Donald Trump Crackdown Looms For Cuba as Repression Continues After Obama Outreach 3

Cuban President Raul Castro and his government have benefited more than his people from the Obama administration’s détente. (Associated Press)

Cuban President Raul Castro and his government have benefited more than his people from the Obama administration’s détente. (Associated Press)

By Dave Boyer – The Washington Times

President Obama’s historic move to normalize relations with Cuba hasn’t slowed repression by the Castro regime, and the incoming Trump administration is likely to take a tougher stand on restricting tourism, recovering stolen U.S. assets and demanding human rights reforms by Havana, analysts say.

In the two years since Mr. Obama announced a thaw in the United States’ half-century policy of isolating the island nation, the administration has paved the way for increased engagement, approving such measures as daily commercial flights, direct mail service, cruise ship ports of call and the reopenings of long-shuttered embassies in Washington and Havana.

But Mr. Obama’s policy has not been fully embraced on Capitol Hill and is vulnerable to reversal under the Trump administration, though the president’s aides say his détente is already bearing fruit in Cuba and beyond.

“We’re seeing real progress that is making life better for Cubans right now,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. “Sustaining this policy will allow for further opening, further travel, further U.S. business opportunities.”

But critics say the U.S. money now flowing to Cuba is being pocketed directly by the military and the Cuban intelligence services, not benefiting Cuban entrepreneurs. They also say the government of President Raul Castro has become more repressive since the formal resumption of diplomatic ties with Washington.

“This year, they’ve had over 10,000 politically motivated arrests,” said Ana Quintana, an analyst on Latin America at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “During President Obama’s visit [in March], there were 498 people arrested in those three days.”

Judging by the standards Mr. Obama laid out in December 2014, she said, “the policy has been a failure.”

“It was originally intended to help the Cuban people by providing greater freedoms,” Ms. Quintana said. “It’s been diluted, because they found that they’re not going to get the concessions from the Cuban government that they expected. The vast majority of people who have benefited from this have been the Cuban military and the Cuban government.”

President-elect Donald Trump is likely to take a less rosy view than Mr. Obama of the U.S. engagement with Cuba, say those familiar with his team’s thinking. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for “turning a blind eye” to Cuba’s human rights violations and denounced Mr. Obama’s initial deal with Havana as a “very weak agreement.” Several anti-Castro Cuban-American conservatives are part of Mr. Trump’s transition team.

Article continues here:  Espionage & Repression Continues

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

 

Palm Beach Newspaper Warns American Firms of Cuba’s Espionage Threat 2

SpyvsSpySeveral Caveats to be Aware of Before Doing Business in Cuba

PalmBeachPost.com / Filed in: Business

Get ready for another round of “Let’s go do business in Cuba” enthusiasm on Friday. That’s when Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to raise the Stars and Stripes for the ceremonial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Before you go rushing into a business venture on the island that was the communist outpost in the Cold War, you might want to have a talk with Ross Thompson at Classified Worldwide Consulting, which has an office in West Palm Beach. Thompson, the firm’s managing director, has a few caveats to share.

In particular, Thompson cautions that Cuba’s foreign investment and business laws present six key challenges that Americans need to think through ahead of time. They are:

  1. The Cuban government will own a majority stake in the company. A 49-51 percent split is common, but Havana has required a larger share in some sectors.
  2. Your local workforce will be selected by the Cuban government. This selection may not be based on skill or merit but by seniority or cronyism.
  3. Cuban managers will be appointed to mirror your handpicked managers, especially if your senior leadership includes Cuban exiles. The Cuban managers will ultimately control many decisions, or influence them, when dealing with your majority partner, the Cuban government.
  4. Everything in Cuba is heavily influenced by Cuba’s intelligence service, the DGI. You must be very careful to guard your own corporate proprietary information. [Emphasis added]
  5. Vendors you may work with may be fronts, or “cutouts,” for other foreign intelligence services such as those from China, Russia, Iran or North Korea. The capture and exchange of corporate confidential information is a lucrative business, so guard your files. [Emphasis added]

Feature continues here: Cuban Economic Espionage

 

North Korea, Cuba in ‘Same Trench’ Against US: Minister Reply

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez upon arriving at the Foreign Ministry in Havana, on March 16, 2015

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez upon arriving at the Foreign Ministry in Havana, on March 16, 2015

By AFP

North Korea and Cuba share the same struggle against US aggression, Pyongyang’s foreign minister said Monday as Washington and Havana held new talks on restoring diplomatic ties.

In a visit to Havana that coincided with the latest round of talks on normalizing US-Cuban relations, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong played up the two communist regimes’ history of enmity toward the United States.

North Korea and Cuba “share a history of fighting together in the same trench against American imperialism, which continues to exert economic pressure on our countries to this day,” Ri was quoted as saying by Cuba’s state-run news agency Prensa Latina.

Ri also “highlighted the excellent relations” between the two communist countries and gave his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez “a message from leader Kim Jong-Un expressing his wish to broaden and strengthen (relations) even more,” said the news agency.

Rodriguez reiterated Cuba’s commitment to peacefully reuniting North and South Korea “without foreign interference,” Prensa Latina said.

The visit came as US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson met her Cuban counterpart Josefina Vidal, Havana’s top diplomat for US affairs, for a third round of talks to advance a possible US-Cuban rapprochement announced on December 17.

The thaw threatens to leave North Korea as the last country still ostracized by the United States over Cold War-era grudges.

Ri’s visit, the first by a North Korean official since the US-Cuba talks, came amid heightened tensions with South Korea and the United States over their annual joint military drills, which Pyongyang condemns as rehearsals for invasion.

North Korea responded last week by firing surface-to-air missiles into the sea off its coast.

Congressional Hearing Next Thursday: “The President’s New Cuba Policy and U.S. National Security” 1

CongressSubcommittee Hearing: The President’s New Cuba Policy and U.S. National Security

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere | 2200 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Feb 26, 2015 10:00am to 1:00pm

Chairman Duncan on the hearing: “In 1982, Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for providing critical support to many terrorist organizations. Today, given the links between Cuba and China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia and the close proximity to the U.S. homeland, I am deeply concerned about the U.S. national security implications of the Administration’s Cuba policy change. Cuba continues to support terrorist organizations and it was caught red-handed proliferating weapons to North Korea as recently as last year. Cuba has also been stunningly successful in espionage against the U.S., in trafficking U.S. national security secrets to hostile regimes, and in benefiting from a criminal pipeline spanning Cuba to Florida. This hearing will examine the U.S. national security implications of the President’s Cuba policy change and potential vulnerabilities to Americans as a result.”

WITNESSES:

Mr. Chris Simmons:  Editor, Cuba Confidential

Mr. Fernando Menéndez:  Senior Fellow, Center for a Secure Free Society

José Azel, Ph.D.:  Senior Research Associate, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies – University of Miami

The Honorable Dennis K. Hays:  Director, The Emergence Group

***Any changes to witness list will be reflected above.

Hallan explosivos y municiones en el buque norcoreano procedente de Cuba 1

RTVE.ES / EFE 02.08.2013

• El buque fue retenido el 16 de julio cuando intentaba cruzar el Canal de Panamá
• Hallados 13 contenedores con material bélico y aún falta un 40% por descargar
• Un equipo de expertos de la ONU revisará el material

El buque norcoreano retenido en el Canal de Panamá el pasado 16 de julio procedente de Cuba y con destino Corea del Norte transportaba explosivos y municiones. Lo han confirmado las autoridades panameñas, que han encontrado estas “armas de guerra” durante el registro del buque.

El fiscal antidroga panameño, Javier Caraballo, ha explicado que esta es la primera vez que se encuentran explosivos y “munición viva” en el registro del buque Chong Chon Gang, en el que el equipo bélico cubano se oculta bajo toneladas de azúcar. El carguero norcoreano trataba de cruzar el Canal hacia el Pacífico con una carga no declarada de equipo militar cubano.

Según Caraballo, son municiones para lanzagranadas RPG, así como “un tipo de explosivo no determinado para artillería pesada”, que han sido halladas en el mismo contenedor.

El fiscal antidroga, que se ha disculpado por no ser un especialista en cuestiones de armamento, ha asegurado que el contenedor en el que están estas municiones y explosivos ha sido llevado a una zona aislada del puerto de Manzanillo por cuestiones de seguridad, por lo que no se ha mostrado a los periodistas.

Un equipo de especialistas se ha desplazado al lugar para revisar e investigar el material encontrado en ese contenedor.

Lo que sí han podido ver los presentes tras el hallazgo ha sido el resto del equipo descubierto en otros contenedores ocultos por el cargamento de azúcar, como cinco vehículos de color azul, tres de los cuales descritos como centros de comando para el lanzamiento de misiles.

Tras abrir los agentes de seguridad con cautela los vehículos y ser revisados por perros entrenados para detectar explosivos, el fiscal antidroga se los ha enseñado a los periodistas y fotógrafos.

Ya se han encontrado 13 contenedores

El pasado martes ya se había hallado otro centro de comando para el lanzamiento de misiles, así como varias turbinas para aviones MIG de fabricación rusa.

Los otros dos vehículos, según Caraballo, contenían un soporte de radares para lanzamisiles y generadores eléctricos para abastecer de energía a estos equipos móviles.

Además, en otro contenedor, se encontraron nuevos motores de turbina que se cree que corresponden a aviones MIG 21. Tras descubrirse esta carga no declarada en el buque norcoreano, las autoridades cubanas asumieron la propiedad del equipo bélico y dijeron que en el barco iban “dos complejos coheteriles antiaéreos Volga y Pechora, nueve cohetes en partes y piezas, dos aviones Mig-21 Bis y 15 motores de ese tipo” de aeronave.

Según La Habana, todo este equipo es de fabricación rusa, data de los años 50, es “obsoleto” y era llevado a Corea del Norte para ser reparado y luego enviado de regreso a Cuba.

En cualquier caso, el fiscal antidroga panameño ha explicado que su trabajo no es verificar si los hallazgos se corresponden con la lista anunciada por Cuba, sino que piensan revisar en barco en su totalidad.

Hasta ahora, ha indicado, en el buque se han encontrado trece contenedores con equipo bélico, de los que han revisado doce, además de los vehículos con equipos militares móviles.

Continúa la descarga de las 10.000 toneladas de azúcar

Caraballo ha asegurado que el trabajo de descarga de las 10.000 toneladas de azúcar que ocultaban los contenedores prosigue sin descanso, en turnos de 24 horas, porque aún falta entre un 40 y un 45 % de los sacos por ser extraídos de las bodegas.

“Anoche se trabajó durante toda la noche en la revisión de la segunda bodega, de un total de cinco, tres de ellas grandes y dos bastante pequeñas”, ha asegurado el fiscal, que está al frente de la operación de registro del buque norcoreano.

Sobre la posibilidad de encontrar droga escondida en el Chong Chon Gang, que fue la sospecha que llevó a las autoridades panameñas a retener el buque tras recibir información de inteligencia, Caraballo que es algo que “no se descarta mientras duren las investigaciones”.

El fiscal ha afirmado que, pese a que se está trabajando de forma ininterrumpida con equipos que se turnan constantemente, el registro total del buque puede durar “varios días”, debido a la gran cantidad de azúcar que falta por bajar.

Lo penoso de estas labores hizo que se haya retrasado una semana la llegada a Panamá del equipo de expertos de la ONU que debe revisar el material bélico cubano para determinar si su envío a Corea del Norte viola el embargo de armas que pesa contra ese país. El equipo llegará a Panamá el 12 de agosto.

Expelled Spy Leads Migration Talks 3

Cuba-US Migration Talks Held Despite NK Boat Seizure

By Silvia Ayuso

HAVANA TIMES — The United States and Cuba resumed migration talks in Washington today despite Panama’s seizure of a ship bound for North Korea with weapons from the island having put a veil of distrust on Havana. The hidden cargo discovery revived the voices of those who see these technical meetings between the US and Cuba as undesirable rapprochement with the government of Raul Castro.

The meeting, the first after more than two years of interruption of what had once been regular meetings, was chaired by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Alex Lee, and the director of the USA desk of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal. As the meeting concluded, the Cuban delegation was quick to point out in a statement the “friendly climate” in which the encounter occurred. The State Department meanwhile stressed that at the meeting, focused on immigration issues, “it also reiterated its call for the immediate release of Alan Gross”, whose imprisonment in Havana has become in recent years the main obstacle to even a slight rapprochement between Cuba and the US.

According to the Cuban press, the meeting, “reviewed the progress of the migration agreements in force between the two countries,” while not mentioning the Gross case. The meeting “assessed the main results of the actions taken by each of the parties and together to tackle illegal migration and trafficking of migrants.” It took place a month after bilateral talks resumed to restore direct mail service interrupted for more than half a century.

The seizure earlier this week in Panama of a ship bound for North Korea carrying “obsolete defensive weapons” from Cuba, as acknowledged Havana on Tuesday, had triggered calls from some lawmakers to cancel the meeting. The Obama administration decided to go on with the meeting which it called technical, seen as at least a gesture toward the island.

The State Department refused to suspend the appointment, arguing, according to spokeswoman Marie Harf, that it is an “ongoing process” important to Washington because “safe immigration is in the interest of the United States.” Harf had already ruled out that the ship incident would find a space in the “very structured” talks today, but said Washington has requested a meeting “very soon” with Havana to “discuss with them about this boat” but did not explain what specific clarifications it wants from Cuba.

The Obama administration has emphasized at all times that such meetings “do not represent a significant change in US policy toward Cuba.” However, the fact that Washington and Havana have some sort of high-level official contact is usually followed with the utmost attention, for the major implications that a gesture of rapprochement could have between the two governments at odds for more than half a century.

The latest round of migration talks, the fourth, took place in January 2011 in Havana. After six years of hiatus, Cuba and the United States had resumed these contacts after the arrival of Obama to the White House in 2009. However the meeting in 2011 was already tarnished by the case of Alan Gross, who is serving 15 years in prison for crimes against the “independence” and “territorial integrity” of Cuba, which Washington denies.

Up to the interruption of the meetings under the George W. Bush presidency, Cuba had been looking for a new immigration agreement with the United States, to replace the one signed in 1994 following the “rafters crisis,” when thousands of Cubans landed on US shores on precarious boats. Seeking to bring an end to the migratory crisis, the United States agreed to grant 20,000 immigrant visas a year to Cubans to facilitate an orderly exit from the island, while Cuba agreed to accept, without reprisals, those Cubans detained at sea by the US authorities. In addition, earlier this year, the Cuban government entered into force a historic immigration reform that relaxes foreign travel for Cubans.

With approximately over 1.5 million people of Cuban origin, the United States is the country where the majority of Cuban exiles have settled. The US is also the leading destination for Cubans trying to leave the country. The Cuban delegation said that during the meeting on Wednesday “it provided useful information on the updating of the Cuban immigration procedures and its implementation process.” It also said that Cuba “reiterated its willingness to keep up these exchanges in the future.”

Editor’s Note: Use Cuba Confidential’s “search” tool to learn more about the espionage career of Josefina Vidal.

Cuba Does Not Merit Terrorism Delisting 1

By Jose Cardenas in Foreign Policy (via Capitol Hill Cubans)

Floating policy trial balloons is longstanding Washington custom. Not so common is when that balloon gets blasted out of the sky by the “senior official” leaker’s own administration. That’s what happened last week when the Boston Globe reported that, “High-level U.S. diplomats have concluded that Cuba should no longer be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.” Yet the ink was barely dry on that report before both the White House and State Department utterly repudiated any notion that Cuba would soon be de-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.

As I have written in this space before, de-listing Cuba has been a long-sought goal of a die-hard cadre of critics of the United States’ Cuba policy. Why? Well, it seems that the Castro regime, which was born in terrorist violence, aided and abetted it across four continents over three decades, and whose training camps produced such international luminaries as Carlos the Jackal, is upset that it continues to be listed as a state-sponsor of terrorism. And, what’s more, Washington policymakers ought to be vexed by that, because it is an “obstacle” to normalized relations. It turns out that the Globe report was simple mischief-making by some apparently inconsequential U.S. official, clearly meant to provide succor to the de-listing campaign. As was noted deeper in the story, “U.S. officials emphasized that there has not been a formal assessment concluding that Cuba should be removed from the terrorism list and said serious obstacles remain to a better relationship, especially the imprisonment of [development worker Alan] Gross.”

Still, since the subject has been raised, it’s worthwhile to examine just what it has taken for other countries to be removed from the state sponsors list. In 2007, Libya was de-listed after Muammar al-Qaddafi terminated his WMD program and renounced terrorism by severing ties with radical groups, closing training camps, and extraditing terrorism suspects. He also accepted responsibility for the Pan Am 103 bombing and paid compensation to the victims.

In 2008, in a controversial decision, the Bush administration de-listed North Korea for progress that was being made on ending the country’s nuclear program.

Clearly, removal from the list usually follows some pro-active, game-changing actions by a country. What pro-active measures has Cuba ever adopted? The answer is none. Just being too broke to support terrorism anymore hardly merits any action on the U.S. part.

Moreover, according to the law, before de-listing, an administration must not only certify to Congress that a country has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period, but that it has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.

In Cuba’s case, even if relevant U.S. agencies can conclude that the Castro regime has not provided material support for a terrorist act in the last six months — that is, apart from its terrorizing of its own people, which continues apace — where is the regime’s public renouncement of its past support for international terrorism and assurance that it will not support any acts in the future?

Is even that too much to demand? Of course, it is. The Castro regime will not issue any such statement because it doesn’t believe it has done anything wrong since 1959. They maintain that they are the victims of U.S. policy and are deserving of all the concessions, without any quid pro quo. The regime can no more renounce terrorism than renounce their totalitarian state — and that is why they belong on the terrorism list until they give the U.S. government a real reason to be taken off.

OPED: Forgotten Cuba? Is Washington Playing Word Games in Latest Espionage Estimate? 3

By Chris Simmons

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that “A new intelligence assessment has concluded that the United States is the target of a massive, sustained cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness, according to people familiar with the report. The National Intelligence Estimate identifies China as the country most aggressively seeking to penetrate the computer systems of American businesses and institutions to gain access to data that could be used for economic gain.”

The newspaper goes on to note that “The National Intelligence Estimate names three other countries – Russia, Israel and France – as having engaged in hacking for economic intelligence but makes clear that cyber-espionage by those countries pales in comparison with China’s effort.” [emphasis added] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-said-to-be-target-of-massive-cyber-espionage-campaign/2013/02/10/7b4687d8-6fc1-11e2-aa58-243de81040ba_story.html

While the story makes for tantalizing reading for the layman, it raises several red flags with this retired intelligence officer. Let’s start with the most fundamental: why is cyber-espionage, which in this NIE is reportedly narrowly focused on America’s “economic competitiveness,” separate and distinct from the NIE on economic espionage? Computer hacking is simply a technique used to steal industry secrets. It should be nothing more than a chapter in the NIE on Economic Espionage. To remove and spotlight this tool is to distort the actual intelligence targeting of our economic interests.

Cuba, for example, runs the largest Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) complex in the Western Hemisphere outside of our own National Security Agency (NSA). Since the 1960s, economic espionage has been a priority for the DI. For example, a declassified CIA report noted that in 1964, Havana appointed General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) officer Orestes Guillermo Ruiz Perez as Vice-Minister for Economics within the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Separate CIA documents stated that in 1973, DGI officer Alberto Betancourt Roa served as president of Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce. During 1986-1987, he served as Vice-Minister of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade. By the early 1990s, Betancourt headed Cubazucar, the national sugar corporation.

A key example of Havana’s success in economic espionage is the case of Guillermo “Bill” Gaede, In the 1980s, Cuba recruited Gaede to steal information on computer software and provide it to case officers in Mexico. Havana, in turn, passed the information to the USSR and East Germany until the end of the Cold War. Gaede, an Argentine communist and software engineer, worked for Advanced Micro Devices, Incorporated in Sunnyvale, California from 1979-1993. He provided Cuba with AMD specs, designs, “Blue Books,” masks, wafers, and small measuring devices.

Experts said Russia, with whom Cuba shared its stolen information, possibly narrowed the US technology lead by exploiting the chip designs and manufacturing techniques, which AMD spent millions of dollars to develop. Experts opined that Gaede’s damage was limited, as the technology used in the semiconductor industry advances so quickly that designs and manufacturing techniques quickly become outdated. However, the damage control provided by the experts failed to address the true effect of systematic and long-term economic espionage.

Gaede later claimed his initial motivation was his belief in communism, but this motivation waned after he repeatedly traveled to Cuba and became disillusioned. He left AMD in 1993 because of mistaken fears that the company would soon detect his misconduct. The technology giant Intel then hired him and greed became his motivator. He filmed the entire process used to make the Pentium chip, down to the smallest technical detail. He subsequently sold the information to China and Iran, which paid him handsomely. The secrets stolen from ADM and Intel ultimately earned Gaede the nickname, the “The Billion Dollar Spy.” He was arrested in late 1995.

The following year, the CIA advised the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Cuba ranked sixth of the seven nations worldwide that “extensively engaged in economic espionage” against the US. The CIA rated France as the most serious threat, followed by Israel, China, Russia, Iran, and then Cuba. Havana, it noted, liked to target American firms whose facilities were based outside of the US. In a separate 1996 report, the US government reiterated that Havana collected “political, economic, and military information within the United States.” The report went on to note that the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) had begun targeting those technologies needed to help Cuba’s ailing economy.

Subsequently, Cuba appeared prominently in a classified list known as the National Security Threat List (NSTL). The NSTL is compiled by an FBI-led, interagency group which identifies the issues and countries which pose the greatest strategic intelligence threat to U.S. security interests. The 1999 list, apparently the most recent to have been declassified, declared that out of approximately 180 countries in the world, only 11 were so dangerous that they were included on the NSTL. These strategic threats were China, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Similarly, a 1999 report by the US government’s National Communication System identified Cuba as having used electronic intrusions to collect economic intelligence. Additionally, during the latter half of the 1990s, the Department of Energy included Cuba as one of 22 nations on its “Sensitive Country List.” The DOE list is now restricted, so it is not known whether Cuba remains on the list.

Fast forwarding to late 2007, the Heritage Foundation had this to say about Cuba’s espionage capabilities:

• Since Raul Castro took the reins as acting head of state in 2006, Cuban intelligence services have intensified their targeting of the U.S. Since 9/11, however, U.S. intelligence agencies have reduced the priority assigned to Cuba.

• Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI) is among the top six intelligence services in the world. Thirty-five of its intelligence officers or agents have been identified operating in the U.S. and neutralized between 1996 and 2003. This is strong evidence of DI’s aggressiveness and hostility toward the U.S.

• Cuba traffics in intelligence. U.S. intelligence secrets collected by Cuba have been sold to or bartered with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and other enemies of the United States. China is known to have had intelligence personnel posted to the Cuban Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) site at Bejucal since 2001, and Russia continues to receive Cuban SIGINT information. Additionally, many Cuban intelligence agents and security police are advising Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.

• Cuban intelligence has successfully compromised every major U.S. military operation since the 1983 invasion of Grenada and has provided America’s enemies with forewarning of impending U.S. operations.

• Beijing is busy working to improve Cuban signals intelligence and electronic warfare facilities, which had languished after the fall of the Soviet Union, integrating them into China’s own global satellite network. Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal has noted that this means the Chinese army, at a cyber-warfare complex 20 miles south of Havana, can now monitor phone conversations and Internet transmissions in America. (For the entire Heritage Foundation feature, see http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/10/cuba-at-the-crossroads-the-threat-to-us-national-security)

Then, in July 2008, Dr. Joel F. Brenner, Director of the U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (an element of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) said: “The Russians and the Chinese remain big problems for us. The Cubans are a problem for us and the Iranians are a big problem for us… and the Cubans have a very accomplished set of intel services and they are something we have to watch.”

Last year, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told the Senate Armed Services Committee “Cuba remains the predominant foreign intelligence threat to the United States emanating from Latin America.” Shortly thereafter, former Director of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Michelle Van Cleave, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that “…measured by its reach, history, objectives and success against us, Cuba is easily within the Top Ten list worldwide.”

Cuba earned its position as “Intelligence Trafficker to the World” by stealing U.S. secrets, not necessarily hacking our computers. Knowing this, it is disingenuous for Washington to split hairs between old-school “economic espionage” and “cyber-espionage directed against economic targets.” Everyone understands that Washington insiders exploit the cyber threat to generate publicity for themselves and funding for their projects. It’s time for the administration to stop minimizing the threat from Havana and revitalize our Counterintelligence services so they can better identify and destroy foreign spy services operating in America.