The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode 1

Numbers station_The Daily BeastEvery day, hour after hour, the world’s spies send top secret information you can easily listen in on.

By Shan Harris, The Daily Beast

When I was 10 years old, I found a shortwave radio in a crumbling old leather trunk where we kept family photos and other memorabilia. As I spun the dial, tinny, modulating noises, like the song of an electronic slide whistle, emanated from the radio’s small speaker. Staticky cracks and pops competed for airtime. The sounds swished and swirled, unintelligible and unremarkable. But then, emerging through the clamor, was a voice.

I might have run right over it with the dial, but the voice’s rhythmic, steady pacing caught me up short. It wasn’t a deejay. Nor a commercial. And he wasn’t singing. He was just speaking. The same line, over and over again.

“7…6…7…4…3.” Pause. “7…6…7…4…3.”

I don’t remember if those were the exact numbers. But they were numbers. A repeated sequence which had no obvious meaning, and was entirely devoid of context. To find him here, amidst the screeches and howls of the shortwave frequencies, was like coming upon a man standing in the middle of a forest, talking out loud to no one.

How long had he been here? Who was he talking to? He had that officious tone of the recorded telephone operators who chastised you for dialing a wrong number. “Please hang up, check the number, and dial again.” And the same distracting static I’d heard in those messages filled the background. I wasn’t sure if he was speaking live, or if he’d been recorded and set loose to play into the air.

But there was an urgency to his tone. And a purpose. As if he were talking to me. Imploring. Listen. Hear me now. 7…6…7…4…3. Did you get that? 7…6…7…4…3.

I was simultaneously terrified and captivated.

I never touched the radio again. My curiosity was suppressed by a feeling of dread that I had heard something not meant for me. But I never stopped thinking about it. The voice became a character I passed around with friends during late-night ghost stories. The Bell Witch. The Killer in the Back Seat. The Numbers Man.

Article continues here: Numbers Stations

 

Freed Journalist Believes Cuba’s 2003 “Black Spring” Arrests Were a Failed Attempt at a Spy Swap 1

Exiled Cuban Journalist Omar Rodríguez: “The whole detention was a “mafia action to trade us” for the Cuban spies in prison in the U.S.”

Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes

Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes

Cuba’s ‘Black Spring’ Still Haunts Journalists

By David Soler, Global Journalist

Years after their release, two Cuban journalists look back at lost years.

In March 2003 the world’s attention was transfixed on Iraq as the United States prepared to launch a divisive military assault on Saddam Hussein’s government. Meanwhile just 90 miles from U.S. shores, Cuban President Fidel Castro seized the opportunity to launch an assault of his own on internal critics–an offensive that drew little attention from an international community focused on the  prospect of war in the Middle East.

On April 2, as U.S. forces neared Baghdad, Cuban reporter and photojournalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes returned to his home in Havana late. There, Cuban police were waiting for him. They searched his house, finding a 2002 New York Times’ article highlighting his work as one of about 100 independent journalists working in the Communist nation. “I remember they shouted with surprise: ‘Look at this!’” says Rodríguez. “For them that was as if they found a bomb.”

Rodríguez was one of 75 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents arrested in a sweep that became known as Cuba’s “Black Spring.” For Rodríguez and others rounded-up, the arrest was a life-changing event. All would languish in prison for years after show-trials on charges of undermining the government.  “This is following Sept. 11th, the world is focused on the U.S. intervention in Iraq,” says Ted Henken, a Latin American studies researcher at Baruch College in New York. “The suspicion is that it was done because no one was paying attention.”

Rodríguez, a former shipyard worker who loved photography, was recruited into journalism in the early 1990s by Raúl Rivero, a poet and former correspondent for Cuban state media who broke with the regime in the late 1980s and became a leader of Cuba’s fledgling independent press. Rodríguez would walk and bicycle about the countryside taking pictures “trying to show the contrast between the government’s narrative and the real destruction” of Cuba’s economy and political freedoms.

Since independent news media is banned inside Cuba and Internet access is a luxury for the rich even today, Rodríguez’s news agency, Nueva Prensa Cubana, mainly distributed his photos and reports to a U.S. audience of Cuban exiles. “Our job was to show our reality to the outside world,” he says.

Feature continues here: Was “Black Spring” A Failed Attempt at a Spy Swap?

 

Tampa Tribune’s “Pro-Consulate” Argument Fatally Flawed 5

macdillBy Chris Simmons

The Tampa Tribune’s recent editorial, “Get behind consulate effort,” is an interesting read, mostly because of its total lack of understanding of US national security and Castro’s Cuba. For example, the feature claims “warnings by several former military officials that the local Cuban consulate would become a hotbed for espionage seem to us overwrought.” It then concedes that Havana undoubtedly DOES collect against MacDill Air Force Base, but proposes that a consulate would actually “make it easier to keep tabs on Cuban officials.”

It seems the Tribune is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Just last month, it ran a story highlighting several Cuban espionage operations in the area. Now it insists adding more spies – this time based out of consulate – would make it easier to find them.

What the paper meant to say is finding spies hidden among a consulate’s diplomats is easier then finding them operating somewhere within the greater Tampa/St Pete metropolitan area. That point is true – and totally irrelevant. Operationally, the local Cuban spy networks already in play would avoid contact with any of their diplomatic facilities because of the inherent risks. These covert spies – when caught – go to jail – as did many members of Cuba’s Wasp Network, a branch of which was headquartered in Tampa. Diplomat-spies are different, as immunity precludes their arrest.

Furthermore, who will monitor these new Cuban spies? I suspect local counterintelligence entities are already busy hunting down other clandestine networks run by the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Cubans, ISIS, etc. What will local politicians say when these unmonitored Cubans are later caught conducting economic espionage against local businesses?

Havana’s acquisition of a Hellfire missile should remind everyone that US secrets are for sale around the clock. Cuba’s intelligence services would welcome the opening of a Tampa consulate – but only as a tool augmenting a very lucrative revenue stream.

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

 

 

Arrogance Unbridled: Canadian Academic Claims Credit In Release of Cuban 5 Reply

The Five with the Kimbers: From left, Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Stephen, Jeanie, René and Ramon.

The Five with the Kimbers: From left, Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Stephen, Jeanie, René and Ramon.

How I Helped the Cuban Five Escape from a Cold War Prison 

Behind the Unlikely Havana-Washington-Halifax Connection

By Stephen Kimber, The Coast (Halifax)

Halifax: December 17, 2014 Inside the second-floor King’s College boardroom, close to a dozen of us huddled around a meeting table, wake-up coffees in hand, listening while our university’s director of finance walked us through her PowerPoint presentation of bad news we already knew, but in far more excruciating detail than any of us wanted to know.

We were in the trough of an existential crisis, struggling with a North America-wide decline in enrolments in liberal arts and journalism, programs we specialized in. I’d spent the last year on a succession of sub-committees, ad hoc working groups and now this College Task Force “to ensure… the institution is financially sustainable on an ongoing basis.” The projections on the screen starkly showcased the crisis. “Given our expected beginning cash balance at the end of 2014-15 and those assumptions,” the school’s finance director explained, “our deficit by the end of 2015-16 will rise to—”

Hi Hey Hello…

My iPhone was ringing! Worse, the phone was in my backpack. Worst, my backpack was on a chair on the other side of the room. Embarrassed, I scrambled to find it. My ringtone was the chorus from one of my hip-hop-musician son’s songs. Why not? Samsung thought the song’s lyrics so phone-perfect they’d built a slick, Hollywood-style video around them to advertise their Galaxy 4 phone. Normally, I found a way to work that father-brag into any conversation when my phone rang. But this did not seem the time or place.

I just want to say hello.

And hear your voice. And watch you talk.

And smell the breeze as you come across.

Hi Hey Hello.

I found the phone, stole a quick glance at the screen. The call was from Alicia Jrapko, the American head of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5. I quickly pressed “Decline.”

Feature Continues Here: Kimber Claims Credit

 

A Cynical End for Castro’s Faux-Beloved “Cuban Five” 4

Cuban FiveBy Chris Simmons

Several spies, collectively known as the “Cuban Five,” have been hosted and toasted before adoring socialist crowds around the world for several months. Decorated with much fanfare in Havana, these over-hyped “Heroes of the Revolution” are the latest circus performers in Havana’s theater of the absurd.

You see, in reality, the “Five” have been put out to pasture. “Golden Exile” you might say. Members of the Wasp Network, they were five of an estimated 42 spies in the largest espionage ring ever known to have operated in the United States. A rare joint venture between Havana’s civilian and military intelligence services, it was led by Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM). Its primary targets were the Pentagon’s regional headquarters responsible for military operations in the Americas (SOUTHCOM) and the Middle East (CENTCOM), as well as US special operations worldwide (SOCOM).

In a massive sweep stretching 152 miles, the FBI arrested 10 of the spies in September 1998. Seven more Wasps were arrested or expelled over the next several years. Many of those arrested accepted plea agreements and turned against their masters in Havana. The “Five” held fast and were found guilty of espionage associated-crimes. Career DIM case officer Gerardo Hernandez, the former head of the deadly network, was sentenced to two life terms for conspiracy to commit murder in the February 1996 deaths of four Americans.

Once convicted, the regime could ill-afford for its lethal cabal to switch sides like their subordinates. The destitute island invested considerable monies to sustain their morale with family visits and a never-ending parade of diplomats from the (then) Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. A global propaganda campaign known as “Free the Five” was initiated. During the secret talks to restore diplomatic ties, the United States even helped artificially inseminate Adriana Perez, the spy-wife of incarcerated killer, Gerardo Hernandez. The effort, which tragically misguided Obama officials saw as a goodwill gesture, was prompted by Perez’s personal appeal to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), who passed the request to White House officials.

But to the ever cynical regime, its “heroes” are now little more than famous liabilities.

Moscow’s KGB long ago taught its Cuban allies that incarcerated spies can never again be trusted. The leftist dictatorship sees its freed spies as failures. After all, three were spy-handlers (“Case Officers”). Theoretically the best of the best, it was their mistakes – or that of their underlings – that had attracted the attention of US spy-catchers.

Despite the propaganda mission of the “Felonious Five,” there is an important lesson for America to learn. Given Havana’s extraordinary investment in five men who meant nothing to it — imagine what it can accomplish when it truly cares.

Dropping The Mask: Castro Spy Writes Foreword to Canadian Academic’s “Impartial” Book on the Cuban Five 8

By Chris SimmonsComrade Kimber

‘What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five’ is a fascinating piece of fiction by Castro apologist Stephen Kimber. Despite objective reviews which found his research unencumbered by facts, the Canadian writer has long sworn his manifesto is accurate and balanced. At long last, the charade is over. Comrade Kimber is currently in Havana celebrating the Spanish-language release of his work, with a new foreword by convicted spy René González, who described the novel as “the best written treatise on the case.  The Castro regime’s enduring love for Kimber was further demonstrated during Wednesday’s presentation at the University of Havana, when Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada – who served as Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations for nearly three decades – served as the keynote speaker.

The Face of Cuban Propaganda Under “Normalization” 2

Expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin led the Cuban delegation in yesterday’s normalization tallk in Havana. Photo: MINREX

Expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin were center stage as they headed the Cuban delegation in yesterday’s normalization tallks in Havana. Photo: MINREX

PPPFocus.com reports Havana is adamant that “normalization would not happen as long as the economic blockade against Cuba stays on, as long as the US maintains its naval base in Guantanamo and as long as Cuba is not compensated for the economic damage caused by decades of hostility.”

Reuters reports Cuba is aggressively pushing a claim for more than $300 billion in economic damages because it understands “President Barack Obama is attempting to advance normalization as much as possible before his second and final term ends in January 2017.”  

Meanwhile, the Cuban News Agency (ACN) continues its unfettered loathing of Cuban exiles in features like “Miami Anti-Cuban Mafia Rejects Reopening of Cuban Embassy in the U.S.”

“We are going to have diplomatic relations with the United States without having ceded one iota.” — Gerardo Hernandez, Cuban spy who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. federal court for the murder conspiracy of Americans, thereafter commuted and released by President Obama as part of his one-sided deal with Raul Castro [Courtesy: Capitol Hill Cubans]

Woman Who Married Cuban Spy Suing JPMorgan For $57M For Hiding Country’s Cash 3

HECTOR GABINO/AP Ana Margarita Martinez won a $7.1 million judgment against the Cuban government for 'emotional distress' in 2001, after she found out her husband, Juan Pablo Roque, wasn't the man she thought he was.

HECTOR GABINO/AP
Ana Margarita Martinez won a $7.1 million judgment against the Cuban government for ’emotional distress’ in 2001, after she found out her husband, Juan Pablo Roque, wasn’t the man she thought he was.

By Dareh Gregorian, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

A Miami woman who was married to a Cuban double agent wants JPMorgan Chase to pay through the nose for allegedly hiding Cuban cash.

Ana Margarita Martinez won a $7.1 million judgment against the Cuban government for “emotional distress” in 2001, after she found out her husband, Juan Pablo Roque, wasn’t the man she thought he was.

She’d met Roque in 1992, after the former Cuban Air Force major made headlines for allegedly braving shark infested waters to swim to Gitmo seeking political asylum in the U.S.

They dated for three years before getting hitched.

Unbeknownst to Martinez, Roque was an FBI snitch – and an undercover Cuban agent who’d been sent to gather intel on the Cuban exile community in Miami. She found out both after he snuck out of their home one night in 1996, and then appeared on CNN in Cuba a few days later crowing about his accomplishments.

Adding insult to injury, when asked what he missed about Miami, he said just one thing: “My Jeep.”

Martinez, who’d been born in Cuba, said she’d been completely duped. “She believed that Roque shared her anti-communist ideals,” court papers say.

A federal judge in Florida found Cuba liable for Roque’s actions, saying he was “especially offended that Cuba – a country that disregards human rights – has callously trampled the rights of one of our own citizens on our own soil in furtherance of a vile criminal conspiracy.”

Feature continues here: JPMorgan Hides Cuban Assets

JOSE GOITIA/CP Roque was an FBI snitch – and an undercover Cuban agent who'd been sent to gather intel on the Cuban exile community in Miami.

JOSE GOITIA/CP
Juan Pablo Roque was an FBI snitch – and an undercover Cuban agent who’d been sent to gather intelligence on the Cuban exile community in Miami.