[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
CUBA'S GLOBAL NETWORK OF TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE, AND WARFARE
THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
MAY 17, 2012
Serial No. 112-158
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey--
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California deceased 3/6/12 deg.
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
RON PAUL, Texas ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JOE WILSON, South Carolina RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
CONNIE MACK, Florida ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas DENNIS CARDOZA, California
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
DAVID RIVERA, Florida CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas KAREN BASS, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
ROBERT TURNER, New York
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
CONNIE MACK, Florida, Chairman
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
DAVID RIVERA, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey Samoa
ELTON GALLEGLY, California DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Michelle Van Cleave, president, National Security
Concepts, Inc. (former National Counterintelligence Executive
under President George W. Bush)................................ 8
Mr. Christopher Simmons, founding editor, Cuba Confidential
(retired Defense Intelligence Agency Supervisory
Counterintelligence Officer)................................... 16
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Michelle Van Cleave: Prepared statement............ 10
Mr. Christopher Simmons: Prepared statement...................... 19
Hearing notice................................................... 36
Hearing minutes.................................................. 37
The Honorable Connie Mack, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Florida, and chairman, Subcommittee on the Western
Prepared statement............................................. 39
Letter dated May 17, 2012, to the Honorable Hillary Rodham
Clinton from Members of Congress............................. 41
CUBA'S GLOBAL NETWORK OF TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE, AND WARFARE
THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2012
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 3 o'clock p.m.,
in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Connie Mack
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Mack. The subcommittee will come to order. I first want
to thank everyone, especially our witnesses for coming today
and being with us and we look forward to hearing your testimony
and offering your insight.
After I recognize myself and the chairman of the full
committee and the ranking member of this committee for 5
minutes for opening statements, I will then recognize the
members of the subcommittee for 2 minutes each for their
opening statements. We will then proceed directly to hear
testimony from our distinguished witnesses. The full text of
the written testimony will be inserted into the record.
Without objection, members may have 5 days to submit
statements and questions for the record. After we hear from our
witnesses, individual members will be recognized for 5 minutes
each for questions of our witnesses.
I would now like to recognize the chairman of the full
committee, my dear friend from Florida, Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
for her remarks.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Well, thank you very much, Chairman Mack.
Thank you for holding this important hearing to highlight the
continued threat to U.S. foreign policy priorities and U.S.
national security interests posed by the Castro regime which is
a state sponsor of terrorism operating 90 miles from our U.S.
And I'd like to point out and wish him much success that
our chairman, Connie Mack, will be appearing at the Heritage
Foundation jointly sponsored by the Victims of Communism
Memorial Foundation tomorrow at 11 to 12:30 to talk about an
act of solidarity with the people of Cuba, the struggle for
freedom continues. So thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I also would like to thank Ranking Member Engel for his
continued support for the freedom and democratic aspirations of
the Cuban people. Mr. Engel has had a lifelong record of
solidarity with the Cuban people, even when it is difficult for
him politically back home. He errs on the side of freedom,
justice, liberty, and respect for human rights. So thank you,
Mr. Engel, for the political courage that you show every day.
But Mr. Mack, thank you, because the timing for your
hearing could not be more appropriate as it raises grave
questions about the administration's policies toward the Castro
dictatorship and the threats to our homeland. I'd like to
focus, in particular, on the appalling open-door policy that
the administration appears to have adopted for regime officials
and operatives. We're talking about agents of a State
Department-designated state sponsor of terrorism, agents of a
regime that seeks to destabilize our democratic partners in our
hemisphere, and agents of a dictatorship that has a long-
standing alliance with the Iranian regime. We're talking about
agents of a regime that has an active espionage operation
against the United States.
And one of your witnesses, Mr. Simmons, certainly knows
about this act of espionage operation. It includes members of
the Wasp network, convicted for trying to penetrate U.S.
military installations. It also includes cyber attacks in the
United States, State Department officials who were turned into
spies for the Cuban regime and compromised important U.S.
foreign policy information, and an espionage network that
included a former senior defense intelligence official who
provided highly classified information to the Cuban regime
about U.S. military activities and whose spying may have caused
the death of a U.S. serviceman operating in Latin America. This
is serious stuff indeed.
This is a regime responsible for the murder of three
American citizens and the U.S. resident in 1996 in the Brothers
to the Rescue shootdown. So it is incomprehensible and indeed
appalling to see the Department of State facilitating access to
our nation for these enemies of the United States. From
Washington, DC, to San Francisco, Castro operatives want to
travel to the United States and the State Department will grant
them a visa.
Just today, earlier today, news reports confirmed that
State did, in fact, issue a visa to the daughter of dictator
Raul Castro, Mariela Castro, to attend a conference in
California next week. Mariela Castro is a communist regime
sympathizer. She's part of the regime. She has labeled Cuban
dissidents as despicable parasites. Those are her words.
There are also reports that Eusebio Leal tasked by the
regime to expand tourism to the island under the guise of
serving as a historian of Havana is also being granted a visa
to speak at the Brookings Institute tomorrow, Friday. Just a
few weeks ago, Josefina Vidal-Ferreiro, from the regime's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose husband was expelled from
the United States for espionage activities, was also given a
warm welcome by the Department of State. This disturbing
pattern that is developing where the doors of the United States
are opened to officials and activists from state sponsors of
terrorism countries must not be allowed to continue.
Three of our colleagues and I sent a letter to Secretary
Clinton and it was drafted by our colleague Congressman Mario
Diaz-Balart and signed by the three Cuban-American Members of
Congress, Albio Sires, David Rivera, and me, saying that this
is just inconceivable that such visas and such a wonderful
welcome had been given to these individuals. And in that
letter, we affirm the intent and the requirements that are in
U.S. law that the Secretary of State and the Attorney General
is supposed to enforce and that is a prohibition or a granting,
on the granting of visas to Cuban regime or Cuban community
party officials, operatives, or designees. That is the law. And
now we're faced with the possibility that State may seek to
thwart congressional oversight over decisions regarding travel
by Cuban regime officials. State employees and officials have
indicated that they may stop to honoring a commitment. It's
been a long-standing agreement with me on behalf of the House
Foreign Committee requiring notification of State actions
concerning travel by Cuban regime officials. And this agreement
was established in 1997 and it was adopted in lieu of
legislative mandate that I had included in funding legislation
and was honored by successive administrations except for this
So I strongly urge the Department of State to immediately
reverse its course, consider the threats to our nation's
security interest posed by the Cuban regime that will be
discussed later today, right now, by Congressman Mack's
subcommittee. The administration must stop bending over
backwards to accommodate the needs, the whims, the requests of
state sponsors of terrorism that again is located just 90 miles
from our shores.
So thank you, Mr. Mack. Thank you Mr. Engel and thank you
to the witnesses for appearing today and I thank you for
leadership, sir. And Albio, I talked about you, and discussed
the letter that we signed.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much, Madam Chair. And thank you
for your leadership, not only in obviously with Cuba, but in
all foreign affairs. You are a strong advocate for the ideals
of freedom and democracy and the belief in liberty and so we
are very fortunate to have you as a chair of the full
committee. And with that I want to say thank you.
And also, without objection, would like to enter into the
record the letter that you mentioned that the four of you had
authored to Secretary Clinton, so without objection, that will
be included into the record.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. Now I recognize myself for 5 minutes.
And as I begin, let me just say this: It's shocking to me,
shocking to me to think that we will give a visa to Raul
Castro's daughter and at the same time withhold visas from
Hondurans who fought for their constitution and their freedom.
I think this just shows how backwards the administration is in
its dealings with friends and allies in Latin America. So on
one hand, we allow a visa to a woman that clearly doesn't
believe in the ideals of freedom and democracy, but we continue
to turn our back and punish those who stood up in Honduras to
fight for their freedom, to fight for their democracy, to fight
for their constitution. Now let me begin.
It is important to note that when it comes to Cuba, there
is much more than meets the eye. This is illustrated by the
Cuban doctors who are shipped around the world to provide
medical services while spying for the Castros' benefit.
Recent assertions that U.S. policy toward Cuba is a relic
of the Cold War would indicate that the Castro regime has
changed its ways since that time. Today's hearing will reaffirm
that it is the same regime operating in Cuba today that was
alive and well during the Cold War.
Let me be clear, Cuba is no friend to the United States. We
are enemy number one. And although Cuba is a small island, it
has a global reach that aims to undermine U.S. interests and
security through terrorism, intelligence, and irregular
Cuba has built key relationships that help the island
expand its reach. Experts have identified that China has, and I
quote, ``developed a special relationship with Cuba for several
reasons, ranging from loyalty to intelligence gathering.''
However, these same experts explain that the public is often
kept in the dark on such nefarious activity, because officials
do not often testify on strategic concerns.
Yet, the facts remain. The Cuban Intelligence Service ranks
among the very best in the world and continues to engage in
espionage operations in the United States. For example in June
2009, the FBI arrested Kendall Myers, a retired State
Department official, and his wife, after they spied for the
Cuban Government for over three decades. The
DIA analyst, Ana Belen Montes, convicted in 2002 of
espionage, provided classified U.S. military information to the
Cuban regime. Meanwhile, the harm this has caused to U.S.
troops goes unreported.
Additionally, Cuban intelligence agents purposefully
provided false leads ``worldwide'' in order to misdirect the
U.S. investigation of the September 11th terrorist attacks. We
also know that Cuban intelligence strives to create a
perception in the United States that Cuba is not a threat, that
we should normalize relations. Let's not be fooled. Cuba is an
enemy of the United States that has infiltrated our Government,
steals classified information, trafficks information around the
world, and counts Iran, Syria, Venezuela, China, and Russia
among its best friends. We will never be able to quantify the
level of harm Cuba has done against our men and women serving
around the world.
Despite all of this, the Obama administration is easing
travel and remittance restrictions, and engaging the Cuban
regime. President Obama is giving legitimacy to the Castro
model and allowing negotiations to occur on the regime's terms.
And once again, the fact that we are going to give a visa to
Raul Castro's daughter in this model is just astonishing to me.
This is just another example where U.S. foreign policy is
backwards in Latin America. The goal of this administration has
been reach out to our enemies, turn our back on our friends and
allies. And this approach has hurt our national security. The
Obama administration has abandoned U.S. citizen Alan Gross in
prison while making concessions to a corrupt and lying regime.
At the recent Summit of the Americas where Cuba took center
stage, those of us in attendance saw firsthand how the Cuban
regime continues to wield its influence. The Cuban people
deserve to live in freedom. Once the Castro regime embraces
freedom, Cuba can be included in the gatherings of free
I have repeatedly asked the Castro regime to start with
three simple actions. First, release political prisoners
including Alan Gross. Two, hold free and fair elections, And
three, permit freedom of speech and a free press. Until the
Castro regime can take these three steps, there should be no
negotiations or talk of normalizing relations with Cuba. There
is nothing holding them back but their own actions.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses to shed light
on the terrorist activity and irregular warfare engaged in by
the Castro Regime. And I urge everyone to take note of this
serious and on-going threat as the security of U.S. citizens
depends upon it.
Now I'd like to recognize Mr. Engel for 5 minutes for his
Mr. Engel. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I
thank the chair of our full committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and
her kind words about me. As you know, I take a back seat to no
one when it comes to being critical of the Cuban regime. I was
critical of them when I was chairman of the subcommittee for 4
years, and as ranking member, both before I was chairman and
now after. I have been critical of them. I was critical of them
even before I entered Congress. The bottom line for me is if a
regime doesn't permit political pluralism or fair and free
elections or runs their country with terror, I'm opposed to the
regime. I don't care if it's a right-wing dictatorship or a
left-wing dictatorship. To me, a dictatorship is despicable.
And so I think the bulk of what you and our chair had to
say on Cuba, I certainly agree with it.
But I must depart from some of the characteristics of the
Obama administration. I just came back from the Summit of the
Americas with the President and you, Mr. Chairman, and I and
others were there. And I saw first hand, the United States
being virtually the only country standing up to a lot of these
other regimes that want to normalize everything with Cuba and
Cuba doesn't have to do anything to get it. I've seen our
administration, the Obama administration demand of the OAS that
before Cuba can be admitted it has to adhere to democratic
principles and Cuba chooses not to do that, so Cuba remains a
pariah and is not admitted to the OAS.
I saw the President stand up in Cartagena, saying that Cuba
knows what it needs to do in order to get invites to future
Summits of the Americas. So I think Secretary Clinton as well,
I've had many discussions with her and I think that this
administration has stood up in behalf of democracy and has been
critical unequivocally of what's going on in Cuba.
So I appreciate today's opportunity to discuss the
situation in Cuba. When you ask most people in the United
States about Latin America, one of the first things that comes
to mind is the Castro dictatorship in Cuba. Their oppressive
role for the past half century is undeniable and I've always
argued, as I said before, that dictators from the left should
be thought of no differently than dictators on the right. Those
who try to romanticize Fidel Castro's rule of Cuba are simply
fooling themselves. He's oppressed his people, restricted all
forms of expression, and locked up all opponents of his rule.
And these are basic violations of the universal declaration of
human rights in the Inter-American Charter.
And even though Fidel Castro stepped down from day-to-day
leadership of Cuba a few years ago, I think it's become very
clear by now that very little has actually changed in Cuba.
There clearly remains a profound denial of political pluralism
there, while fundamental freedoms are still denied to the Cuban
people who cannot speak freely or live their lives outside of
the threat of arrest by Cuban security personnel.
I support the continued embargo on Cuba, but regardless of
where we stand on U.S. policy toward the island, we all want to
see democracy in Cuba.
Mr. Chairman, you and I, as well as other members of the
subcommittee recently traveled to the Summit of the Americas
and I was honored to have been able to join President Obama on
Air Force One and participate as part of the official U.S.
delegation to the Summit. As usual with these meetings, Cuba
was a major topic on the agenda, and I remain perplexed by some
of the countries of the Americas which on the one hand state
their commitments to the inter-American democratic charter and
on the other hand believe Cuba should rejoin regional meetings
and the OAS before it establishes a democratic system and
protects human rights.
I say to my friends in the region, I think this is a
mistake. It tells the Cuban dictatorship that it need not
change to be accepted throughout the hemisphere. We need to be
clear with the Castros that only when Cuba comes into
compliance with the charter, should it be permitted to rejoin
the bodies of the inter-American system.
When I spoke at the OAS several weeks ago, I reiterated
much of what I've just said, not only with Cuba, but with
Venezuela and Nicaragua and some of the other countries as
Now today's hearing is entitled ``Cuba's Global Network of
Terrorism, Intelligence, and Warfare.'' And I look forward to
the testimony of our witnesses.
But Mr. Chairman, I think this topic doesn't necessarily
get to the heart of the question we need to explore with Cuba.
I think the key issues on Cuba are different. I think pressing
for democracy, human rights, a market economy and the choices
for our country in a post-Castro Cuba seem to be important for
the subcommittee to consider. I know you and I share similar
views on that. So I do welcome the opportunity to discuss Cuba.
I'm not too worried about their international outreach. I think
during the Cold War they were much more dangerous than they are
today. I don't diminish how dangerous they are, but I would
rather concentrate on the utter lack of democracy and the
oppression that the Cuban regime forces on its people.
And finally, I don't think we should let a moment go by
without calling for the release of Alan Gross in prison. Mr.
Gross did nothing wrong and should be released at once.
Moreover, his health has deteriorated and, if for no other
reason, he deserves to be released on humanitarian grounds;
something which I think the Castros wouldn't know if it hit
them in the head.
Mr. Chairman, I have to apologize in advance because I'll
have to leave a little early from our hearing and my good
friend, Mr. Sires, will assume the role of ranking member when
I depart. I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. Mr. Engel, as you say often
and I agree, you and I do agree on a lot of things and I
think--not on everything, of course, but on a lot of things. I
think when it comes to Cuba, we're mostly together. So we
appreciate the bipartisanship on this issue with you and
others. And the assertion or the interest in another hearing
that deals with other issues, we are certainly encouraged and
would like to do that as well, so let's work together on a
hearing to do just that because as you say, there are lot of
important topics when it comes to Cuba.
I now would like to recognize Mr. Sires for 2 minutes for
Mr. Sires. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding
this hearing and my colleague, Congressman Engel, we do share
many issues and many topics here and we certainly correlate on
a lot of ideas here.
Probably, I'll start by saying I'm the only one serving in
this Congress who ever lived in Cuba. I entered this country in
1962 when I was 11 years old. I still remember very clearly
when they took all of the books out of the schools and started
the indoctrination process. And everything was based on getting
rid of America. I remember when they started teaching how to
march and they would march at the age of 11 and teach you how
to take apart and put together a Czechoslovakian machine gun
because the Americans were the evil empire.
So having had that experience and how I come to Congress
and people still think that this is a government that is not a
dangerous government. There's romanticism with this revolution.
This is a dictator. Make no questions about it. This is a
dictator that has over the years put spies in this country.
We all forget how close we came to nuclear war in 1962. So
it's amazing to me how people still have this romantic idea
about what the Cuban Government is. They are brutal. They don't
exercise any control--observe any human rights whatsoever. You
look at the people that are in prison. I deal with people that
were in prison every day in my district. I represent the second
largest concentration of Cuban-Americans in this country
outside of Florida. And many of the political prisoners are
living in my district. And I share firsthand with them their
experiences, why they were put in jail, why they were given 20
years, who is in jail now, and the abuses of human rights.
You know, I was also at the Summit and it was very
interesting to listen to some of the Presidents. But one
particular President really opened up my eyes when he said to
me, ``You know, people know what Cuba is. People know what the
Castro brothers are.'' But of the 35 people who were
Presidents, of the 35 Presidents who were there and we met with
a lot of them, not one of them would say anything about the
Castro brothers. Why? Because they're afraid that the Castro
brothers have the tentacles in their countries and they will
stir up the students. They will stir up some of the
organizations and before you know it, they have a problem in
their own country.
So what do they do? They keep quiet. And this is told to us
by a President of a country.
So I'm here to listen to what you have to say. I'm a strong
supporter of the embargo. I think the embargo has morphed over
the years and now it's just a matter of putting pressure on
Castro so we can have free elections, observe human rights and
expressions in Cuba, which has none. But people say this
embargo is from the 1960s from the Russian Cuba, but it's
alright to call it sanctions when we talk about Iran. If we
changed the name to sanctions in Cuba, I wonder how many people
would say something, what they would say now.
So I thank you for being here. I thank the chairman for
holding this hearing and I look forward to listening to what
you have to say. Thank you very much.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. I now would like to
introduce our witnesses. First, the Honorable Michelle Van
Cleave. Ms. Van Cleave served as the National
Counterintelligence Executive under President George W. Bush.
As the head of the U.S. counterintelligence, Ms. Van Cleave was
responsible for providing strategic direction to and ensuring
the integration of counterintelligence activities across the
Federal Government. Currently, Ms. Van Cleave serves as
president and co-founder of National Security Concepts, Inc. of
Washington, DC. Thank you very much for being here.
Second, Mr. Christopher Simmons is the founding editor of
Cuba Confidential, an online blog and source for news on Cuban
espionage worldwide. Mr. Simmons is an international authority
on the Cuban Intelligence Service and retired from the Defense
Intelligence Agency with over 23 years of experience as a
counterintelligence officer. Thank you very much for being
And now I'd like to recognize Ms. Van Cleave, and you are
recognized for 5 minutes for your opening comments. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MICHELLE VAN CLEAVE, PRESIDENT,
NATIONAL SECURITY CONCEPTS, INC. (FORMER NATIONAL
COUNTERINTELLIGENCE EXECUTIVE UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH)
Ms. Van Cleave. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's a
pleasure to be here this morning. I have to say it's nice to be
back in the Rayburn Building. This is where I started my
Washington career many years ago working for then Congressman
Jack Kemp, a member of your delegation, Mr. Engel. So it is a
special pleasure to be here. I do have a written statement for
the record which has been provided to you. It will be ready for
inclusion in the record as soon as it's been appropriately
cleared by my former employer.
I'd like to speak to that for a moment. I did serve, as you
mentioned, Mr. Chairman, as the National Counterintelligence
Executive which is not a position that many people are familiar
with. So for one brief moment let me tell you how that position
came about. It was created by the Congress in the
Counterintelligence Enhancement Act of 2002 upon the
recognition that foreign intelligence services were exploiting
seams between the many counterintelligence agencies of the U.S.
Government, principally the FBI, the CIA, and the military
The position was created in the wake of the Aldrich Ames
espionage case and it has been a real fascinating and I will
say difficult assignment to try to bring strategic coherence to
a group of very different agencies with different traditions
and missions and not a real appreciation of what a strategic
approach to countering foreign intelligence threats is all
about and that has been the challenge of the office which now
is housed in the Office of the Director of National
Foreign intelligence threats to the United States have
grown over the years and they remain very, very serious. In
fact, one of the largest asymmetries I might suggest in the
United States' position and the world is our relative
vulnerability to espionage, particularly human espionage,
because our free and open society is really a paradise, if you
will, for foreign spies who will come here to try to acquire
information and insights of value to them and to disadvantage
us. So dealing with those foreign intelligence threats remains
a very important element of U.S. national security and
strategy. And I would say that those threats are, in fact,
growing in an era where the United States is properly consumed
with concerns over terrorist threats and is involved in wars
abroad, some of our attention is properly diverted to those
areas of concern which means that some of the more traditional
espionage threats against us may receive less attention than
they have in times past. And so in that window of
vulnerability, adversaries may see opportunity and so we see, I
would suggest, increases in that threat.
Among those increases is the presence of Russian
intelligence personnel in the United States and active
throughout the world. People do say properly, well, the Cold
War is over, things must have changed and certainly that is
true in many dimensions of our relationships with Russia. But
one area where that has not changed is the behavior of the
Russian intelligence services. Someone forgot to tell them that
the Cold War is over and they're still as active, if not more
so in the United States than they were at the height of the
Many other intelligence services have gone to school,
literally, on the practices of the KGB. And one of their star
pupils, of course, was the Cuba intelligence service, the DGI.
The DGI learned a great deal with the Russians and in fact, has
an advantage perhaps over any other service in operating in the
United States: Being so close by, having access, having
familiarity with our territory, with our people, how things
work here, they make it much easier to blend into American
society and to score successes against us.
Mr. Simmons is going to go into some of those specific
activities in more detail, but let me mention one to you in
particular. The damage assessment of Ana Montes was
accomplished and completed on my watch when I was in office.
And I can tell you that she is one of the most damaging spies
the United States has ever found. After 16 years of spying on
behalf of Cuba, she compromised everything, virtually
everything that we knew about Cuba and how we operated in Cuba
and against Cuba. So the Cubans were well aware of everything
that we knew about them and could use that to their advantage.
In addition, she was able to influence estimates about Cuba in
her conversations with colleagues and she also found an
opportunity to provide information that she acquired to other
powers. That is maybe the biggest concern about Cuba.
And I will close with this point and invite other questions
which is that to the extent that Cuba is able to be successful
against us, the intelligence insights they acquire here can be
made available in a market, if you will, a market place of U.S.
secrets. And those secrets are things that go to the heart of
what keeps this country free and safe and secure, and our men
and women in uniform, able to operate in the dangerous places
where we send them and our public here at home safe. So these
are very serious matters and I commend you, Mr. Chairman, and
the subcommittee for holding this hearing today and having this
discussion. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Van Cleave follows:]
Mr. Mack. Thank you. Thank you very much.
And so Mr. Simmons, you're now recognized for 5 minutes for
STATEMENT OF MR. CHRISTOPHER SIMMONS, FOUNDING EDITOR, CUBA
CONFIDENTIAL (RETIRED DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY SUPERVISORY
Mr. Simmons. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee,
thank you for inviting me today to testify about the threat
posed by the Castro regime. I would also like to thank you and
the committee for the leadership on this key issue, one that
sadly does not get the attention it deserves among the many
competing foreign threats and policy priorities.
Underestimated and misunderstood for much of the last 53
years, Cuba continues to be a determined and deadly enemy of
the United States. Its military and intelligence services
continue their sustained offensive to carry their fight to our
doorstep, most often using proxies to mitigate the risks posed
by its reckless operations.
In many respects, Cuba can be accurately characterized as a
violent criminal organization masquerading as a government. The
island's five intelligence services exist not to protect the
nation, but to ensure the survival of the regime. More
importantly from the perspective of today's discussion, several
of these services, as well as the Cuban military, continue to
operate as profit-making entities. From the trafficking of U.S.
secrets to running Cuba's tourism industry, this self-serving
and hypocritical capitalism guarantees a continuation of the
status quo. The financial livelihood of the mid- and senior
levels of these organizations is tied to the existence of the
regime. By incentivizing espionage, especially when fueled by
the Castro brothers' visceral hatred of the U.S., Havana has
nurtured an organizational culture prone to extraordinarily
high risk endeavors. I will address the most important of these
Beginning with the intelligence threat. Cuba remains the
world's sole ``Intelligence Trafficker,'' providing America's
adversaries with an endless stream of U.S. secrets collected by
its Signals Intelligence sites, complemented with reporting
from traditional human spies. The brokering of this
information, which reportedly now generates hundreds of
millions of dollars annually is one of the primary revenue
streams sustaining the regime.
Cuba's Directorate of Military Intelligence runs one of the
largest and most sophisticated SIGINT programs in the world. It
collects against a wide range of U.S. Government and commercial
communications, as well as the satellite links between the U.S.
and Europe. Specific targets are said to be all White House
communications, key military communications nodes, NASA and
U.S. Air Force communications associated with rocket telemetry
and commercial services dealing with financial and commodity
communications. Virtually all U.S.
U.S. geosynchronous communications satellites are subject
to DIM targeting.
Cuba's SIGINT efforts are then merged with the robust Human
Intelligence capabilities of the Directorate of Intelligence,
the foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior.
At the height of the Cold War, the DI was ranked the fourth
best spy service in the world. Now, more than 20 years after
the crippling loss of its massive Soviet subsidies, the DI is
still assessed as among the top six services in the world.
Transitioning to the issue of terrorism, Havana takes a
three-tier approach to its involvement in terrorism: Regime-
directed, regime-supported, and finally, alliances with state
sponsors. For regime-directed activities we're looking at
specifically bona fide acts of terrorism, Cuban Intelligence
Service targeting of the U.S. war on terrorism, and ``Active
Moving on to regime-supported activities, this focuses on
aid to any of the 40 groups the State Department currently
lists as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Cuba currently has
relations with four of those groups: Hezbollah; the Basque
Fatherland and Liberty also known as ETA; and two Colombian
groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the
National Liberation Army. Regarding state sponsors of
terrorism, that definition is self explanatory and I'll
continue to move right along.
In the written testimony before you, I've kept the most
important aspects of the Cuban threat. You may read those
details at your leisure. However, I would like to touch on a
few issues with reference to the Cuban intelligence missions.
First, Cuban intelligence targeting of U.S. operations in
Afghanistan. From April 2006 into the weeks leading up to the
death of Osama bin Laden, Cuba's mission Embassy in Pakistan
was led by one of their premiere experts in the targeting of
the United States. This officer who was thrown out of the
United States for espionage is known as Gustavo Ricardo Machin.
It is believed that Machin advised the Pakistani Government and
their intelligence services using information supplied via
Havana, the massive SIGINT and HUMINT capability we talked
about earlier and provided much needed context to the
Pakistanis to help them take their own operations against U.S.
It is important to understand when talking about Cuba's
collaboration with Pakistan is that the massive penetration of
Pakistan's directorate for intelligence services intelligence
also makes it almost a certainty that al-Qaeda received
information from the Cubans via the Pakistani Government.
Transitioning to the Cuban intelligence targeting of U.S.
operations in Iraq. In late 2002 through early 2003, Havana
provided the Iraqi intelligence with information on U.S. troop
movements and associated military activities. Cuba's high-risk
adventurism in this endeavor occurred on the heels of the
revelations of the American traitor Ana Belen Montes' espionage
including her efforts to kill U.S. and host nations' soldiers
during the secret war against leftist guerrillas in El
Moving on to post-9/11, Cuba flooded U.S. Embassies with
walk-ins claiming to provide intelligence on the terrorism
threat. Of the normal 12 walk-ins we expect from the Cubans
every year in the first 6 months they sent in almost 20 walk-
ins to tie up U.S. resources. This is a 330 percent increase in
the normal activities.
Last, but not least, of the highlighted issues, I'd like to
address Operation Scorpion which was addressed earlier as a
shootdown of Brothers to the Rescue. While this mission on
February 24, 1996 predates the other information I discussed,
it is important because this act of terrorism involves highest
levels of the Castro regime. On February 24, 1996, Cuban MiGs
shot down two U.S. search and rescue aircraft in international
waters. Code named Operation Scorpion, it was led by General
Eduardo Delgado Rodriguez, the current head of Cuban
intelligence. It was personally approved by Fidel Castro and
supported by Raul Castro, the current President of Cuba. Four
Americans were murdered in this act of terrorism.
Shifting to regime-supported activities, last summer you
were briefed by Ambassador Noriego on his----
Mr. Mack. Mr. Simmons, if you could try to wrap it up real
quick so we can have time for questions.
Mr. Simmons. In conclusion, through its intelligence
trafficking or own terrorist acts, Cuba has willfully and
intentionally murdered Americans in the past and it will kill
again. Furthermore, I believe Havana will covertly facilitate
attacks on U.S. personnel, installations or interests using
proxies to create situations in which it cannot be implicated
as a sponsor. I also suspect Cuba will continue its efforts to
cripple and degrade U.S. counterterrorism operations. The
Castro regime sees U.S. inability to respond to its aggression
as a sign of weakness. As a result, the threat to our national
security has increased because our failure to act and our
failure to act only emboldens this dangerous dictatorship.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Simmons follows:]
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much and before we get to
questions, I'd like to have Mr. Rivera--2 minutes for an
Mr. Engel. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rivera, if I could--I have to
leave. I have a conflict in another committee. So I again want
to leave our side in the able hands of Mr. Sires. And I want to
thank our witnesses for providing extraordinary testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mack. Thank you, Mr. Engel. Mr. Rivera?
Mr. Rivera. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank both
of you for being here for this important hearing. Thank you for
holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman. I'm often amazed at just
how naive we can be with respect to Cuban intelligence, not
just by the fact that Cuba, of course, is on the list of state
sponsors of terrorism, but just the entire history of the DGI
going back decades and decades. We're seeing in recent
publications by Bryan Latell from the University of Miami how
for decades Cuban intelligence has been involved in so many
detrimental activities to U.S. interests from perhaps the
Kennedy assassination going forward.
I can recall just over 20 years ago with radio and
Television Marti, Agent Orion, I remember that case of trying
to infiltrate the official U.S. broadcast services for the
Cuban people. Of course the Brothers to the Rescue operation
that you spoke about, the entire Wasp network, the Ana Belen
Montes case, which of course, I know Mr. Simmons, you're very
aware of as well. And you see this over and over and over again
and you see decisions taken such as allowing Raul Castro's
daughter to travel to the United States. And it seems like a
continuing pattern of unilateral concessions that only hardens
intelligence officers, I would imagine inside Cuba to continue
to try to penetrate U.S. national security interests which runs
a great risk to this nature because of the relationships that
Cuba possesses with many enemies of the United States and
potential for them to continue sharing this intelligence
information with those enemies and just augmenting the threat
to U.S. national security.
So I look forward to our colloquy, your question and answer
session. And again, thank you for being here. Thank you, Mr.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much, Mr. Rivera. And now I
recognize myself for 5 minutes for questions. And I want to, if
I could, I am going to ask you both the same question and we'll
start with you, Ms. Van Cleave.
I said in my opening statement I talked about that although
Cuba is a small island that it's got a global reach. And I
think what is fascinating or concerning to me is that many
would believe that there is not a global reach by Cuba. So I
wanted to see, one, if you would agree that there is a global
reach with terrorism and intelligence in irregular warfare and
if so, if you could maybe highlight that a little bit and then
I'll also ask Mr. Simmons the same.
Ms. Van Cleave. Yes, Mr. Chairman, I certainly agree with
your statement that Cuba has global reach and there are many
reasons for this. The principal reason is that the activities
of concern--which is to say terrorist activities, as well as
trafficking in intelligence and national security secrets--are
themselves global activities. And what concerns me is that as
we see foreign powers move more into the Western Hemisphere--an
increasing Chinese presence, for example, in Latin America,
certainly Iranian presence in this hemisphere and activities
here, and for that matter, perhaps a renewed Russian interest
in this hemisphere--that the Cubans represent an on-the-ground
highly familiar and capable intelligence service that can
supply access and insight and support to others who also have
interests here. So it's the nexus of all of those things that
gives me pause.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. Mr. Simmons.
Mr. Simmons. Yes, I would agree with my esteemed colleague
regarding Cuba's international reach. I'd like to put it in the
context of two different complementary tracks, first being the
SIGINT capability we addressed earlier. To intercept your
adversaries' communications, satellite communications, the only
thing necessary is for you to be in a downlink. Cuba is
perfectly located to be in a downlink for all U.S.
It is, in fact, the only place outside of Fort Meade in the
Western Hemisphere where large-scale interception of
communications is possible.
This ability makes it a lucrative broker for a lot of our
enemies such as China which in and of itself is impossible for
them to have their own SIGINT facility in this hemisphere and
that I would suggest based on evidence that they don't need
because their friends, the Cubans, run an exceptional
Conversely, we have to put it in an economy of scale. The
Wasp network, which was referred to earlier, involved a Cuban
spy operation based in South Florida, but extending all the way
to New York City and as far west as Louisiana and then also
supported by Mexico. It involved approximately 42 officers and
agents and its operating budget was $30,000 a year. I would
suggest to you there are probably no other intelligence
services that can run intelligence operations on the cheap as
well as the Cubans can.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. I want to get to this issue because a
couple of times we've talked about how the Castro regime is a
profit-making center for them and I wondered if Mr. Simmons, if
you wanted to talk to that. I believe you said hundreds of
millions of dollars that they're making as a profit, in your
opinion, do you think that is something that can be disrupted?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. Several years ago, shortly, we
believe, after the end of Soviet subsidies, the Castro brothers
turned over the tourism sector to military intelligence
services. And now it is run as just that, a profit-making
center and we know from defectors that these services are
actually allowed to take earnings and recycle it into their own
budgets so they are further incentivized in what they do.
When you look at the tourism industry, virtually every
facet from a visitor applying for the visa to arriving in Cuba
on a Cuban airline to the Hotel Nacional and the other hotels,
it funds nothing but the Cuban intelligence services and
military and the regime's ability to repress it's own people.
It also, because of the structure, puts virtually every
tourist in front of the intelligence services for assessment as
future agents. I believe the tourism aspect could be crippled
greatly by changing the rules of the game. The Cubans have no
respect for America, never had and you see that in the way
their intelligence services operate. And so taking the ability
to profit off of tourism would not only significantly hurt the
intelligence services, but it would have a ripple effect on the
government's ability to repress its own people.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. My time has expired. I'd now like to
recognize Mr. Sires for 5 minutes for questions.
Mr. Sires. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. How can anybody respect
us when we take Cuba so lightly? And that is, you know, they
think they can do anything they want. How many criminals are
there in Cuba now approximately? Somebody told me over 100,
including from New Jersey. Joanne Chesselmar, who killed a
state trooper. Would you have an idea who are seeking sanctions
in Cuba currently?
Mr. Simmons. From everything that I have heard, criminals
are American terrorists in Cuba today.
Mr. Sires. I know that in New Jersey the Jersey troopers,
they have a $1 million reward for Joanne Chesselmar for killing
one of their state troopers on the highway and she fled to Cuba
as she was being processed.
Everybody in Washington is concerned about cyber warfare
and I was just wondering if do you think Cuba is receiving any
assistance from other countries to establish and develop cyber
war capabilities against us?
Ms. Van Cleave. Well, Mr. Sires, I don't have specific
information on that, but I am happy to speculate. And on the
basis of my understanding of the extent of cooperation among
intelligence services have concerned the United States, I would
be very surprised if there wasn't cooperation in the arena of
cyber exploitation. So I think one should assume that that kind
of information exchange and assistance, in fact, takes place.
Mr. Sires. Mr. Simmons, would you care to comment?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. Just to add one specific example.
Transitioning to signals intelligence, by and large, if you're
able to intercept communications of any sort, you're also able
to jam the very same communications or signals. And in July
2003, acting on behalf of Iran, Cuban intelligence jammed the
transmissions of the National Iranian Television, Voice of
America, and three other Iran-bound broadcast systems. The
timing of the jamming coincided with Iran's crackdown on
dissidents and the commemoration of the historic 1999 student
Moreover, Skynet, who owned the targeted satellite, was
quickly able to identify the source of the jamming to a spot
several miles outside of Havana, subsequently identified as the
Cuban military intelligence base at Bejucal, head of their
They then tried to relocate. Prior to Cuba broadcast
jamming system, the Iranians had jammed a different platform
from a geosynchronous satellite over Europe and when that was
shut down that's when they moved to the U.S. communications and
their Cuban allies were able to shut down those four programs.
So yes, sir. They can do it at will and in that instance we
know for a fact it was requested by Tehran.
Mr. Sires. Did you say the town of Bejucal? What's the name
of the town, Bejucal?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir.
Mr. Sires. That's where I was born. As a young boy, I
remember not being able to go to this hill because there was a
lot of construction, so everybody assumed there was something
going on because they basically gutted the mountain. It's not a
mountain but--we could see the work actually being done from
the town that I lived in and obviously it was all fenced off.
Kids couldn't go up there like we used to go, so now you're
telling me that there is a station there that's a communication
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. Those fields now grow satellite
Mr. Sires. This relationship with Iran fascinates me
because you couldn't have two more different countries, but yet
there's one common ground and that is destroy America. So I was
just wondering if you can expand on that relationship with Iran
and Cuba. And what are their plans? Not what are their plans,
but obviously, they want to extend to the rest of the Central
America and South America, their influence. So can you speak a
little bit about that relationship?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. In many respects, Cuban foreign
policy and the influence of the intelligence services can be
viewed as very pragmatic. And I say that in the sense that when
it comes to Iran, the Castro brothers embrace the idea of the
enemy of my enemy is my friend. The relations with Iran
actually go back to the earliest days of the Iranian
revolution. Approximately half of the Cuban ambassadors who
have served in Iran have been intelligence officers.
Most recently, for about the last 20 years, there's been a
huge increase in Cuban-Iranian cooperation in biomedical
technologies. As you're aware, Cuba currently holds over 400
patents in this arena, many jointly with the Iranians and the
field of biomedicine is one of those that what is medicine
today can be a terrorist threat tomorrow. So yes, sir. When it
comes to a mutual enemy, we are their mutual enemy.
Mr. Sires. Thank you.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. And I now recognize Mr.
Rivera for 5 minutes for questions.
Mr. Rivera. Thank you very much. I'm going to begin
referencing what I mentioned earlier in terms of the Ana Belen
Montes case and I'm wondering for both of you, particularly Mr.
Simmons, if you believe that the DGI penetration of Defense
Intelligence Agency or National Security Agency and all the
different intelligence agencies that Ana Belen Montes was
engaged with, if that penetration ended with Ana Belen Montes?
Ms. Van Cleave. Mr. Rivera, allow me to begin and I know
that Mr. Simmons will have more to offer on this point. The
Montes damage assessment was something that I oversaw when I
was in office as the National Counterintelligence Executive and
that damage assessment took several years to compile. We
learned a great deal about what she had compromised. The damage
assessment itself remains highly classified. But among the
things that she was able to provide to the Cubans was insight
into activities of very high national security sensitivity that
were of little use to the Cubans, but perhaps of greater use to
The trade craft of how the Cubans ran her was interesting,
too, in that she was able to do a lot of reporting and meet
with Cubans here in Washington, DC, over a period of 16 years.
That's astounding that they were able to operate that freely
and I would suggest openly against American society. So what
she did and the extent of her harm to the United States was
enormous, but perhaps most disturbing is that they were able to
recruit her so successfully and penetrate the highest reaches
of our Cuban analytic community so well.
Mr. Rivera. My understanding----
Ms. Van Cleave. I'm going to get to your punch line.
Mr. Rivera. As far as her sentencing, my understanding is
Ms. Van Cleave. She did.
Mr. Rivera. So if she cooperated, then I'm wondering just
how much did she cooperate? Did it lead to any other
intelligence breaches? Are we done with intelligence breaches
now that we were done with Ana Belen Montes?
Ms. Van Cleave. Not even close. Now her cooperation, her
plea agreement as is often the case with major spies, was
accepted in order that we might gain understanding of what it
is that she compromised and how that was done. So we did get a
great deal from her about that, but my punch line to you is
that the Cubans are so successful in going against the U.S.
Government and have been able to do that for such a sustained
number of years that there is no reason to believe that Montes,
or for that matter the Myers team at the State Department are
the last--they are simply the latest, they are the most recent
that we have been able to talk about publicly.
Mr. Rivera. And do you think we're trying to ferret out
whatever remnants there may be post-Myers, post-Montes?
Ms. Van Cleave. I know we are.
Mr. Rivera. Mr. Simmons, do you want to add anything?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. Very quickly. Based on 53 years of
Cuban intelligence protocols, it would be an anomaly for them
to have only run one penetration of the Defence Intelligence
According to their doctrine, there should be three
penetrations of the Agency. The logic behind that is Cubans are
very hesitant to run singleton operations because there's no
way to have feedback on the success or the veracity of the
information being provided by the agent. In an organization
like DIA, they would not run three analysts because then
they're going to get redundant reporting. They would look at
somebody like Montes, use her to report on the analytic realm
and then penetrate other sectors of the agency.
Done correctly, all three agents would end up reporting on
one another without the awareness that the others are actually
agents. That according to the Cuban doctrine is the perfect way
to run an agent operation. So yes, sir. There should be two
more, at least two more penetrations of DIA. The Cubans have
had decades to do it so it should not be a surprise.
Mr. Rivera. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. And if the witnesses won't mind, don't
mind, I've got a few more questions and I'm sure that my
colleagues may have other questions, too.
So I want to talk a little bit with you, Ms. Van Cleave,
about policy and where--why haven't we done a better job? And
what kind of recommendations would you have for us for this
committee as we look at how to deal with the problem with Cuba?
Ms. Van Cleave. Thank you very much for that question, Mr.
Chairman. I believe that our vulnerabilities to Cuban espionage
and indeed to other hostile intelligence services is a very
serious national security matter. A major reason why we've had
such losses to espionage in decades past is the way that
counterintelligence grew up in the United States.
There was--it began and grew out of the inherent missions
of the several agencies that execute counterintelligence. The
FBI is responsible for enforcing our espionage laws within the
U.S. CIA is responsible for counterintelligence to the extent
that it needs to protect its own human collection mission
abroad. And the military services also have their own
counterintelligence elements that are responsible for force
protection to look after their ability to execute their
operations plans and be secure abroad. But what we haven't had
historically is any entity in the United States that sits back
and says what are the foreign intelligence threats to the
United States and what are we going to do about those threats?
So I bring that down to the level of Cuba and I say here
you've got a very aggressive, capable and successful
intelligence service directed against us. It has been our
practice to deal with these threats, these penetrations, these
spies on a case-by-case basis as they show up here in the
United States. What we haven't done is that we have not had a
strategic look at what should we do as a nation about the
threat that Cuban intelligence represents to the United States
and our interests in this hemisphere and elsewhere in the
world. We do not have a strategic counterintelligence program
to try to assess and degrade their capabilities against us. And
that is true with respect to Cuba and every other foreign
intelligence service that may be of concern.
So from a policy perspective, I have to say that this
hearing is fascinating to me because it is so infrequently the
case, I'm sorry to say, that the intelligence threat presented
by regional actors is factored into policy discussions. Maybe
one reason is because understanding that threat and what
they're doing is usually so very highly classified, so much of
it, it's difficult to discuss.
But another reason is it seems that our national security
policy community by and large is either unfamiliar with or not
persuaded by the danger that these intelligence activities
present to the United States. And so I commend you and the
subcommittee for taking on this question very seriously. I
would also urge you in your reports or any forward action that
you might have to include as a question how we might not do a
better job from a counterintelligence perspective in dealing
with these threats as part of a larger U.S. policy and strategy
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. Mr. Simmons, do you have
some sort of guidance that you could give the committee?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. My guidance would be much more
tactical in nature, if you will. In dealing with the Castro
brothers, we need to bear in mind that dictators understand one
thing and that is power. And so a surgical countermeasure to
Cuban offenses is the best practice. An example that comes to
mind is going back to the 2003 Cuban intelligence targeting of
Iraqi Freedom, that May we expelled 14 Cuban diplomats, all of
whom were intelligence officers. Of the 14, two were husband-
wife teams, so we actually threw out 16 spies which removed
about a third of their intelligence presence serving under
diplomatic cover and it crippled Cuban intelligence operations
in the United States for about 18 months to 2 years.
Cubans understand focused, surgical--I should say the
Castro regime understands focused, surgical countermeasures
like that. And I would suggest that be used as a model to
protect U.S. interests in the future.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. It sounds to me that both are good
ideas. And that one of the things I think we want to try to do
in this committee is begin to push the envelope a little bit on
what we can do, what kind of policy positions that we can take
to understand better and to disrupt what's happening in Cuba
and elsewhere frankly, but for the purview of this committee
Mr. Sires, you're recognized for 5 minutes for questions.
Mr. Sires. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Last week, I think it was
Wolf Blitzer, he had an interview with one of the foreign
ministers in Cuba and all of a sudden Alan Gross--now is
getting ready to talk about releasing Alan Gross. I'm just
wondering, what do you think that's all about? All of a sudden
after this poor man is in jail, now they're saying there
possibly could be some talks to release him and talk about
other things. What do you think that's about? I mean obviously,
many people here are concerned that there will be a swap, you
know, for Alan Gross. We're obviously all against it, but I was
just wondering what's your reaction to a move like that all of
a sudden? Because they don't make a move unless they think five
moves ahead. So I was just wondering if you can surmise what
they might be thinking.
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. I've maintained from the start that
Alan Gross was grabbed and imprisoned for no reason other than
to be used as a pawn in a future spy trade. That was my
position when interviewed by the Miami Herald several days
after he was initially imprisoned. My position has not changed.
When we look at the CNN interview you've referenced with
Josefina Vidal who was thrown out of the United States for
espionage activities, you may recall that in recent discussions
actually in the initial discussions regarding access to Alan
Gross and a subsequent trade, the head of the North American
Division, Josefina Vidal, her deputy and the consular officer
handling the Alan Gross situation were all intelligence
officers thrown out of the United States. This, from its very
inception, has nothing to do with Alan Gross' activities. He
was simply in the wrong place at the right time and the Cubans
needed--they need leverage.
Based on their disrespect for the United States, I believe
that they've always known or believed that at some point the
U.S. would relent and trade for an American because that's what
we've always done in the past. They have no reason to think we
won't do the same thing now.
Mr. Sires. It's amazing to me this information that you
have that she was thrown out of this country for spying,
Josefina Vidal. I don't ever remember hearing anybody
mentioning that when this interview was going on. It's just
like we have, in this country, the shortest memory of anything,
about everything. Why doesn't somebody mention when they're
doing this interview that this is a former spy--a former--yes,
a spy that was chased out of this country? And all of a sudden
she's now representing that the Cuban Government wants somehow
to deal. It's just unfortunate, you know. Thank you, Do you
have any comments on that issue?
Ms. Van Cleave. I will confess that I was thinking while
you were asking the question that gee, I wish that we had a
definitive answer to exactly what it was they planned to do.
And the only way you can have a definitive answer is if you've
got very good intelligence on Cuban discussions and planning
and thinking. So I come back to the need to have increased
resources going into our intelligence collection directed
against the Cubans.
Mr. Sires. Thank you.
Mr. Mack. Thank you. Mr. Rivera, you're recognized for 5
Mr. Rivera. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've mentioned a few
times in the hearing the fact that Cuba is on the list, the
State Department's list of official sponsors of terrorism and I
wonder if I could get your opinions regarding intelligence
activity either being the sole purview of nation states or
perhaps also activity that other actors engage in such as
terrorist organizations. And so I wonder how many of the
terrorist groups or terrorist organizations with which Cuba
cooperates or perhaps activities on the island or off the
island, but nexus with Cuba, how many of those organizations
also engage in intelligence activity against the United States?
Ms. Van Cleave?
Ms. Van Cleave. Well, Congressman, you are quite right that
in traditional concept intelligence activities are practiced by
many terrorist organizations throughout the world, precisely
for the purpose of being able to gain the access, the insights,
the information that they need to be successful in those
So we have a very careful counterintelligence dimension to
U.S. counterterrorism activities, for example.
Cuban involvement with terrorist groups, I would say, would
be useful potentially to those terrorist groups depending on
the kinds of insights that they were looking for and what they
were planning to do.
I was struck by our conversation earlier about Iran which,
of course, is a state sponsor of terror, but Iran itself trying
to carry out a terrorist operation here in the United States.
You may recall how Iran fielded through apparently a Mexican
drug cartel an assassination team to try to kill the Saudi
Ambassador to the United States at a restaurant in Georgetown
where you've probably been, I've been. And it's amazing that
Iran would escalate its aggressive actions and be so bold and
brazen to come right into the U.S. and foster that kind of an
Well, they don't have the insights within the United
States, the ground expertise to carry that out. They need some
help from an organization or an entity or people who do know
the territory here.
Mr. Rivera. And that's where the organizations come in.
Ms. Van Cleave. They turn to the Mexican drug cartel, but
you can speculate about how that kind of activity on--it's an
example, if you will, of how local expertise can be valuable to
Mr. Rivera. So organizations such as whether it be ETA or
FARC or Hezbollah or Hamas, those types of organizations with
which the Castro dictatorship maintains relationships. What is
the activity or intelligence activity against the United States
from organizations like ETA or FARC or Hezbollah or Hamas?
Ms. Van Cleave. Well, certainly those organizations carry
out terrorist operations against friends and allies of the
United States and could find it very useful, may have
themselves need for insight into specific national defense
information, our relations, interactions, knowledge of
activities that would be of value to them as they carry out
their terrorist operations.
I am spinning a web that suggests that espionage is a very
complex business and that the specific things that may be
targeted by a source, an asset inside the U.S. Government that
might be funneled through the DGI, for example, to another
customer, if you will, abroad provide a rich playing field of
Mr. Rivera. Mr. Simmons, do you want to add anything with
the 30 seconds we have left?
Mr. Simmons. Yes, sir. Just very quickly. Terrorist groups
are evolving animals, much like other entities. Cuba has
historically been tied to well over 40 different terrorist
groups since the 1960s and their basic protocol is to provide
them intelligence training first, let them get on their feet so
they can begin conducting their own operations and then once
they're successful, migrate over to bilateral operations within
their own lane of the road, if you will.
So in essence, it allows Cuba to conduct intelligence
operations by proxy.
Mr. Rivera. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mack. Thank you, Mr. Rivera. Mr. Smith, you're
recognized for 5 minutes for questions and you're batting clean
Mr. Smith. I apologize, Mr. Chairman, for being late and I
thank you for calling this hearing on this very important and
very often under-focused-upon problem as it relates to Cuba. We
do focus, as we ought to, you and all of us on this committee,
on the human rights which is absolutely a priority, but the
intelligence and the terror networks and all of that
collaboration, I applaud you for doing that. I was late because
I had a hearing of my own on Ukraine and the continued
incarceration of the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
So that's why I'm late.
I don't have any questions, but again, I want to thank you
and I look forward to reading the testimony and I apologize for
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. I want to thank the
witnesses. My take away is we have so much more to learn as a
committee on what we should be looking at from policy position
on espionage and counterintelligence in Cuba. And frankly, it
sounds like not just in Cuba, but many other places.
One of the things that you mentioned, Ms. Van Cleave, when
you talked about Iran working with drug cartels, we--I and this
committee are very concerned about the evolving nature of the
drug cartels into a--these are my words that don't necessarily
make people happy, but into an insurgency. And that they're
being used by other terrorist organizations to affect not only
Mexico, but the United States and other parts of Latin America.
So I want to thank both of you, Mr. Simmons and Ms. Van Cleave,
for being here today, for your insight and we look forward to
continuing to learn more and come up with some way to address
this problem, so thank you very much and the meeting is
Sorry, Mr. Sires.
Mr. Sires. I also want to thank you, but I also want to
thank the chairman for holding this hearing. This is a topic
that is not often spoken about here on the Hill and he's right
on target to be concerned. So I want to thank you for holding
this hearing today.
Mr. Mack. Thank you very much. I always accept thanks. The
meeting is now adjourned. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 4:24 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.