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Congress to Get Closed-Door Briefing on Cuban Spy 

Kenneth R. Timmerman
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

 WASHINGTON -- Congress will receive a rare, closed-door briefing by top U.S. intelligence officials on Thursday, to learn details of a still-classified damage assessment on a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who spied for Cuba for sixteen years.

 Ana Belen Montes was arrested in late September 2001 on charges of spying for Cuba, but until now most of the details of her 16-year romp as a traitor have remained classified.

 Appearing here with Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Dan Burton, R-Ind., on Wednesday, DIA spy-catcher Scott Carmichael lifted the veil on Montes's career. "The damage is enormous," he said.

Carmichael has authored a new book, "True Believer," that details Montes's 16 years as a spy for Cuba and his efforts to track her down.

 The DIA spent two and a half years reviewing his manuscript before they would allow him to submit it for publication, Carmichael said.

 "It just isn't right that it has taken this long," said Burton. He complained that members of Congress had not been briefed on Montes's career until now.

 "I can tell you, I haven't seen these details," Burton said, tapping Carmichael's book.

Montes, who at the peak of her career became the intelligence community's top analyst on Castro's Cuba, was the lead analyst on a series of National Intelligence Estimates on Cuba that concluded that Castro's regime did not pose a threat to the United States and was not seeking to extend its influence around the hemisphere.

 "She was not just reporting information," Ros-Lehtinen said of the Cuban spy. "She was creating information that was widely distributed by the intelligence community for 16 years."

 CIA mole-hunting Scott Carmichael told NewsMax that one of the programs Montes compromised was so sensitive that the DIA director "just rolled his eyes" when he learned of it. "I was there," Carmichael said. "That's how serious it was."

 As a result of Montes's 16-year career of spinning U.S. intelligence products on Castro's behalf, "the entire intelligence community must review its judgments," Carmichael said.

 A key question lawmakers will ask intelligence community briefers at the closed-door session Thursday is whether the National Intelligence Estimates and other analytical products Montes wrote or influenced have been withdrawn, and if policymakers will be warned to disregard them.

 That is standard procedure when the intelligence community learns that information or sources it relied on was tainted. But neither Ros-Lehtinen nor Burton could recall receiving such a warning about Montes.

 Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton was raked over the coals by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., during his confirmation hearings in April 2005 because he had questioned a 1998 National Intelligence Estimate on Cuba authored by Ana Belen Montes that discounted Cuba's biological weapons research.

 Bolton learned from other intelligence community reporting, rejected by Montes, that Cuba was engaged in offensive biological weapons research.

Dodd accused Bolton of putting undue pressure on State Department intelligence analyst Christian Westermann, who insisted that he remove any mention of Cuba's offensive biological weapons program in a speech he was planning to give to the Heritage Foundation in May 2002.

 Westermann objected that the brief statement about Cuban biological weapons programs Bolton wanted to include should be deleted because it did not follow the conclusions of Montes, even though she had been arrested the year before as a Cuban spy.

 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats accused Bolton of "politicizing" intelligence.

 By far the most damaging aspect of Montes's career as a Cuban spy was her compromise of U.S. intelligence sources and methods, Carmichael told NewsMax.

 "She compromised every source and method, every judgment ever made on Cuba, and possibly, on all of Latin America," he said.

 By compromising U.S. sources and methods "she allowed the Cubans to manipulate us," he said. "They could manipulate the message we'd be getting. They could have shared that knowledge of those sources and methods with others, so they too could manipulate the U.S. intelligence community was getting."

 "This is called perception management," he added.

 Castro continues to have a chorus of sympathizers in Congress and among Congressional staff. "It will be interesting to see if any of them turn out to have been on the Cuban payroll," Congressional sources told Newsmax.

 The dispute over Montes and Castro's biological weapons program continues.

 On February 28, the Miami Herald reported that a former top Cuban military official was calling for international weapons inspections of a secret underground lab near Havana, where he said Castro's government was conducting research in offensive biological weapons.

 Despite this, incoming Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Mike McConnell, fired his office's top Cuba/Venezuela analyst, Norman Bailey, earlier this month, because Bailey was "asking the wrong questions" and had developed "independent sources of information" that rankled his boss, Thomas Fingar, NewsMax has learned.

 Fingar was head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research during the confrontation between Bolton and analyst Christian Westermann over Cuba.

 Bailey also clashed with Thomas A. Shannon, a former Clinton administration National Security Council director for Latin America affairs, who was appointed by the Bush administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs in October 2005.

 Applauding Bailey's departure from the ODNI, the Cuban government news service Granma derided him as "a patent relic of the Reagan regime."

 "It's almost as if Cuba has become the third rail of the American intelligence community," a former colleague of Bailey's told NewsMax.

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