Sunday, June 07, 2009

Same (Spy) Story, Different Characters

Our new column at looks at the nation's newest spy scandal, involving retired State Department official Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn. Both are accused of passing classified information to Cuba for decades.

If the outline sounds familiar, it should. Eight years ago, the FBI arrested Ana Montes, the senior Cuba analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, on similar charges. Ms. Montes eventually entered a guilty plea on espionage charges and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.

In both cases, Cuban intelligence was able to identify willing recruits (both the Kendalls and Ms. Montes were motivated by ideology, not financial gain), encourage their entry into government service, and utilize them as long-term espionage assets. Ana Montes was a Cuban agent throughout her DIA career; ditto for Kendall Myers, who worked at the State Department for almost 30 years.

Ms. Montes' betrayal caused exceptionally grave damage to our national security. The impact of the Myers' scandal is still being calculated. We can only wonder if other Cuban moles remain buried in our diplomatic and intelligence bureaucracies.

And here's the scary part: it took counter-intelligence agents 15 years to catch up with Ana Montes, and Myers was arrested two years after his retirement. Clearly, our spy catching operation remains woefully deficient.


SMSgt Mac said...

If you check out some of the news accounts, you'll get a feel for why ideological idiots are harder to catch than the greedy SOBs in the DC area. There's a money trail with the greedy types that sets them apart in their environment. ("Say, how can Bob afford that Ferrari? He's in the same cubicle farm I am!") Whereas the 'govnoed'are harder to tell apart from the run-of-the-mill America-hating leftists. Sure they'd stick out like a sore thumb in America's heartland, but at State and in the DC burbs?

gr8scott said...

It seems to me that some of his work would have necessitated at least a CI poly. Would this not have been the forum to catch him?

lgude said...

It would seem to me that a reasonably clever Cuban American could pass themselves off in this situation quite easily. Even credibly be a bit left of center rather than overtly anti Castro in that environment. Given how long it took to catch the guys - like Aldrich Ames - that were motivated by money and even let it show its a wonder we ever caught these people.

HL Shancken said...

"It becomes necessary due to the gravity of the situation to call your attention to a condition that developed and still flourishes in the State Department under the administration of Dean Acheson. It is evident that there is a deliberate, calculated program being carried out not only to protect Communist personnel in high places, but to reduce security and intelligence protection to a nullity.

Security objections to these and other even more dangerous developments were rebuffed by high administration officials; and there followed the substitution of unqualified men for these competent, highly respected personnel who therefore held the intelligence and security assignments in the Department.

The new chief of controls is a man utterly devoid of background and experience for the job, who is and at the time of his appointment was known to those who appointed him to be, a cousin and close associate of a suspected Soviet espionage agent.

On file in the Department [of State] is a copy of a preliminary report of the FBI on Soviet espionage activities in the United States, which involves a large number of State Department employees, some in high official positions. This report has been challenged and ignored by those charged with the responsibility of administering the Department with the apparent tacit approval of Mr. Acheson.

Voluminous files are on hand in the Department proving the connection of the State Department employees and officials with this Soviet espionage ring. Despite this, only two persons were released...because of their subversive activity. "

June 10, 1947 Senate Appropriation Committee report