The FBI have arrested a husband and wife and charged them with spying for Cuba. Joseph Poprzeczny reports.
The Obama Administration, which is seeking rapprochement with communist Cuba, has been embarrassed by the exposure in the United States of two high-level agents who have been working for the Castro regime for nearly 30 years.
On June 4, the FBI arrested Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, and charged them with spying for Cuba. Court documents show the couple were recruited by the Cuban intelligence service in 1979 and worked for Havana until 2007.
They have appeared before a Washington DC court that has released documents disclosing their modus operandi. More importantly, the documents show how Cuba’s intelligence service conducted its operations in the US.
Kendall Myers served in the US Army Security Agency from 1959 to 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. During those years he was a linguist translating Eastern Bloc messages intercepted by American eavesdropping agencies.
US State Department
In 1972, he gained a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). After that he became an assistant professor of European Studies at SAIS and, after 1977, was a part-time employee at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI), teaching European studies.
While in that post Myers attended a lecture given by a Cuban intelligence officer who invited him and two colleagues to visit Cuba. Myer subsequently travelled to Cuba in 1978, during which time he kept a journal, which was later obtained by the FBI. According to his journal entries, Myers had almost unlimited admiration for the Cuban revolution and Cuba’s long-time dictator, Fidel Castro, describing him as “certainly one of the great political leaders of our time”. Soon after returning to America, the Myers couple were visited in their South Dakota home by an unidentified agent who completed their recruitment to Cuban intelligence.
According to an analysis of the case by the Texas-based intelligence think-tank Stratfor (June 10, 2009), “While they were recruited in 1979, the couple stated that they did not begin actively working for the Cuban intelligence service until 1981.
“After being recruited, Kendall Myers was allegedly instructed by his handler to move back to Washington and seek government employment in order to gain access to information deemed valuable to the Cubans. In 1981, he applied for a job at the Central Intelligence Agency, and in 1982, he returned to working as a part-time contract instructor at the FSI, and became chairman for Western European studies.
“In 1985, he applied for a full-time job at the FSI teaching Western European studies, and in 1999, Myers took a position at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), as the senior European analyst. Myers stayed in that position until his retirement in 2007. After his retirement from the State Department in 2007, Myers returned to SAIS and worked there until his arrest.”
In April this year, an FBI undercover operative, posing as a Cuban agent, approached Myers to arrange a meeting. Because the couple believed the operative was authentic, the three met several times at different Washington-area hotels.
From these meetings the FBI was able to gauge how the couple obtained information to pass on to their Cuban handlers. This even included using shopping-cart exchanges in supermarkets.
Stratfor’s assessment continues: “After the September 2001 arrest of Ana Montes, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s senior Cuba analyst (who admitted to spying for Cuba for ideological motives), the Myers became much more careful about contacts with their handler, and most face-to-face contact after that time was accomplished outside of the United States.
“They told the source that between January 2002 and December 2005, they travelled to Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico in order to meet with Cuban handlers. The FBI was able to verify all these trips through official records.”
After a 2006 trip to China, the Myers believed that they were under suspicion, so they discarded much of their incriminating equipment and documents. They also began using Internet cafés to communicate with handlers.
The court documents, according to Stratfor, show that the Myers were motivated by ideology, not money, as has so often been the case with American traitors. The couple even referred to Cuba as “home”.
Stratfor‘s appraisal concludes: “In view of the Myers’ case, the Montes case and other cases, like that involving Carlos and Elsa Alvarez, the Cubans clearly prefer to use agents who are ideologically motivated.
“One of the other interesting factors regarding this case is that in spite of Myers’ strong anti-American political beliefs – which were reportedly expressed in his classes – none of the background investigations conducted on him by the State Department provided any indication of concern.”
– Joseph Poprzeczny is a Perth-based historian and freelance writer.
Scott Stewart and Fred Burton, “Cuba: friends in high places”, Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc., Austin, Texas), June 10, 2009.