. For several years during the latter half of the 1980s, she routinely provided Cuba with information on El Salvador’s Armed Forces and its embedded U.S. advisors. In a notorious March 1987 incident, a major Salvadoran base was attacked mere weeks after Montes visited it. Sixty-eight Salvadoran soldiers and their Green Beret adviser were killed during the battle. Simply put, Montes probably has the blood of one American on her hands and the U.S. didn’t want to risk the lives of untold Americans, including American service men and women.

Feature continues here: Montes – Forgotten Spy

 

 

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Obama Gave Cuba “License To Spy” In U.S. [Belated Posting] 2

Posted by: Javier Manjarres, HSPA Hispolitica, on July 20, 2015

The Cuban-American congressional delegation from Miami, Florida, held a press conference denouncing the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba,  as well as calling the new Cuban embassy in the United States as a ” base” for the Cuban Intelligence Service.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo, and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Republicans, each took turns of expressing their anger and disappointment over President Obama’s apparent acceptance of the 56-years of human rights violations and acts of terrorism committed by the Castro regime.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) spoke out against Obama’s normalization of diplomatic relations with communist Cuba, saying that the president has given the regime a “license to spy” on the U.S.

Diaz-Balart stated that Obama’s “failed policy of appeasement, appeasing brutal dictators” has threaten U.S. interests, adding that the “Cuban people have not chosen the Castro brothers” as their legitimate representatives.

The Cuban embassy will represent the Cuban Intelligence Service-Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R)

Corbel didn’t mince his words either, saying that the Obama administration has legitimized Cuba, an “enemy of the United States.”

One of the most reckless foreign policy decisions that we have seen in decades in this decision by the Obama administration to legitimize and embrace a government that has been an enemy of the United States. A government that has abused and repressed its own people every single day of its existence. A government that continues sponsoring terrorism around the world, especially here in our hemisphere.-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R)

Curbelo also stated that the existing and “robust” Cuban spy network in the U.S. now has a base in which to spy from.

 

Miami Republican Members of Congress Oppose Cuban Embassy in Washington, Citing Spies 6

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

@PatriciaMazzei, Miami Herald

Miami’s three Cuban-American Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives say they don’t want to see a Cuban embassy opened in Washington D.C. — or a Cuban consulate anywhere else in the country — because it would risk allowing Cuba to spy on the U.S.

There is already a Cuban interests section in D.C., and a Cuban mission to the United Nations.

“We are all too familiar with the Castro regime’s efforts to utilize their diplomats as intelligence agents tasked with the goal of committing espionage against their host countries,” the members of Congress and several colleagues wrote in a letter Thursday to the U.S. State Department. “We believe that allowing Cuba to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. or consulates will further open the door for their espionage activities.”

They also asked to be briefed in detail about the status of the negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations.

Signing the letter were Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, as well as Rep. Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat and fellow Cuban American, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican whose father was born in Cuba. Cruz is considering a 2016 presidential candidacy.

Cuban Spies Operate Inside the US Using “Sophisticated Espionage and Tradecraft,” Says Rep. Ros Lehtinen 2

“Every day these brutal thugs continue to repress 11 million Cubans who yearn for freedom and the respect of their basic human rights. But the regime isn’t just a threat to the people of Cuba. They also operate within the United States, with sophisticated espionage, tradecraft, and are allies of our worst enemies”, says Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

“Every day these brutal thugs continue to repress 11 million Cubans who yearn for freedom and the respect of their basic human rights. But the regime isn’t just a threat to the people of Cuba. They also operate within the United States, with sophisticated espionage, tradecraft, and are allies of our worst enemies”, says Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

On December 9, 2014 Rep. ROS-LEHTINEN of Flordia asked for and was granted permission to address the United States House of Representatives for 5 minutes regarding Cuba. There she blasted the regime for human rights abuses and espionage:

“Mr. Speaker, just 90 miles from U.S. shores the most repressive human rights abuses in our hemisphere are being perpetrated by a regime that has shown no respect for human life and that will never change as long as the Castro brothers and their kind remain in power in Cuba.

Every day these brutal thugs continue to repress 11 million Cubans who yearn for freedom and the respect of their basic human rights. But the regime isn’t just a threat to the people of Cuba. They also operate within the United States, with sophisticated espionage, tradecraft, and are allies of our worst enemies.

We have but to remember the story of Ana Belen Montes. A senior analyst in our Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Belen Montes was one of the masterminds of Cuba intelligence in the U.S. She was the top spy for the Castro regime and undermined U.S. foreign policy efforts throughout the world due to her nefarious espionage activities. She is certainly serving a long sentence in Texas.

But Castro also harbors fugitives from U.S. law, such as Joanne Chesimard. She is a New Jersey cop killer and earned the terrible distinction of being the first woman on the FBI’s most wanted list of terrorists.

In 2001, Fidel Castro went to Iran and met with Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, and Castro said at that time: Together, Cuba and Iran will bring America to its knees.

These are just a few of the examples of why it is imperative for the Obama administration to get tough with Castro, not only to protect our U.S. national security interests, but also to extend a helpful hand to the pro-democracy leaders on the island who are struggling for freedom.

The Cuban regime continues to repress independent journalists, human rights activists, and commits arbitrary detentions every day, all to thwart any attempt at the exercise of freedom of expression. I will show you just a few of the names and faces of the voices of those opposition leaders in the push for freedom on the island, and each deserves the attention of this body.

Mr. Speaker, this is Berta Soler. Berta Soler is the leader of a movement called Ladies in White, Las Damas de Blanco, a group of women tirelessly advocating for the release of political prisoners in Cuba. These courageous women walk to mass peacefully holding up flowers and are met with brutal attacks by Castro’s state security. Berta Soler became the leader of this organization after the death of her predecessor, Laura Pollan.

Laura Pollan started this movement in Cuba. She died under mysterious causes in October 2011. Many people in the island and outside have blamed the Castro regime for the unfortunate and suspicious circumstances of her passing.

We also have many pro-democracy leaders who are still languishing in Cuban jails, and these are some of their faces. This first young man, his name is Angel Yunier Remon. He is also known as El Critico. He is another face of repression on the island. Angel was arrested in March for criticizing the Castro regime’s brutal human rights abuses and the oppression of 11 million of his fellow countrymen. To this day, El Critico remains in prison for the mere crime of simply expressing his right to address grievances through rhyme.

Then there is the face of Sonia Garro. Sonia is another member of the Ladies in White. Sonia and her husband were arrested 2 years ago in a violent raid. Her trial has been suspended four times without an explanation or any reason being given.

Along with Sonia, fighting for the causes of freedom and liberty is this young man, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, better known as Antunez, who has been in prison in Castro’s gulag for nearly 17 years. Antunez and his wife, Yris, have repeatedly been assaulted and beaten by state security forces, and their scars tell a story of resilience and commitment to the cause of freedom on the island. They are free now, but one does not know for how long.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, there is the case of Juan Carlos Gonzalez, another freedom fighter I would like to highlight. He is a lawyer who is blind. He has spent years defending the human rights of the Cuban people.

These are just a few of the faces of the pro-human rights activists in Cuba, Mr. Speaker. I could not possibly cover the face of every single dissident on the island, but these faces are representative of the horrors of the Cuban regime and the horrors that liberty fighters face there every day; and that is why, Mr. Speaker, it is our moral obligation to stand in solidarity with these pro-democracy activists and to be a voice for 11 million people who are being oppressed and silenced in Cuba.”

Source: Congressional Record via Common Ground

Daily Caller Editor Vows To Investigate ‘Bizarre Claim’ Cuban Spies Used His Site To Spread A Fake Senate Sex Scandal Reply

Sen. Robert Menendez

Sen. Robert Menendez

By Hunter Walker, Business Insider

A popular conservative news site is at the center of an alleged plot by Cuban spies to smear New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez with a fake sex scandal.

Daily Caller Editor In Chief Tucker Carlson he’s is looking into a “bizarre claim” made by an attorney for Menendez that Cuban intelligence agents may have planted false stories claiming the senator had encounters with underage prostitutes on the site.

“I guess this means Menendez no longer thinks the story is part of a racist plot against him, as he initially suggested. But Cuban intelligence? It’s a bizarre claim, and self-serving, and they’ve produced no evidence of any kind to prove it. Obviously we’re skeptical, but we’re making calls right now to see what we can dig up,” Carlson told Business Insider in an email Monday night.

According to a Washington Post story published Monday, Stephen M. Ryan, a lawyer for the Democratic lawmaker, claimed U.S. officials believe agents of the Cuban government may have attempted to damage Menendez’s reputation due to his criticism of the Castro regime and position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ryan made his blockbuster claim in a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation into a possible Cuban plot to smear the senator.

Both Ryan and Menendez office did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about the letter. A spokesperson for the FBI field office in Miami, which was reportedly looking into the initial allegations about Menendez also did not respond.

The Post noted the Cuban government has previously been accused of smearing opponents, including Menendez, with false media reports.

Accusations Menendez employed underage prostitutes at a resort in the Dominican Republic first appeared in the Daily Caller in late 2012. The first story about the scandal was written by Matthew Boyle and featured videos of women who claimed “Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”  Boyle, who is now a reporter for Breitbart News, did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

After Boyle’s story was published ABC reported tipsters attempted to bring the videos detailing the accusations against Menendez to other media outlets prior to the Daily Caller. Menendez’s alleged contact with the prostitutes was said to have taken place while he was traveling in the Dominican Republic with a donor, a wealthy doctor named Salomon Melgen.

The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Menendez used his office to aid Melgen’s business interests. In April, new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed Melgen collected more money from Medicare in 2012 than any other doctor in the country.

According to a Dominican prosecutor, a lawyer for the woman involved in the story later claimed he was offered money to get them to lie about Menendez on tape by a man named “Carlos” who said he worked for the Daily Caller. A man named “Carlos” briefly appeared in one of the video clips showing the women being interviewed. In March of last year, a spokeswoman for the site told ABC News the Daily Caller had no connection to anyone named “Carlos.”

Editor’s Note:  Cuban Intelligence has a long history of using an intelligence technique known as “Active Measures” against U.S. politicians. Within the spy profession, Active Measures are defined as activities which use disinformation, threats, and/or violence to discredit opponents or otherwise manipulate the behavior of an individual or group.

For example, evidence presented during the trial of the Wasp Network spies revealed that the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) ordered Active Measures against no less than six U.S. political figures.

More specifically, DI headquarters ordered the Wasps to use two agents to infiltrate Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart’s reelection campaign. Once immersed in the campaign, the spy ring planned to publicize derogatory information to discredit, harass, or neutralize Congress’ Cuban-American contingent.

Additionally, Miami Herald journalist Gail Epstein Nieves reported on January 23, 2001 that Havana ordered the Wasp Network’s target list to focus on those officials who “COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON FORMULATING POLICY TOWARD CUBA.” Furthermore, other Wasp communications referred to the three highly influential and strongly anti-Castro Congressional officers as “THE THREE PESTS”:  Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Senator Bob Menendez. Evidence also proved the DI planned to place one or more agents on the Congresswoman’s staff.

The Herald went on to note that other targets included state Senator Mario Diaz-Balart, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and Hialeah Council President Herman Echevarria. This Active Measures operation was run by Major Ramón Labañino Salazar. It was codenamed Operation Giron, after the beachhead where the Bay of Pigs invasion failed.

 

Despite Administration Denials, Ros-Lehtinen Thinks Obama Wants Cuba Spy-Swap Reply

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@MarcACaputo, Miami Herald blog

After news broke about President Obama’s prisoner swap involving five Taliban Guantanamo Bay detainees, many wondered about the fate another person locked away in Cuba: Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor believed by many to be railroaded on trumped-up spy charges.

But the administration says it’s not negotiating for Gross.

Yet U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican Cuban exile leader, just doesn’t think the administration is being honest.

“I seriously believe the administration is considering a swap,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The administration has shown itself not to be faithful to the law and is not to be trusted.”

For instance, Ros-Lehtinen said, the administration two years ago briefed her and other members of Congress in a closed-door intelligence briefing on the proposed swap of the five Taliban for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, a likely deserter during his tour in Afghanistan

Ros-Lehtinen, House Speaker John Boehner and others objected to negotiating with terrorists

“They said: ‘we hear you loud and clear.’ And two years later what do we have?” she asked. “A prisoner swap.”

In between, Congress passed a bill that would require notification of any Gitmo prisoners 30 days in advance. Obama, in signing the law, issued a signing statement at the time to essentially give him wiggle-room to ignore that under unique circumstances.

Obama, as a candidate in 2007, criticized the prior administration’s use of signing statements, saying “I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”

It’s double-talk like that, Ros-Lehtinen said, that makes it tough to trust Obama.

In disbelieving the administration, however, Ros-Lehtinen issued two press releases Monday that mischaracterized news reports concerning Gross, arrested in 2009 in Cuba with satellite phones and other banned communications equipment that, he said, was intended for the Jewish community on the island.

Ros-Lehtinen’s press release said that “news reports” indicated the administration “may be considering” a swap with Cuba: Gross in return for the three remaining “Cuban Five” espionage convicts imprisoned in the United States.

Read more here:  Miami Herald Blog

The Link Between Venezuela and Cuba 1

By Keith Johnson, The Tico Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top U.S. lawmakers from both parties are urging the Obama administration to take a tougher line on Venezuela, which is violently cracking down on popular protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro. For some on Capitol Hill, though, the real target is Cuba.

These leading Republicans and Democrats are pushing back at a country that has been a constant thorn in the side of U.S. interests in Latin America in recent years.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R., Fla., and Eliot Engel, D., N.Y., have both called for the Organization of American States, which meets this week, to take a tougher line on the Maduro government’s treatment of peaceful protesters. Sen. Marco Rubio, R., Fla., has floated the idea of U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials involved in the crackdown, and even against the Venezuelan government itself.

But Venezuela hawks such as Rubio are making a second argument: tougher action against Venezuela represents a chance to undermine one of the key lifelines of the communist regime in Cuba, whose economy relies on heavily subsidized oil and other gifts from Caracas.

“The Cubans get free and cheap oil from the Venezuelans. So their interest is keeping this regime in place because they’re their benefactors,” Rubio told CNN this week. “And Cuba is clearly involved in assisting the Venezuelan government with both personnel and training and equipment to carry out these repressive activities,” he added.

Feature continues here: The Link Between Venezuela and Cuba

U.S.-Cuba Mail Talks Spark Speculation of Wider Outreach 1

By Guy Taylor, The Washington Times

The announcement that U.S. and Cuban officials will hold landmark talks this week toward restarting direct mail service between the two nations prompted a mix of reactions on Monday on whether the Obama administration plans a broader outreach to the Castro regime in the president’s second term.

Veteran Cuba watchers agreed that the development is unlikely to trigger a wider normalization in relations any time soon. But the notion that the talks — slated forThursday and Friday — could pull Washington and Havana closer than they’ve been in more than half a century prompted a harsh reaction from at least one Republican on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, said that the White House is caving to pressure from Cuban leaders desperate to end trade restrictions frozen since the 1960s.

“The regime is once again manipulating the U.S. administration in this game because it wants us to lift the embargo and make further concessions,” said Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, a former chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and a staunch opponent of easing the stand-off that has defined bilateral relations since Cuban leader Fidel Castro agreed to house Soviet ballistic missiles in 1961.

Mr. Castro, 86, stepped down in 2008, and the top post is now held by his 82-year-old brother Raul.

The State Department said Monday that the postal talks will occur well within policy boundaries set long ago by Congress.

The talks will be led by R. Cabanas Rodriguez, the chief of mission at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, and Lea Emerson, the U.S. Postal Service’s director of international postal affairs.

Similar negotiations in 2009 failed to produce an agreement. Separate negotiations on issues such as immigration have been on hold during recent years amid tensions simmering between the U.S. and Cuba over the trade embargo and Washington’s unwillingness to remove Cuba from its official list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Washington has also demanded that Cuba release jailed American subcontractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in December 2009 while working for a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program. Cuban authorities gave a 15-year prison sentence to Mr. Gross and accused him of illegally delivering satellite phones to individuals in the nation’s Jewish community.

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen alluded to the case in a statement Monday, asserting that “a U.S. citizen languishes unjustly in a Cuban prison and brave freedom Cuban activists are risking their lives while on hunger strikes to protest the island tyranny.”

Some Cuba policy experts suggested the postal talks could lead to something more ambitious

This is the way diplomacy is conducted,” said Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Council of the Americas in New York. “The idea some have, that these talks represent a concession, when it fact it will open up precisely the channels of communication we want to have, defies the very notion of diplomacy and the stated goals of our Cuba policy.”

“For the past couple of years, there has been little movement at all — the U.S. has insisted that the unconditional release of Alan Gross was a prerequisite to any action on other issues, and the relationship seemed stuck,” added Geoff Thale, a program director at the Washington Office on Latin America. “But in the last months, we’ve seen small steps on both sides.”

Months prior to Mr. Gross’ December 2009 arrest, President Obama signaled an interest in opening a new era of relations with Cuba. “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” he said during a speech at the Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago that year.

Advocates of such an opening were largely unimpressed Monday by the announcement that postal talks will be held this week. “Any step taken toward expanding the free flow of information and resources from the United States to the Cuban people is a step in the right direction, but it does fall short of Obama’s stated goal of really seeking a new beginning and a new relationship,” said Ricardo Herrero, deputy executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Washington-based Cuban exile organization.

“There so much more the administration could be doing now to expand the flow of resources and to help empower Cuban society,” said Mr. Herrero, who suggested the administration lift import and export bans on certain goods and services for “private Cuban entrepreneurs.”

“If a private Cuban entrepreneur comes up with an iPhone app, that private Cuban entrepreneur should be allowed to sell that app in the iTunes store,” he added. “The embargo prohibits trade with the Cuban state — with a few exceptions for food and medicine — but this would be trading with private entrepreneurs and that’s a very different set of circumstances.”