Castro Spies Target U.S. Defense

Wes Vernon,
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2001

WASHINGTON – Intelligence operatives for communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro are working in the U.S. to get their spies or unwitting "dupes into influential positions in America’s defense establishment." Further, Castro is himself a "terrorist” whose intelligence service has a "biological weapons branch.” Moreover, he is willing to aid whatever terrorist seeks to destroy the U.S, including Osama bin Laden’s network. And he has sought to learn as much as he can about how the U.S. Postal Service works.

That information emerged at a Tuesday panel discussion in the Washington area that included two former Cuban intelligence officers who have defected to the U.S.

Cuba’s major subversive focus of attention here is the U.S. military establishment, according to defectors Jorge Masetti and Jose Cohen. Professors at various campuses are aiding and abetting Castro, they allege.

The former Cuban agents said at a day-long seminar organized by Rand Corp. that the targeted professors are in three categories:


  • 1. Actual agents.


  • 2. "Useful tools,” or "dupes” as such people were known during the height of the Cold War with the Soviets.


  • 3. The "unregistered agent.”

    The U.S. has no legal basis for acting against Categories 2 and 3 because they are not passing on classified information.

    The "useful tools” are generally well intentioned and innocent of how they are being used by Cuban intelligence. In some cases, intensive efforts are made to recruit them. Cuban intelligence agents also try to collect personal information on such people "in order to compromise them in some fashion or blackmail them.”

    "With some of these academics,” said Cohen, "you can see an article in the New York Times, and you say to yourself, ‘My God, it’s very clear to me the information this individual is relating was fed to them by Cuban intelligence.'”

    Cuban authorities have extensive files on many of the objects of recruitment in the U.S.

    That prompted John Miller, an American journalist who has written extensively on Cuban espionage in the U.S., to say this would be a problem even if Cuba were not trying to do these things.

    The ideological leanings of university professors "everywhere” would still give propagandists for Marxists such as Castro an advantage on U.S. campuses, he alleged. Miller cited Latin American studies as "especially vulnerable,” but also leftist classes outside the traditional disciplines. These would include "women’s studies, African-American studies and so forth.”

    Campus activity, Cohen added, is by no means restricted to infiltrating the defense industry here. For example, students are analyzed "in terms of their potential to plans for violence in a time of war." Among the violent acts envisioned is "the planting of bombs in American Metro stations, subway stations.”

    Lest one take seriously those who deny Castro’s links to international terrorism, the Cuban defectors noted that the longtime Caribbean dictator visited Syria and Iran and vowed that together, Cuba and others would "bring the United States to its knees.”

    They also noted the following "coincidences”:

    Postal Infiltration


  • In August, the month before the terrorist attacks on the U.S., and two months before deadly anthrax letters made news, the FBI revealed that one of two Cuban spies it arrested in Orlando had worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Miami. Furthermore, he had sent Cuban authorities detailed information about the workings of the U.S. postal system.

    Cuba, by the way, is one of 17 states that a U.S. government report listed as having biological weapons.


  • Coincidence? Well, then, here’s another one. Three Afghan nationals carrying $2 million were detained in the Grand Cayman Islands in late August after having recently arrived from Cuba. An anonymous letter was sent to Radio Cayman saying the three "are organizing a major terrorist attack against the U.S.” using aircraft. The letter was ignored, and the Afghans were released.

    Spy in the Pentagon


  • Then there was the Cuban spy at the Pentagon. Ana Belen-Montes was arrested just 10 days after the Sept.11 attack. The FBI felt they had to arrest her at that point because the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks made it important that she be taken out of circulation.

    U.S. agents already had the longtime Defense Intelligence Agency analyst under surveillance. They would have liked to have kept watching her for a longer period of time before making the arrest. The information they were getting on her operations regarding Cuban intelligence work was deemed valuable. But her premature arrest became necessary after Sept. 11 because Castro was sharing intelligence information with Middle East terrorist nations.

  asked the former Cuban intelligence agents at the seminar this week if they had shared their information on Castro’s subversion with any U.S. lawmakers. After all, we used to have congressional committees that would take more than a passing interest in agents working at universities to infiltrate our defense establishment. In another era, Congress would call witnesses to testify about such things as Castro agents infiltrating the Cuban-American community in Florida, which Cohen and Masetti had also alleged.

    Cohen had talked with "all the U.S. intelligence agencies” and was "debriefed by the FBI.”

    Another Clinton Legacy

    "My understanding is that during the Clinton administration, counterintelligence against Cuba came essentially to a halt,” the onetime Castro operative said. One assumes, he added, that "the CIA is aware of all this.”

    As for Congress, "That’s something U.S. politicians are going to have to figure out.” They revealed that two members of Congress, obviously of left-wing persuasion, had shrugged their shoulders when the defectors shared their information.

    Their reaction was that it was not a problem if Cuba has information on Americans because "the FBI has information on us.”

    Though Cohen and Masetti didn’t spell it out, Congress is widely believed to be shell-shocked when it comes to looking at internal subversion on our own soil. The late Barbara Olson, in her book "The Final Days,” described the old liberal cry of "McCarthyism” as "a permanent restraining” order against anyone who dares point out extreme leftist affiliations or activity.

    Venezuela presents a problem as virtually a second communist state near the America’s borders. Hugo Chavez, the leader of that country, "does what Castro tells him to do,” the former Cuban intelligence officers said. Even without the Soviet Union around, the Cuba-Venezuela connection conjures up memories of Lenin’s prophecy of surrounding the U.S. with hostile communist regimes.

    The Rand seminar was not a one-sided anti-communist rally. There were those, on the panels and among the attendees, who urged a softer approach to Castro. However, many of them were strongly contradicted by Cuban-Americans who had done years-long studies of the dictatorship in their native land.

    Our Friend Fidel

    The private National Security Archive, long known for a leftist tilt in security matters, was represented. Peter Kornbluh, NSA’s senior analyst and director of the Cuban Documentation Project, proposed U.S. cooperation with Cuba on drug interdiction. Given Castro’s record in drug trafficking, other participants saw this as nominating the fox to guard the chicken coop.

    Kornbluh told the gathering that there has been for some time "low-level [U.S.] cooperation” with Cuba in this regard. Further, he stated, there would be more were it not for "politics” (i.e., there still remain people in and out of our government who do not deem it wise to trust a dictator who has publicly avowed his unrelenting hatred of the United States).

    There have been those in Washington over the years who have shared "the European view” of Cuba, the liberal think tank official claimed. This more benign attitude is indeed held by some nations that don’t have Castro living next door to them. The idea that there were American officials with this perspective of a major threat in this hemisphere outraged other conference attendees.

    Clinton Underling Defends Castro

    Kornbluh’s fellow panelist Ernesto Betancourt, an early Castro supporter who chose freedom soon after Castro showed his true colors, recalled that ex-President Bill Clinton’s drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, had rudely and with considerable arrogance rejected intelligence information showing Castro’s involvement in drug traffic.

    "Think of Castro as the enemy,” said former Radio Marti official Betancourt, who warned the seminar that there is no limit to the terrorism Castro would inflict on America. It’s just that recently, "Osama bin Laden beat him to it.”

    Kornbluh was contradicted from the audience by Frank Calzon, executive director of Free Cuba, who said he had a film documentary that clearly shows Castro’s designs on the United States are anything but benign.

    Although the audience included many anti-communist Cuban Americans, there were doubters who downplayed the Castro threat.

    During the lunch break, one young analyst from Kornbluh’s National Security Archive ridiculed the concern over three Afghan nationals showing up in the Cayman Islands after a Cuban visit with $2 million. "What if they had arrived from Texas or Canada?” the NSA operative asked, "Would that make those areas suspect?" The question of whether the governor of Texas or the Canadian prime minister had ever threatened the United States was not addressed.

    Many people are "in denial” about Cuba, Antonio Gayoso, a Cuban-born economist, told

    "They know Cuba’s record, and they know that Castro is a threat,” said the director of Global Expand. "They know it, but they don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s too painful.”

    He compared it to the man whose wife is a prostitute. "He knows it, but he doesn’t want to acknowledge it to himself or to others.”