Thursday, May 17, 2007

Counter-intelligence

The United States limits contacts with Cuban government officials as part of its policy of isolating Cuba diplomatically. But lack of contact can translate into lack of information, so every now and then someone suggests an adjustment.

U.S. diplomats in Cuba have been confined to Havana ever since 2001 when the Bush Administration, citing the threat of Cuban intelligence activities, ordered that Cuban diplomats could travel outside the Washington metropolitan area only with prior State Department approval.

The Administration has been happy to keep things this way. So our diplomats in Cuba stay in Havana, and they ask others about conditions in the rest of the country.

Another policy, dating at least to the Clinton Administration, bars U.S. military attaches posted in our embassies overseas from having conversations with Cuban military attaches, even if they only meet at a cocktail party.

Part of military attaches’ function – ours and everyone else’s – is to gather intelligence. The Pentagon, according to this report from Pablo Bachelet in McClatchy newspapers’ Washington bureau, asked that its attaches be permitted to have contact with their Cuban counterparts. The State Department denied the request.

One can argue that Cuba is in an important period of its history, the military is a key institution, and it would be good for the United States to develop relationships – now and over time – with the mid-level Cuban military officers who serve in Cuba’s embassies overseas. I suppose the counterarguments are that personal relationships don’t generate information over time, or that we already know what we need to know, or that U.S. military officers are weak and susceptible to Cuban tricks.

The news about this proposal comes from the former head of the CIA’s special office to coordinate collection and analysis of intelligence on Cuba and Venezuela. He was dismissed after three months, and says his former office has effectively been disbanded.

2 comments:

leftside said...

The "report" leaves out exactly why Mr Bailey was fired. But it appears that economic warfare expert Norman Bailey did not quite drink enough of the kool-aid to be part of the anti-Cuba/Venezuela team.

You alluded to the relavent issue. Cuba has a hell of a lot of legitimate greviences. Because of this, a Cuban military officer could indeed "trick" weak US officers. But what is being tricked? Those who fired Bailey probably argue that he was being tricked by being insufficiently nasty to the Cubans.

A Wandering Feast said...

I am reminded of the day I met Gustavo Machin at the Interest Section in DC for one of our meetings. He told me this would be the last, he was rotating out in November because his wife was having a baby and would miss our times but would see each other in Cuba. I asked him "when do you leave specifically and he replied "on the 16th I fly home, it will be good to get home for a while". I congratulated him on the new child, we talked in our normal and amicable way and said goodbye. That was 5 months before he was to leave. On the day before his departure he was expelled for being a spy. Now, I knew he was leaving, the government knew he was leaving but most people or the general population of America did not know he was leaving or for that matter who he was to begin with. All we knew here other than the group in DC in the know was that a Cuban spy had been sent out of the U.S. for being the same and involved with back up confidential information tying him to the activities of a spy. Gustavo was an educated, respected, high profile, highly thought of Cuban working on positive projects with companies and politicians in a positive way. The U.S. took advantage of the knowledge he was leaving to expel him the day before, hours before his flight was to leave as if we had kicked him out immediately; no one would know better, know one would know the truth and I suggest that this is relative to the article in this blog. When I saw him again at PABEXPO, we laughed about this but then in reality it is not a laughing matter. It is a ludicrous event when a great country like ours stoops to fabricate information, no matter true or false, to attempt to broaden division. Miss-information is a reverse form of propaganda and Americans are completely misinformed; hanging onto threads of McCarthyistic tendencies.
Jeff Ensminger
Bahama-Meridian ITL
Natural Environmental Ecological management (NEEM)
www.neemtree.org