Thursday, April 25, 2013

Indictment in Ana Montes case (Updated)

When Defense Intelligence Agency official Ana Belen Montes pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba in 2002, she spared the government a trial that could have disclosed details about her spying career.  Good for the government, bad for those curious about her case.

One mystery is closer to being solved: how she was recruited.  A 2004 indictment, unsealed today (AFP), accuses former USAID employee Marta Rita Velazquez of introducing Montes to a Cuban official in New York in 1984 when both were graduate students in Washington.  Along the Malecon has the Justice Department statement.

Other new details on the case came in this article from the Washington Post Magazine, where reporter Jim Popkin succeeded in getting Montes’ sister and former boyfriend to go on the record for the first time.  He also got access to what seems to be the CIA’s post mortem on the case, and to a letter Montes wrote from prison, where she continues to display the defiance that characterized her statement in court.

Popkin also recounts the investigation that led to her capture, led by DIA counterintelligence officer Scott Carmichael.  Carmichael wrote a book about the experience, reviewed here.  Found posted at her desk, Carmichael reported, is this couplet from Henry V:

The king hath note of all that they intend
By interceptions which they dream not of.

Update: Why would Velasquez flee to Sweden?  Because its extradition agreement with the United States does not cover crimes related to espionage, according to a Justice Department spokesman quoted in today’s Washington Post.  The agreement is here.  Also, the Swedish foreign ministry says that she is married to a Swedish diplomat, that her husband "is not guilty of criminal activity," that there has been no U.S. request for extradition, and that such a request would be turned down.


Anonymous said...

Ana Montes is paradoxical and contradictory.

She seems to believe that we live in a world where countrie should treat each other with respect and recognize their mutual sovereignty abd right to freedom and self determination but yet is tone deaf when it comes to recognizing the human right violations that a totalitarian state places on its own people.

Aso she thinks its right to defend the Cuban totalitarian state yet finds it objectionable for her government to adopt policies whose objectives ate to stop those human right violations.

She should have asked herself if the totalitarian state that she was trying to aid was worth defending.

She might have had a good heart and altruistic motives but unfortunately she brought this tragic outcome upon herself by her own flawed logic.

This might be wishful thinking, since the law does not think in these terms, but in order to punish her more severely I think that it would be more adequate tot trade her off along with the five other imprisoned Cuban agents in Us jails in exchange for political prisoners and US spies imprisoned in the island.

That way she could witness for herself what an ethically debased cause she was trying to defend, understand her error and seek moral repentance.

As thing stand now, she will spend the rest of her sentence in jail feeling the moral superiority of a martir who, in her own eyes,for ethical reasons,willingly courted punishment and stoically accepted when it came.

Sadly this woman is ethically unbroken and apparently feels spiritually uplifted by her travails.

As I perceive it, her present imprisonment seems to reinforcing this defiant train of thought instead of breaking it down.

I find this outcome troubling, not only in her case but also in the case of the other five Cuban spies.

I would trade them all off and let them stew in their own sauce in their earthly paradise enjoying the benefits of the totalitarian government they were willing to run risks for.

I think we are being too benevolent by keeping them locked up in US prisons and protecting them from their own critical judgment.

We must let them struggle to answer the question: was this reality worth fighting and suffering for?

Then they would move around feeling short changed for the rest of their lives.

That would be real punishment and not the self glorification they are under the influence off at present.



Anonymous said...

Mr. Peters,

A very thorough and balanced book review of Scott Carmichael's book.

It seems to me you covered the most important angles of the case.


Anonymous said...

For almost all of the 20th Century, the U.S. Government has either invaded and occupied and/or conspired with corrupt local military to install bloodthirsty puppet dictators, in each of the countries in Latin America, causing the death of millions, the dilapidation, plunder and pillage of the wealth of those nations, and the poverty of its peoples, for decades. The U.S. has committed heinous crimes against humanity in Latin America. For example, the U.S. first invaded Nicaragua in 1895, then in 1909 in order to force out a duly elected President, then it invaded and occupied Nicaragua for 21 years, from 1912 until 1933 (during which time it engaged in the first aerial bombings of civilians in the Western Hemisphere, similar to what Hitler did in Guernica), then it installed a family of bloody and corrupt dictators Anastasio Somoza (father and son) who ruled Nicaragua (and misappropriated most of its wealth and killed dissenters) for 52 years, from 1927 until 1979, when the People of Nicaragua finally rose up and rebelled. This story repeats itself in almost every country in Latin America. Any decent person who learned this shameful part of the U.S. history and who claimed to believe in freedom and democracy would, at the very least, feel outraged and shamed by the conduct of the U.S. Government in Latin America. It appears that Ana Montes was one of those persons.

Ana Montes is not a traitor, nor a coward. She is a hero. No American would tolerate that a foreign power invade and occupy America or impose on us a bloodthirsty puppet dictator. Each American would give their last drop of blood to defend this country against an invader. Why then is it right that the U.S. do this to others? Like others, like Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg, she is an American who justifiably felt outraged by the lies and hypocricy in the U.S. foreign policy. She should be praised.

Anonymous said...

Oh my ! Canta Claro, you mean to tell us that everyone in Cuba feels that their lot is worse than a prisoner's in an American high security gulag ? I know plenty of Cubans, here for economic reasons, who can barely stand life here. I also know lots of Yumas, who if allowed to see what the Revolution has done, would fall in love immediately.

Anonymous said...

I am not suggesting that I am in full agreement with the US intervention in all foreign countries.

I am in agreement with some interventions when they are necessary to protect US secutiy and threats to its population like in Afghanistan.

In other cases like in Iraq and Nicaragua I am not.

But we are discussing Ana Montes' spying on her own country because of sympathy with the Cuban Revolution not US military intervention in foreign countries which cannot in my opinion be done in a generic way.

It must be done case by case.

Returning to the topic of Ana Montes and the Cuban Revolution, I believe this social experiment, like everything else has had its good and dark sides.

I do not pretend to deny that it has had some good results specially in its early years when the country was being subsidized by the Soviet Union.

But all this has been overshadowed by its economic inefficiency and poor economic results, its lack of democracy and its political reppresion.

The country has been under rationing for 51 years.

Since it lacks a market and private property it has no feedback mechanism and very few of the problesm affecting the population ever get solved.

The economy does not grow. Even the falsified statistics do not show this.

There is a very high inequality in real incomes caused by the free access to goods and services enjoyed by the ruling clique.

Since people are not able to satisfy their personal wants with the money they earn through their work, corruption and robbery are rampant. It includes everyone from Ministers, policemen, judges to the porters who clean the factories.

Most Cubans have to steal or to purchase stolen goods to be able to survive.

There is no transparency. Fidel and Raul Castro are able to place money in foreign secret bank accounts without any supervision.

And not surprisingly Cuba is unable to service its foreign debt and is one of the most indebted countries in per capita terms of the world.

The population is unable to change all this by non violent means because it cannot elect its leaders since there is only one political party and the elections under those conditions are a sham since the rulers are ratified no matter what are the results their performance.

Cuba is also characterized by government control of education, information and by repression exercized against dissidents and opposition critics.

The net effect is a dysfunctional country that does not grow, that has become an international beggar, has no freedom of speech and carries out a harsh repression against all government opponents.

The paradox of the Cuban government is the huge difference between its abowed aims and the results that it has achieved and that even under these conditions it has remained in power for so long.

These contradictions are slowly beginning to sink in to the population because the resulting misery and human suffering causes dissatisfaction, cynicism, hypocrecy and loss of popular support for the totalitarian government.

Without a democatic reforms and a transition to private property and a market economy, the present trends that have gone on for over half a century will continue and this will eventually cause the downfall of the inept totalitarian government in place in the island.


Anonymous said...

The paradoxical situation is that the foreign supporters of the Castro regime are unaware of these changes and are guilty of wishful thinking perceiving it as they would want it to be instead of how it really is.

I think it would take Ms. Ana Belen Montes and the anonymous writer whose comment I am answering very little time, if they were living in the island to become aware of:
1- The miserable conditions in which the Cuban population lives.
2- The morally degradating behavior in which they must participate in able to survive. (Read Ben Corbett's book on the Criminal Survival techniques in place in the island.)
3- The human rights violations occurring in the island.

Under these conditions, if Ms Montes and the previous commentator wers as bright, honest and ethically motivated as they appears to be to me, I would expect them, if they were permanently living in the island, to eventually reach the conclusion that such a regime is and was not worth defending.

However, it is also easy to think otherwise, that it is an ideal regime, and to continue deluding yourself.

This could happen if:

1- You are a Gauchiste Deluxe living abroad and not suffering the miserable standard of living that the Cuban people have today.

2- You are an anti imperialist who admires the Cuban government mainly because it has been the only one that has had the guts to successfully defy the "colossus of the North".

Of course such anti-imperialist positions overlook the suffering such policies have brought about on the general Cuban population and the fact that this huge sacrifice was not inflicted on the ruling elite that has managed to carry on during this last half century without lacking anything.

Also that these sacrifices were not willingly assumed by the Cuban population, who had no voice in the matter. It was decided for them, without their consent, by their rulers who imposed their own decisions on the Cuban citizenry.

3- You are a member of the privileged Cuban elite living at the expense of the rest of the island's population.

4 If you are a paid propagandist of the regime, living in the island or abroad, who makes a comfortable living by supporting the totalitarian regime.

But whomever you are, let's be objective and use our common sense. I have a question for you.

If, as many of its's backers argue, the Cuban regime was so worthwhile defending, why are so many people, especially younger Cubans, voting with their feet and abandoning the island?

I think we would all agree that such people are clearly disillusioned.

And if they are so disillusioned, tht they are willing to leave the country were they were born, why shouldn't we expect that Ana Montes and the five Cuban agents imprisoned in the US, if they were ever returned to the island would eventually adopt the same frame of mind also and also wish to abandon Fidel Castro's earthly paradise?

One is willing to risk your life or even accept death for a cause you believe in.

But when after having done so and surviving you discover that the cause you fought for was a fraud, it can be a very bitter experience.

For a fine example of this, please read General Rafael Del Pino's bitter reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of the Bay of Pigs that was submitted as commentaries by me last month to this blog.



Anonymous said...

IN Cubaencuentro an Cubanalisis Eugenio YaƱez speculatea about the reason why in recent days several things have coincided;

1- The story in the Washington Post about Ana Belen Montes.

2- The atempt to extradite from Sweden the Cuban agent that recruited her.

3- Placing Joan Chessimard on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Criminals.

4- Sec. of State Kerry' declaration that the exchange of Alan Gross for the five Cuban spies could not be carried out because it would be an unequal exchange of spies for a non spie.

5- The refusal to take Cuba off the list of countries that aided terrorists.

He semms to think that these developments a re not casual and foreshadow an effort to put pressure on Cuba for the interference it is carrying out in Venezuelan affairs.

What could be the possible causes for these recent events?

What significance do they have for future US - Cuban relations?