[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Harmless Spies

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Harmless Spies

It's been a while since I've fisked an Ana Menendez column, so when I read her column this morning, whistles and bells went off.

It's time to dust off the fisking machine.

Ana's reaction to the sentencing of Cuban spies Carlos and Elsa Alvarez is the subject of her column this morning. Apparently, she thinks the Alvarezes were victims of "misguided pride" who were trying to "persuade Cuba and the United States to make nice". The fact that she even tries to justify and/or downplay their acts is shameful, IMHO.

Contained in the dry court documents are all the personal betrayals and self-important skullduggeries that through coups, revolution and exile have remained a constant feature of Cuban political life.

In that context, Carlos' biggest sin was not ''spying'' but pride. Pride that he could game Cuban intelligence. Pride that he could be the agent of change by betraying friends. And pride that his academically informed ''conflict resolution'' skills could penetrate the miasma of cynicism and calculation that has crippled U.S.-Cuba relations this last half-century.

Here's some of the "harmless" personal information the Alvarezes had on their computer and which they shared with a foreign country, an enemy regime:

FIU president Modesto Maidique's personal finances and private business ventures.

A ''redacted'' U.S. government study on the "status of telecommunications in Cuba.''

Brothers to the Rescue leader José Basulto, including that ''an investigation should continue'' into "the ties he has to the CIA, the Cuban American [National] Foundation and financial interests such as Bacardi.''

A personal contact who had met with Richard Nuccio, then-President Bill Clinton's special advisor for Cuba, who ''was very depressed'' by Cuba's shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue planes killing three Cuban-American men and a Cuban exile and the subsequent Helms Burton law toughening the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Lula Rodriguez, a Miami-Dade Democrat who later became personal assistant to then-Attorney General Janet Reno and eventually deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Clinton administration.

Here's Ana's justification of these actions:

Whatever combination of personal ambition and hopeless naiveté first led Carlos to open up to Cuban intelligence and then to the FBI, we can never really know. Neither can we know who ultimately served him up to U.S. prosecutors; that information is secret.

But the picture that emerges of Carlos and Elsa is less one of hardened spies than of two highly educated and religious people who assumed everyone shared their lofty ideals. A member of an underground anti-Castro student movement, Carlos eventually fled to America and grew to believe he could persuade Cuba and the United States to make nice.

This is not intelligence to make or break a country. This is theater of the cliché. By the time Carlos received a commendation from Cuba in 1991, he should have known he was being played in a game he'd long since lost control of.

Is Ana that naive to think that Cuba would have just stopped at gathering personal information on influential exiles? What do we wait for, leaked information on our ports and nuclear facilities? Do we wait for another Ana Belen Montes to show up?

I know. Ridiculous. But it gets better. Ana saves the best for last.

And then the judge sentenced him to hard time. Carlos thought he could be a one-man foreign policy machine and ended up betraying friends and trusting scumbags. The over-the-top hysteria and paranoia surrounding his slight story now must be giving Fidel sweet solace in his last days.

In the end, Carlos Alvarez's biggest victim was Carlos Alvarez. The bigger tragedy would be if the cause of moderate Cubans goes down with him. One suspects that, for the Cubans at least, that was the goal all along.

It's those insufferable hard-liners once again, causing a ruckus with their "paranoia" about those harmless spies. Of course, Ana asserts that the biggest tragedy isn't the fact that personal information was given to the castros, but that the "cause of moderate Cubans" is going down with the Alvarezes.

Un. Believeable.

Here's a man who was commended by the Cuban regime in 1991 for his invaluable work. If Alvarez is indeed a representation of the moderate Cubans, then we're really in bad shape.

Or Ana Menendez's vision of reality is totally warped. My bet in on the latter. And that's the best I can say about Ana.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home