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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Obama Invites Top Communist Military-Intelligence Officials to Inspect Vital U.S. Defense Facilities 3

ObamaBy Humberto Fontova, Townhall

In 2001 a group of Castroite spies in south Florida known as the Wasp Network were convicted of charges ranging from espionage to conspiracy to commit murder (of U.S. citizens.) They were sentenced to terms ranging from 15 years to two life sentences. According to the FBI’s affidavit, the charges against these KGB-trained Communist spies included:

  • Compiling the names, home addresses, and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers and that of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica Naval Station in Key West.
  • Infiltrating the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command.

This past April, on Obama’s orders, some of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers gave an in-depth tour of the Southern Command’s most vital facilities to some of Cuba’s top Military and Intelligence officials—probably to some of the very ones who earlier got this vital information from their WASP charges via “encrypted software, high-frequency radio transmissions and coded electronic phone messages,” as the FBI affidavit showed.

Cuba’s KGB-founded and mentored spy agency carefully trains their people to stifle guffaws, and even snickers—to maintain a poker-face through even the most hilarious provocations. Little did they dream how valuable such training would prove during the Obama administration.

Sorry, but Peter Sellers, the Marx Brothers, Maxwell Smart and Austin Powers are all somehow absent from this fascinating story. It’s all true. Here’s “just the facts ma’am” from The Miami Herald.

Oh, and never mind the convicted Cuban spies, some of whom helped murder four U.S. citizens. They’re all living like celebrities in Cuba now after Obama gifted them back to Castro in December 2014, upon commencing his smoochfest with the terror-sponsoring drug-runner who came closest to nuking the U.S.

It gets better:

Coincidently (perhaps) the vital U.S. defense facilities that Obama invited the eager Communist drug-runners to carefully inspect serve as the U.S. Defense Department’s “command center on the war on drugs.”

Coincidently, (perhaps) on top of serving as a base for terrorist group Hezbollah and probably laundering funds for Al-Qaeda as late as two years ago, the Castro-Family-Crime-Syndicate also help facilitate much of world’s cocaine smuggling. The dots are not overly difficult to connect. Let’s have a look:

*The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) attributes half the world’s cocaine supply to the Colombian Terror group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.)

*The FARC itself gives credit where credit is due, attributing their rollicking success to the Castro regime:

Feature continues here:  Fontova

 

CNN Debuts New Original Series, “Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies” tonight at 10pm Eastern 1

DeclassifiedExplore the true stories of America’s covert operations told firsthand by the agents who lived it, while getting unprecedented access to the riveting and secret world of espionage. Hosted by former U.S. Congressman, former House Intelligence Committee chair and current CNN national security contributor Mike Rogers.

The tentative season schedule is:

Trigon: The KGB Chess Game (6/19)

The Hunt for Saddam (6/26)

Zarqawi: The Father of ISIS (7/3)

Cuba: Traitor on the Inside (7/10)

Cross International: The Billion Dollar Black Market (8/14)

The Taliban’s Double Agent (8/21)

Red Storm Rising: Naval Secrets Exposed (8/28)

Hexagon: The Secret Satellite (9/4)

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

 

The Roots of Venezuela’s Disorder: Russia and Cuba are Reaping What They’ve Sown in Latin America 2

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal

On Wednesday, as Venezuelan strongman Nicólas Maduro was promising more repression to crush relentless student protests, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Moscow plans to put military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. A few days later a Russian spy ship arrived in Havana harbor unannounced.

The usual Cold War suspects are back. More accurately, they never left. Former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is warning President Obama that Russia can make trouble in the Americas if the U.S. insists on solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, Latin America’s aging Marxists are lining up behind Mr. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez.

Russia and Cuba are finally reaping the benefits of the revolution they have long sown in Latin America. Any chance of defeating them requires setting the record straight about how Venezuela got so poor.

Venezuelan politicians sold left-wing populism like snake oil for decades before Chávez came to power in 1999. They demagogued entrepreneurs and indoctrinated the masses with anti-businesses propaganda. From the earliest days of the Cuban revolution, Castro was a hero in Venezuelan universities where Cuban-Soviet propaganda flourished. By the 1960s school children were being weaned on utopian collectivism. The brainwashing intensified when Chávez opened Venezuela to Cuban proselytizers.

Through it all, the politically connected got rich, including the chavistas. But today a large part of the population believes that business is underhanded and greedy. This is why escaping the noose of totalitarianism is going to be difficult. The culture of liberty has been nearly annihilated, and even if Mr. Maduro is overthrown, that culture must be rebuilt from the ground up.

To be sure, social media makes it harder to put a smiley face on tyranny than in the 1980s. Back then a doctrine like sandinismo could be marketed by Cuba and Russia to naïve Americans as the salvation of the Nicaraguan poor even while the Sandinista army burned Miskito Indian villages and arrested banana-selling peasants as speculators in the highlands.

Today word gets around. A Feb. 18 cellphone image from the Venezuelan city of Valencia—of a young man carrying the limp body of 22-year-old Genesis Carmona after she was shot in the head by Maduro enforcers—has gone viral as an emblem of the repression.

Story continues here: The Roots of Venezuela’s Disorder: Russia and Cuba are Reaping What They’ve Sown in Latin America

Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips 2

If Havana uses a Russian recipe for clinging to power, investors beware.

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal, O’Grady@wsj.com

Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times wasn’t a big hit with Americans. But the Russian president does have admirers elsewhere. Some are in the Cuban military, which is rumored to be studying “putinismo.” Would-be foreign investors, take note.

Ever since Fidel Castro’s glorious revolution triumphed in 1959, Cuba has been in need of a benefactor. The Soviet Union played that role until it collapsed in the early 1990s. Cuba got another lifeline when Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, elected in 1998, began a state policy of providing it with cheap oil.

Even so, Cubans still live lives of privation. Venezuela’s own fiscal woes are on the rise, which means that the oil subsidies are in jeopardy.

Revolutionary poverty is nothing new. But regime bigwigs in Havana fear that Raúl Castro, who is now in charge, could face serious social unrest when the ailing 87-year-old Fidel passes on. Their challenge is to find ways to feed the island without letting go of power, which might prove fatal for some of them.

The Putin model offers a way out. It permits nominal elections in which the opposition gets some seats in the parliament. On the economic front, Mr. Putin has created a loyal cadre of oligarchs who do business with foreigners.

The former KGB operative can say that Russia is no longer shaped by communist ideology. But behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

Writing from Russia in April 2012, development economist Deepak Lal described this mix of profits for the politically correct and repression for everybody else. His essay, in the Indian daily Business Standard, explained that “ordinary profit making has been criminalized.” Citing the work of Russian lawyer Vladimir Radchenko, Mr. Lal wrote that “there are three million small and medium-scale business entrepreneurs in jail for economic crimes.”

Mr. Putin is reportedly planning on forming his own personal national guard, Mr. Lal wrote. The Federal Security Service is more interested in running businesses than putting down dissidents and the hoodlums hired to do the job are unreliable. Mr. Lal also briefly described the state’s renewed alliance with the Orthodox Church.

I was reminded of the parallels between Mr. Putin’s Russia and Castro’s promises of reform when former Cuban political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez visited the Journal’s New York offices this month. The 48-year-old Cuban, who spent 17 years in Castro’s jails, calls claims of political and economic reform there “fraud.”

Mr. Antúnez describes opposition to the regime as widespread and growing. It is not more visible, he says, because the “culture of fear” remains intense. Independent reports from the island say that detentions and violent assaults on opposition groups have been increasing.

As in Russia, Cuba can no longer rely on the armed forces to control government critics. They are busy running lucrative businesses in tourism, retail, cigar manufacturing and air travel. The Castros also seem to have a Putin-style relationship with the Church. Pope Benedict met with the Castros during his 2012 visit to the island while dissidents were carted off to jail for asking to see the pontiff.

Mr. Antúnez says that allowing Cubans to run microenterprises isn’t reducing poverty. Perhaps that’s because when entrepreneurs have succeeded during prior so-called liberalization periods, the regime has accused them of the crime of illicit enrichment.

Foreign investors sometimes don’t seem to fare much better. In an Aug. 13 letter to the Economist magazine, British businessman Stephen Purvis, a former business partner of the regime, described the circumstances surrounding his incarceration in a Cuban jail for 15 months between 2011 and 2012.

Mr. Purvis says he was “accused of many things, starting with revelations of state secrets” but was eventually sentenced for “breaches of financial regulations,” even though Cuba’s central bank had “specifically approved the transactions in question for 12 years.”

He was in prison with “a handful” of other foreign businessmen and says “there are many more in the system than is widely known.” A few are charged with corruption, he wrote, but many face charges of “sabotage, damage to the economy, tax avoidance and illegal economic activity.”

What he didn’t see in prison were his island business peers from Brazil, Venezuela and China. Mr. Purvis asks: “Why is the representative of Ericsson in jail for exactly the same activities as [its] Chinese competitor who is not?” Foreigners doing business in Russia have described a similarly risky playing field.

In May, Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, who claims to have contact with a number of Cuban military officers from his high school days, told the Miami Herald that they are studying “putinismo” in order to prepare for a transition. “They don’t want to suffer the same fate as the followers of [Libya’s] Kaddafi,” he said.

The Putin model may be the way to avoid that fate. But it’s a far cry from a plan to liberate the nation.

ILEANA FUENTES: Alan, Angel y Arón 1

Una sencilla canción norteamericana de 1968 nos recuerda a tres grandes adalides de los derechos civiles, la paz internacional y la convivencia planetaria.

Como lo fueron en su época Abraham, Martin y John, aunque de forma diferente –Lincoln, King y Kennedy asesinados, los de hoy emboscados o encarcelados– Alan Gross, Angel Carromero y Jens Arón Modig son bajas en la lucha por un mundo mejor… en este caso, una Cuba mejor.

Alan Gross lleva preso en el paraíso transformista –nunca reformista– de los Castro desde diciembre del 2009. El fallo de culpabilidad por violar la soberanía nacional de Cuba, indica que a Gross le siguieron los pasos durante más de cinco años. Entró y salió de la isla muchas veces en lo que para él eran –y para el mundo libre, eran– encomiables visitas humanitarias.

No así para las autoridades cubanas. Alan Gross fue acusado de poner en peligro la seguridad nacional, de ser agente del imperialismo enemigo, de proveerle a opositores, disidentes y ciudadanos desafectos la prohibida tecnología de comunicaciones que abriera las compuertas de la Internet y las redes sociales en la cárcel de Raúl y de Fidel. A los efectos de La Habana: subversión digital.

Lo triste es que Gross cayó en una especie de agujero negro propiciado por un cándido optimismo burocrático en Washington que insiste en lidiar con los servicios de inteligencia, espionaje y seguridad de Cuba cual si ésta fuera una república bananera. Ramiro Valdés, José Abrahantes, Manuel Piñeiro no fueron jamás militares de opereta. Con ellos, Cuba alcanzó el pináculo de los servicios secretos internacionales, a la par de la KGB soviética, la Statni checa y la Stasi alemana. En Washington se habla de la “primavera árabe” como modelo transformable en “primavera cubana” que conduzca a la isla hacia la democracia. Piensan liquidar el castrismo mediante Twitter, e-mails y Facebook. Hasta Yoani Sánchez, la premiada bloguera independiente, afirma que están locos de remate.

El pasado mes de julio, un joven sueco y otro español emprendieron un camino parecido, con confianza vikinga el primero, el segundo cual peregrino a Santiago. Se equivocaron de mapa: no iban a Groenlandia ni Compostela, sino a Santiago de Cuba. Con la misma credulidad que Alan Gross, partieron en misión imposible a fomentar derechos y libertades en la finca del Comandante. Nadie les repasó las leyes cubanas para entender en qué tipo de suicidio se estaban lanzando. Cierto: hay que penetrar las grietas de las murallas. Pero con civiles idealistas y novatos no me parece honesto ni práctico. Honesto y práctico es enviar la 5ta Flota y la 82da División Aerotransportada, entrenadas para penetraciones eficientes y rápidas.

En el camino del Santiago tropical, Angel y Arón se llevaron a otros dos buenos hombres: Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas y Harold Cepero, cabeza y colaborador respectivamente del Proyecto Varela del Movimiento Cristiano Liberación. ¿Por dónde andaba Cristo a la hora de proteger a estos cuatro cristianos? El accidente ya es historia y no hay que volver a contarlo. Lo que sí hay que contar es lo que se avecina en este juicio-de-tres-pistas iniciado hoy contra el infeliz chivo expiatorio español. Angel Carromero es culpable desde que pisó suelo cubano. Su juicio es sólo un formalismo.

Al sueco lo hicieron más sueco, con su amnesia selectiva: “Recuperé el sentido luego del choque para acordarme de que no me acordaba de nada”. Un quid pro quo diabólico y perfecto: el olvido, o la vida. El actual totí se llama Angel; antes se llamó Alan. Además de culpable por homicidio vehicular, pueden tocarle otros 15 años –la condena de Gross– por violar la seguridad nacional y las leyes de Cuba. La Moncloa se recondena con esta daga traicionera. Si Madrid se comporta y el discurso de la nueva concordia del recién nombrado embajador de la Unión Europea a La Habana convence –suavizar la posición común ante las ¿reformas? de Raúl Castro– entonces Carromero recibirá un castiguito, y la Madre Patria se encargará de ampararlo en su regazo.

Entre tanto, Alan, el hebreo-americano, se consume en el Hospital Militar Carlos J. Finlay, en Marianao. Arón, el vikingo, calla su verdad en el Atlántico Norte. Si fuera cubano, gritaría: ¡Asere! ¡Esto es el colmo!

© Ileana Fuentes

This Month in History Reply

1961:  Earle Perez Friman became chief of the intelligence “Centro” within the Cuban Embassy in Uruguay.  He was also the only Cuban diplomat who worked directly with the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry. Cultural Attaché Eduardo Hernandez Gispert replaced Perez as “Centro” chief at the end of his tour.

1973:  Following the return to civilian leadership, Argentina reopened diplomatic ties with Cuba. That June, the two nations signed a trade agreement and commerce soared. These mutually beneficial commercial ties prompted Cuba to suspend its support for Argentine revolutionary groups.

1991:  Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the Russian foreign intelligence service – the KGB – visited Havana in an effort to strengthen further the intelligence ties between the two nations. Two months later, however, Kryuchkov was a key participant in the failed August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev.  He was later imprisoned until a 1994 amnesty.

2004:  Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Jorge Luis Mayo Fernandez arrived in Argentina and began his tour as the Deputy Chief of Mission.

Cuban Success in Defeating the Polygraph 1

Author and intelligence scholar Ernest Volkman claimed that the CIA’s sole means to check the bona fides of its Cuban assets during the Cold War was the polygraph.  Regardless of whether it was the Agency’s only means, the CIA clearly relied too heavily on polygraph examinations.  To exploit this vulnerability, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the KGB, provided Havana with instructions on counter-polygraph techniques.  The resulting solution was quite simple.  Both services knew that pathological liars can pass polygraph exams because they believe so strongly in their lies that the machine cannot detect any physiological response indicative of deception.  As such, both nations trained their agents to mimic the success of a pathological liar by accepting their lies as the truth.

As a result, dozens of Cuban double agents passed their CIA polygraph exams. Those who failed tended to be protected by their Case Officer (i.e., spy handler), who made excuses for their agent’s difficulties.  Cuba also exploited another CIA vulnerability – bean-counting.  Havana knew the CIA measured its personnel by their productivity rather than by their actual success.  Castro’s spy services were also benefited from the CIA’s arrogance in handling agents from Third World nations, as well as its cavalier disregard for the Cuban Intelligence services.

Cuba’s counter-poly techniques were also taught to its other spies, including Ana Belen Montes, a high ranking penetration of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  Montes passed one polygraph exam during her DIA service.  A second examination, randomly scheduled while she was under investigation, was discreetly canceled by DIA Counterintelligence.  Investigators were rightfully concerned she would again pass the exam, crippling the case being built against her.