Skip to comments.U.S. Pressure on Cuba May Increase: Otto Reich views Castro as menace
Posted on 03/07/2002 1:18:41 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of Cuban President Fidel Castro's most severe critics are becoming impatient because there has been no discernible toughening of U.S. policy toward Cuba.
One even said President Bush's first year in office was little more than an extension of Clinton era policies toward the island.
It turns out, however, that the Bush team is just getting warmed up. One reason a more assertive policy may be in the offing was the installation in January of Cuban-born Otto J. Reich as the State Department's top official for Latin America.
He joins other Cuban-Americans in key positions who, like Reich, have viewed Castro as a menace for years.
Shortly after Reich took office, the administration began a policy review of Cuba with a view toward determining Cuba's potential for damaging U.S. interests.
One issue under study, according to a senior official, is the role Washington says Cuba plays in international terrorism. Cuba is on the State Department terrorist country list, a designation based on ties Cuba maintains with other countries on the list, including Iraq, and the haven Cuba provides for foreigners linked to alleged terrorist organizations.
As a result of the policy review, the Cuba section of the next State Department terrorism report, due next month, may add to the rationale for keeping Cuba on the list.
A key unanswered question is what action the administration would take against Cuba if the policy review concludes the island represents a genuine threat to American interests.
Castro argues that Cuba has been the victim of a Miami-based terrorism campaign that dates back 40 years and has claimed, he says, thousands of lives.
In December, Cuba offered to share intelligence with the United States on terrorism but the proposal was never taken seriously.
As part of the policy review, officials also are considering a possible indictment of Castro for the 1996 shootdown by MiG fighters of two Miami-based private planes near Cuban air space. Three U.S. citizens and one resident alien were killed.
The administration weighed the indictment option last year, and the senior official said the matter has not been dropped. One unresolved issue is whether a foreign head of state can be indicted.
Also on the agenda is whether Cuba is developing a potential to use the Internet to interrupt U.S. military communications. Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress a year ago that Cuba has the potential to use "information warfare or computer network attack" to disrupt "our access or flow of forces to the region."
There has been no public comment on the subject since then but the senior official, discussing the Cuba situation on condition of not being identified by name, said the issue is still alive. Castro has ridiculed Wilson's suggestions as "craziness."
At a time when the administration is poised to tighten up on Cuba, many in Congress want to back off. Farm state lawmakers want to be able to sell their products to Cuba on credit. They believe this would lead to a significant expansion of the of the cash-only trade that has been legal since 2000 and has netted only about $40 million in sales thus far.
More worrisome to the administration is a proposal before Congress to lift restrictions on travel to Cuba. This would give Castro an economic shot in the arm at a time when his country has been reeling from the effects of Hurricane Michelle, which struck last November.
In an apparent attempt to swell the ranks of congressional dissenters, top Cuban officials have spoken optimistically of a "mutually beneficial rapprochement" between the two countries.
But the senior official warns of a possible presidential veto if travel restrictions are eased. Bush himself has said he will oppose "any effort to weaken sanctions against the Cuban government until it respects Cubans' basic human rights and civil rights, frees political prisoners and holds free and democratic elections."
Al Neuharth: Why is China OK, but Cuba 'enemy'? --Good discussion thread on keeping embargo in place.
Thank's for the Mega boost! :^)
Sept. 29, 2001, 11:53PM/ Analyst at Pentagon arrested on charges of spying for Havana / FBI says espionage goes back 5 years / By CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS / New York Times
[Full Text] WASHINGTON -- A few days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Ana Belen Montes, a top Defense Department intelligence analyst, sent an e-mail note to an old friend saying she was all right and had not known anyone who died at the Pentagon.
"I could see the Pentagon burning from my office," she wrote. "Nonetheless, it pales next to the World Trade Center. Dark days ahead. So much hate and self-righteousness."
The days darkened especially quickly for Montes. A week after she signed off, sending love to her friend's family, federal agents surprised her at work and charged her with spying for Cuba. She is the highest-ranking official ever accused of espionage at the Defense Intelligence Agency, which, as a sister agency to the CIA, handles analysis for the Pentagon.
The arrest, on Sept. 21, left her friends and colleagues at a loss to explain what might have motivated her to risk everything, should the charges prove true. Friends described Montes, who is 44 and single, as a loyal companion, doting aunt, and an avid traveler. She had no evident money problems, and was apparently content dating a man who either was in the military or did business at the Pentagon, they said.
She was warm and funny, friends said, and seemed apolitical, even back in college. Her remark about "self-righteousness" was as ideologically pointed as she had ever been, said Lisa Huber, who had attended the University of Virginia with Montes and received the e-mail message.
"I can't picture her being involved in something like this," said Huber, a Louisville, Ky., resident who has seen Montes at least twice a year since their college days. "It goes against everything I know about her. She has a lot of integrity."
Montes, who had been the DIA's top intelligence analyst for Cuba since 1992, left a different impression among colleagues. She came off as rather severe, they said; at meetings, she sat rigidly in her chair and rarely spoke. Some associates viewed her as struggling to advance in a culture dominated by men.
"She was a very strange person, very standoffish, extraordinarily shy," said a U.S. diplomat.
But professionally, Montes seemed above reproach. She spoke fluent Spanish because of her Puerto Rican heritage, and in 1990 she was tapped to brief Nicaragua's new president, Violeta Chamorro, about the Cuban-backed Sandinista military.
In 1992 or 1993, she pulled off what seemed to be an intelligence coup. She traveled to Cuba and interviewed Cuban generals about economic reforms on the island. In 1998, she played an important role in drafting a widely cited analysis that found that Cuba's much diminished military posed no strategic threat to the United States. As recently as the week before last, she briefed top Pentagon policy-makers on Cuba.
According to the FBI affidavit, Montes, who had a high-level security clearance, spied for Cuba for at least five years, and possibly longer. She identified at least one U.S. undercover agent to the Cubans, disclosed a top-secret intelligence-gathering program and reported on U.S. training in the Caribbean, the FBI said.
Current and former U.S. officials say she was in a position to tell have told Havana virtually everything the intelligence community knew about Cuba's military and might even have disclosed U.S. contingency plans for taking the island by force.
"I would think, if damage was done, it would be about what she learned about the U.S., how it was militarily prepared vis-a-vis Cuba," said Richard Nuccio, who was President Bill Clinton's special adviser on Cuba. [End]
The fact that Cuba has been -- and most likely still is -- a safe haven and training ground for the FARC, ETA and IRA "freedom fighters," or that just a few months ago Castro was the only "president" who didn't sign a document denouncing the ETA and its terrorism, does not make a difference to the 16 distinguished organizations looking to support him. [End Excerpt]
Castro and International Terrorism--[Excerpt] Castro cultivates the alliance of other devotee warmonger/U.S.-hating tyrants such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein as well as other state sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Curiously, they all appear on the U.S. State Department's "Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2000," released on April 30, 2001. This is an annual report sent to Congress that has been listing Cuba since 1993; see U.S. Cuba Policy Report, April 30, 2001, page 9. Castro developed a relationship with Saddam Hussein since both share a fondness for bacteriological weapons. In a September 1997 article by Jonathan T. Stride titled "Who Will Check Out Fidel Castro's New Chemical/Biological Weapons Plant in East Havana?", Castro's chemical/biological weapons factories are exposed - probably based on a Confidential Report translated from Spanish on February 1997. [End Excerpt]
[Excerpt] At least three arms shipments were traced from China to the Cuban port of Mariel during the past several months, according to an article Tuesday in the Washington Times. All the arms were aboard vessels belonging to the state-owned China Ocean Shipping Co., or Cosco, U.S. intelligence officials told the newspaper.
The explosives were said to be ``military-grade'' material, the newspaper said.
U.S. officials said Tuesday that the subject of arms trafficking between China and Cuba is a worrisome one, though they stopped short of confirming the Washington Times account.
``We are very much concerned with this PLA [People's Liberation Army] cooperation and movement of military equipment in Cuba,'' said James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, when questioned during a hearing of the House International Relations subcommittee. [End Excerpt]
The biotechnology used to manufacture three lifesaving medical products -- and which could be used to produce biochemical weapons -- has been sold to Iran, one of seven nations on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism, the scientist said, calling the sale ``profoundly disturbing.''
José de la Fuente, the former director of research and development at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana, made the disclosure in this month's issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology. [End Excerpt]
(Oct. 7, 2001) Terrorism war to force Cuba, Venezuela to sit tight awhile [Excerpt] The Bush administration is too busy trying to chase suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network in Afghanistan and the Middle East to spend much time thinking about terrorist links in Latin America, many of those interviewed said.
In addition, the United States will avoid raising Cuba's open support for armed movements in the past, or its most recent role as a sort of Club Med for international terrorists, for fear of bringing up potentially divisive issues that could annoy some members of the U.S.-sponsored anti-terrorist coalition, others said.
But U.S. officials say the Bush administration will most likely keep Cuba on the U.S. list of ``terrorist states'' because it provides safe haven to Basque ETA terrorists, members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and other insurgent groups and keeps close ties with radical Arab organizations.
If anything, the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States will effectively kill U.S. congressional moves to ease the U.S. embargo on the Castro regime.
A recent effort by some U.S. congress members to lift a U.S. travel ban on the island is doomed, because Congress is highly unlikely to vote for a measure that could provide economic relief to a country tied to terrorism, officials say.
Recent press reports that the Bush administration held unusual contacts with Cuba as part of its efforts to gather information on the Sept. 11 attack on the United States are ``Cuban misinformation,'' one U.S. official told me.
The United States did not make a special outreach effort to Cuba, nor did it get anything from Fidel Castro's regime, he said.
As for Venezuela, the conventional wisdom in U.S. diplomatic circles is that the Bush administration will try to avoid a confrontation with the oil-rich country unless confronted with evidence of a terrorist link.
But Cuba and Venezuela will have to sit tight for the foreseeable future. The mood in Washington -- and Europe -- has changed dramatically since Sept. 11, and whatever patience there was for presidents who keep ties with violent groups around the world has evaporated.
``The margin of U.S. tolerance for countries that flirt with terrorists and terrorist regimes is much lower,'' says Bernard Aronson, a former head of the U.S. State Department's Latin American affairs office who is close to the Bush administration.
``I don't think the United States will go after Cuba and Venezuela, because we have bigger fish to fry. But the willingness to ignore flirting with violent organizations has gone down significantly, and countries that want to have friendly relations with the United States will need to take that into account.''
It may be no coincidence that Cuban strongman Castro rushed to condemn the terrorist attack, and last week signed 12 U.N. treaties aimed at fighting terrorism.
Or that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez signed a strong Organization of American States resolution backing the U.S. war on terrorism, and rushed to say that Venezuela will guarantee oil supplies to the U.S. market. [End Excerpt]
Troubling, too, are the regime's 40-year ties with the Middle East that include relations with fellow members of the terror blacklist: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan. The friendships are no accident. As recently as this year, Fidel Castro saw fit to renew those relationships personally in a Mideast tour.
The importance of those relations was reflected in the rushed arrest of Ana Belén Montes, the Defense Intelligence Agency analyst accused of passing classified information to the communist country. The concern was that secrets passed to Cuba would be shared with unfriendly Mideast states, compromising U.S. anti-terror efforts. [End Excerpt]
Fidel Castro's Deadly Secret - Five BioChem Warfare Labs--[Excerpt] Not far from Havana's picturesque harbor, where ogling tourists and curvaceous prostitutes ply Cuba's only thriving form of free trade, stands the Luis Diaz Soto Naval Hospital, flanked by a newly built concrete laboratory complex about 400 feet long by 300 feet wide.
Inside the compound, along a 165-foot acid-resistant work table with built-in circuit breakers, military biotechnicians reportedly experiment on cadavers, hospital patients and live animals with anthrax, brucellosis, equine encephalitis, dengue fever, hepatitis, tetanus and a variety of other bacterial agents.
Five chemical- and biological-weapons plants operate throughout the island, according to documents smuggled out of Cuba and made available to Insight by Alvaro Prendes, a former Cuban air force colonel who now is the Miami-based spokesman for the Union of Liberated Soldiers and Officers, a clandestine pro-democracy movement within Cuba's security services.
The credibility of the smuggled documents is enhanced by a recent classified Pentagon analysis. Also, these facilities have not been on the itinerary of such visiting dignitaries as retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan, the recently passed-over candidate for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who enthusiastically embraced normalizing relations with Havana following a recent round of junketing with Castro. [End Excerpt]
(November 5, 2001)National Review In Castro's Service By John J. Miller
The last three paragraphs of Miller's article:
Then there's the bizarre case of Mohammed Raza Hassani, Nez Nezar Nezary, and Ali Sha Yusufi-three Afghan men recently detained in the Cayman Islands. They carried fake Pakistani passports and claimed to have gotten off a boat bound for Canada from Turkey. The police commissioner, however, determined that they actually had arrived by plane from Cuba. They were still in the Caymans on August 29 when a local radio station received an anonymous note saying that they share an association with Osama bin Laden. "The three agents are here organizing a major terrorist act against the U.S. via an airline or airlines," said the letter. The station gave it to the authorities. Soon after September 11, they tracked down its author, Byron Barnett, a local building contractor, who says his note was "pure speculation" and based on "a premonition." This incident has received scant attention from the media.
It's a startling story, perhaps even revelatory; then again, maybe there's nothing to it apart from amazing coincidence. But what is beyond doubt is that even though the Wasp Network has been busted and Ana Belen Montes is under arrest, those Cuban numbers stations continue to broadcast their coded messages several times each day.
Who is listening to them? [End Excerpt]
Yes, Cuba is a terrorist nation [Excerpt] Biological weapons are of no minor concern for Americans today. Castro's bankrupt regime has spent more than $1 billion to set up a scientific infrastructure that, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in 1998, could support an offensive biological-warfare program. In 1995 the U.S. Office of Technological Assessment included Cuba among 17 countries believed to possess biological weapons.
Last year Ken Alibeck, former deputy director of Biopreparat, the Soviet Union's biological-weapons program, revealed that a few years after Castro's visit to the Soviet Union in 1981, Cuba had one of the most sophisticated genetic-engineering labs in the world.
A few days ago the University of Miami School of International Studies released a report, Castro and Terrorism: A Chronology. It says that:
Castro refused to join the other Ibero-American heads of state in condemning ETA terrorism at the 2000 Ibero-American Summit in Panama and slammed Mexico for its support of the summit's statement against terrorism.
This summer Colombian officials arrested IRA members Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan and accused them of training the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Connolly had been living in Cuba as the representative of the IRA for Latin America.
Argentine-born Cuban intelligence agent Jorge Massetti helped funnel Cuban funds to finance Puerto Rican terrorists belonging to the Machetero group. The Macheteros hijacked a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in September 1983 and stole $7.2 million.
Illich Ramírez Sánchez, known as Carlos the Jackal and responsible for numerous terrorist acts in Europe in the 1960s and '70s trained in Cuba.
Black Panther leaders in the 1960s received weapons training in Havana. [End Excerpt]
Fidel May Be Part of Terror Campaign-- [Excerpt] The Sept. 21 arrest of a Fidel Castro mole deeply burrowed into the U.S. defense establishment at such a moment - even as weapons-grade anthrax was being mailed to media and congressional targets - raises serious questions about a possible Cuban connection with the international terrorist conspiracy targeting the United States. Concerns about Cuba's continuing threat to U.S. national security were voiced recently by the DIA director, Vice Adm. Tom Wilson. Before entering a closed session of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence he told reporters that "Cuba could initiate information warfare or computer-network attacks that could seriously disrupt our military."
While there has been a tendency to play down Castro's capabilities to engage the United States in asymmetrical warfare, "they are getting renewed attention in the light of recent events," according to a Pentagon source. The source tells Insight that only a highly sophisticated espionage network, such as the one operating from Cuba, could have cracked the code of Air Force One in an apparent breach of security that caused U.S. Secret Service officials to whisk the president out of sight on the morning of Sept. 11.
There are signs that Castro's new alignment with fundamentalist Islam could go beyond crowd-pleasing declarations. U.S. law-enforcement agencies have indications that Cuba may have assisted the logistics and planning for the latest wave of terrorist attacks. Insight has learned that al-Qaeda ringleader Mohammed Atta, who organized the Sept. 11 attacks and crashed a hijacked airliner into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, may have met secretly with Cuban undercover agents shortly after his arrival in the United States last year. The Czech government has confirmed that Atta similarly had met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague.
Federal investigators believe that Castro had been exploiting the international controversy unleashed by the Elian Gonzalez case to flood the United States with intelligence agents - including high-level officials of Cuba's biological-warfare program who allegedly spoke with Atta at a Miami motel. Federal investigators suspect that Atta's Cuban contact was a top defense-ministry officer with personal ties to Castro who entered the United States under cover of assignment to a Cuban-government delegation escorting Elian's two grandmothers, who supposedly were coming to mediate the custody battle. [End Excerpt] ----Much more in article.
Castro Spies Target U.S. Defense--[Excerpt] WASHINGTON - Intelligence operatives for communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro are working in the U.S. to get their spies or unwitting "dupes into influential positions in America's defense establishment." Further, Castro is himself a "terrorist" whose intelligence service has a "biological weapons branch." Moreover, he is willing to aid whatever terrorist seeks to destroy the U.S, including Osama bin Laden's network. And he has sought to learn as much as he can about how the U.S. Postal Service works.
That information emerged at a Tuesday panel discussion in the Washington area that included two former Cuban intelligence officers who have defected to the U.S.
Cuba's major subversive focus of attention here is the U.S. military establishment, according to defectors Jorge Masetti and Jose Cohen. Professors at various campuses are aiding and abetting Castro, they allege.[End Excerpt]
President Bush had to go around Christopher Dodd and make a recess appointment for Otto Reich.
FREE OTTO [Excerpt] "I need Otto Reich in place," Secretary of State Colin Powell pleaded with senators on October 3. Eight weeks later, Reich's State Department office literally remains empty, its desk unoccupied and bookshelves bare. Even as an overworked career diplomat juggles crucial security and economic matters in Reich's absence, Dodd could care less.
"That nomination's not going anywhere. That's the end of it," Dodd recently snapped. He has hurled at Reich a number of easily refuted ethical charges pertaining to his 1980s service as director of State's Office of Public Diplomacy and as Ambassador to Venezuela. However Dodd will not let his subcommittee hear Reich defend himself. Perhaps Dodd fears looking foolish once Reich demonstrates his innocence.[End Excerpt]
"We have seen time and again that when terrorist groups work together, their ability to undermine democracy and human rights is greatly magnified. It is not surprising that such a group would come together on the initiative of Fidel Castro, who for forty years has advocated violence and terror to achieve his ends," Hays said. Hays concluded, "As the president and his administration continue to prosecute the war on terrorism, we urge them not to overlook Castro's extensive ties to America's enemies abroad." [End Excerpt]
Sinn Fein head in Cuba to thank Castro for support--[Excerpt] Three suspected IRA members, including one, Niall Connolly, who was the left-leaning Sinn Fein's representative in Cuba, are currently jailed in Colombia suspected of training Marxist FARC rebels there whom the United States labels "terrorists."
The U.S. government cautioned in September that an Adams trip to Cuba would raise "troubling questions" if it turned out the IRA had links to the FARC guerrillas. [End Excerpt]
Another excerpt from "Alive and Kicking" --[Excerpt] Any U.S. policy affecting Castro's interests likely will face intense opposition from a few groups, based mainly in Washington and New York City, supportive of the regime. It already has begun with the arrival of al-Qaeda terrorists to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One of the most vocal denouncers of U.S. treatment of the detainees is Michael Ratner, vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. In a debate with this writer on the New York City affiliate of National Public Radio, Ratner stood up for the rights of the terrorists to be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. That's hardly surprising; in a CNN standoff during the Cold War, Ratner affirmed that he was a supporter of Castro and his regime. [End Excerpt]
(This is another Ellen Ratner brother. The other one is the RATner associated with the discredited doctored N.Y. fireman raising flag statue.)
Cuba withholding facts on 4 suspects, Chile says-- SANTIAGO, Chile - (AP) -- President Ricardo Lagos complained Monday that Cuba has not been forthcoming with information on four wanted Chilean terrorism suspects believed to have escaped to the communist island.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.