French Director to Make Pro-Castro Film Showcasing Murderous Spies as Heroes Reply

Director Olivier Assayas (Lionel Cironneau /AP/REX/Shutterstock)

‘Personal Shopper’ Director Olivier Assayas Boards Cuban Spy Thriller ‘Wasp Network’

Dave McNary, Film Reporter – Variety

Olivier Assayas, who directed Kristen Stewart’s “Personal Shopper” and “Clouds of Sils Maria,” has come on board to helm the Cuban spy thriller “Wasp Network” from his own script.

Wasp Network” is based on Fernando Morais’ book “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.” RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira will produce alongside CG Cinema’s Charles Gillibert. RT’s Lourenço Sant’Anna and Sophie Mas will executive produce.

 Wasp Network” centers on Cuban spies in American territory during the 1990s when anti-Castro groups based in Florida carried out military attacks on Cuba, and the Cuban government struck back with the Wasp Network to infiltrate those organizations.

Assayas most recently wrote and directed “Personal Shopper,” which world premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Assayas was awarded best director. IFC Films released the film in the U.S. on March 10.

Assays also wrote and directed “Clouds of Sils Maria,” starring Stewart and Juliette Binoche. The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Stewart earned France’s César Award for best supporting actress for her role in the movie — making her the first American actress to earn the honor.

Assayas was also nominated for the Palme d’Or for “Demonlover” in 2002 and for “Les Destinées” in 2000. He received an Emmy nomination in 2011 for outstanding directing for a miniseries, movie, or dramatic special for “Carlos” starring Edgar Ramírez, still regarded by many as his finest work and the nearest in its subject – terrorist Carlos the Jackal – to “Wasp Network.”

RT Features debuted two films at the Sundance Film Festival in January — Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” starring Armie Hammer, which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics; and Geremy Jasper’s “Patti Cake$,” which was nabbed by Fox Searchlight. The company’s “The Witch” won an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature for Robert Egger. RT also produced James Schamus’ “Indignation,” Ira Sachs’ “Little Men” and Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.”

Gillibert is a frequent collaborator to Assayas, having produced “Personal Shopper,” “Clouds of Sils Maria,” and “Summer Hours.” CG Cinema is in post-production on Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s “Kings,” starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig.

Assayas is represented by WME and Intertalent while RT Features is represented by CAA.

Editors Note: Based on information currently available about this film, it appears certain that any overlap with factual events with be purely accidental.

 

 

 

 

Intelligence & Security Experts Concerned Over Increased Openness With Castro Regime 4

Cuba's Ministry  of the Interior -- home to its security and intelligence services

Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior — home to its security and intelligence services

Obama Administration Hosts Cuban Border Guard Visits

By Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon

Trips to Coast Guard facilities raise security concerns

The Obama administration is hosting visits to U.S. Coast Guard facilities by Cuban Border Guard officials as part of its policy of seeking closer ties with the communist government in Havana.

The visits are raising concerns among officials and security analysts that closer ties with Cuba will benefit aggressive Cuban intelligence operations in the United States that have been underway for decades.

A delegation of Cuban officials arrives this week for visits to Coast Guard bases in Florida and Alabama following an earlier visit two months ago.

The Department of Homeland Security, which arranged the visits, refused to provide details of the Cuban delegation. But a spokeswoman said they are part of an exchange program.

“These visits represent professional exchanges between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Guard to discuss issues of mutual interest such as at-sea rescue operations,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told the Washington Free Beacon, without elaborating.

Cuban officials on March 18 visited three Coast Guard port facilities in the south, including one near Mobile, Alabama. The group also toured an oil refinery in Alabama, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

A State Department official said the Cuban Border Guard tours of Coast Guard bases are an outgrowth of the president’s pro-Havana tilt. “‎The administration’s new policy of engagement has enabled U.S. agencies to discuss and coordinate on topics of mutual interest as we work to normalize relations.”

The official referred further questions to the Cuban government. A Cuban Embassy official did not respond to email requests for comment.

President Obama traveled to Cuba in March as part of what the White House has called his rejection of “the failed, Cold War-era policy” of isolating the communist regime in Havana.

Alexandria Preston, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the March visit was arranged by Coast Guard headquarters as part of the International Port Security program.

The Cubans were given public information briefings and presentations about Coast Guard operations in Mobile followed by a question and answer session on the Maritime Transportation Security Act, she said. At the refinery, the Cubans were given a briefing and tour by the refinery’s security officer.

Cuba’s Border Guard troops are part of the Cuban Interior Ministry that directs the Intelligence Directorate, the political police, and an intelligence service modeled after the Soviet-era KGB intelligence service. The Border Guard in the past has been involved in liaisons with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cuba’s intelligence services also cooperate with Russian intelligence services.

Feature continues here:  Security Concerns

 

 

 

Officials Met With Expelled Spy-Diplomat in Havana, Asking Cuba to Open a Consulate-Spy Base in St. Petersburg 3

Two weeks after a U.S. Embassy opened in Havana, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spent last weekend there meeting with a host of government officials

Two weeks after a U.S. Embassy opened in Havana, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spent last weekend there meeting with a host of government officials

By Chris Simmons

Last weekend, Mayor Rick Kriseman met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) officials to ask them to choose St. Petersburg as the home of the first Cuban Consulate on US soil in 54 years. Expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Gustavo Machin Gomez, serving under the shallowest of “covers” as the MINREX Deputy Director for American Affairs, met with the mayor for about 90 minutes. The son of a revolutionary “hero,” Gustavo Machin was declared Persona Non Grata and expelled from the US in November 2002 in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes spy case.

Tampa philanthropist David Straz Jr., part of the mayor’s delegation, told the Tampa Tribune the trip was an “absolute success.” Straz serves on Tampa’s Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, the pro-normalization group sponsoring the trip. “St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and Chief of Staff Kevin King” also made the trip to Cuba.

Local officials seek to use a consulate, in part, to profit from the global coverage of our evolving US-Cuban relations. Overlooked by city officials is the intelligence threat posed by such a consulate. Tampa, just 20 minutes from St Pete, is home to the Middle East-focused US Central Command as well as US Special Operations Command — both major targets for Cuban spies. The region’s Cuban-American population, third largest in the US, is also targeted. Allowing Havana to post spy-diplomats in the area will actually drive down the cost of its spying against the US – a key concern given the regime’s service as intelligence trafficker to the world. Cuba’s targeting of US political, economic, and military secrets occurs not for defensive purposes, but because these secrets are viewed as a precious commodity to be sold or bartered globally. According to defectors and émigrés, American information is now reportedly among Havana’s top five revenue streams. Weapons shipments from China, oil from Venezuela, cash from Russia and pro-Cuba votes at the United Nations are among the rewards harvested from its espionage. As such, its time our elected officials started taking this espionage threat seriously and stopped pandering to the apartheid dictatorship in Cuba.

 

 

Spy-Diplomat Gustavo Machin Delighted With Opening of Cuban Embassy 15

A worker removes the Cuban Interests Section sign in Washington, D.C., on July 15, 2015, just days prior to the building being accredited as the Cuban Embassy. (Bill Gorman / AP)

A worker removes the Cuban Interests Section sign in Washington, D.C., on July 15, 2015, just days prior to the building being accredited as the Cuban Embassy.
(Bill Gorman / AP)

“It is going to be a celebration on our part,” said Gustavo Machin, deputy director for U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry (Chicago Tribune). The Directorate of Intelligence (DI) spy – thrown out of the US in retaliation for the Ana Montes spy case, told reporters many Americans who have supported the Cuban Revolution will be among the 500 celebrants at the new Embassy. From Machin’s perspective, it would certainly be a Cuban spy-handler’s dream – hundreds of media, politicians, academics and Castro apologists all in one place at the same time. The DI staff embedded within the Interests Section/Embassy will certainly be working overtime – I expect they also brought in temporary help within the “30-member delegation of diplomatic, cultural and other leaders” that arrived for the Embassy opening.

Castro’s STASI-trained secret police sets up false twitter accounts,” says Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas 4

Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova

By Humberto Fontova, on BabaluBlog

From El Nuevo Herald:

“On his (genuine) Twitter account and on Youtube, Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas denounces the action of Cuban security of setting up a false twitter account for him as (@cocofariñas32) at the beginning of October.”

(His genuine twitter is @cocofarinas)

(“El opositor cubano Guillermo Fariñas denunció en su cuenta de Twitter, y en un video en You Tube, que la seguridad del estado cubano había creado una cuenta falsa a principios de octubre, @cocofariñas32, donde se mezclan Tweets reales con opiniones falsas.)

Here’s what Castro’s secret police is posting on Fariñas’ bogus twitter account:

Feature continues here: Cuban Regime’s Fake Twitter Accounts

 

Alleged Cuba-Venezuela Spy Network Targets Maduro’s Opposition in Chile 3

 María Laura Liscano speaks out against the Castro regime’s harassment of the Venezuelan opposition in Chile. (Terra)


María Laura Liscano speaks out against the Castro regime’s harassment of the Venezuelan opposition in Chile. (Terra)

Activist María Liscano Condemns Espionage under Diplomatic Cover

Belén Marty, PanAm Post

On Tuesday, Venezuelan activist María Laura Liscano denounced Cuban espionage against opponents of the Nicolás Maduro regime who reside in Chile, following Monday’s report by Chilean television station Mega.

Liscano calls herself a spokesperson for Venezuelans in Chile, where she has lived the past four years since leaving her job as an intelligence analyst for the Venezuelan government.

The Mega report focuses on a Cuban national who claims to be an agent for a Cuban diplomat in Santiago, Chile. The individual claims the diplomat ordered him to infiltrate the leadership of Venezuelan opposition groups operating in Chile, and report on their activity.

“The espionage is coordinated by the Cuban embassy, and is directed at certain sectors in Chile that oppose Maduro. This is not the first time this has happened. In 2010, a Cuban leader in Chile denounced a similar practice being carried out against the Cuban community,” Liscano said.

The Venezuelan activist told the PanAm Post that she was surprised by the revelation that Cuban agents were focused on her: “It’s one thing to recognize that you are exposing yourself, but the reality [that they are spying on me] is another thing entirely.”

“We always knew that we were vulnerable to espionage; there have been many times when we were protesting, and people who are opposed to us would come and take pictures,” she said.

Liscano said she represents a nonpartisan Venezuelan community that share the same concerns expressed by student protesters who took to the streets in Venezuela in February.

Feature continues here (with video and audio clips): PanAm Post

 

 

 

 

FBI: Cuban Intelligence Aggressively Recruiting Leftist American Academics as Spies, Influence Agents 10

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon

Sexual entrapment a common tactic

By Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

Cuba’s communist-led intelligence services are aggressively recruiting leftist American academics and university professors as spies and influence agents, according to an internal FBI report published this week.

Cuban intelligence services “have perfected the work of placing agents, that includes aggressively targeting U.S. universities under the assumption that a percentage of students will eventually move on to positions within the U.S. government that can provide access to information of use to the [Cuban intelligence service],” the five-page unclassified FBI report says. It notes that the Cubans “devote a significant amount of resources to targeting and exploiting U.S. academia.”

“Academia has been and remains a key target of foreign intelligence services, including the [Cuban intelligence service],” the report concludes.

One recruitment method used by the Cubans is to appeal to American leftists’ ideology. “For instance, someone who is allied with communist or leftist ideology may assist the [Cuban intelligence service] because of his/her personal beliefs,” the FBI report, dated Sept. 2, said.

Others are offered lucrative business deals in Cuba in a future post-U.S. embargo environment, and are treated to extravagant, all-expense paid visits to the island.

Coercive tactics used by the Cubans include exploiting personal weaknesses and sexual entrapment, usually during visits to Cuba.

The Cubans “will actively exploit visitors to the island” and U.S. academics are targeted by a special department of the spy agency.

“This department is supported by all of the counterintelligence resources the government of Cuba can marshal on the island,” the report said. “Intelligence officers will come into contact with the academic travelers. They will stay in the same accommodations and participate in the activities arranged for the travelers. This clearly provides an opportunity to identify targets.”

In addition to collecting information and secrets, Cuban spies employ “influence operations,” the FBI said.

“The objective of these activities can range from portraying a specific image, usually positive, to attempting to sway policymakers into particular courses of action,” the report said.

Additionally, Cuban intelligence seeks to plant disinformation or propaganda through its influence agents, and can task recruits to actively disseminate the data. Once recruited, many of the agents are directed to entering fields that will provide greater information access in the future, mainly within the U.S. government and intelligence community.

Article continues here:  Cuban Targeting 

Informante del FBI tiene una vida privilegiada en Cuba Reply

Juan O. Tamayo el Nuevo Herald, jtamayo@elnuevoherald.com

Hace dos años, el informante del FBI en Miami Gilberto Abascal fue el testigo clave de la fiscalía en el juicio del exiliado militante cubano Luis Posada Carriles. En el 2006, él fue el principal informante en el juicio por armas de Santiago Alvarez, partidario de Posada, quien fue hallado culpable.

En la actualidad, Abascal está de regreso en Cuba, donde vive y se construye una casa con una piscina — un raro privilegio en la isla de régimen comunista —, conduciendo costosos carros de alquiler y ofreciendo una recompensa equivalente a dos años del salario promedio a cambio de información sobre quienes robaron en su casa, según varios de sus vecinos.

“El volvió de Miami y está viviendo en la finca de su familia” en el poblado de La Julia, a unas 15 millas al sur de La Habana, dijo un activista por la democracia que vive en el pueblo vecino de Surgidero de Batabanó y conoce personalmente a Abascal.

El regreso de Abascal a Cuba reforzó alegaciones que se han hecho por mucho tiempo, y que fueron desestimadas por la fiscalía federal, de que él servía de informante tanto a la inteligencia cubana como al FBI contra Posada, Alvarez y otros exiliados en Miami.

“Esto valida por inferencia la conclusión de que este era un individuo que tenía una relación de colaboración con la Seguridad del Estado cubana… y esto arroja una sombra de dudas sobre el FBI por haber lidiado con este hombre”, dijo Arturo V. Hernández, abogado defensor de Posada.

Abascal regresó a Cuba de Miami hace más de un año, y se ha mantenido atareado mejorando y ampliando la finca de su familia, dijeron sus vecinos en Batabanó y La Julia, quienes pidieron conservar el anonimato por temor a represalias por parte de agentes de la Seguridad del Estado.

Conocido por el sobrenombre de “El Cano”, este hombre rechoncho de 48 años compró un tractor para la finca de su familia, está construyéndose una casa con piscina en La Julia, y alquila a menudo carros de último modelo en una agencia gubernamental en Batabanó cuyos precios empiezan en $500 a la semana, dijeron los vecinos.

Un cartel colocado frente a su casa de La Julia el fin de semana pasado ofreció una recompensa de 10,000 pesos — alrededor de $400, en una isla donde el sueldo oficial promedio mensual es de 470 pesos — a cambio de información sobre quien entró a robar en su casa. Fotos tomadas por uno de los vecinos mostraron lo que se describió como una cámara de seguridad sobre la puerta del frente.

Un vecino dijo que él era un “conocido agente de Seguridad”, y otro dijo que la finca de su familia está “protegida” por agentes de la Seguridad vestidos de civil que vigilan discretamente a los transeúntes.

Abascal ha dicho a conocidos suyos en Batabanó y La Julia que él no puede regresar a Miami, pero no dio razones, y viaja con frecuencia a México y otros países a comprar ropa que luego vende en la isla, dijeron los vecinos por teléfono a El Nuevo Herald.

No se pudo contactarlo en La Julia para que hiciera declaraciones para esta historia, pero él negó persistentemente ser un agente de inteligencia de Cuba durante los juicios de Posada y Álvarez. “Yo nunca he tenido nada que ver con el gobierno cubano en toda mi vida”, declaró en el 2006.

Read more here: Informante del FBI tiene una vida privilegiada en Cuba

BREAKING NEWS: Cuba Spied on Terry McAuliffe 9

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Likely Received Special Attention

By Chris Simmons

The Directorate of Intelligence, Cuba’s primary foreign intelligence service, spied on Terry McAuliffe before and during a four-day trade mission to Havana. The experienced politico undertook the trip in April 2010 as a personal quest to increase Cuban purchases of Virginia agricultural products.

Given the Directorate’s intimate understanding of the American political arena, it undoubtedly awarded McAuliffe a level of attention fair beyond normal business travelers since his return to politics was virtually assured. At the time of the Cuba visit, McAuliffe had recently failed in his 2009 gubernatorial bid. His earlier political efforts included running Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, service as DNC Chair (2001-2005) and co-chairing Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

Cuban targeting was likely triggered by McAuliffe’s trip preparation. More specifically, his meetings with Jorge Bolaños, the “retired” spy who headed the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC from 2008-2012. The CIA identified Bolaños as a suspected intelligence officer in the early 1970s. More recently, former Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Lieutenant Juan Manuel Reyes Alonso confirmed Bolaños’ intelligence service. He also opined that Bolaños’ multiple ambassadorial tours suggest that at some point he began working his cover identity more than his intelligence mission.

However, Reyes Alonso also noted that Bolaños maintained close ties with staff members of two of Cuba’s five spy services as well as the Superior Institute of Intelligence (ISI), where the regime’s civilian intelligence officers are trained. The de facto ambassador was also a close friend of (then) ISI Director, Nestor Garcia Iturbe, one of the regime’s top experts in targeting Americans. Normally, Cuban diplomats distance themselves from intelligence services because such ties can cripple their careers when counterintelligence services suspect them of being intelligence collaborators or undercover officers.

Upon arrival in Cuba, McAuliffe met with the leadership of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade’s Empresa Comercializadora de Alimentos. Known as “ALIMPORT,” this government agency coordinates all overseas purchases and its director authorizes the import of products to Cuba. Significantly, the DI provides the ALIMPORT head and his staff with detailed biographical reporting on every member of a trade delegation, with emphasis on their personal strengths and weaknesses.

This sharing of biographic data with ALIMPORT “is a normal procedure of the Cuban Intelligence” according to Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier, a former DI Major. Rodriguez Menier said the spy agency’s information is focused on any detail that can provide Havana an edge during negotiations with a foreign delegation.
His assessment is echoed by Reyes Alonso, who declared “Cuban Intelligence always does that with high government officials that will meet with foreigners, especially those coming from the US.” Having previously worked in the spy service’s “Science & Technology” department, Reyes Alonso told the Miami Herald earlier this year that the DI also recruited collaborators within ALIMPORT to “identify possible targets to do industrial and corporate espionage.”

McAuliffe and his entourage subsequently remained under Cuban Intelligence control when they stayed at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Featuring a staff rife with DI informants, the Hotel Nacional is known to be wired for video and audio surveillance of foreign guests.

Cuban Intelligence tradecraft also calls for recruitment efforts targeted against the close associates of important visitors. In this “one-off” technique, the DI or the Directorate of Counterintelligence seek individuals who – according to Reyes Alonso – “are usually more vulnerable, less visible and easier to follow up with at later times.” When successful, this approach provides indirect access to the targeted principal and opens the door for the new spy to follow their American mentor to higher positions in the future.

Agricultural Leaders Also Targeted

The Commonwealth’s food sales to Cuba have skyrocketed from $838,000 in 2003 to a record-setting $66 million in 2012. Virginia is now the second largest US exporter of agricultural products to the Caribbean island. As such, Cuba has also spied on Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore and key members of the Farm Bureau, the USA Rice Federation, Purdue AgriBusiness, Smithfield Foods and Crown Orchards. Haymore – who, like McAuliffe, maintained a close working relationship with retired spy Jorge Bolaños — led his sixth annual trade mission to Cuba last November.

Editor’s Note: The author is internationally renowned as one of America’s foremost experts on Cuba’s intelligence services.

The republishing of this article is permissible if the author is acknowledged as the originator.

Utahn Tells Story of Secret Mission During Cuban Missile Crisis 2

Crew collected photos with a colossal camera onboard their beat-up Boeing Stratocruiser

By Peg McEntee, The Salt Lake Tribune

In autumn of 1962, Capt. Charles Rainey was a U.S. Air Force navigator making routine flights through the Berlin Corridors, narrow air lanes that linked Allied territories on opposite sides of Soviet-dominated East Germany during the Cold War. Trouble was, Rainey was 30, getting bored and thinking about leaving the service. With one call, his plans changed. But it would take 50 years before Rainey, now living in the Salt Lake City VA nursing home, could tell the story.

In mid-July of 1962, the Soviet Union had sent 42 nuclear ballistic missiles to Cuba, its ally 95 miles from the Florida Keys. In response, the United States sent U-2 spy planes, flying at up to 70,000 feet, and fighter bombers flying low over the island to find the missiles. One U-2 did get photographs, and, amid an exchange of mounting threats, the Cuban Missile Crisis hit its peak in mid-October.

About that time, Rainey’s squadron commander told him, “Chuck, I have maybe what you want. It’s a top-secret assignment. I can’t tell you what it is. It’s overseas, but I can’t tell you where it is. Are you still interested?” Rainey didn’t hesitate. “You’re damn right. I’ll take it.”

Operating under strict secrecy, he and the pilot left Germany and flew to Fort Worth, Texas, in a beat-up old Boeing Stratocruiser, known in the Air Force as a C-97, then headed for Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to be briefed on the mission and to plan their operations. As Rainey started on the plane’s navigation plan, his pilot told him the mission was his show and that he’d keep him supplied with coffee. “And he did for four or five days,” Rainey said. “It was truly a lead navigator’s operation there.”

Meantime, Pentagon planners developed contingency plans, including tactics and forces that would be used if President John F. Kennedy decided to launch an air attack on the island. Instead, Kennedy imposed a Navy blockade around Cuba to keep other offensive weapons from entering.

Mission begins

On Oct. 20, Rainey and the crew (given the name Operation Bad Gang, which the airmen thought was just right) flew the first of 29 missions over Cuba. “It was such a slow old transport. We couldn’t escape or evade fighters or anything. We were sitting ducks,” Rainey said in an interview. “We knew if we went down that nobody would claim us,” he said. “We were strictly on our own.” The mission involved the enormous Boston Camera, 12 feet tall, 12 feet deep and 5 feet across, that was wedged into the C-97’s fuselage. It shot photos on 18-by-36-inch film — hundreds in a single flight — that were whisked off to be developed and printed, then sent to military analysts who briefed commanders, including the president.

Rainey dubbed the camera Big Brownie. “They had to cut away some of the structure of the aircraft to get it in, and crew members had to grab a bar, put their feet up, push our equipment ahead of us, then, with our parachutes on, slide to pull ourselves over the top to get to the cockpit,” Rainey said.

“It was a suicide machine in a sense,” he said. “They tried to brief us on how to get out in case of a crash landing or we had to ditch in the ocean. We knew that monster [camera] would just come crashing in and wipe us out. I have to say, it was exciting.” Rainey, a former Missouri farm boy, sat beside the pilot on a milking stool to operate the camera’s sight.

“If I got too excited, the milk stool would turn over and dump me on the floor.”

Roughing it

The plane wasn’t pressurized, so the men wore heavy boots, pants, coats and oxygen masks for flights of up to 10 hours. In one fuzzy old photo of the crew, Rainey sports a scarf that he got in an Athens bar when a prostitute dropped it after realizing “I wasn’t going to spend any money,” as he put it. (At that, his wife, Darlene, gave an exaggerated wink.)

In an early mission around Cuba, the crew members were returning to their U.S. base but couldn’t radio in to say how it had gone. So they tied the scarf to a broomstick — “something the old submariners did” — and waved it out the hatch on top to signal success, Rainey said. The missions involved flying around the Cuban coast, about 30 miles away and at altitudes of 10,000 to 25,000 feet to be safe from missile attacks.

They flew over the western tip of Cuba a few times at an altitude that Rainey thought was safe but that “scared the hell out of my scanners. They looked down and saw Cuba below us and thought, ‘Oh, my God, here come the missiles.’”

Rainey and the crew flew their last mission Dec. 13, 1962. The fighters and U-2s were long gone, Rainey said, adding, “We couldn’t understand why we were still there.”
Asked if he’d ever been afraid, Rainey said “not really, but as I always say, when you’re sitting up there in a clear, beautiful blue sky, you remain optimistic.”

The last time Rainey saw the C-97, it was in a burn pit in Fort Worth after being used for firefighting training. Rainey retired in the mid-1970s as a major. He earned a doctorate and taught communication classes at Texas Tech and Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

Writing history

He also started to write a book about his crew’s role in the missile crisis, but learned that the operation still remained secret. After Darlene Rainey executed her own persuasion campaign, the Department of the Air Force determined there was no classified and sensitive information in his manuscript and cleared “Operation Bad Gang” for public release. Some of the men Rainey flew with couldn’t be located, and some have died. All had received medals and the pilot got a Distinguished Flying Cross, which he cut into pieces and gave to his men.

“Historians say this was as close to World War III that we ever encountered, and these crew members were just ordinary Air Force people,” Rainey said. “The only difference is that they had volunteered for a top-secret assignment.”

pegmcentee@sltrib.com