Convicted Cuban spy, Ana Belen Montes, nicknamed “The Queen of Cuba,” is expected to be released over the weekend from US federal prison. Montes was once the Pentagon’s top analyst for Cuban affairs for 17 years, before her arrest in 2001 for espionage.
Among the national security damages that can be linked to Montes is a 1987 attack by Marxist guerillas of a secret US military camp in allied El Salvador, costing the lives of 65 Salvadorians and one American. Aside from information leaks provided to the Cuban government, she often conducted influence operations to soften attitudes and policy toward the island, and distract blame from the Castro regime when briefing US Intelligence and other agencies.
But, as the Washington Post reported in 2013, Montes didn’t just betray her countrymen but her own family, too.
But Montes, now 56, did not deceive just her nation and her colleagues. She also betrayed her brother Tito, an FBI special agent; her former boyfriend Roger Corneretto, an intelligence officer for the Pentagon specializing in Cuba; and her sister, Lucy, a 28-year veteran of the FBI who has won awards for helping to unmask Cuban spies.
Montes’ early life history consists of being radicalized against the US government through her college years and then climbing the ranks as a Washington bureaucrat–giving her a security clearance. That’s when the Cuban intelligence service recruited her in 1984, as they are known to target college campuses.
The Post reported:
Cuba considers recruiting at American universities a “top priority,” according to former Cuban intelligence agent Jose Cohen, who wrote in an academic paper that the Cuban intelligence service identifies politically driven students at leading U.S. colleges who will “occupy positions of importance in the private sector and in the government.
After a secret visit to Cuba in 1985, Montes was instructed to pursue positions in the US Government that would grant her access to higher classified materials, accepting a job at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s epicenter of foreign military intelligence.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, she was put into a leadership role on a task force to analyze US military operations in Afghanistan, risking US military plans being sold to the Taliban by way of Cuba. While internal leads prompted an investigation, Montes was pending promotion to the CIA security advisory, leading to a moratorium enacted at DIA forbidding her to work with outside agencies. Fears of her high-level roles sped up her arrest, coming just ten days after the Twin Towers collapsed in New York City.
Montes was arrested by the FBI on September 21, 2001, and would end up taking a deal, pleading guilty to espionage in exchange for a 25-year sentence, avoiding treason charges. And, those 25 years are expected to end this weekend, shortened for “good behavior.”
But, while Montes will be freed to set sail toward a Marxist utopia (as Cuba has tried to negotiate for her release in a prisoner swap previously) or a relative’s home back in Miami, the damages that she is accountable for are still with us. From the loss of a Green Beret to the intelligence reports that circulated for a decade after her arrest, impacting US policy by leading to Cuba being taken off the list of state terror sponsors, by Obama in 2013.
In a press release, Ambassador Otto J. Reich, currently president of the Center for a Free Cuba and former Assistant Secretary of State and member of the National Security Council staff says:
“The damage done by Ana Belen Montes to both U.S. National Security and in the formulation of U.S. Foreign policy cannot be underestimated, nor the reality that she was not alone in infiltrating the U.S. government to work for a foreign power. American allies and friends and at least one American soldier were killed by the treachery committed by this foreign agent. Furthermore, the disinformation provided by her DI handlers that she inserted in U.S. government reports continued to have an impact on policy long after she went to prison,”
Let us not only be reminded of the harm Montes brought to Americans and our allies, but of the lasting impacts of her acts on the people of Cuba, whom she stole human dignity from while sanitizing the threats of the Cuban regime.