SPY UNIVERSITIES: EX-FOREIGN ESPIONAGE OPERATIVE
REVEALS HOW PROFS., STUDENTS, AND OTHERS, ARE RECRUITED TO UNDERMINE AMERICA
International News Analysis Today
June 10, 2009
U.S. universities are important recruiting grounds
for foreign spies, according to a former intelligence operative who has defected
to the United States, and issued a report giving a rare glimpse into the intelligence
operations of one of America's most determined espionage foes.
Jose Cohen Valdes was a Cuban intelligence officer employed in several areas of information
acquisition and analysis in Havana, and has documented his nation's penetration
of U.S. universities in a report which has yet to be translated into English.
original report can be accessed online.
The recent arrest of former State Department official Walter Kendall Myers
and his wife, Gwendolyn, on charges
of spying for Cuba for the past 30 years gives further immediacy to Jose Cohen's
The intended purpose of the spy recruits is not only to gather information,
but to become agents of influence - individuals who can shape U.S. policy to assist
a foreign nation and work against the best interests of the United States.
has one of the world's most effective espionage organizations in the world, and
the tropical gulag remains on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors
Havana has been tied to virtually every major terrorist organization,
from Hamas to Colombia's FARC communist guerrilla army. Havana is close to nuclear-tipped
North Korea and the neo-Marxist regime of Hugo Chavez. China and Russia consider
Cuba a valuable ally.
Cubans Learn Espionage from Soviet Spy Masters
Cubans learned the value and techniques of penetrating U.S. universities from
Soviet intelligence services, Jose Cohen stated.
The Soviets would have
been excellent instructors in recruiting agents from prestigious schools, since
they had decades of experience. One of the Soviets most notable successes came
in the 1930s when the NKVD (a predecessor of the KGB) recruited four young Cambridge
students. A fifth individual who studied at Cambridge was later recruited by the
Soviet espionage, and worked with the other four. Taken collectively, they were
known the "Cambridge Spy Ring."
The actions of this spy ring cost the lives
of American and British intelligence officers and soldiers. The ring was finally
broken in the early 1960s. Its best known member, Harold "Kim" Philby, nearly
became the director of British intelligence. A similar ring is thought to have
existed at Oxford, but nothing definite has been uncovered.
of Soviet involvement in U.S. universities remains unknown, but the effects of
Soviet espionage within American academia may well be with us to the present day.
How to Recruit a Spy
Today, the Cuban regime considers the infiltration of the U.S. university system a "top priority," and seeks to recruit
students who will "occupy positions of importance in the private sector and in
the government" Jose Cohen writes.
Havana systematically studies and analyzes
all accessible information about U.S. universities, the political and social tendencies
of professors and students, programs of study, individual courses, and any other
pertinent data. Harvard University, Yale University, New York University, Hunter
College, Columbia University, American University, Georgetown University, the
University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Berkeley, and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) are all specifically mentioned in Jose Cohen's report.
their homework done, Cuban intelligence operatives are able to approach targeted
individuals and have some knowledge of their likes, dislikes, and political tendencies
before the first words of greeting are exchanged. Jose Cohen notes that the same
approach used for academics is also used to recruit journalists, senators, businessmen,
From the first meeting, the intelligence officer is able
to cultivate any pro-socialist or anti-American sentiments, and link to any useful
sympathies or humanitarian impulses, academic or financial ambitions of the targeted
If the results of the initial encounter are promising, other
meetings will be planned. Depending upon circumstances, the targeted individual
will be approached again at a mutually agreed upon place and time, or another
Cuban intelligence will arrange another "chance" encounter at an event the target
would probably attend, or at an establishment the target is known to frequent.
relationship is cultivated as a friendship based upon mutual interests, while,
at the same time, Cuban intelligence studies the target, his or her spouse, children,
and friends. The target's weaknesses are noted, including homosexuality and drug
use, and the level of ideological commitment is analyzed.
If the target
is found to have potential, there is a change in the category used to define the
individual. With recommendation of top intelligence officers in the U.S. and with
the approval of analysts in Havana, the target moves from a person studied to
a "person of interest," Jose Cohen states.
Throughout the study of the targeted
individual, consideration of the degree of the individual's ideological commitment
remains paramount for Cuban intelligence. Havana tends not to trust agents who
work for money, reasoning that such an individual could change sides if the money
If Cuban intelligence considers that the target's motivations
and ideological characteristics merit further consideration, the individual becomes
a "candidate." From this point the "candidate" can cooperate with Cuba on one
of three levels.
The lowest is that of a "Useful Link." The "candidate"
now becomes a tool for Cuban interests. The "Useful Link" usually has neither
access to secret information, nor is he or she aware of his or her tie to Cuban
intelligence. The individual, however, is now useful in supplying information
to Havana or in forming a pro-Cuban climate in business or government.
The next level of cooperation involves a greater degree of mutual trust. Cuban intelligence
refers to this as a "relation of confidence," according to Jose Cohen.
level, the candidate is aware that he is directly cooperating with the Cuban government
or Cuban intelligence. While willing to commit espionage for Havana, the individual
at this level has only occasional contact with Cuban intelligence officers. The
relationship is informal and lacks any firm expectation or demands. "There is
no discipline," Jose Cohen states.
The highest level of relationship with Cuban
intelligence is that of agent. Ideologically committed, the agent works closely
with Cuban intelligence and completely understands the dynamics of the relationship.
To achieve the status of agent, Jose Cohen relates that the candidate must
be willing to receive special training, establish a method of continuous and secret
communication with Cuban intelligence, and place himself under "a discipline characteristic
of the military." The agent is ready to engage in any action demanded by Cuban
intelligence to advance Cuban interests, the communist cause, or to damage the
Keeping in Touch
One of the preferred methods
for agents to receive instructions from Havana is by shortwave radio. U.S. intelligence
officers and amateur radio enthusiasts have long noted the daily broadcasts from
"numbers stations," which are known to carry information to Cuba's espionage network
in the U.S.
The "numbers stations" broadcast a series of numbers through
voice or code, and are given meaning by the use of "pads." The numbers gain meaning
usually by corresponding to letters in a "pad." Because the "pads" differ day
to day, it is impossible to break the broadcast codes. In this manner, Havana
can send information to its network in the U.S. without fear of interference by
Other nations also use "numbers stations,"
but there are particular "stations" which are specifically associated with Cuba.
Not only are signals traced back to Cuba with reasonable reliability, but there
have been occasions when Cuban "numbers" are mixed for a brief time with regular
Radio Havana international broadcasts.
Counterintelligence, the Good
Guys Are at Work
While Cuba's intelligence officers are extremely skilled
in carrying out their espionage duties, mistakes are made, and U.S. counterintelligence
does score victories. In 2001, the "Cuban Five," a portion of the broken Wasp
Network, were convicted of a variety of crimes, including murder, against the
United States on behalf of the Cuban government. Other Wasp Network members had
either previously cooperated with the federal prosecution or fled to Cuba.
In 2002, Ana Belen Montes, a high level analyst specializing in Cuban affairs
for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was convicted of working for Havana and sentenced
to 25 years in prison. A Florida International University professor, Carlos Alvarez,
and his wife, Elsa, was arrested in 2006 on charges of spying for Cuba, and subsequently
pled guilty. Although Carlos admitted to the FBI that he collaborated with Cuban
intelligence, he claimed that he only wanted to "open dialogue" with Havana.
of course, is not the only nation using espionage to influence U.S. policy or
undermine the security of the United States. China, Russia, and other nations
have very active espionage services operating in the U.S.
Because the United States is a favorite target of various intelligence agencies, Americans must be
vigilant and ready to contact the proper authorities (usually the FBI) should
the occasion arise. Chris Simmons, a retired counterintelligence officer for the
Defense Intelligence Agency and founder of the
Cuban Intelligence Research Center, has told International News Analysis in
an exclusive interview
that most reports of suspicious behavior, about 85 percent, prove to be benign.
Of the remainder, 10 percent reflect negative behavior in regard to their employment,
and five percent lead to the opening of counterintelligence cases.
The United States has enemies present within its borders. Some are foreign intelligence
officers running agents and other cooperators, some are fanatical terrorists waiting
for a chance to strike. Their effectiveness, however, can be greatly diminished
by a vigilant, well-informed public motivated by love of God and country.
The enemies of our nation may be selling deception and fear, but we do not have to
How does communist Cuba cooperate with other Marxist states and
guerrilla groups? What is the relationship between the growing Latin American
communist movement and fundamentalist Islam? Find out what the centralized media
is not reporting -- read Lies,
Terror, and the Rise of the Neo-Communist Empire: Origins and Direction.
Or, go to your favorite online book seller.
is the author of the just released LIES,
TERROR, AND THE RISE OF THE NEO-COMMUNIST EMPIRE: ORIGINS AND DIRECTION,
available at this site, as well as Amazon.com and other online booksellers. Westerman
is the editor and publisher of International News Analysis Today (www.inatoday.com).
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