CubaBrief: Investigators alerted spy for Russia in the FBI to another working for Castro in the Pentagon. Look at Castro spies in the CIA, USAID, and the State Department

Spies for the Castro regime have worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the State Department. These spies have gotten American soldiers killed in foreign lands, shaped U.S. foreign policy, and written threat assessments of hostile countries underestimating the dangers they pose to the United States. Some of them have been spies working for the Castro regime.

Spy for the Castro dictatorship Ana Belen Montes in prison

Journalist Shane Harris published the article, “FBI alerted notorious spy for Russia to another working for Cuba,” in The Washington Post on November 30, 2022. In it he revealed that when FBI agents “were closing in on Ana Montes, one reported the espionage investigation to Robert Hanssen,” an FBI agent who was spying for Russia. Ana Belen Montes was arrested on September 21, 2001, and made a plea deal that took the death penalty and life in prison off the table. She is serving a 25 year prison sentence that will be followed by five years probation.

The September 30th Washington Post article outlines some of the intelligence harm done by Ana Belen Montes, but leaves out the cost in lives, including the killing of an American green beret, due to the information she passed on to the Castro regime.

Special Forces SSG Greg Fronius

Steve Balestrieri wrote the article “Remembering Greg Fronius, KIA in El Salvador 31 March 1987” in SOFREP on Mar 31, 2017 that told us more about the young green beret and the others killed during the attack.

“[O]n March 31, 1987, Special Forces SSG Greg Fronius was killed in action in El Paraiso, El Salvador when guerrilla forces from the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) attacked the Salvadoran base during an early morning attack. Fronius was 27 at the time of his death and left behind a wife and two small children.” … “Fronius graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) as an Engineer Sergeant (18C) and was assigned to the 2nd Bn, 7th SFG(A) from 1983-85. In 1985, he was reassigned to 3/7 SFG in Panama. There, in early 1987 he was sent to El Salvador as Intelligence Sergeant assigned to the Military Advisory Group. The 4th Brigade Headquarters in El Paraiso, 36 miles north of the capital of San Salvador had two American advisors assigned but at the time of the attack, Fronius was alone, his counterpart was in the capital getting some equipment and was scheduled to fly out in a helicopter the next day.”

“The guerrillas launched a coordinated assault beginning at 2 a.m. on the morning of March 31. They had concentrated mortar and rocket fire that targeted the major headquarters buildings. It was later learned that they were helped by DIA agent and double agent spy Ana Montes. Montes was considered an up and coming agent for DIA but in reality, she had defected and was spying for Cuba. She visited the El Paraiso base just weeks before the attack and debriefed the Americans there, and later fed the information directly to her Cuban handlers who passed it on to the FMLN. She was directly implicated in Fronius’ death.”

“The base at El Paraiso held 1000 troops but at the time of the attack on March 31, only 250 were on site. The remainder were out on different operations. It was during the attack where Montes treachery paid off for the FMLN. Their mortar and rocket fire was extremely accurate, nearly all of the headquarters buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged.”

“Casualties were high, 69 El Salvadoran soldiers were killed, another 79 were wounded. FMLN casualties were probably even higher. Once the attack commenced, Fronius was in the command bunker under the HQ building and he sprinted up the stairs to reach an M-60 machine gun position that was engaging FMLN troops that were inside the compound. With complete disregard for his own safety, he took off, going up the steps, when a rocket or mortar shell perforated the corrugated tin roofing of the stairs and the explosion killed Fronius. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7) The language lab at Ft. Bragg was named in honor of him in 1997.”

Ana Belen Montes shaped U.S. policy towards Cuba. Mary Anastasia O’Grady in her November 1, 2002 column in The Wall Street Journal, “How a Cuban Spy Sowed Confusion in the Pentagon,” revealed the long lasting impact she made.

“In 1998 the Defense Department released a high-profile report claiming that Cuba posed no military threat to the U.S. It discounted risks that Cuba was developing chemical and biological weaponry. Ms. Montes was the key drafter of that report, which means not only that it is pretty much useless to U.S. intelligence but that it may have contained disinformation damaging to U.S. security interests”

It is also important to point out that another spy working for Havana at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Marta Rita Velazquez, was the person who recruited Ana Belen Montes in 1985, while a student in the Ivy Leagues, to commit treason against the United States. The publication Spyscape offers a summary of her efforts, and successful escape to Sweden.

“Marta Rita Velazquez was a high-flying lawyer born in Puerto Rico with an impressive collection of degrees: an undergraduate at Princeton, a law degree from Georgetown, and a Master’s from Johns Hopkins. By 1989, Velazquez had joined the State Department with top-secret clearance. Stints at US embassies in Nicaragua and Guatemala followed. So why quit and run? Velazquez disappeared in 2013 after reports that Ana Montes (above) was cooperating with the US government. According to the FBI, Velazquez conspired to recruit US spies for Cuba while still a student. She allegedly received instructions from Cuban intelligence through encrypted, high-frequency broadcasts and meetings outside the US. Was Montes her only recruit? Velazquez, married and living in Sweden, hasn’t returned to the US tell her side of the story.”

Marta Rita Velazquez (right) is accused of Ivy League spying (Source:Spyscape)

Mary O’Grady reveals in her May 10, 2020 column in The Wall Street Journal, “How Cuba’s Spies Keep Winning,“ that “‘the Cubans were underestimated for more than a quarter of a century,’ former CIA Cuba analyst Brian Latell wrote in his 2012 book, Castro’s Secrets. The U.S. thought it was dealing with ‘bush-league amateurs’ until Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, a highly decorated Cuban agent, defected in 1987. That’s when the U.S. began to understand that Castro’s Cuba had ‘developed a foreign intelligence service that quickly rose into the ranks of the half dozen best in the world.’ Moreover, ‘in some covert specialties, particularly in running double agents and counterintelligence,’ over decades, Mr. Latell wrote, ‘Cuba’s achievements have been unparalleled.'”


Other Americans who betrayed their country to spy for the Castro dictatorship

This also ignores that Cuban spies successfully outmaneuvered the KGB in recruiting the first CIA defector during the Cold War. This first American defector was Philip Agee who died in Cuba in 2008 at age 72. He defected to Cuba in 1973 after the Russians failed to recruit him and made public the identities of 250 alleged CIA officers and agents. It was the Cubans, not the KGB, who successfully recruited him. Policymakers have a long history of underestimating the Castro brothers, which has benefited and continues to benefit the dictatorship in Havana.

​ Philipp Agee: CIA agent flipped by Castro in 1973

Walter Kendall Myers and his wife Gwendolyn spent thirty years spying against the United States for Fidel Castro. Kendall Myers was a high-ranking analyst for the U.S. State Department with top-secret clearance who had been recruited in 1978 by Cuban intelligence. His wife would pass her husband’s acquired information on to their Cuban contacts. Kendall Myers was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison and his wife got a shorter sentence in 2010.

Walter Kendall Meyers is serving a life sentence for spying for the Castro regime.

This is not an exhaustive accounting, but highlights major cases. Ana Belen Montes is due to be released in 2023.


The Washington Post, November 30, 2022

FBI alerted notorious spy for Russia to another working for Cuba

As agents were closing in on Ana Montes, one reported the espionage investigation to Robert Hanssen

By Shane Harris

The arrest photo for Ana Montes, who was working for the Defense Intelligence Agency and spying for Cuba simultaneously. (FBI)

In late 2000, the FBI was closing in on a suspected spy for Cuba working inside the Defense Intelligence Agency. Undercover operatives would soon begin trailing Ana Montes, the agency’s top military and political analyst on Cuba, by car and on foot. They filmed her making calls on pay phones, even though she carried a cellphone in her purse. They intercepted Montes’s mail and inspected the trash outside her apartment in Washington.

Montes had been spying nearly 17 years for Cuba, passing along so much classified information about DIA personnel, as well as on eavesdropping technology covertly installed on the island, that she essentially compromised every method the United States used to surveil the Castro regime, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. That makes Montes one of the most damaging spies of her time, they said.

Opening an investigation against a decorated intelligence officer, who colleagues heralded as the “Queen of Cuba,” was painstaking and high-stakes. And almost as soon it began, the FBI nearly shot itself in the foot.

The slip-up was inadvertent. Whenever the bureau began an intelligence investigation that might ruffle feathers in a foreign government or upset U.S. foreign policy, officials typically informed the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM). It was a sleepy outfit, responsible for keeping tabs on travel by foreign diplomats and overseeing such things as plans to build new embassies or consulates in the United States. Hardly the setting for an espionage thriller.

So Terry Holstad, then the chief of the Cuba unit at FBI headquarters, never thought twice when he described the secretive Montes investigation to the bureau’s liaison to the OFM, a veteran agent and longtime colleague named Robert Hanssen.

Unbeknown to Holstad and the rest of the FBI, Hanssen had started spying for Russia more than 20 years earlier. He gave thousands of pages of classified documents to the KGB, divulging secrets about U.S. nuclear war planning and weapons technology. He compromised the identities of dozens of human sources, at least three of whom were executed, according to a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which called Hanssen “the most damaging spy in FBI history.”

Following Hanssen’s arrest in February 2001, Holstad remembered telling him about the Montes case only a few months earlier.

“I said, ‘Oh, my God, I wonder if he passed the information to the Russians,’” Holstad recalled in a recent interview. He said he can’t remember if he used Montes’s name. But the details of the case were particular enough that if Hanssen had tipped off Moscow, the Russians might have told the Cubans, who ran a world-class intelligence service. And if they warned Montes, she might have fled the country.

The precarious twist in the Montes case was discovered and detailed in a new book by investigative journalist Jim Popkin. He has written extensively about Montes, whom he called “the most important spy you’ve never heard of” in a 2013 feature for The Washington Post.

The Post obtained a copy of the book, “Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy — and the Sister She Betrayed,” which will be published in early January — days before Montes is scheduled for release from a federal prison in Fort Worth.

“Holstad said the months after Hanssen’s arrest were excruciating because Ana still was walking free,” Popkin writes.

Holstad said he spent hours interviewing Hanssen in jail in Virginia and later in a supermax prison in Colorado as part of a team convened by the CIA to assess the damage Hanssen’s espionage had caused. Though Hanssen confessed to spying for Russia, he denied alerting his handlers to the FBI’s investigation of a Cuban spy, Holstad said, and claimed that he was only interested in providing information concerning Russia.

“I don’t believe his denial,” Holstad told The Post. “He was very narcissistic. If he believed he could enhance his reputation by passing this on, he would have.”

The end to Montes’s espionage career was precipitated in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The DIA was preparing to assign Montes to a team that would have access to information about locations the United States might bomb in Afghanistan. The FBI already had enough evidence to arrest her. Retired Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, then the DIA director, told Popkin that he called the bureau and demanded they take Montes off the street.

On Sept. 21, 2001, Montes was arrested at DIA headquarters and escorted out of the building in handcuffs. Senior Cuban government officials publicly praised Montes and saluted her work, portraying her as a fellow warrior in their fight for socialism and against the Reagan administration’s backing of anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua.

The CIA took a dimmer view. In a still-classified psychological assessment, Popkin reports, the agency concluded that while Montes had not volunteered to become a spy, she didn’t hesitate after the Cubans propositioned her. Montes’s handlers made her believe she was indispensable to their cause, “empowering her and stroking her narcissism.”

An unrepentant Montes rejected the suggestion that the Cubans had manipulated her.

After Popkin’s article was published in The Post, Montes wrote to a friend, who shared her letter with the journalist. Montes “mocked” the story, Popkin writes in his book, and said “she would much have preferred a clinical analysis of why she spied, with a history lesson for readers on the U.S. attempts to ‘unjustly overthrow the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s,’ and other examples of what American administrations have done to foreign countries from the nineteenth century to today. In Ana’s recounting, gone would be any personal accountability, replaced by fact-laden stories of American hostility and imperialism worldwide.”

If she emerges from prison in January, Montes may have the opportunity to more fully account for her actions. Hanssen, who may or may not have revealed her secrets, will have no such chance. Now 78, he is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/11/30/ana-montes-robert-hanssen-spy/

From the Archives

SOFREP, March 31, 2017

Army

Remembering Greg Fronius, KIA in El Salvador 31 March 1987

by Steve Balestrieri Mar 31, 2017

Thirty years ago today on March 31, 1987, Special Forces SSG Greg Fronius was killed in action in El Paraiso, El Salvador when guerrilla forces from the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) attacked the Salvadoran base during an early morning attack.

Fronius was 27 at the time of his death and left behind a wife and two small children. He was one of the only 55 military advisers to the Salvadoran military allowed at that time and was assigned to the cuartel, which was the headquarters for the 4th Brigade.

His death during the brutal war that wracked El Salvador took place in a little-known time when many Special Forces risked their lives there during a so-called time of peace. It was a period that wasn’t recognized as a war zone for the Green Berets until many years later.

Fronius graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) as an Engineer Sergeant (18C) and was assigned to the 2nd Bn, 7th SFG(A) from 1983-85. In 1985, he was reassigned to 3/7 SFG in Panama. There, in early 1987 he was sent to El Salvador as Intelligence Sergeant assigned to the Military Advisory Group.

The 4th Brigade Headquarters in El Paraiso, 36 miles north of the capital of San Salvador had two American advisors assigned but at the time of the attack, Fronius was alone, his counterpart was in the capital getting some equipment and was scheduled to fly out in a helicopter the next day.

The guerrillas launched a coordinated assault beginning at 2 a.m. on the morning of March 31. They had concentrated mortar and rocket fire that targeted the major headquarters buildings. It was later learned that they were helped by DIA agent and double agent spy Ana Montes. Montes was considered an up and coming agent for DIA but in reality, she had defected and was spying for Cuba.

She visited the El Paraiso base just weeks before the attack and debriefed the Americans there, and later fed the information directly to her Cuban handlers who passed it on to the FMLN. She was directly implicated in Fronius’ death. She was not caught until her arrest in September 2001 just after the attacks of 9/11. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2002.

The base at El Paraiso held 1000 troops but at the time of the attack on March 31, only 250 were on site. The remainder were out on different operations. It was during the attack where Montes treachery paid off for the FMLN. Their mortar and rocket fire was extremely accurate, nearly all of the headquarters buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged.

Casualties were high, 69 El Salvadoran soldiers were killed, another 79 were wounded. FMLN casualties were probably even higher. Once the attack commenced, Fronius was in the command bunker under the HQ building and he sprinted up the stairs to reach an M-60 machine gun position that was engaging FMLN troops that were inside the compound. With complete disregard for his own safety, he took off, going up the steps, when a rocket or mortar shell perforated the corrugated tin roofing of the stairs and the explosion killed Fronius.

He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7) The language lab at Ft. Bragg was named in honor of him in 1997.

He was later buried in a small cemetery in Western Pennsylvania. It was a bad week for the Green Berets of the 7th SFG. The firing party for his funeral was from ODA-722 1st Bn. They had just come from New York and had buried their A-team Commander CPT Schlomer who had been killed in Honduras earlier.

Just three months after Fronius’ death, Special Forces would lose another warrior. SSG Tim Hodge was wounded by a gunshot in the neck and needed immediate exfil to a hospital. The helicopter coming for him crashed in bad weather killing:
CW3 John D. Raybon
1LT Gregory J. Paredes
SP4 Douglas Lee Adams
SFC Lynn V. Keen
LTC James M. Basile (USAF )-Deputy MILGRP Commander
LTC Joseph L. Lujan -SF Advisor

Special Forces SFC Tommy Grace was badly burned in the crash but survived.

https://sofrep.com/specialoperations/remembering-greg-fronius-kia-el-salvador-31-march-1987/

The Miami Herald, March 5, 2016

Will spy wars between Cuba and the U.S. end with restored relations?

By Alfonso Chardy  achardy@elnuevoherald.com

Though the United States has restored relations with Cuba, and President Barack Obama is planning to visit the island later this month, it’s unclear if the two countries have declared a truce in the spy wars they have waged for more than 50 years.

Lawmakers in Congress have warned the Obama administration that allowing Cuba to operate an embassy in Washington and consulates throughout the country will only make it easier for Havana to deploy spies and agents in the United States.

“We are all too familiar with the Castro regime’s efforts to utilize their diplomats as intelligence agents tasked with the goal of committing espionage against the host countries,’’ according to a letter sent in 2015 to the U.S. Department of State by five Cuban-American lawmakers including Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, as well as presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J.

Since Fidel Castro seized power in January 1959, and over the next five decades, Havana built one of the world’s most active intelligence services — one that dispatched spies and agents to penetrate the highest levels of the American government and some of the leading Cuban exile organizations.

In fact, some of the biggest crises in U.S.-Cuba relations can be traced to the involvement of Cuban spies and agents — from the downing of two Brothers to the Rescue planes to the theft of U.S. military secrets at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the spying of U.S. military facilities in South Florida and infiltration of leading Cuban exile organizations in Miami by members of the now-defunct Wasp Network.

“I believe the main reason that Cuban intelligence was so exceptionally successful, for so many years, is because the supreme Cuban spy master was Fidel Castro himself,” said Brian Latell, a former CIA official who in 2012 published the landmark book Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, which provides an authoritative history of Cuban espionage against the United States. “Intelligence operations were always among his highest priorities.”

While some Cuban spies have become well known — such as the five illegal intelligence officers caught, tried and convicted for belonging to the Wasp Network that spied on military facilities in South Florida and infiltrated the ranks of exile groups — other agents have operated in obscurity. Still others have only been suspected — but never confirmed — as Cuban agents, including Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

Oswald is perhaps a good place to start. If it’s true he was a Cuban agent, then Oswald was one of the first to operate clandestinely in the United States.

There’s never been any concrete evidence that Oswald was controlled by Cuban intelligence, but Latell’s authoritative book offers tantalizing information indicating that the American assassin had been in contact with Cuban officials well before his well-documented bus trip to Mexico City, two months before the Dallas assassination, where he visited the Cuban consulate seeking a visa to Havana and yelled that he would kill Kennedy after he was denied travel papers.

Latell’s book quotes from testimony before the Warren Commission that investigated the 1963 assassination that sometime in 1959, the year Castro seized power in Havana, Oswald contacted Cuban officials — possibly in Los Angeles — and remained in touch while he was stationed at the former U.S. Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in southern California.

Nelson Delgado, a Puerto Rican Marine who became a friend of Oswald’s, recalled in testimony that Oswald himself told him he was in contact with Cuban diplomats and that he was receiving mail from them.

Delgado also told the Warren Commission that once he saw an envelope stamped with a Cuban government seal in Oswald’s quarters and that Oswald regularly received an unknown civilian visitor at the base.

More significantly, Latell says in his book, Cuban officials — perhaps even Castro himself — knew in advance that something was going to happen in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 because they ordered a young intelligence communications officer to stop tracking CIA signals that day and instead focus on broadcasts from Texas.

The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone, and the House Select Committee on Assassinatuons in 1976 said the Cuban government was not involved in the Kennedy assassination. Oswald was killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby soon after the assassin’s arrest.

Incidentally, the communications officer ordered to track Texas broadcasts was Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, one of the most important Cuban intelligence defectors ever to have fled to the United States. He defected in 1987 and was targeted for assassination in 1997 by suspected members of the Miami-based Wasp Network, according to Latell’s book.

Almost every decade, U.S. authorities have uncovered Cuban espionage or terrorist plots within the United States.

One of the first confirmed espionage and sabotage attempts took place in 1962 — just after the Cuban missile crisis ended.

FBI agents thwarted the alleged Castro plot that involved setting off explosives at various department stores in New York City as well as oil refineries in New Jersey, according to a New York Times article published on Nov. 19, 1962.

Three of the suspects — Roberto Santiesteban Casanova, José Gómez Abad and his wife Elisa Montero de Gómez Abad — were attached to the Cuban mission to the United Nations. Though Cuba denied the diplomats’ involvement in the plot, a year later Santiesteban was freed and allowed to return to Cuba as part of an exchange for Americans held on the island. The Abads had been freed and kicked out by the State Department soon after their arrest.

In the 1970s, U.S. intelligence officials suspected that Cuban spies helped finance the activities of U.S. anti-government militant groups such as the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.

In fact, one of the best known black militants from that era, Assata Shakur or JoAnne Chesimard fled to Cuba in 1984 after escaping from prison. Chesimard is still in Cuba.

In 1978, Walter Kendall Myers, then a young State Department contract employee, visited Cuba and was recruited as agent 202. His wife Gwendolyn became agent 123. Eventually, Myers climbed in the ranks of the State Department to become a State Department intelligence analyst. For three decades, the couple relayed secret information to their Cuban control officers via shortwave radio and encrypted electronic messages. Gwendolyn was in charge of transmitting the secrets to Cuba.

Cuban espionage against the United States intensified in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan stepped up rhetoric against Cuba at the height of the Cold War.

It was then that Cuban intelligence recruited Ana Belen Montes, daughter of a Puerto Rican family who in 1985 joined the ranks of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). By the time Montes was arrested in 2001, she had already become a senior DIA analyst and had passed a considerable amount of American secrets to Cuba. Montes pleaded guilty in 2002 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Also in 2002, U.S. investigators learned that Montes had been recruited as a Cuban agent by a fellow student, Marta Rita Velazquez, at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, who later worked for the State Department. Velazquez has since been indicted but not prosecuted because she lives in Sweden, which does not allow extradition for spying.

In the 1990s, Cuban espionage within the United States intensified further after exiles began a series of anti-Castro raids and sabotage missions against the island in the belief that the fall of Communism in eastern Europe would hasten the downfall of the Castro regime.

It was then that Cuba sent intelligence officers to South Florida who gradually built the Wasp Network of spies, one of the most elaborate foreign espionage systems ever discovered in the United States.

Wasp Network members ultimately managed to infiltrate Brothers to the Rescue, Alpha 66 and other exile groups and also spied on U.S. military facilities in South Florida. While the group was discovered in 1998, its members had been active for years. For example, the network’s information helped the Cuban government down two small planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue in which four Cuban exiles were killed in 1996.

The victims of the shootdown that involved two Cuban MiGs, were Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Jr., Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales.

“One of the most painful moments was to hear the tape of the pilots seeking orders to shoot down the small planes and how they rejoiced when they announced that they had shot them down,” said Maggie Alejandre Khuly, sister of Armando Alejandre. “I went to the trial every day and in order to bear the pain I wrote a lot. That way I was able to distance myself from what was happening, the lies and the surprises, the horrors which until that moment had been unexpected.”

Alejandre Khuly said the victims’ families felt vindicated when the sentences were announced against the spies.

“Of course, everything changed on December 17, 2014, and we don’t know exactly how we are going to continue fighting, but we will. We will not forget Carlos, Armando, Mario and Pablo.”

The families now hope that eventually the MiG pilots — twin brothers Lorenzo Alberto Perez Perez and Francisco Perez Perez — and then Cuban air force chief Gen. Ruben Martinez Puente — will be brought to trial in the United States. A U.S. grand jury in Miami indicted the pilots and Gen. Martinez Puente in 2003 for the shootdown.

Though more than two dozen people worked in the Wasp network, in the end only five leaders were prosecuted and convicted in Miami: Antonio Guerrero, René González, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino.

René González was released from prison in 2011 and allowed to return to Cuba in 2013. Fernando González was released on Feb. 27, 2014 and the remaining three were freed and returned to Cuba on Dec. 17, 2014 — the day President Obama ordered the restoration of relations with Cuba.

While U.S. authorities succeeded in dismantling the Wasp Network, Cuban espionage continued.

In 2002, four Cuban diplomats were expelled for activities deemed harmful to the United States. One of them was Gustavo Machín Gómez who joined the Cuban negotiation team on restoration of relations and was received at the State Department in February 2015, according to the letter released by the U.S. lawmakers.

In 2003, 14 more Cuban diplomats were kicked out including José Anselmo López Perera, husband of Josefina Vidal, who headed the Cuban team that brought about restoration of relations.

In 2006, Florida International University professors Carlos and Elsa Alvarez were arrested and later pleaded guilty in connection with a Cuban espionage case. In 2007, Carlos was sentenced to five years in prison, and Elsa to three years.

The last big case emerged in 2009, when agents announced the discovery of the Myers espionage couple. In 2010, Walter — then 73 — was sentenced to life in prison and his wife, then 72, to 81 months.

Relations with Cuba probably does not mark the end of the spy wars. Several suspected Cuban agents have not been prosecuted and others have not been identified, though they may still be operating within the U.S. government and exile groups.

Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @AlfonsoChardy

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article64238792.html

The forgotten spy: Ana Belen Montes

by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) – 12/17/15 8:00 AM ET

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.

{mosads}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.

Releasing Montes would undermine our national security with no tangible benefit. The release of Montes would both prove to extremists that we are willing to negotiate for their release and embolden rogue regimes, like the Castro brothers, to send more spies to America. The administration’s compromises have led to an influx of money into the Castro regime coffers. This, in turn, allows Havana to field a larger and even more sophisticated spy network to undermine our national security.  

For those who are new to following Cuba, the idea that Cuba is a national security threat may be surprising. U.S. intelligence agencies rate the Cuban espionage apparatus as active and sophisticated and a central figure when it comes to global security. Havana’s only foreign target is the United States and it relentlessly sustains its penetration of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Cuban spies are harmful to the U.S. because its decrepit regime sells or barters stolen U.S. secrets to our worst enemies – putting our interests and men and women in uniform worldwide in danger.

Pardoning Montes would be a grave mistake. At a time when we are already fighting a multitude of threats like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, and Russia, the U.S. must not provide the Cubans an even greater ability to collect information and disseminate it to our enemies. We must not allow the Castro brothers the ability to improve their collection and marketing of America’s military, economic, and political secrets. The U.S. must remain vigilant against any and all threats to our homeland and not repeat past mistakes. We must not acquiesce to the demands of the Castro regime.

Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1989. She is chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and also sits on the Intelligence Committee.

https://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/263476-the-forgotten-spy-ana-belen-montes/

The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2002

How a Cuban Spy Sowed Confusion in the Pentagon

THE AMERICAS

MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY, EDITOR

Nov. 1, 2002 12:15 am ET

Ana Belen Montes could have gotten the death penalty. Instead the former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who spied for Cuba got a 25 years sentence two weeks ago. The lenience was part of a plea whereby she agreed to tell the Justice Department about her espionage since 1985.

Justice has so far declined to publicize what Ms. Montes told interrogators. Fair enough. After all, U.S. intelligence would certainly not want Cuba and its allies in the Middle East to know what Ms. Montes revealed about her work on behalf of the communist regime.

Nonetheless, it is reasonable for Americans, now living under serious threats of aggressive terrorism, to wonder how much damage Ms. Montes did to homeland security. One reason she was picked up on Sept. 21, 2001 was because in her position at the Pentagon she had access to highly classified intelligence not limited to Cuba. Normally, a discovered spy might be left in place for months and tailed in order to uncover more information about her contacts and modus operandi. But Ms. Montes was quickly arrested after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for fear that she might further compromise U.S. security.

Aside from her ability to tell Cuba secrets that might be passed along to terrorists, there was another risk posed by Ms. Montes’ penetration of the DIA. In her role as the key Pentagon intelligence analyst on Cuba, Ms. Montes could influence the National Intelligence Council and thereby put her stamp on consolidated NIC reports. Those reports combine the findings of separate agencies but Ms. Montes could have overshadowed other analysts if her views were more highly valued by the higher-ups who consolidate the information.

In fact, Ms. Montes held considerable sway over the Pentagon’s opinion of Cuba. In 1998 the Defense Department released a high-profile report claiming that Cuba posed no military threat to the U.S. It discounted risks that Cuba was developing chemical and biological weaponry. Ms. Montes was the key drafter of that report, which means not only that it is pretty much useless to U.S. intelligence but that it may have contained disinformation damaging to U.S. security interests.

Ms. Montes is the 45-year-old daughter of Puerto Rican parents and was born on a U.S. military base in Germany. In 1979 she earned a degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and in 1988 she finished a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In 1985 she began working as a junior analyst at the DIA, focusing on Nicaragua. She became a Cuba analyst in 1992 but reportedly worked for Cuba as far back as 1985.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Stephen McCoy and posted on the Justice Department Web site, “during the course of her employment, Ms. Montes has had direct and authorized access to classified information relating to national defense.” He also says that she “was a clandestine CuIS [Cuban Intelligence Service] agent who communicated with her CuIS handling officer” through encrypted messages on short wave radio.

Ms. Montes blew the cover of four U.S. agents working in Cuba and she shared numerous classified documents with Cuban intelligence. But it is her role in declaring Cuba harmless to the U.S. national security that may have had the biggest yet unappreciated effect.

Not surprisingly, the 1998 report grabbed big headlines in the U.S. Anti-embargo types used it to back their agenda for making nice with Fidel. Journalists and academics soft on totalitarian Cuba were longing for a more accommodating posture toward the regime, and so was Castro. Evidence from the Pentagon that no Cuban threat existed seemed to boost the chances for engagement with the dictator. “The Pentagon has concluded that Cuba poses no significant threat to U.S. national security and senior defense officials increasingly favor engaging their counterparts to reduce existing tensions,” said Knight Ridder News Service.

William Cohen, then secretary of defense, did in fact have reservations about the report but pro-Cuban elements complained that he was merely responding to political pressure from Cuban-Americans. The Knight Ridder report referring to Cuban exile politics said, “That’s why [Mr.] Cohen held off presenting the DIA report on Capitol Hill, which had been scheduled for Tuesday.”

As it turns out, Mr. Cohen was only exercising good judgment and common sense, perhaps even with input from other analysts who understood Castro and had far different opinions from those of Ms. Montes.

Yet, Ms. Montes had done her job well. Top U.S. military brass enthusiastically embraced the report. Marine General Charles Wilhelm, then head of U.S. Southern Command, was quoted in the Miami Herald saying that the Cuban military “has no capability whatsoever to project itself beyond the borders of Cuba, so its really not a threat to anyone around it.” In a long-winded op-ed piece in the Palm Beach Post in 1998, retired Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan told of a trip to Cuba where he shared rum and cigars with Fidel. He argued that the U.S. needed a kinder, gentler attitude toward the regime. “Our intelligence data also supported the conclusion that Cuba was not a military threat to the U.S.,” Mr. Sheehan wrote.

It is logical to suspect that one of Ms. Montes” jobs may have been to discredit defectors from Cuban intelligence who were telling stories of a less-than amicable Cuban agenda. Since then, State Department analysts have reported that Cuba has at least some bioweapons technology and has expressed concern that Cuba could share the science with rogue states. Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya come to mind.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1036109830506952871