Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spy stories

If you were distracted by Governor Richardson’s bumbling, you may have missed the return of Lt. Col. Simmons, the ex-DIA operative who speaks about Cuban intelligence matters.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, he has pried loose the diplomatic note that the State Department presented to Cuba in 2003 to expel eight Cuban diplomats based in Washington. Our friend Mauricio has it here.

The note politely says that the diplomats’ activities were “deemed sufficiently detrimental to the security interests of the United States,” which the eight surely saved in their personnel file back home.

The release is accompanied by anonymously sourced charges (Herald, Diario de Cuba) that the diplomats were gathering intelligence on U.S. military operations to pass to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It would be interesting to know more about that, if it is true.

At the time, the FBI spoke otherwise; see coverage from the late Chris Marquis in the New York Times here and here. From the latter story:

Bureau officials said there was no specific espionage event that touched off the action, adding credence to Cuba’s charge that the expulsions were part of a new political strategy.

“It was not our recommendation to take this action at this time,” said a senior F.B.I. official. The decision to expel Cubans was made “at the highest levels” in the State Department and the White House, and the policy makers then turned to the bureau for names of intelligence operatives, said the official, who asked not to be named.

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