- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

Another major security breach this time at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) suggests a degree of inattentiveness, sloppiness and Swiss-cheese-porosity within the U.S. intelligence-gathering establishment that is truly shocking.
The case of Ana Belen Montes, a 44-year-old DIA senior analyst who apparently provided communist Cuba with sensitive information for as long as a decade, is merely the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations that have understandably eroded public confidence in the system that is supposedly there to protect America from her enemies, foreign and domestic. Yet, like FBI traitor Robert Hanssen and before that CIA spy Aldrich Ames, Ana Belen Montes was apparently able to feed her contacts within the Cuban government a veritable horn o' plenty of sensitive material for years on end without raising any suspicions. It would be funny in a Keystone Cops kind of way if it weren't so serious if people's lives were not on the line.
According to affidavits filed by government prosecutors, Montes provided information about military exercises, the identity of undercover agents and the methods by which the United States gathers intelligence, generally speaking, on the Cubans. If she divulged the names of agents or elements within the Cuban government helping the United States, it is highly likely they suffered the same fate as the Soviet insiders whose identities were revealed by Ames and Hanssen death. Montes reportedly traveled to Cuba on several occasions and, according to a story in The Washington Post, "played a key role" in producing an intelligence assessment of Cuba's military that concluded it "posed no threat " either to the United States or to other nations in the region.
Montes, who was finally arrested Sept. 21, faces the death penalty if she is convicted and does not strike a plea-bargain deal, as Hanssen managed to do, that would spare her life.
The lesson to be taken from all of this is that a serious reassessment of security protocols at American intelligence gathering organs is in order.


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