Thursday, August 07, 2008

Herald editorial contributor denies being a Cuban agent

Exactly one week after Lt. Col. Chris Simmons, a counterintelligence officer currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, fingered four persons as agents of Cuba's Castro regime, including an editorial contributor to The Miami Herald, that paper has finally decided to acknowledge the accusations.

The accusation that Marifeli Perez-Stable was (at least one time, if not currently) a Cuban agent is not new. In November of 2006 I posted an email from (then) Indiana University Latino Studies professor Antonio de la Cova to Herald publisher David Landsberg in which de la Cova relates information he was made privy to when he worked as a journalist in Puerto Rico during the 1980s. The information was an FBI debriefing of a Cuban intelligence officer name Jesus Perez Mendez that defected in July of 1983. de la Cova claims that he was not allowed by his contact in the Puerto Rican police to photocopy the document but was allowed to copy it word-for-word in longhand. According to the document Perez Mendez asserted that Marifeli Perez-Stable was a Cuban DGI (intelligence) agent at that time. The document is posted on de la Cova's web site.

However this was not the first time de la Cova had publicly quoted the debriefing. He did so in a paper about academic espionage that he wrote for a foundation in 1993.

Several months after I posted the email from de la Cova to Landsberg, an attorney named John de Leon contacted me on behalf of Perez-Stable and threatened me with a libel/slander lawsuit if I did not remove the post in question. I declined to remove the post but offered Perez-Stable equal space to defend herself. She did not take me up on the offer.

Now Lt. Col Simmons is repeating the allegations made by de la Cova against Perez-Stable. He did so on the local Spanish language TV program A Mano Limpia last Thursday.

The Herald article claims that:

...Simmons offered no conclusive evidence that any of the four -- who have denied the accusation -- gave classified information to Cuba, received intelligence training or undertook missions for Cuban intelligence.
Perhaps not in the A Mano Limpia interview last Thursday but I interviewed Simmons on The Babalu Radio Hour last night and he said of Perez-Stable:
Most importantly for me, at the end, was I had access to a colleague who debriefing, a recent debriefing of a former DI officer who was working what is called M-1 U.S. targets. But most specifically, he worked the academic section of U.S. targets and in the early first half of the 1990s, now this is the critical part because she says that her support of the regime ended back in the eighties. Her [Cuban] case officer recalled meeting with her in Ottawa, Canada, in mid 1991, and she was still an active agent of Cuban intelligence. So, no matter how she tries to spin, spin it that this may have been an indiscretion of her youth, I got the notes from her case officer who outed her. So, her usefulness to the regime ended when that second officer stepped forward."
Two former Cuban intelligence officers have made the same charge against Perez-Stable who says she's the victim of "McCarthyite tactics" and who claims she's "a vocal opponent of the Cuban government". In actuality she lobbies for an end to the embargo (an outcome the regime desperately wants), has been a salesperson for Raul Castro's image as a reformer and recently called for "Washington and Havana to learn to live in peace, that is, to settle into a mutually beneficial relationship. Along the way, the United States should gain a consideration of Cuban sensibilities."

If Marifeli Perez-Stable was in fact an agent of influence for the Castro regime (which Simmons asserts is a crime) does it not follow that she would deny it? Would she not have more credibility in her role as an oft-quoted expert if she appeared to be a critic of the regime while advocating for U.S. policy changes that favor it?

It's worth emphasizing that there have been literally dozens of arrests of Cuban agents over the last 15 years, the most noteworthy were a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst named Ana Belen Montes in 2001, the members of the WASP spy network in 1998 and college professors Carlos and Elsa Alvarez in 2006. Simmons notes that Cuban espionage in the United States dates back to the very beginning of the Castro regime.

5 comments:

curious said...

You forgot to mention that Carlos and Elsa Alvarez worked at FIU, where Perez-Stable is also a professor now. FIU also employs Lisandro Perez, who recently, in a public meeting, reportedly refused to acknowledge that Fidel Castro is a dictator. Gee, I wonder if the FIU connection is just a coincidence. I expect both FIU and the Herald would say so, so everything must be fine and dandy.

Voice of reason said...

Just read the Herald piece. "McCarthyite tactics." Check. "Witch hunt." Check. "Baseless allegations." Check.

Well, there you have it. They forgot "exile hysteria," but maybe they're being, you know, tactful (at least in print). I guess we can all rest easy now. Nothing to worry about, so just move along. Simmons, after all, is no different from some ancient Versailles regular who wouldn't know a counterintelligence operation from a trip to Home Depot. Just some kook with a fancy title (Lieutenant Colonel, if you must know). That Ana Belen Montes thing was just a lucky fluke. Hell, she probably wanted to get caught.

Besides, if the Herald, given its immaculate record in handling Cuban issues and its exquisite sensitivity to the Cuban-American community, not to mention its unassailable wisdom, sees fit to employ Ms. Perez-Stable to enlighten us about Cuban matters, well, the only proper response is to bow in humble gratitude. So what if she has an unsavory past that even she acknowledges (not that she could deny it, since it's on record)? So what if a professional, high-level U.S. government intelligence officer publicly indicates she's extremely questionable? Trivial, petty stuff, surely. Just your garden-variety little indiscretion (you know, like Herald reporter Oscar Corral soliciting some teen-aged prostitute).

So please, let's all be reasonable and adult about this. We can't continue to keep upsetting the powers that be at the Herald with this eternal refusal to roll over and play nice little exiles. You know how schoolkids in Cuba have to recite the mantra "We will be like Che (Guevara)"? Our motto should be "We will be like Ana Menendez" (I'd have said Carl Hiaasen, but that would set the bar too high; after all, we're only Cubans).

We should learn to respect our betters at Herald Plaza and understand that they're just doing this for our own good. It only LOOKS like they don't respect us and are sticking it to us yet again. I mean, if you were Herald management, and you wanted an "expert" to pontificate on Cuba topics, wouldn't you find someone like Ms. Perez-Stable the best conceivable choice, the most trustworthy, the most credible and acceptable one to the Cuban-American commnunity? Of course you would! If you don't believe me, just ak Joe Oglesby, head of the Herald's editorial page. I expect he'd set you straight.

daliesque said...

This is surreal. Why would the Herald let itself even APPEAR to be harboring a Castro agent? How does it expect Cubans to react to that perception or possibility? Are Herald executives so out of touch in their ivory tower that they can't see the obvious? Does the Herald want to lose even MORE credibility and business? Has the Herald learned nothing from its past mistakes?

What's more important here, the Herald's image and relationship with a very significant segment of its market, or what somebody like Joe Oglesby might want? We're talking irrational behavior--so irrational, in fact, that it encourages darker, more disturbing interpretations of the situation.

As far as Cuban exiles are concerned, anyone employed by media as any kind of authority or expert on Cuba MUST be above suspicion, period. Perez-Stable clearly is not, and never will be. Why is the Herald rubbing her in their faces? What's next, a column for Castro apologist Max Lesnick as an "alternative" voice? Is the Herald losing its mind, or is it just bound and determined to teach "those people" (as Clinton called exiles, just like he called Lewinsky "that woman") some sort of "lesson"?

Just in case the Herald is really clueless, here's a news flash: this matter is seriously offensive to the Cuban exile population it presumably wants as customers, so the Herald might wish to consider acting accordingly.

fed up said...

So let me get this straight. The Herald, despite being previously informed, and despite what Simmons has declared, persists in employing a highly dubious character I wouldn't trust even as far as I could throw her, to "enlighten" me, a Cuban, about Cuba issues. Unbelievable. But maybe not. Maybe this is just, hey, the Miami Herald. Well, tell you what, let them huff and puff about witch hunts and what not, pat each other on the back, and look down their holier-than-thou noses at us dim unsophisticated exiles (who, of course, couldn't possibly know the score on Cuba nearly as well as they do). Let them sell the damn paper to each other, because they sure as hell won't be selling it to me. We've put up with this kind of shit for way too long, meaning we've encouraged it or at least enabled it. Enough already.

unclear said...

Going by the linked Herald article, it doesn't look like she explicitly denies anything, but even if she does, does she deny being a Castro agent now, or being a Castro agent ever?