Chicago Tribune Laud’s Alberto Coll as “Chicago’s Cuba Expert” 4

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris

By Chris Simmons

Disingenuous Chicago Tribune feature:  Chicago’s Cuba expert on the next steps for tourism, business

Fact-checking clearly isn’t a requirement at the Tribune, who’ve clearly forgotten that former Naval War College professor Alberto Coll was indicted following a counterespionage investigation. In 2005, Coll accepted a plea agreement in which he left Federal service, was striped of his security clearance, fined $5000, placed on probation, and banned from practicing law for a year. Coll’s lawyer, Francis Flanagan, indirectly acknowledged to the Associated Press his client was a (former) Naval Criminal Investigative Service source. Coll was regularly debriefed after his military-authorized visits to Cuba.

His indictment remains sealed.

This Date in History: Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Sentenced 1

          June 7, 2005:  A US Court sentenced Naval War College (NWC) professor Alberto Coll to one-year probation and fined him $5000 for lying about a visit to Cuba.  Coll’s lawyer claimed the admission was discovered during a debriefing by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).  Under State Department rules, visits to Cuba are allowed for specific reasons – to include visiting family members, as Coll had claimed.  In reality, Coll visited his mistress.  Under the plea agreement, the government also revoked Coll’s security clearance and sealed his confession.  The Havana-born Coll maintained that the relationship with his mistress started after the death of his 18-year old daughter in June 2003.  Following the tragic car accident, he reached out to his childhood friend in January 2004 as “a shoulder to cry on.”  Curiously, Coll’s late daughter was far along with plans to attend Havana University; an amazing event given the sensitivity of Coll’s position.

          Prior to his felony conviction, Dr. Coll served as Chair of the Strategic Research Department at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.  He had earlier served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict from 1990-1993.

          Coll came under scrutiny after he was identified in a “Counterintelligence anomaly” by the Defense Intelligence Agency.  The specific details of this anomaly remain classified.   Coll had previously been regularly debriefed by NCIS at the conclusion of each of his numerous Cuba trips.