More Cuban Spies Lurking In U.S.
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Saturday, May 19, 2007
More than five years after Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ana Belen Montes pled guilty to charges of spying for Cuba, more Cuban spies are lurking inside the U.S. government, possibly even among top policy-makers, the Defense Intelligence Agency's top counter-spy and other former intelligence officers revealed on Wednesday.
"Are there more Cuban spies out there? I believe so," said Scott Carmichael, the DIA counter-spy who led the investigation that led to Montes's arrest on Sept. 20, 2001. "The Cuban intelligence service is one of the best in the world."
Carmichael recently published a book, True Believer, about Montes's sixteen year career as a top spy for Cuba, and his efforts to track her down. The DIA spent two and a half years reviewing his manuscript before they would allow him to submit it for publication, Carmichael said.
"The Cuban government has eyes and ears everywhere," he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "If it was that easy to recruit Ana Montes, then we have to assume they have recruited others."
Carmichael said his experience looking for Cuban spies within the DIA led him to believe that Cuba today has "a stable of agents" within the U.S. intelligence community and elsewhere in government. "The danger is that the information [they gather] will be shared with Iran or wherever our forces are today," he added.
Carmichael called Montes the "Queen of Cuba" because of her unprecedented penetration of the U.S. intelligence community and her impact on U.S. government policy toward Cuba.
Not only did she have access to the most secret, compartmented intelligence
programs aimed at Castro and his regime. But as the intelligence community's top
Cuba analyst, Montes helped to craft virtually every major classified analysis
on Cuba, including key National Intelligence Estimates.
Under Montes's guidance, the Cuba NIE's instructed policy-makers that Castro's regime posed no threat to the United States and was not seeking to extend its influence to other countries in the Western hemisphere.
Montes also played a decisive role in suppressing intelligence obtained from Cuban sources in 1994 that led other analysts to conclude that Castro was developing biological weapons.
"Ana objected so strongly to the draft that she actually spiked it. That's the kind of power she had," Carmichael said.
Even more astonishing is the fact that not a single product authored or influenced by Montes has been pulled back by the intelligence community.
Recalling products produced by tainted sources is a common practice within
the intelligence community after it conducts a damage assessment. It happened
after Russian spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen were caught, and it happened
on a more limited basis after an Iraqi source known as CURVEBALL, who was
controlled by German intelligence, was later found to be psychologically
But the U.S. intelligence community continues to base essential judgments on Cuba on products written by convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, despite a sweeping damage assessment carried out in the months following her arrest and sentencing.
"I don't believe that any of her products have been pulled," Carmichael said. In exchange for her cooperation, federal prosecutors agreed to give Montes a 25-year sentence, instead of life without parole. She is currently serving time in a federal penitentiary near Fort Worth, Texas.
One reason Montes's products continue to circulate in Congress and the White House is because of a "pro-Cuban support network of sympathizers and apologists," said former DIA officer Paul Crespo, now with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Crespo said there was a "huge infrastructure of Castro sympathizers" throughout the intelligence community and across government. "Castro agents of influence have infiltrated the U.S. Army War College, the Navy War College," as well as the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said.
In Miami, Crespo said they had "penetrated the Miami Herald" and local Spanish-language newspapers, by placing former Cuban government reporters in key jobs.
"These support networks make it a lot harder to differentiate between actual spies and the useful idiots," he said.
Ana Montes was "on a first name basis" with the National Intelligence Officer for Latin America, Fulton Armstrong," Carmichael and others said. Montes and Armstrong continued to confide by phone even as Carmichael and his investigative team were closing the noose around Ana Montes. "I wouldn't be surprised if Fulton Armstrong had something to do with Ana's products not being pulled," said Norman Bailey, who until March 2007 was the Issue Manager for Cuba/Venezuela in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Armstrong was a vigorous supporter of Castro within the intelligence community, Bailey, Carmichael and Crespo said.
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega, added that Fulton Armstrong's "advocacy" on behalf of Castro was so astonishing that Noriega banned him from his office.
"I didn't question his patriotism. I questioned his judgment," Noriega said. "So I told my assistant that I didn't want to see a single scrap of paper he was involved in. I was not interested in a person with such a profound lack of judgment."
Fulton Armstrong testified against John Bolton in April 2005 during the Senate Foreign Relations committee confirmation hearing for Bolton to become the Permanent U.S. representative to the United nations.
Armstrong "would downplay anything that was derogatory to Castro, Venezuela, or to the FARC," Noriega said, referring to the Cuban—sponsored Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. "John Bolton would be ambassador to the United Nations today if not for Fulton Armstrong," he added. One of the accusations made by Sen. Christopher Dodd and his top staffer, Janice O'Connell, was that Bolton had "pressured" Fulton Armstrong over intelligence relating to Cuba's suspected biological weapons program.
Armstrong and O'Connell had tried to suppress intelligence information that Cuba was pursuing a clandestine biological weapons program, but Bolton sought to declassify that information for use in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in 2002.
Both Armstrong and O'Connell continued to defend Ana Montes in closed-door sessions with top policy-makers, even after she was arrested by the FBI, several former intelligence officers said.
Norman Bailey was summarily fired without explanation in March 2007 by the incoming Director of National Intelligence. Gen. Mike McConnell, after asking too many questions about Cuba and the continued use of the National Intelligence Estimates that Ana Montes had authored before her arrest.
"FBI counter-intelligence is entirely convinced there are several other high-level Cuban agents, not just in the intelligence community, but in the policy community," Bailey said. "You can expect startling revelations in the next few years."
Bailey said that the Cubans were following the Soviet model in recruiting senior policy-makers, not just intelligence officers. He cited Cold War spies Alger Hiss, who was a top-ranked State Department official, and Harry Dexter White, a top Treasury Department official under FDR who was instrumental in creating the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
For Cuba and other enemies of America, being able to influence policy and "elite" opinion-makers "is equally important, possibly even more important, than recruiting spies with access to intelligence information," he said.
For Roger Noriega, a former staffer of Sen. Jesse Helms whom Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice replaced in October 2005 with career diplomat, Tom Shannon, the Montes arrest signified a much deeper Cuban penetration.
"The other shoe has not dropped on this story," Noriega said.
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