Cuban spies become stars – in anti-espionage poster campaign
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
The poster shows the mug shots of two Cuban spies – Ana Belen Montes,
impassively staring straight at the camera, and Walter Kendall Myers,
almost arrogantly looking down his nose.
"A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot
survive treason from within," says the text above the photos, a quote
from an ancient Roman philosopher. "True Then. True Today," it says
below the photos.
Montes and Myers, serving long prison terms for their treasonous service
to Cuba, have become poster persons for a campaign on the dangers of
foreign spies similar to the ''Loose Lips Sink Ships'' posters of World
Two posters bearing their photos were the latest published by the top
spy-catching agency in Washington, the Office of the National
Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), a part of the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
The posters are a regular part of ONCIX's "mission to increase
counterintelligence awareness'' ODNI spokesman Michael Birmingham wrote
in a brief n e-mail to El Nuevo Herald. Their message: "Those who commit
espionage against the United States will be caught and prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law."
Yet veterans of the U.S. intelligence community said the use of Montes
and Myers photos in the posters sent a clear message that Cuba's
intelligence services remain a threat to U.S. interests.
"It is fitting that Myers and Montes take center stage in the newest
NCIX posters," noted Chris Simmons, a retired army counter-intelligence
official who helped catch Montes, once the top Cuba analyst at the
Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
The two photos showed that Cuban intelligence officers "have had
spectacular successes in recruiting high level spies in Washington and
have penetrated Cuban exile communities with even greater ease," added
former CIA Cuba expert Brian Latell. Both Simmons and Latell ranked
Cuba's intelligence services among the world's six best – they were 4th
during the Cold War but dropped after Soviet subsidies ended, Simmons
noted – and agreed Havana doesn't just spy for itself.
"They have bartered purloined American secrets with our more powerful
military adversaries, including the Soviet Union," Latell noted.
Simmons, who worked on the DIA's Cuba counterintelligence section for
several years, branded the island's communist government as an
"Intelligence Trafficker to the World." Cuba delivered U.S. secrets to
Iraq, Panama and Grenada just before the U.S. military attacks there,
according to published reports, as well as to the Marxist-led
Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Farabundo Marti guerrillas of El Salvador.
Myers was a top European analyst at the State Department, with little
direct access to documents on Cuba. Yet he indirectly gathered secret
information on Cuba, and also gave Havana information on Europe that
Cuba could pass on its friends.
"I maintained a wide range of contacts in order to obtain information on
U.S. policies toward Cuba," Myers declared when he was sentenced last
year, a quote used in the one NCIX poster that shows only his photo.
Myers worked at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and
Research and taught for years at the U.S. government's primary training
site for its diplomats – a post from which he could report to Havana on
all his students.
The 74-year-year-old Myers was sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber, was sentenced
to 81 months. They were charged with having spied for Havana for almost
His poster shows his mug shot – chin up in the air, and his eyes looking
down at the camera – in front of a Cuban flag. Fidel Castro's eyes peek
out from behind the flag, and a map of Cuba covers the bottom.
A second poster shows the mug shots of Myers and Montes, above the
title, "CUBAN SPIES'' and under the seals of U.S. government agencies
where they worked. A description on an NCIX Web page describes it as an
"awareness poster on the insider threat with a special emphasis on Cuban
Montes, of Puerto Rican descent, was arrested in 2001 just days before
the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks by Al
Qaeda. She cooperated with investigators to lessen her jail term and was
sentenced to 25 years in prison.
She stole Pentagon secrets directly related to Cuba but "also provided
Havana with summaries of key intelligence issues from around the world,"
Simmons wrote in an email to El Nuevo Herald.
Together, Montes and Myers provided Cuba "with inside, highly classified
information because of their work in the Washington intelligence
community," Latell wrote in another email, and Montes had particularly
high-level security clearances.
"They were hard to ferret out because they were true believers in Cuban
causes and leaders, not working for money," added Latell, now a senior
research associate at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and
Cuban American Studies.
"How many more are out there right now just like her," Simmons wrote in
his email, ''threatening our national security in pursuit of their own
deluded personal agendas?"