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By Larry Daley
For quite some time, US defense analysis on Castro has minimized the threat fom Cuba's government, and this attitude has even intruded into Colin Powells recent statements on the matter. This has puzzled Cuban exiles who have noted that these views are at variance with observed reality.
Now with the uncovering of the most senior US defense analyst Ana Belen Montes as a Castro spy we may well know why. The report below states:
"A senior intelligence official shared that assessment, saying, "It is very serious." He added that "it is still too early to say how much damage she may have done." The official pointed out, however, that any information received by Cuba then could have been shared with other foreign governments, causing further harm."
It is very clear that the optimistic evaluations on Castro generated by US defence and intelligence agencies are contaminated and need to be seriously re-examined. This is especially so in view to present circumstance where verysoon we will find ourselves fight a war against terrorism at a distance, with Castro sitting and watching and training terror just off our shores.
The Defense Intelligence Agency's senior analyst for matters involving Cuba was arrested at her office yesterday and accused of providing classified information about military exercises and other sensitive operations to the Cuban government.
Federal prosecutors said Ana Belen Montes, 44, of Northwest Washington, was working for the Cuban intelligence service while on the U.S. government payroll. The FBI, which had been tailing Montes for months, surprised her at work yesterday morning at Bolling Air Force Base and charged her with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba, a capital offense.
A few hours later, Montes sat silently in U.S. District Court as prosecutors said she "knowingly compromised national defense information" and harmed the United States. A magistrate judge ordered her jailed without bond pending a hearing Wednesday. He also put Montes on a suicide watch at the request of prosecutors.
"This is a clandestine agent for the Cuban intelligence service," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes Jr. "This has been going on for quite some time."
Established 40 years ago, the Defense Intelligence Agency today has more than 7,000 military and civilian employees around the world, with its headquarters at Bolling, in Washington. Its job is to produce military intelligence about foreign countries in support of U.S. planning and operations. One of the DIA's first successes was its role in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Montes began work at the DIA in 1985 and was assigned to analyze Cuban matters seven years later. As the DIA's senior analyst for Cuba, Montes would have dealt regularly with Cuba watchers from other agencies in the U.S. intelligence community, most particularly from the CIA and the State Department's Intelligence and Research Bureau.
In a court affidavit, FBI agent Stephen A. McCoy said authorities determined that Montes was passing details "about a particular Special Access Program related to the national defense of the United States." An intelligence source said that probably referred to a highly classified intelligence collection system being employed to gather information either by satellite or other technical or human capability.
Another of her alleged disclosures, the affidavit said, was the identity of a U.S. intelligence officer "who was present in an undercover capacity, in Cuba." Although the Cubans apparently did not arrest the individual, the affidavit indicated that "the Cuban government was able to direct its counter-intelligence resources" against the officer.
At another time, the affidavit said, Montes informed the Cubans that "we have noticed" the location, number and type of certain Cuban military weapons in Cuba. She also allegedly shared information about a 1996 war games exercise.
"This has been a very important investigation, because it does show our national defense information is still being targeted by the Cuban intelligence service," said Van A. Harp, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office.
A senior intelligence official shared that assessment, saying, "It is very serious." He added that "it is still too early to say how much damage she may have done." The official pointed out, however, that any information received by Cuba then could have been shared with other foreign governments, causing further harm.
A DIA spokesman declined to comment. The agency cooperated in the FBI's investigation. An official at Cuba's diplomatic mission in Washington declined to discuss the case.
Montes, a U.S. citizen born at a U.S. military installation in Germany, is single and lived alone in an apartment in the 3000 block of Macomb Street NW, authorities said. The FBI searched her residence yesterday and also got a warrant to comb through her 2000 Toyota Echo, a safe-deposit box and her office.
Authorities declined to say what led them to focus on Montes or how they believed she became associated with the Cuban government. They said she communicated with her Cuban handlers via shortwave radios, computer diskettes and pagers, methods employed by a Cuban spy ring based in Florida -- known as the Wasp Network -- that attempted to infiltrate Cuban exile organizations and U.S. military installations.
Seven people have been convicted of being part of that organization, including a husband and wife who pleaded guilty yesterday. In charging documents and other court papers, authorities did not directly link Montes to the Florida activities. One law enforcement source said investigators believe Montes began spying in 1996.
According to the FBI's affidavit, the Cuban intelligence service often communicates with overseas agents by broadcasting encrypted messages at high frequencies via shortwave radio. The messages typically are conveyed in a series of numbers and transcribed into Spanish text by a computer program.
The FBI obtained court approval to surreptitiously enter Montes's apartment in May and found a shortwave radio and earpiece as well as a laptop computer, the affidavit said. Agents secretly copied the computer's hard drive and restored text that had been deleted, providing the foundation for many of the allegations, the document added.
Since May, agents have followed Montes as she made brief calls on pay telephones outside the National Zoo, gas stations and other locations in Northwest Washington and Maryland, apparently sending encrypted messages to pagers, the affidavit said. But the affidavit makes no mention of any occasions in which Montes was observed meeting with any suspected accomplices, making drop-offs or picking up money.
Before joining the DIA, Montes worked in the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy in the early 1980s. She is a 1979 graduate of the University of Virginia and received a master's degree in 1988 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Montes lived on the second floor of a three-story cooperative building in Cleveland Park. Neighbors said she had resided in the building at least seven or eight years and described her as friendly if quiet.
Neighbors said there was nothing unusual about Montes's habits, and they had no idea she had been arrested. The people they thought were Montes's visitors yesterday afternoon were actually FBI agents, who were observed eating pizza in her apartment.
One resident said he had been working with Montes on projects in the building, including improving the mailboxes. Another said Montes once was president of the co-op board. She was known to work for the federal government, but neighbors said she never talked in detail about her job. After the attack on the Pentagon last week, a neighbor said, he sent her an e-mail and got an emotional response.
"Right now, I'm not in the mood to talk," she wrote back, saying she was distraught about the terrorists' assault.
Another neighbor, Gretchen Gusich, said Montes let her use her unit this week when Gusich's bathroom had plumbing problems, even leaving a key with her.
"She was a good neighbor," Gusich said.
Staff writers David A. Fahrenthold and Martin Weil and Metro researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
WASHINGTON -- FBI agents on Friday detained a 44-year-old senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, a vital part of the U.S. national security establishment, and charged her with providing U.S. national secrets to Cuba. The information relayed to the Cuban government, according to papers filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, included the identity of a U.S. intelligence officer operating undercover in Cuba. The woman, Ana Belen Montes, was arrested around 10 a.m. at Defense Intelligence headquarters in the southern part of the capital, FBI spokesman Chris Murray said. Montes began working at the agency, which provides political and military intelligence to the Pentagon, in 1985 and had risen to a level that gave her access to a wide variety of intelligence, according to a criminal complaint filed in Washington, D.C., federal court. ``Since 1992, she has specialized in Cuba matters. She is currently the senior analyst responsible for matters pertaining to Cuba,'' the complaint said. Montes, among more than a dozen arrested by U.S. law enforcement since September 1998 and charged with spying for Cuba, had greater access to secrets than the others. As a senior analyst, she participated in inter-agency meetings involving discussion on Cuba and the rest of Latin America, Capitol Hill sources said. The criminal complaint said Montes was born in Nuremberg, Germany, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979. She also held a master's degree from the prestigious School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. An FBI official, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was Puerto Rican. According to the court document, Montes maintained contact with her Cuban intelligence agency handlers by calling their beepers from pay phones and punching in coded numerical sequences. On May 25, brandishing a court-authorized warrant, law enforcement officials secretly entered Montes' second-floor unit at the Cleveland Apartments off Connecticut Avenue in northwest Washington, an area of tony restaurants and stores. They found a portable computer, the complaint said. ``The agents electronically copied the laptop's hard drive. During subsequent analysis of the copied hard drive, the FBI recovered substantial text . . .,'' it said, adding that 11 pages of material was recovered. Among the contents, it added, were instructions on how to erase material from the computer, tips for radio reception, and references to ``the numbers that you receive via radio.'' A short-wave radio was also found. The complaint said that the FBI identified text consisting of 150 sets of numerical groups. ``The text begins, `30107 24624,' and continues until 150 such groups are listed. The FBI has determined that the precise same numbers, in the precise same order, were broadcast on February 6, 1999, at AM frequency 7887 kHz, by a woman speaking Spanish, who introduced the broadcast with the words `Atención! Atención!' '' the complaint said. It asserts that the technique of receiving coded data over short-wave radio is common with Cuban intelligence, and is the same method that 10 convicted Cuban spies arrested in South Florida in 1998 used to contact their handlers. Montes followed other patterns used by convicted South Florida spies, it added, such as exchanging computer disks with Cuban intelligence agents and frequently calling from pay phones to send coded pages to beeper numbers. The text lifted from her hard drive, it said, included praise from Montes' alleged Cuban handler for her unmasking ``a U.S. intelligence officer who was present in an undercover capacity, in Cuba, during a period that began prior to October 1996. ``We told you how tremendously useful the information you gave us from the meetings with him resulted, and how we were waiting here for him with open arms,'' the text said, according to the complaint. The ultimate fate of the intelligence officer was not disclosed in the court papers. As recently as Sunday, surveillance teams spotted Montes making calls from pay phones to beeper numbers and punching in pre-assigned codes, the complaint said. The FBI said it had pending search warrant requests for Montes' apartment, her red Toyota Echo, her office at Bolling Air Force Base, and for a safe deposit box. Friday's arrest came three weeks after FBI agents detained two Cuban intelligence agents in Florida, husband and wife George and Marisol Gari, and charged them with trying to infiltrate the U.S. Southern Command military facility in Miami, which oversees military operations in Latin America. The Garis also conducted surveillance of the Cuban American National Foundation offices. They pleaded guilty Thursday to acting as unregistered agents for Cuba. Members of the Cuban-American community said they suspected that FBI agents moved in to arrest Montes, who had been under surveillance for four months, to stop leaks to Cuba as U.S. forces mount a war on the Osama bin Laden network. ``It was critically important that this spy be stopped now as we embark on the worldwide war against terrorism,'' said Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, a Miami Republican.
By PETE YOST
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Pentagon intelligence analyst who attended war gamesconducted by the U.S. Atlantic Command in 1996 was charged Friday with spyingfor Cuba.
Ana Belen Montes, an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, transmitted asubstantial amount of classified information to the Cuban intelligence service,an FBI affidavit alleged.
Montes appeared before a U.S. magistrate in Washington and was charged withconspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba. She entered noplea and was ordered held without bond.
Montes has worked for the DIA, the intelligence arm of the Defense Department,since 1985, authorities said.
In a 17-page affidavit, the FBI alleged that earlier this year Montes contactedthe Cuban intelligence service via shortwave radio.
The FBI secretly entered Montes' residence under a court order May 25 anduncovered information about several Defense Department issues, including a 1996 war games exercise conducted by the U.S. Atlantic Command.
According to the affidavit, the DIA said that Montes attended the war gamesexercise in Norfolk, Va., as part of her official duties at DIA. The FBI said it found information on the hard drive of her laptop computer.
One partially recovered message deals with ``a particular special accessprogram related to the national defense of the United States,'' which is sosensitive that it could not be publicly revealed in the court documents, the document said.
According to the FBI's affidavit, some of the messages suggested that Montesdisclosed the upcoming arrival of a U.S. military intelligence officer in Cuba.
``As a result,'' the FBI said, ``the Cuban government was able to direct its counterintelligence resources against the U.S. officer.''
The FBI said Montes got a message back from her Cuban handlers stating, ``We were waiting here for him with open arms.''
One message from her found on the hard drive was from her Cuban intelligence service handler said that she had provided ``tremendously useful ...information.''
Another message from her Cuban contact said in regard to the 1996 war games exercise: ``Practically everything that takes place there will be of intelligence value. Let's see if it deals with contingency plans and specific targets in Cuba.''
The DIA confirmed that Montes and a colleague were briefed on the highly sensitive program on May 15, 1997.
The FBI said they had Montes under surveillance since May.
It was unclear whether the Montes case was directly related to a ring in Florida convicted of spying for Cuba. However, the FBI affidavit notes repeatedly that methods of passing classified information that Montes alleged lyused were the same as those used by the Miami defendants.
Five Florida defendants were convicted in June, and two pleaded guilty in Miami Friday, bringing to seven the number of defendants in a spy ring that prosecutors have labeled ``The Wasp Network.''
During their surveillance of Montes, the FBI trailed her around suburban Washington as she used a series of pay phones to make calls. The FBI said it believes that ``the pay phone calls were in furtherance of Montes' espionage.''
The FBI said the Cuban intelligence service often communicates with clandestine agents outside Cuba by broadcasting encrypted messages at high frequencies which transmits a series of numbers. The clandestine agents monitoring themessage on a shortwave radio keys in the numbers onto a computer, then uses adisk containing a decryption program to convert the numbers into text.
The FBI said that is the method that Montes used to communicate. The affidavitsaid Montes also communicated with the Cuban intelligence service by makingcalls to a pager number during her pay telephone calls.
The FBI agent said that ``based on the evidence ... I believe probable cause exists'' that Montes has been conspiring to pass secrets to Cuba since Oct.1996.
A DIA spokesman declined to comment beyond saying when Montes had gone to work for the agency.
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla, said Cuba shares intelligence information with terrorist states. ``It was critically important that the spy be stopped now as the United States embarks upon a worldwide war against terrorism,'' he said.
The DIA, based at Bolling Air Force Base in southeast Washington, D.C., provides analyses of foreign countries' military capabilities and troop strengths for Pentagon planners. It also has offices within the Pentagon. Alongwith the CIA, National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office,the DIA is one of the main agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.
The spokesman declined to say whether Montes worked at the Pentagon or at Bolling Air Force Base.
In June, Mariano Faget, a U.S. immigration official convicted of disclosing classified information to aid Cuba, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Faget, once the second-ranking immigration official in Miami, was convictedafter an investigation that also lead to the expulsion of a Cuban spy.
AP-NY-09-21-01 1910 EDT
footnote 4 (other press reports)
Copyright 2001 / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times September 22, 2001 Saturday Home Edition
SECTION: Part A; Part 1; Page 29; National Desk
HEADLINE: The World & Nation
Defense Analyst Charged in Cuban Spy Case
A senior analyst with the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested Friday and charged with conspiring to spy for Cuban intelligence officials during the last five years.
An FBI affidavit said the analyst, Ana B. Montes, 44, delivered classified and secret material "relating to the national defense of the UnitedStates& quot; to agents of President Fidel Castro's regime. She used laptopcomputers, a shortwave radio and a series of pay telephones and had been under surveillance by the FBI since last May, the affidavit said. Intelligence analysts say Cuba often shares U.S. spy data with terrorist states.
Montes, who lived in Washington and worked at DIA offices at Bolling Air Force Base on the Potomac River, was being held without bond and did not enter a pleaduring a brief appearance Friday before a U.S. magistrate. Details of herarrest were not given.
Authorities did not detail what, if any, payments Montes may have received forher alleged espionage. The DIA, a division of the Defense Department, is alittle-known sister agency of the CIA specializing in military intelligence.
The FBI affidavit said Montes, employed by the DIA since 1985 and currently the senior analyst on Cuban matters, received encrypted instructions by radio fromher Cuban handlers and often responded with telephone calls she placed from payphones in department stores and, on one occasion, at the National Zoo. Sometimes she also passed and received computer diskettes containing encrypted messages, the FBI said.
It was the third espionage case in Washington brought by the government this year, and the second in less than a month. On Aug. 24, a retired Air Force master sergeant working for a government contractor was charged with conspiring to spy for Libya.
In that case, Brian Regan allegedly stole classified data from his office at the National Reconnaissance Office, a super-secret federal agency that designs and operates the nation's spy satellites. However, the Montes and Regan cases are dwarfed by last February's arrest of Robert Philip Hanssen, an FBI counterintelligence agent who has pleaded guilty to spying for Russia over nearly a 20-year period in return for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
The 17-page affidavit on Montes said she compromised a U.S. intelligence agent in Cuba by tipping off her handlers to his arrival there in1996. A communication from Cuban agents to Montes, later obtained by the FBI,called this information "tremendously useful" and added that "wewere waiting here for him with open arms."
FBI court papers said that "as a result, the Cuban government was able to direct its counterintelligence resources against the U.S. officer.& quot;However, the agent apparently was not physically harmed.
Montes also provided useful information to Cuba about aDecember 1996 war games exercise conducted by the Navy's U.S. Atlantic Command,officials said. She observed the exercise herself and provided details about"contingency plans and specific targets" that were classified"secret," the affidavit stated.
If convicted, Montes could face a maximum of life imprisonment. In an earlier Cuban espionage case, five Cubans were convicted in June of conspiring to spy on the United States for Castro's regime. The leader of the group, Gerardo Hernandez, faces up to life in prison for his role in a Cuban air force attackthat killed four U.S. fliers.
The federal government today charged the Pentagon's top intelligence analyst for Cuba with spying for the Cuban government.
The employee, Ana Belen Montes, a senior analyst who has specialized on Cuba since 1992 at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's intelligence arm, was accused of providing Havana with highly classified information, including American assessments of Cuban military readiness. Administration officials said they were still determining the damage caused by the case. Ms. Montes had a high-level security clearance that would have given her access to satellite imagery, communications intercepts and human intelligence.
"It's serious," said an administration official who monitors Cuba closely. "It's a breach."
Ms. Montes, 44, is an American citizen who was born at a military base in Germany, the criminal complaint released by the Justice Department said. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979 and received a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1988,the complaint said.
Ms. Montes was hired by the D.I.A. in 1985, and became its senior analyst for Cuba seven years later. Her tenure in that position coincided with a tumultuous period in Cuban-American relations, including an exodus of tens of thousands of refugees in 1994 and 1995; Havana's decision to shoot down two civilian planes flown by Cuban-American pilots; and Congress's approval of the Cuban Democracy Act, which effectively ended overtures for improved relations by the Clinton administration.
In 1998, a classified report the agency submitted to Congress asserted that Cuba posed no significant threat to national security, and that the Castro government's much diminished military had no ability to project itself beyond Cuba.
Ms. Montes communicated with Cuban intelligence officials through coded computer and telephone contacts, the complaint said. She received numeric signals through short-wave radio broadcasts, which she decoded using a diskette on her home computer, it said, and conveyed coded information by using payphones to call a pager number.
The F.B.I. began surveillance of her in May, the complaint said. Evidence seized from her apartment suggests that she notified Cuban intelligence of the visit to Cuba of an American intelligence officer before 1996,it said.
If convicted, Ms. Montes would probably be the highest-level Cuban spy ever to infiltrate the United States government.
In addition to her official role, Ms. Montes had access to influential nongovernmental groups and took part in a study group run by a Georgetown University professor last week, one participant said.
Her arrest follows a series of spying incidents involving Cuba in recent years. Last year, a federal jury in Miami convicted Mariano Faget,the acting deputy director of the local branch of the Immigration andNaturalization Service, of spying for Cuba.
And in June, five Cubans were convicted of spying for Havana, including three who tried to penetrate a military base in Florida.
Dennis Hays, the executive vice president of the Cuban American National Foundation, the largest exile lobby, said that Ms. Montes would have been in aposition to compromise American intelligence sources and methods not only in Cuba but in other nations hostile to the United States.
Cuban intelligence officials "have a robust intelligence relationship with rogue states, including Iran and Iraq," said Mr. Hays, who formerly headed the Office of Cuban Affairs in the State Department.
Officials at the Cuban Interests Section, Havana's diplomatic mission in Washington, could not be reached for comment. But in a recent interview, a Cuban diplomat argued that Havana needed to spy on the United States to defend itself against anti-Castro plots by exile groups in Florida.
LOAD-DATE: September 22, 2001