Cuban intelligence agents are working inside the U.S. government and one mole uncovered in the Defense Intelligence Agency caused the death of a U.S. special operations soldier in Central America, a senior DIA counterintelligence official says in a new book.
DIA analyst Ana Belen Montes, convicted of espionage in 2002, told Cuban intelligence officers about a secret U.S. Army Special Forces camp in El Salvador that she visited in 1987. Weeks later, the camp was attacked by pro-Cuban guerrillas of the Marxist group Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, DIA counterspy Scott W. Carmichael says in his book, “True Believer.”
Mr. Carmichael, who led the DIA’s investigation of Montes, said in an interview that other Cuban agents are operating inside the U.S. government.
“I believe that the Cuban Intelligence Service has penetrated the United States government to the same extent that the old East German intelligence service, the Stasi, once penetrated the West German government during the Cold War,” he said.
Havana’s intelligence service shares its stolen secrets with U.S. adversaries, including China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela, Mr. Carmichael said.
“If Cuban agents among us today are indirectly passing our innermost secrets, via their Cuban handlers, to countries who actively work to undermine American interests throughout the world, then we will suffer for it, in many ways,” he said. “War fighters like Greg Fronius will die as a result. This is not a game.”
Mr. Carmichael said Montes is to blame for the death of Army Sgt. Gregory A. Fronius, a Green Beret commando who was killed during the well-planned, early-morning attack on the base camp at El Paraiso, El Salvador, on March 31, 1987.
“Fronius received the Silver Star for his actions that morning in defense of the camp,” Mr. Carmichael said. “Montes had a moral and legal obligation to support him — not to stab him in the back by standing on the other side of the fence with the Cubans during the attack,” he said.
Proceeds from sales of Mr. Carmichael’s book will be given to Sgt. Fronius’ family by the publisher, the Naval Institute Press.
Mr. Carmichael said most details about the harm Montes caused are classified, but he called the damage “exceptionally grave.” One secret she compromised was a “special access program” that was kept even from the lead investigator on the case.
“We knew that Montes had briefed the Cubans” on the program, Mr. Carmichael said, noting that the DIA director was upset when he learned of the compromise.
Mr. Carmichael said many U.S. intelligence officials view the Montes penetration of DIA as an unusual Cuban espionage success, but “I believe, to the contrary, that Ana was the rule.”
“Cuban agents are not just low-level hot-dog venders and lawn caretakers who happen to live and work near American military bases, reporting on the comings and goings of American ships and planes,” he said. “Cuban intelligence is better than that. I suspect that we have among us, here in Washington, today, not just one more Ana Montes who secretly spies for Cuba, but an entire cadre of them.”
Mr. Carmichael said Cuba has “among the very best” spy networks and “we are their priority target,” a situation that he said “will not change” after dictator Fidel Castro’s death.
Montes was not identified until 2000, when an intelligence official let slip that the FBI was searching for a Cuban spy in the U.S. government. Mr. Carmichael then identified Montes as the lead suspect based on a database search.
The FBI at first refused to investigate Montes because she was the U.S. intelligence community’s most important analyst on Cuba. But Montes was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001, the day before she was to learn secrets about DIA targeting for the October 2001 military operation in Afghanistan. Officials feared she would pass the targeting data to Cuba before the operation began.
Montes pleaded guilty to spying and is serving a 25-year prison term.