Cuban Spy Damage - The Ana Montes Case

Bill Gerts - The Washington Times - September 22, 2006

Ana Montes, a Cuban spy working inside the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), caused serious damage to U.S. national security by revealing U.S. electronic intelligence-gathering secrets and also by providing a feedback mechanism for communist disinformation from the Castro regime.

The damage is outlined in a classified assessment completed several months ago by the office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, now under the new Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte. It was disclosed this week in the new book by Bill Gertz, Pentagon reporter for the Washington Times, titled, "Enemies: How America's foes Are Stealing Our Vital Secrets - And How We Let It Happen."

According to unclassified portions of the assessment, Montes met openly with Cuban intelligence officers at restaurants in the D.C. area as often as twice a week, a rate much more frequently than other spies.

Counterintelligence officials determined that the damage caused by Montes was nearly equal to that caused by CIAS turncoat Aldrich Hazen Ames and FBI traitor Robert Philip Hanssen, who both spied for Russia.

Montes had almost unlimited access to U.S. identities of American intelligence personnel and information that defectors provided to U.S. intelligence.

A senior U.S Counterintelligence official familiar with the damage assessment said: "As a career analyst with high-level security clearances, [Montes] had access to virtually unlimited amounts of sensitive data from a number of intelligence community organizations."

She turned down several promotional opportunities to remain as a DIA analyst and keep her access to secrets. The counterintelligence official said that Montes commented during one debriefing she viewed "just about all the information there was about Cuba."

Montes also networked extensively with other civilian and military intelligence officials and agencies, allowing her "to obtain information that was not readily available to the typical analyst," the official said. She sat with a special interagency intelligence group known as the Hard Target Committee, which would meet to discuss all the intelligence operations under way in the most difficult places, including Iran, China and North Korea. Over the years she had access to hundreds of thousands of intelligence reports, many of which she could re-create because "she had an extraordinary, almost photographic memory," according to the counterintelligence official.

The damage assessment concluded, "Montes was the first national-level analyst from the intelligence community known to have turned traitor and the most damaging Cuban spy arrested to date."

The report noted that Montes "was able to effectively inform the Cubans of the United States information gaps and served as a feedback loop for the Cubans that potentially would facilitate the formulation and execution of a robust denial and deception program at U.S. intelligence."

The counterintelligence official said: "Her damage was especially grave and affected every major intelligence community organization. She compromised numerous sensitive intelligence collection activities and provided Havana with a unique window into Washington that undoubtedly helped the Cubans chart their tactics and strategy in dealing with Washington."

U.S. officials also think that information she provided to the Cubans led to the deaths of Nicaraguan anti-communist Contra rebels and possibly of American agents as well.