Thursday, August 7, 2008

The smears continue

Lt. Col. Chris Simmons was on the Babalu Radio Hour last night, and the first thing that his interview made clear is that he doesn’t like the way his credentials and job history are being discussed.

“There has been some confusion caused intentionally by a small cabal of misguided but enthusiastic others,” he said, who are trying to “cast aspersions.”

Well.

He doesn’t like the word “former,” but that’s what I was told when I called a Defense Intelligence Agency spokesman: “former employee.” It turns out he worked there until last December. He is now an Army reservist, on active duty, working as an intelligence officer. He says his “area of specialty is counterintelligence,” although from the way he phrased his answer, it sounds like he’s not assigned to counterintelligence duties now. From the bio on his website, it seems he spent eight years working on Cuba matters, ending in 2004. And in a stern “legal” section of his website, he warns his that his readers “should neither rely nor act upon any of the information contained in these pages and, if you choose to do so, it will be entirely at your own risk.” Fair enough.

It would never occur to me to question whether Simmons has spent a career in intelligence; that’s obviously the case. (His interview includes lots of interesting nuggets, about Cuba’s signals intelligence capabilities and other matters.)

His status in the government arouses curiosity because it has been reported about a dozen different ways in news articles, and because – as would occur to most intelligence professionals – it is rare in our country that anyone in our government who does not exercise prosecutorial power, would step out to accuse Americans of specific crimes.

Which Simmons did again last night, with gusto.

So here’s the deal: “I welcome the opportunity,” Simmons says, to back up his charges, which he says are based on a professor’s articles, and by his talks with former Cuban intelligence operatives. If people feel then have been defamed, they can “take me to civil court, sue me for defamation, and I will parade my evidence in front of the world.”

He “can’t speak for” the Justice Department, Simmons says, but he does exactly that: “And the court case will go from civil case to a criminal case very quickly, and the people accused will find themselves being charged by the government” for espionage, working as an unregistered foreign agent, or tax evasion if they were paid by the Cuban government and did not declare that income.

“You don’t have to believe me,” Simmons says. “If you don’t believe me, take me to court and make me prove it.” Until then, he will presumably keep his notes of conversations with Cuban defectors to himself. Meanwhile, we should defer to his judgment, because according to Simmons, “when it comes to intelligence issues those areas are best left to counterintelligence officers.”

How is this anything other than a smear campaign carried out by a uniformed officer of our military?

[Discussion of Simmons’ appearance on A Mano Limpia last week is here.]

12 comments:

Mambi_Watch said...

Well put Phil,

From the start Simmons made the point that those he has singled out are no longer people of interest to American intelligence (he should know as a former DIA analyst), but that doesn't stop Simmons. Some of his accusations are vague, and some are old. In the end he has no evidence to indicate serious danger to US security, which should be the priority of all American counter-intelligence.

He then levels these weak charges and hides behind the judicial system?

Chris Simmons is making serious errors in judgment, and damaging his many years as an intelligence analyst and the service of the Armed forces.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Phil,

You don't seem to like the way Lt. Col. Simmons describes his personal biography. Not forthcoming enough for your tastes. Isn't that a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I mean really, aren't you trying to influence U.S. policy on behalf of corporate benefactors to you institute? Why not a little more disclosure on your part?

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Oh and by the way, if it didn't cross your mind, perhaps this is simply an exercise in neutralizing enemy agents against which there are not enough resources or evidence to prosecute. Just because there isn't enough evidence to prove something in court beyond a reasonable doubt doesn't mean that the accusation isn't true and that there isn't substantial evidence.

If any of these people sues in civil court and had any desire to win, they would have to testify under oath and that testimony could be used against them in a criminal proceeding. Also consider that lying in civil court is still perjury.

What's the matter, why so edgy? Why does this bother you so much?

Anonymous said...

Henry, the question shoudl be why does it bother you so much.

Too bad you can't speak spanish and haven't been to Cuba. Phil knows cuba better than you ever could in your little mafioso world.

From my expeirence with common habeneros, even strong anti-fidelistas, is that they are very distrustful of you (like you are to Phil).

You will have a very small place in a free cuba.

Anonymous said...

I think Henry has hit a sore spot here. Phil has been on edge and strangely angry about this guy since this story broke out. One is led to believe that something about his investigation is truly bothering him. I wonder why. Why does Simmons bother you so much?
After all he is only disclosing evidence about people who are working for he Govt. of Cuba ( a declared enemy of the US) and against the USA. So, why does it bother you so much?

PolO said...

Gentlemen, please. Leave comrade Peters along !!!

leftside said...

We can understand why hardline elements in the US see nothing wrong in publicly waged smear campaign - as they do that all the time. Phil is right to say basta. If there is some particular anger, it is because people of good faith like him get unfounded accusations hurled their way all the time and know what it feels like. If Simmons wants to end up in Court, I have a feeling he will find himself there soon.

Karamchand said...

Mucho tiempo se habló del determinismo geográfico, particularmente, no he recuerdo exactamente la teoría expresada en ello; pero no puedo, creo que nadie puede ignorar la evidente influencia sobre Cuba de los países que la rodean, EEUU en particular. Personalmente al estar en contacto con toda la cultura norteamericana, sin haber estado allá, valga la aclaración, creo entender que la actuación del señor Simmons moleste o cause un poco de aversión en el Sr. Peter; lo resumiría entre otros aspectos, en la posicion del Sr. Peters, expresada a través de este blog de manera más o menos clara; a traves de esos posts, el Sr. Peters cree que puede haber un acercamiento o entendimiento entre EEUU y el gobierno de Cuba (dictadura), ha visitado Cuba, y aunque no le hace un experto o conocedor de las interioridades específicas (Cuba es una para los extranjeros y otra para los cubanos, esto es verdad de perogrullo, el apartheid o segregación de cubanos y extranjeros en la isla es probado) pone espranzas en un cambio de la política de EEUU hacia Cuba, esto básciamente creo que es la razón de la molestia del Sr. Peters, su posición, aun cuando no coincido con ella, se ve agredida, para decirlo de alguna manera, por las declaraciones del Sr. Simmons, introduce o refresca la amenza cubana real, la cual de tiempo en tiempo se difumina o desvanece, por causa a mi entender de la fuerte promoción de la dictadura en EEUU y en la arena internacional.
En mi criterio, cualquier cubano o la inmensa mayoría de la comunidad cubana en Miami, es terreno fértil para el espionaje de la dictadura, tanto por cuestiones subjetivas, (forma de pensar próxima a la de la dictadura, interés particular en no cerrar as puertas del regreso o quemar las naves, etc), ahora, esto no debe conducir a un estado de histeria colectiva en EEUU, presa igualmente en épocas anteriores y aun a fecha de hoy, ejemplo de ello, sería el 11/9 y la secuela, otro ejemplo sería la furibunda campaña contra el tabaquismo, que ha llegado a extremos como prohibir fumar en espacios abierto (una ciudad de EEUU lo ha prohibido), otra menos leve, es la persecución de acusados de delitos contra infantes, llegando a algo que me parece aun a fecha de oy ilegal, la publicación de datos y direcciones de aquellos que han cometido ese tipo de delito. La Ciudad de Miami, al tener una fuerte influencia cubana, idiosincracia, es caldo fértil a su vez para la histeria colectiva en particular por el chisme y la predisposición a pensar mal del prójimo.
Entonces para resumir mi opinión, creo que las delcaraciones del señor Simmons, aun cuando no aprotan nada nuevo sobre ello, se sabe que ha habido y habrá agentes de la dictadura en EEUU al igual que potaje de frijoles negros, congrí o cafe cubano, debe ser tomadas con mesura, tenidas en cuenta, pero no creo que sea saludable en ninguna manera, abogar por razzias o personificar si no se procede en consecuencia. Esa es mi modesta opinión, esto último si se tiene en cuenta que las declaraciones del Sr. Simmons tiene más de promción al ser realizadas en donde las hizo que de real preocupación, quizás si las hubiese hecho en Canada o otro estado menos permeado de cubanidad, le daría todo el crédito.

Omar said...

To those that (rhetorically and cynically?) ask why is Phil Peters is closely following Simmons allegations, I have an answer (rhetorical and cynical?): Cuando veas las barbas de tu vecino arder, pon las tuyas en remojo.
Given the lack of that evidence that would back what could be novel in Simmons' statements, it seems likely that the whole issue is nothing but an orchestration to discredit those Americans that have a different approach to the Cuban problem. Phil could be next.
My question is, (cynical and rhetorical?), why are Henry Louis Gomez (HLG) and the likes so stubbornly bound to failure? Let assume that Simmons’ fantasies make the desired impact in the target audience. Then what? Is this what you call a victory? Come on! Do you really want to get rid of the Cuban dictatorship? I mean, REALLY:
- Give back Guantanamo Bay
- Remove the embargo
- Establish full diplomatic relationships
- Let Cuba evolve, visit the country, talk to the people, empower them.
There is not a shortage of democrats in Cuba, but there is a terrible stalemate.
Now, if what you want is a change in Cuba that maximize the benefits of hardliners like HLG, the Diaz-Balart, so on and so forth, and not of the Cuban people as a whole, then keep doing what you have been doing for 50 years. It is your only chance, albeit slim. It could be the case that after so much pressure the civil war comes, again. And you will be satisfied, with your glass and your buddies in front of the television, enjoying how Cubans in Cuba kill each other and the system you hate so much finally collapse. Then, you will be able to say again: Salud, Salud, Salud! But remember that in that very same moment the seeds for the next Revolution are being planted. Hurry up, Henry Go!

theCardinal said...

I'm a little late to the game here but let me jump in because over here unlike over at Babalu I don't get banned.

I made the point on Babalu that it seems that for the super hardline contingent that there must be nefarious motives behind anyone that supports the end of the embargo. In theory they recognize that someone can hate the embargo and hate Castro but they don't think it can be proven.

Now I love the fact that as conservative Republicans (and I count myself as one) that the Bababull posse says that if those defamed by civilian Simmons that they should hire a trial lawyer. Any real Republican would not want to employ trial lawyers unless absolutely necessary.

If Mr. Peters is interested in this case it is for the same reason that I am - it is disgraceful that academics are being slammed and smeared just for sitting on the opposite side of the embargo issue. This is not McCarthyism this is Stalinism- an attempt to marginalize and eliminate public intellectuals. The burden of proof should not be on the accused but on the accuser. Henry and the Bababull posse represent all that makes embarasses us Cuban Americans - a calicifaction of political thought and ideology - an unwillingness to adjust to changing situations - a fear of being confronted with opinions that do not dovetail comfortably with their own.

I've been accused of being a leftist ass kisser - nothing could be further from the truth. I haven't missed a partisan election in 20 years of voting and only once did I vote for a Democrat - and that's because she was more conservative than the Republican running. I just think that it's high time we stop these stupid witch hunts and focus on the real enemy instead of looking for monsters underneath the bed.

You know what is funniest about all this embargo obsession? They think about it so much that they forget why it's there. If it was gone tomorrow they would not know what to do and instead of taking advantage of it to help change Cuba they would still be arguing about the embargo. Most interesting is the fact that instead of succumbing now, instead of letting W cut a hard bargain with the Castros we are now going to get Obama and he is going to give the Cubans what they want for practically nothing. For this the exile fringe will only have itself to blame.

juventud said...

were not going to get obama cardinal.

theCardinal said...

don't get me wrong - I don't want him to win but despite current polling McCain faces an uphill battle.