O dia-a-dia dos espiões mundiais

Depois das revelações de Edward Snowden sobre a espionagem electrónica levada a cabo pelos serviços secretos norte-americanos e britânicos, um novo conjunto de novas revelações promete abalar a estruturas de espionagem: a Al Jazeera teve acesso a um conjunto de documentos dos principais serviços de informações mundiais que, em vez de estarem centrados na vigilância electrónica, tratam, sobretudo, de relações humanas. São um olhar inédito sobre o dia-a-dia de pessoas cujas vidas devem ser secretas. Nalguns casos, muito longe do glamour dos filmes. Chamaram-lhe, os Spy Cables

O verdadeiro ataque à liberdade de imprensa

Em apenas 10 minutos, os serviços secretos britânicos recolheram cerca de 70 mil emails. entre eles estão as comunicações de jornalistas da BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Sun, NBC e do The Washington Post. Mais, alguns jornalistas de investigação foram classificados como “uma ameaça”. A revelação foi feita pelo The Guardian, com base nos documentos fornecidos por Edward Snowden. Sim, eles ainda continuam a publicar informação originária nessa gigantesca base de dados.

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A empresa amiga da secreta britânica

Como uma companhia britânica deu acesso aos serviços secretos britânicos acesso aos cabos de fibra óptica que transportam a informação de milhões de pessoas. Uma reportagem do Channel 4 News, com base em documentos revelados por Edward Snowden.

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o espião que foi longe demais

Em 1984, Jacqui conheceu Bob Lambert num protesto pelos direitos dos animais. tinha 22 anos. Apaixonaram-se. Um ano depois tiveram um filho. Mas em 1987, Bob desapareceu. A mulher nunca mais ouviu falar nele. Até que, em 2012, viu uma fotografia nas páginas do Daily Mail que o identificava como um espião que, nos anos 1980 e 1990, esteve infiltrado nos grupos defensores dos direitos dos animais. E que, várias vezes, terá ido longe demais. Uma história para ler na The New Yorker.

Ilustração: Alex Williamson

Ilustração: Alex Williamson

The Spy Who Loved Me

An undercover surveillance operation that went too far.

BY

I—JUNE 14, 2012
It was four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, and Jacqui had just got home from work. She made a pot of coffee and took it out to the garden with the Daily Mail. It was the start of her weekend. The sun was out. She sat down at a patio table and poured the coffee, taking a minute to enjoy the scent of the wisteria that was blooming on her trellis.

She opened the paper: the Queen in Nottingham for her Golden Jubilee; bankers under scrutiny; wives and girlfriends of the England football team. Absent-mindedly, she continued to read. She barely glanced at an article titled “How Absence of a Loving Father Can Wreck a Child’s Life.” A few pages later, she came to a photograph of a smiling young man with bouffy brown curls that parted like curtains around his eyes. Even after twenty-five years, she knew the face’s every freckle and line.
She subsequently told a parliamentary committee:

I went into shock. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started shaking. I did not even read the story which appeared with the picture. I went inside and phoned my parents. My dad got the paper from their nearest shop and my mum got out the photos of Bob and our son, at the birth and when he was a toddler. They confirmed to me, by comparing photos, it was definitely Bob.

Bob Robinson was Jacqui’s first love and the father of her eldest child. He had disappeared from their lives in 1987, when their son was two. (To protect her son’s privacy, Jacqui asked me not to use her last name.) Over the years, Jacqui had tried many times to track Bob down, but she had never been able to find him. Neither had any of the government agencies she had enlisted to help in the search. Bob had seemingly vaporized. Now there he was, staring back at her from the pages of a tabloid.

Jacqui tried to focus. “An undercover policeman planted a bomb in a department store to prove his commitment to animal rights extremists, an MP claimed yesterday,” the article that the picture accompanied began. “Bob Lambert is accused of leaving an incendiary device in a Debenhams in London—one of three set off in a coordinated attack in 1987.” (No one was hurt in the attacks, which caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to the stores, targeted because they sold fur products.) It went on to explain that Caroline Lucas, an M.P. for the Green Party, had invoked parliamentary privilege to make the accusation. She was calling for “a far-reaching public inquiry into police infiltrators and informers.” Jacqui read on. The officer, the article said, had insinuated himself into animal-rights groups in the nineteen-eighties, creating an alter ego under which, for several years, he led a double life. Bob Robinson was Bob Lambert, and Bob Lambert was a spy.

O artigo completo está aqui.

As suspeitas de um “ex-espião aborrecido”

O Diário de Notícias faz hoje manchete com a notícia de que o Manual de Procedimentos do Serviço de Informações e Segurança (SIS) recomenda aos espiões que acedam a bases de dados protegidas por lei para obterem informações sobre alvos ou eventuais fontes. Essa recomendação consta da secção do manual dedicada aos procedimentos de pesquisa humana cuja digitalização anda a circular como anexo de um email de um alegado antigo operacional dos serviços secretos que se diz “aborrecido” com a forma como os serviços têm vindo a ser tratados.

Para além da relevância noticiosa sobre a forma como os espiões actuam, o interessante aqui é que esse documento poderia ser utilizado como defesa por parte dos envolvidos no chamado caso das secretas (em que Jorge Silva Carvalho e um antigo director operacional foram acusados de, entre outros crimes, abuso de poder, pelo acesso indevido aos registos telefónicos do jornalista Nuno Simas). Ou seja: em tribunal, se o documento fosse desclassificado, como foi pedido, os arguidos poderiam argumentar que agiram com a cobertura do manual de procedimentos dos serviços. Será que o vão fazer?

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No email, com o argumento de que assim terá credibilidade, o suposto ex-espião anexa um documento PDF com aquela parte específica do manual. Além disso, coloca uma série de questões e faz várias acusações relacionadas com a actividades dos serviços e dos seus responsáveis. Algumas conhecidas, umas restritas, outras realmente novas. A maioria delas, se forem provadas, são graves. Muito. É este o email que pelos vistos já não é assim tão restrito e do qual retirei uma questão que se referia a duas pessoas em concreto.

“Sou um cidadão aborrecido com a forma como alguns ‘agentes políticos’, magistrados, jornalistas, comentadores e outros cidadãos têm vindo a tratar quer os Serviços de Informação nacionais, quer todos quantos ali trabalham.

Mas sou também, eu próprio, um ex-Oficial de Informações que após bastantes anos ao serviço do meu País não posso continuar a tolerar a forma como políticos em geral e a hierarquia superior dos Serviços de Informação Portugueses, em particular, parecem apenas interessados em sacudir a água do capote e a protegerem-se a si próprios e não quem deveria ser protegido.

Por esse motivo, consciente do que faço, resolvi escrever e enviar esta pequena carta aberta, com algumas questões que espero ver respondidas em breve e devidamente investigadas pelos nossos jornalistas e pela Justiça, caso esta ainda funcione.

Antes de mais, precisamos não esquecer o seguinte:

O Oficial de Informações é ensinado/treinado para

>   – mentir
>   – falsificar e usar documentos de todos os tipos
>   – manipular pessoas
>   – criar empresas para cobertura das atividades que é suposto executar (nomeadamente de consultoria e media)

Um Oficial de Informações que não seja capaz de fazer, entre outras coisas, o que acima se refere é um mau Oficial de Informações sem expectativas de progressão ou será um ex-Oficial de Informações, quer porque se demita, quer porque seja exonerado.

Tendo esclarecido esta questão prévia que parece ter sido esquecida por todos os “especialistas” que tenho lido e ouvido pronunciar-se sobre matérias relativas a Serviços de Informação, para os quais um Oficial de Informações deve ser um anjinho a quem apenas faltam as asas e a auréola, passemos a assuntos mais relevantes.

Os Oficiais de Informação portugueses foram todos, de uma forma ou outra, treinados pelos Serviços de países amigos tais como os EUA, UK, Alemanha, Espanha ou Israel.

TODOS os Oficiais de Informação portugueses com mais de 15 anos de serviço passaram largas temporadas nos países mencionados a serem formados.

Segue agora a tal série de questões que gostaria de ver respondidas e investigadas por quem tem capacidade e legitimidade para tal:

– o que sucedeu a um relatório bastante detalhado (SWOT) sobre o BPN, elaborado pelos Serviços de Informação e entregue (presumo) a Durão Barroso quando este era Primeiro-Ministro e estava V. Constâncio à frente do Banco de Portugal?

– quem autoriza as operações contra individualidades estrangeiras em território nacional (TN), violando a sua privacidade (e por vezes imunidade), através da entrada não autorizada em quartos de hotéis e da instalação de meios técnicos, para recolha de áudio e vídeo, com violação de cofres e acesso a equipamento informático ali deixado?

– quem autoriza que cidadãos cumpridores e sobre os quais não recai qualquer suspeita da prática de crimes, possam ser “rotinados” (seguidos, filmados, fotografados e controlados 24 horas por dia) por vezes durante semanas, apenas porque desempenham uma actividade ou ocupam um cargo (numa empresa ou na função pública) que pode ter interesse ou utilidade para os Serviços, sendo o único objetivo destas acções arranjar formas de tornar o dito cidadão cumpridor numa fonte?

– Sr. Secretário-Geral do SIRP, já esclareceu as dúvidas de Belém, relativas a violação da privacidade (nomeadamente de sistemas informáticos) da Presidência da República?

– quem autoriza os pagamentos a fontes que desempenham funções públicas e que, devido ao cargo, possuem informações relevantes com interesse para os Serviços? Estou a referir-me a funcionários das Finanças, da Polícia Judiciária, da PSP, da GNR e, também, a alguns magistrados (no que a estes últimos se refere, sob a forma de prendas que podem ir de viagens de férias a uma garrafa de champanhe no período de Natal?)

– e quem autoriza os pagamentos a jornalistas? E os senhores jornalistas, não gostariam de saber quem, de entre eles, recebe um, não negligenciável, complemento salarial todos os meses?

– […]

– quem autoriza a colocação de meios técnicos e humanos dos Serviços de Informação ao serviço das policias nomeadamente GNR, PSP e SEF? Falo, em especial, da colocação de câmaras miniatura em locais públicos para identificação e controle de “alvos” daquelas polícias.

– quem autoriza os Serviços de Informação a utilizarem uma(?) viatura com equipamento de intercepção de comunicações móveis a qual, tanto quanto sei, pertence a um prestigiado órgão de investigação criminal que “só procede a intercepção de comunicações judicialmente autorizadas”? E quem autoriza que o funcionário daquele OPC, responsável pelo referido equipamento, seja tratado como “fonte” e seja pago pelos seus “serviços”?

– quem autorizou a instalação de cavalos-de-Tróia informáticos em sistemas públicos, privados e pertencentes a entidades a quem é devida lealdade institucional, tais como a PJ, GNR e PSP? E para que é necessário este verdadeiro sistema de “pesca de arrasto” e a quem aproveita na realidade? Sr. Secretário-Geral, as equipas responsáveis por estas acções são naturalmente por si nomeadas e o resultado das acções é-lhe entregue. Ou não é?

– quem autorizou as operações técnicas (penetração de sistemas e intercepção de emails e comunicações móveis) a grandes escritórios de advocacia (nomeadamente na Avenida da Liberdade) os quais tratam de dossiers como as grandes privatizações e contam entre os seus clientes nomes de relevo angolanos, chineses e outros?

– como se processam, na realidade, as admissões aos Serviços de Informação e quais os critérios porque se regem, uma vez que olhando para os nomes de quem é admitido nos anos mais recentes, parece estarmos a olhar para uma lista de “quem é quem” de filhos, irmãos, enteados, ex-maridos e mulheres de pessoas ligadas às magistraturas, à política e à defesa?

– como, porquê, e exatamente para quê, foi contratado e nomeado Director de Área do SIS, um ex-funcionário da Europol (e inspector da PJ) que era naquela agência responsável por um departamento designado “IM21 Special Projects”? O que o fez aceitar vir para Portugal ganhar 1/4 do que auferia anteriormente? Porque foi ele o único dos envolvidos no chamado caso do “Super-Espião” a nunca ser ouvido – nem como testemunha – pelo Ministério Público?

– o que sucedeu, na realidade, para os dois funcionários do SIED, exonerados daquele Serviço na sequência do caso “Super-Espião”, (por falta de lealdade e violação de segredo de estado?) estarem agora a trabalhar na PJ, exatamente na unidade responsável pelo chamado “wet work”? Como pode alguém ser considerado como indigno de confiança para trabalhar nos Serviços de Informação e, por outro lado, ser confiável para trabalhar num dos locais mais sensíveis da PJ?

– e, finalmente, Sr. Secretário-Geral já apareceu o disco duro que estava no computador de um destes dois indivíduos atrás referidos? E sabe que existem cópias desse disco duro?

– e o que fizeram e fazem as diversas personalidades nomeadas para fiscalizar os Serviços? Almoçam e bebem um Porto de honra cada vez que visitam as sedes dos Serviços? É que eu nunca vi nenhum desses senhores enquanto ali trabalhei… Mas recentemente foi ouvi-los a debitar os seus vastos conhecimentos para canais de televisão e jornais, sobretudo durante o caso do chamado “Super-Esião”…

Para atestar que sou quem digo ser, segue em anexo um documento de doze páginas (das quais apenas 11 são relevantes) contendo o índice do chamado “Manual de Procedimentos” do SIS, em vigor desde 2006, bem como alguns excertos com eventual interesse. Penso que ajudarão, aqueles que ainda são suficientemente ingénuos para não saberem o que realmente faz um SI e o que é esperado (e ensinado) aos seus homens e mulheres.

A primeira página será entendida apenas por uns poucos (mas bons).

Esta carta irá ser enviada para toda a imprensa portuguesa e para o Ministério Público, por forma a que as questões não se desvaneçam no ar, como é hábito.

Um Ex-OI Aborrecido e Desiludido”

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: os espiões amadores que batem aos pontos os profissionais

Cerca de três mil pessoas espalhadas pelo mundo fazem parto do The Good Judgment Project. O que fazem? Através de pesquisas na internet dedicam-se a fazer previsões geopolíticas e geoestratégicas sobre os acontecimentos mundiais. E, de acordo com este artigo da NPR, são tão bons ou melhores do que os profissionais com acesso a informação classificada.

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The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the kitchen table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria.

It wasn’t the only question she was considering; there were others:

Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014?

Will Russian armed forces enter Kharkiv, Ukraine, by May 10? Rich’s answers to these questions would eventually be evaluated by the intelligence community, but she didn’t feel much pressure because this wasn’t her full-time gig.

“I’m just a pharmacist,” she said. “Nobody cares about me, nobody knows my name, I don’t have a professional reputation at stake. And it’s this anonymity which actually gives me freedom to make true forecasts.”

Rich does make true forecasts; she is curiously good at predicting future world events.

Better Than The Pros

For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of the Good Judgment Project, an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community.

According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions.

When Rich, who is in her 60s, first heard about the experiment, she didn’t think she would be especially good at predicting world events. She didn’t know a lot about international affairs, and she hadn’t taken much math in school.

But she signed up, got a little training in how to estimate probabilities from the people running the program, and then was given access to a website that listed dozens of carefully worded questions on events of interest to the intelligence community, along with a place for her to enter her numerical estimate of their likelihood.

“The first two years I did this, all you do is choose numbers,” she told me. “You don’t have to say anything about what you’re thinking, you don’t have to justify your numbers. You just choose numbers and then see how your numbers work out.”

Rich’s numbers worked out incredibly well.

She’s in the top 1 percent of the 3,000 forecasters now involved in the experiment, which means she has been classified as a superforecaster, someone who is extremely accurate when predicting stuff like:

Will there be a significant attack on Israeli territory before May 10, 2014?

The Superforecasters

In fact, she’s so good she’s been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose predictions are reportedly 30 percent better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information.

Rich and her teammates are that good even though all the information they use to make their predictions is available to anyone with access to the Internet.

When I asked if she goes to obscure Internet sources, she shook her head no.

“Usually I just do a Google search,” she said.

And that raises this question:

How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google searches in their suburban town homes can outpredict members of the United States intelligence community with access to classified information?

How can that be?”

O artigo completo está aqui. 

A luta contra a vigilância da NSA

Glenn Greenwald na primeira pessoa

Em 2013, Glenn Greenwald publicou a história do ano: o escândalo de espionagem da NSA. Elaboradas com base nos documentos desviados por Edward Snowden, as sucessivas notícias revelaram práticas ilegais por parte da agência de espionagem norte-americana. Por causa delas, o companheiro de Greenwald foi preso durante várias horas num aeroporto britânico. A Vice viajou até ao Rio de Janeiro – onde ele vive – para o entrevistar e saber mais sobre este advogado transformado em jornalista paladino das liberdades individuais.

O mais importante assalto de que nunca ouvimos falar

A 8 de Março de 1971, um pequeno escritório do FBI em Filadélfia foi assaltado. Os ladrões levaram apenas documentos. No entanto, esses papéis provavam que o director do FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, tinha ordenado inúmeras acções de vigilância e espionagem sobre os grupos de activistas que lutavam pelos direitos civis e pelo fim da guerra do Vietname. Aos poucos, a documentação começou a chegar a alguns jornais – que publicaram a história. Os autores do roubo nunca foram conhecidos: até agora. Uma das primeiras jornalistas a abordar o assunto, no The Washington Post, Betty Medsger, escreveu um livro sobre a história. Mais: conseguiu convencer alguns dos protagonistas a assumir a autoria do assalto. Na época em que as revelações dos documentos de Edward Snowden ainda estão a causar impacto e a provocar mudanças, conhecer a postura do governo norte-americano ao longo dos anos dá uma outra perspectiva às coisas. Uma história incrível, para ler aqui.  

O caso de Edward Snowden

Explicar assuntos complexos de uma forma simples é uma arte. Mas quando é bem conseguido, como é o caso desta infografia animada sobre Edward Snowden, nem damos pelo tempo passar.

Espionagem informática: a versão da NSA

Entre a comunidade de informações dos Estados Unidos a National Security Agency (NSA) é também conhecida por outro nome: Never Say Anything (nunca dizer nada). No entanto, perante as sucessivas revelações feitas pela imprensa a partir dos documentos cedidos por Edward Snowden, a agência decidiu mudar a sua política de silêncio e deu ao programa 60 Minutes acesso às suas instalações. O jornalista John Miller – que começa por dizer que já trabalhou num gabonete governamental na área das informações – pôde falar com funcionários e analistas que explicam até como os metadados dos telemóveis são usados para identificar potenciais terroristas. Na primeira parte deste programa os responsáveis da NSA defendem os seus programas de espionagem, garantem que cumprem escrupulosamente a lei e revelam que Edward Snowden tem em mãos um milhão e meio de documentos confidenciais – incluíndo 31 mil sobre o Irão e a China que lhes permitiria proteger-se da espionagem norte-americana.

Como a NSA controla os telemóveis dos potenciais alvos

Depois dos emails e pesquisas na internet era apenas uma questão de tempo até alguém noticiar que National Security Agency controla milhões de dados diários sobre o uso de telemóveis para localizar possíveis alvos. Os programas da agência servem também para localizar os possíveis acompanhantes desses suspeitos que, por sua vez, se podem passar a tornar, eles próprios, alvos. A notícia é do The Washington Post, mais uma vez com base na documentação fornecida por Edward Snowden.

Esta é a explicação em vídeo de como tudo funciona.

E este o desenho infográfico

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A evolução do poder da NSA desde o 11 de Setembro

Criada em 1958, a National Security Agency teve capacidades de vigilância limitadas durante muito tempo. Tudo mudou com o 11 de Setembro de 2001. Este é um bom resumo, do The New York Times.

Esqueçam o Big Brother: a NSA é que nos está a vigiar

Ainda não perceberam a importância do escândalo da espionagem electrónica da National Security Agency e o que ela significa para as nossas vidas e privacidade? O The Guardian, um dos jornais que tem tomado a dianteira nesta série de revelações baseadas nos documentos entregues por Edward Snowden, montou uma página interactiva que o explica ao detalhe. Este trabalho reúne a informação – incluindo documental – de todos os artigos que o jornal publicou, a par de infografias animadas, comentários em vídeo de políticos, analistas, jornalistas, advogados e proprietários de empresas ligadas às novas tecnologias. É o sonho de qualquer repórter fazer um trabalho assim. Chamam-lhe NSA Files: Decoded. Ora vejam.

NSA Files: Decoded

As revelações de um director-adjunto da CIA

Mike Morell entrou para a CIA em 1980. Estava ao lado de George W. Bush quando dois aviões embateram nas Torres Gémeas. Chegou a director adjunto, cargo que ocupou durante os mais conturbados anos da história da agência: o pós 11 de Setembro. Um dos últimos casos com que teve de lidar foi a fuga de informação de Edward Snowden, que caracterizou como a pior de sempre. Antes de deixar a agência, foi director interino. Pela primeira vez falou a um programa de televisão. No caso, a John Miller, do 60 minutes. E o que disse é importante.

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: os espiões israelitas em Damasco

O conselho de segurança da ONU já acordou uma resolução para a Síria. O regime comprometeu-se a entregar as armas químicas. Mas para isso foi preciso utilizá-las e matar milhares de pessoas. No meio de todo este processo, um país manteve-se nos atento e influente nos bastidores: Israel, que há anos lida com a possibilidade de a Síria usar armas químicas e fornecê-las ao Hezbollah. A história já tem umas semanas e foi publicada na Foreign Policy. Mas continua a valer a pena ler.

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The Spies Inside Damascus

The Mossad’s secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.

BY RONEN BERGMAN | SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that “a red line.” The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons — and which also have emerged as the United States’ primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.

According to two former high-ranking military intelligence officials with whom I had spoken recently, Israeli intelligence agencies believed at the time that Assad would not use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and would keep his chemical arsenal as a bargaining chip to be traded in exchange for political asylum for himself, his loyal wife, and his close associates, if necessary. Israel was wrong.

On March 10, 2013, Israeli intelligence sources began reporting that the Syrian regime had made use of chemical weapons. A number of different and cross-checked sources produced this information. Among them: sources that eavesdropped on the Syrian army’s tactical frequencies and surveillance satellites that monitored movement out of a bunker known to protect chemical weapons.

Israel shared its findings with the United States, but Washington would not acknowledge those findings’ veracity. It was clear to the Israelis that the Americans saw those findings as a hot potato that the president was in no mood to hold. Without grasping the deep political significance of publicizing this material (or perhaps doing so intentionally to put pressure on Washington), Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, the head of the Aman, the Israeli military intelligence corps’ research division, stated clearly in an April 23 speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its citizens.

This utterance angered and embarrassed the U.S. administration. Washington stuttered for a few days and demanded clarifications from Israel. In the end, and following areport submitted to the United Nations by Britain and France, the Obama administration had to admit that the informationwas in fact correct. Since then, to avoid similar commotions, Aman officers are forbidden to appear in public conferences.

Either way, the intelligence coordination between Israel and the United States has not suffered, and Israel continues to share the vast amounts of information that it has about Syria with the United States. Published reports credit Israel with giving the CIA, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons” after the massive Aug. 21 sarin attack outside Damascus.

“We have a very extensive knowledge of what is happening in Syria. Our ability to collect information there is profound. Israel is the eyes and ears, sometimes exclusively, sometimes as complementary aid, to what the U.S. intelligence is able or unable to collect itself,” Maj. Gen. Uri Sagi, Israel’s former chief of military intelligence, told me on Sept. 19. While the threat of an American attack on Syria — and a possible Syrian counterattack on Israel — has subsided for the moment, the Israeli-American efforts to penetrate the Assad regime continue. This is a history of those efforts.

American and Israeli spies have long been partners. “Information we collected, especially by Unit 8200 [Israel’s eavesdropping corps], has always been of the highest value to the NSA [U.S. National Security Agency] and other U.S. intelligence agencies,” Sagi noted. A top-secret memorandum, recently revealed by theGuardian, shows that the NSA passes along raw intercepts to Unit 8200. But the partnership hasn’t always produced results. Regarding the 1990-1991 Gulf War, for instance, “one must honestly admit that when it came to Iraq back then, both Americans and Israelis had very little information to share,” Sagi said.

At the time, the joint effort to spy on Syria’s weapons of mass destruction wasn’t much better.

In March 1990, North Korea’s premier visited Damascus, and the two states signed a secret deal for military and technological cooperation that centered on the supply of Scud C missiles and launchers to Syria. In early February 1991, the first consignment of some 30 missiles was shipped to the Syrian port of Latakia. The NSA, Israeli intelligence later learned, was aware that something was going on, but Washington refrained from informing Tel Aviv because the Americans feared that the Israelis would try to intercept the shipment and start yet another Middle Eastern brawl.

However, Israel had sources of its own. The Mossad — Israel’s national intelligence agency — was keeping an eye on the ship. Agents of the Mossad’s Caesarea division, who are trained to penetrate Arab countries, were waiting in Morocco for the vessel that had set sail from North Korea and had docked in a number of African ports en route to the Mediterranean Sea and Latakia. Two Mossad operatives, working undercover as tourists, successfully dove under the ship and attached a powerful transponder to it. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet was supposed to launch a missile to hone in on the beacon signal on the ship and blow the vessel to smithereens. In the end, however, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir decided to call the operation off out of a fear that it would spark a major conflagration in the Middle East due to the fact that the Gulf War was under way.

In retrospect, two former Israeli intelligence officials with whom I spoke in early September — one from the Mossad and one from the Aman — expressed regret at Shamir’s decision.

“If we were to make a point at that time,” one of them said, “that we will not allow Syria to further develop missiles to deliver WMD, we might not be threatened today by a huge arsenal of missiles able to strike any place in Israel with chemical agents.”

For now, the Israeli assessment is that Assad will not attack Israel, even if he is attacked by U.S. forces. Israel, however, is preparing for a counterstrike. To some degree, Israel is already involved, as it is helping the United States to collect intelligence on Syria.

O artigo completo está aqui.

Descobertas matinais: os outros agentes secretos da CIA

Durante a Guerra Fria a CIA treinou corvos, pombos, golfinhos e até gatos para agirem como verdadeiros espiões. Os animais colocavam escutas e transportavam objectos que permitia aos analistas da agência estar um passo à frente dos adversários. Agora, um antigo treinador contou inúmeros detalhes do projecto à revista do Smithsonian, de Outubro. O nome da escola: I.Q. Zoo. Não havia animal que não conseguissem treinar.

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Leitura para o fim-de-semana: Ana Montes, a espia de Fidel nos EUA

A história de Ana Montes é tão incrível que é ainda mais incrível nunca termos ouvido falar nela. Nascida em 1957 numa base do exército norte-americano, tornou-se analista do sistema de inteligência dos Estados Unidos. O irmão, Tito, é agente especial do FBI. Teve um namorado, Roger Corneretto, que trabalhava no departamento do Pentágono dedicado a Cuba. A sua irmã, Luci, fez carreira no FBI e ganhou vários prémios por descobrir espiões cubanos. Mas à noite, e durante 17 anos, Ana trabalhava para Fidel Castro: ouvia mensagens codificadas, passava ficheiros encriptados em restaurantes conhecidos e a viajar incógnita para Havana.

As autoridades americanas consideram-na uma das mais bem sucedidas agentes duplas da história dos serviços secretos. Foi presa pouco depois dos atentados do 11 de Setembro e as notícias da sua prisão foram completamente abafada pelos acontecimentos. Mais de 10 anos passados da sua prisão, o The Washington Post publicou a sua história. Foi em Abril. Mas mais vale divulgá-la ao fim de quatro meses do que continuarmos sem a conhecer.

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Ana Montes did much harm spying for Cuba. Chances are, you haven’t heard of her.

By Jim Popkin

Ana Montes has been locked up for a decade with some of the most frightening women in America. Once a highly decorated U.S. intelligence analyst with a two-bedroom co-op in Cleveland Park, Montes today lives in a two-bunk cell in the highest-security women’s prison in the nation. Her neighbors have included a former homemaker who strangled a pregnant woman to get her baby, a longtime nurse who killed four patients with massive injections of adrenaline, and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the Charles Manson groupie who tried to assassinate President Ford.

But hard time in the Lizzie Borden ward of a Texas prison hasn’t softened the former Defense Department wunderkind. Years after she was caught spying for Cuba, Montes remains defiant. “Prison is one of the last places I would have ever chosen to be in, but some things in life are worth going to prison for,” Montes writes in a 14-page handwritten letter to a relative. “Or worth doing and then killing yourself before you have to spend too much time in prison.”

Like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen before her, Ana Montes blindsided the intelligence community with brazen acts of treason. By day, she was a buttoned-down GS-14 in a Defense Intelligence Agency cubicle. By night, she was on the clock for Fidel Castro, listening to coded messages over shortwave radio, passing encrypted files to handlers in crowded restaurants and slipping undetected into Cuba wearing a wig and clutching a phony passport.

Montes spied for 17 years, patiently, methodically. She passed along so many secrets about her colleagues — and the advanced eavesdropping platforms that American spooks had covertly installed in Cuba — that intelligence experts consider her among the most harmful spies in recent memory. 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.

***

In the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI’s Miami field office was on high alert. Most of the hijackers had spent time in South Florida, and FBI personnel there were desperate to learn whether any more had stayed behind. So when a supervisor asked Lucy Montes to come to his office, she didn’t blink. Lucy was a veteran FBI language analyst who translated wiretaps and other sensitive communications.

But this impromptu meeting had nothing to do with Sept. 11. An FBI squad leader sat Lucy down. Your sister, Ana, has been arrested for espionage, he informed her, and she could face the death penalty. Your sister, Ana, is a Cuban spy.

Lucy didn’t scream, didn’t storm out in disbelief. Instead, she found the news strangely reassuring. “I believed it right away,” she recalled in a recent interview. “It explained a lot of things.”

Major news organizations reported on the arrest, of course, but it was overshadowed by nonstop coverage of the terrorist attacks. Today, Ana Montes remains the most important spy you’ve never heard of.

***

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Ana Montes with her family at the FBI training facility at Quantico in 1989. From left, father Alberto, Ana, sister Lucy, then-sister-in-law Joan and brother Tito. (Photograph courtesy family)

Born on a U.S. Army base in 1957, Ana Montes is the eldest child of Emilia and Alberto Montes. Puerto Rico-born Alberto was a respected Army doctor, and the family moved frequently, from Germany to Kansas to Iowa. They settled in Towson, outside Baltimore, where Alberto developed a successful private psychiatric practice and Emilia became a leader in the local Puerto Rican community.

Ana thrived in Maryland. Slender, bookish and witty, she graduated with a 3.9 GPA from Loch Raven High School, where she noted in her senior yearbook that her favorite things included “summer, beaches … chocolate chip cookies, having a good time with fun people.” But the bubblegum sentimentality masked a growing emotional distance, grandiose feelings of superiority and a troubling family secret.

To outsiders, Alberto was a caring and well-educated father of four. But behind closed doors, he was short-tempered and bullied his children. Alberto “happened to believe that he had the right to beat his kids,” Ana would later tell CIA psychologists. “He was the king of the castle and demanded complete and total obedience.” The beatings started at 5, Lucy said. “My father had a violent temper,” she said. “We got it with the belt. When he got angry. Sure.”

Ana’s mother feared taking on her mercurial husband, but as the verbal and physical abuse persisted, she divorced him and gained custody of their children.

Ana was 15 when her parents separated, but the damage had been done. “Montes’s childhood made her intolerant of power differentials, led her to identify with the less powerful, and solidified her desire to retaliate against authoritarian figures,” the CIA wrote in a psychological profile of Montes labeled “Secret.” Her “arrested psychological development” and the abuse she suffered at the hands of a temperamental man she associated with the U.S. military “increased her vulnerability to recruitment by a foreign intelligence service,” adds the 10-page report. Lucy recalls that even as a teenager Ana was distant and judgmental. “We were only a year apart, but I have to tell you that I never really felt close to her,” Lucy said. “She wasn’t one that wanted to share things or talk about things.”

***

Ana Montes was a junior at the University of Virginia when she met a handsome student during a study-abroad program in Spain. He was from Argentina and a leftist, friends recall, and helped open Montes’s eyes to the U.S. government’s support of authoritarian regimes. Spain had become a hotbed of political radicalism, and the frequent anti-American protests offered a welcome diversion from schoolwork. “After every protest, Ana used to explain to me the ‘atrocities’ that the U.S.A. government used to do to other countries,” recalls Ana Colón, a fellow college student who befriended Montes in Spain in 1977 and now lives near Gaithersburg. “She was already so torn. She did not want to be American but was.”

After college, Montes moved briefly to Puerto Rico but could not find suitable work. When a friend told her about an opening as a clerk typist at the Department of Justice in Washington, she put her political considerations aside. A job was a job.

Montes excelled at the DOJ’s Office of Privacy and Information Appeals. Less than a year later, after an FBI background check, the Department of Justice granted Montes top-secret security clearance. She could now review some of the DOJ’s most sensitive files.

While holding down her day job, Montes began pursuing a master’s degree at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Her political views hardened. Montes developed a hatred for the Reagan administration’s policies in Latin America and especially for U.S. support of the contras, the rebels fighting the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Montes was now a budding Washington bureaucrat and a full-time student at one of the country’s premier universities. But she was about to take on another demanding assignment: spy in training. In 1984, the Cuban-intelligence service recruited her as a full-blown agent.

Sources close to the case think that a friend at SAIS served as a facilitator for the Cubans, helping to identify potential spies. 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.”

Montes must have seemed a godsend. She was a leftist with a soft spot for bullied nations. She was bilingual and had dazzled her DOJ supervisors with her ambition and smarts. But most important, she had top-secret security clearance and was on the inside. “I hadn’t thought about actually doing anything until I was propositioned,” Montes would later admit to investigators. The Cubans, she revealed, “tried to appeal to my conviction that what I was doing was right.”

CIA analysts interpret the recruitment a bit more darkly. Montes was manipulated into believing that Cuba desperately needed her help, “empowering her and stroking her narcissism,” the CIA wrote. The Cubans started slowly, asking for translations and bits of harmless intel that might assist the Sandinistas, her pet cause. “Her handlers, with her unwitting assistance, assessed her vulnerabilities and exploited her psychological needs, ideology, and personality pathology to recruit her and keep her motivated to work for Havana,” the CIA concluded.

Montes secretly visited Cuba in 1985 and then, as instructed, began applying for government positions that would grant her greater access to classified information. She accepted a job at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s major producer of foreign military intelligence.

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Montes, right, at a party in Madrid in 1977.

In an early mistake, Montes had confided to her old friend from Spain, Ana Colón, that she had visited Cuba and had had a fling with the cute guy who toured her around the island. Montes also revealed that she was about to take a DIA job. “I was dumbfounded,” Colón recalled. “I couldn’t understand why somebody with her leftist beliefs would be willing to work for the U.S.A. government and for the military.” Montes said she wanted to be part of the political action and was “an American girl, after all.” But days after the confession, Montes cut her girlfriend off. Colón called and wrote letter after letter for 2 1/2 years, to no avail. Montes wouldn’t engage. Colón never heard from Montes again.

Back in Miami, Lucy Montes also was puzzled by her sister’s decision to work for the Defense Department. But she loved her sister and was so eager to make a connection that she didn’t press the point. Ana had become more introverted and rigid in her views since joining DIA. “She would talk to me less and less about things that were going on with her,” Lucy said. Ironically, Ana now had much in common with her siblings. Although Juan Carlos, the baby of the family, had become a deli owner in Miami, Lucy and her other brother, Alberto “Tito” Montes, had chosen careers helping to protect the United States. Tito had become an FBI special agent in Atlanta, where he still works, and his wife was an FBI agent. Lucy had become an FBI Spanish-language analyst in Miami, a job she still holds, frequently working on cases involving Cubans. Her husband at the time worked for the FBI, too.

Of her family members, only Lucy would be interviewed. She agreed to talk for the first time — more than a decade after her sister’s arrest — to make her views on Ana clear. “I don’t feel the way that a lot of her friends seem to feel, like there’s a good excuse for what she did, or I can understand why she did it, or, you know, what this country did is wrong. There’s nothing to be admired,” Lucy said.

***

For the next 16 years, Ana Montes excelled — in both Washington and Havana. Hired by the DIA as an entry-level research specialist, she was promoted again and again. Montes quickly became DIA’s principal analyst for El Salvador and Nicaragua, and later was named the DIA’s top political and military analyst for Cuba. In the intelligence community and at DIA headquarters, Montes became known as “the Queen of Cuba.” Not only was she one of the U.S. government’s shrewdest interpreters of Cuban military affairs — hardly surprising, given her inside knowledge — but she also proved adept at shaping (and often softening) U.S. policy toward the island nation.

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Montes received a certificate of distinction from CIA Director George Tenet in 1997. (Courtesy Defense Intelligence Agency)

Over her meteoric career, Montes received cash bonuses and 10 special recognitions for her work, including a certificate of distinction that then-CIA Director George Tenet presented to her in 1997. The Cubans also awarded their star student with a medal, a private token of appreciation that Montes could never take home.

She became a model of efficiency, a warrior monk embedded deep within the bureaucracy. From cubicle C6-146A at DIA headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, she gained access to hundreds of thousands of classified documents, typically taking lunch at her desk absorbed in quiet memorization of page after page of the latest briefings. Colleagues recall that she could be playful and charming, especially with bosses or when trying to talk her way into a classified briefing. But she also could be arrogant and declined most social invitations.

Montes would clock out at DIA, then start her second job at her Macomb Street apartment in Cleveland Park. She never risked taking a document home. Instead, she fastidiously memorized by day and typed in the evenings, spewing whole documents into a Toshiba laptop. Night after night, she poured years’ worth of highly classified secrets onto cheap floppy disks bought at Radio Shack.

Her tradecraft was classic. In Havana, agents with the Cuban intelligence service taught Montes how to slip packages to agents innocuously, how to communicate safely in code and how to disappear if needed. They even taught Montes how to fake her way through a polygraph test. She later told investigators it involves the strategic tensing of the sphincter muscles. It’s unknown if the ploy worked, but Montes did pass a DIA-administered polygraph in 1994, after a decade of spying.

Montes got most of her orders the same way spies have since the Cold War: through numeric messages transmitted anonymously over shortwave radio. She would tune a Sony radio to AM frequency 7887 kHz, then wait for the “numbers station” broadcast to begin. A female voice would cut through the otherworldly static, declaring, “Atención! Atención!” then spew out 150 numbers into the night. “Tres-cero-uno-cero-siete, dos-cuatro-seis-dos-cuatro,” the voice would drone. Montes would key the digits into her computer, and a Cuban-installed decryption program would convert the numbers into Spanish-language text.

Montes also took the unusual risk of meeting the Cubans face-to-face. Every few weeks, she would dine with her handlers in D.C. area Chinese restaurants, where Montes would slide a fresh batch of encrypted diskettes past tiny dishes of Chinese delicacies. The clandestine handoffs also took place during Montes’s vacations, on sunny Caribbean islands.

Montes even traveled to Cuba four times for sessions with Cuba’s top intelligence officers. Twice, she used a phony Cuban passport and disguised herself in a wig, hop-scotching first to Europe to cover her tracks. Two other times she got Pentagon approval to visit Cuba on U.S. fact-finding missions. She would meet at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana during the day but slip away to brief her Cuban superiors.

Back in the States, when Montes needed to convey an urgent message, she reached for a pager. Montes would seek out pay phones at the National Zoo, the Friendship Heights Metro or by the old Hecht’s in Chevy Chase to call pager numbers controlled by the Cubans. One beeper code would mean “I’m in extreme danger”; another, “We have to meet.” Schooled in spycraft by the KGB, the Cubans relied on the storied tools of the trade. Montes’s pager codes and shortwave-radio notes, for example, were written on specially treated paper. “The frequencies and the cheat sheet for the numbers, that was all on water-soluble paper,” explained the FBI’s Pete Lapp, one of two top agents on the case. “You throw it in the toilet, and it evaporates.”

***

Spying was lonely. Montes could confide only in her handlers. Family gatherings and holidays with her two FBI siblings and their FBI-employed spouses became tense affairs. At the beginning, the Cubans provided enough of a social life. “They were emotionally supportive. They understood my loneliness,” Montes told investigators. But as she turned 40, Montes became despondent. “I was finally ready to share my life with someone but was leading a double life, so I did not feel I could live happily,” she revealed. The Cubans set her up with a lover, but after a couple of days of fun, she realized she would not find happiness with a “mail order” groom.

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When FBI agents covertly searched Montes’s Cleveland Park apartment, they found her laptop and the shortwave radio she used to communicate with Cuba. (Photograph by Matthew Girard)

Ana’s alienation only grew when, by strange coincidence, Lucy began working on the biggest case of her career: a massive crackdown on Cuban spies operating in the United States. It was 1998, and the Miami field office had uncovered a Cuban spy ring based in Florida, the so-called Wasp Network. More than a dozen members strong, the Wasp Network was infiltrating Cuban exile organizations and making inroads into U.S. military sites in Florida upon its capture. For Lucy, the Wasp case marked the crowning achievement of her career. The FBI had called on her to translate hours of wiretapped conversations of Cuban spies who were trying to penetrate the U.S. Southern Command base in Doral. Lucy earned praise from the FBI brass and an award from a local Latin chamber of commerce. But she never shared the news with Ana. Although Ana was one of the preeminent Cuba experts in the world and should have been ecstatic that her sister had helped expose a Cuban spy ring, Lucy was convinced Ana would just change the subject. “I knew she would have no interest in hearing about it or talking about it,” Lucy said.

But Lucy’s triumph became Ana’s despair. Ana’s handlers suddenly went dark. They refused to contact her for months as they assessed the fallout from the investigation. “Something that gave me fulfillment disappeared,” she later told investigators. Ana bottomed out. She experienced crying spells, panic attacks and insomnia. She sought psychiatric treatment and started taking antidepressants. CIA-led psychologists would later conclude that the isolation, lies and fear of capture had triggered borderline obsessive-compulsive traits. Montes began showering for long stretches with different soaps and wearing gloves when she drove her car. She strictly controlled her diet, at times eating only unseasoned boiled potatoes. At a birthday party at Lucy’s home in 1998, Ana sat stone-faced and barely spoke. “Some of my friends thought she was very rude, that there was something seriously odd with her. And there was. She was cut off from her handler,” Lucy said.

Inside the DIA, the star analyst remained above suspicion. Montes had succeeded beyond the Cubans’ wildest dreams. She was now briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council and even the president of Nicaragua about Cuban military capabilities. She helped draft a controversial Pentagon report stating that Cuba had a “limited capacity” to harm the United States and could pose a danger to U.S. citizens only “under some circumstances.” And she was about to earn yet another promotion, this time a prestigious fellowship with the National Intelligence Council. An advisory body to the director of central intelligence, the NIC was then at CIA headquarters in Langley. Montes was about to gain access to even more treasured information. Her spy career would have reached unfathomable heights, had it not been for a back-bench DIA employee named Scott Carmichael.

***

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DIA spy-hunter Scott Carmichael. (Photograph by Mike Morgan)

Round-faced and often stuffed uncomfortably in size 44 suits from Macy’s, Carmichael defies the stereotype of the sophisticated, Georgetown-trained mole hunter. He laughingly describes himself as “a Kmart security guard,” but for the past quarter-century the former cop from Wisconsin’s dairy belt has hunted spies for the DIA.

In September 2000, Carmichael got a hot lead. Veteran DIA counterintelligence analyst Chris Simmons had been approached by a female intelligence officer. She had risked her career to inform Simmons that the FBI had spent two years fruitlessly trying to identify a U.S. government employee who appeared to be spying for the Cubans. It was an “UNSUB” case, meaning a search for an unidentified subject. The FBI knew that the UNSUB had high-level access to U.S. intelligence on Cuba, had purchased a Toshiba laptop to communicate with Havana and a few other tidbits. But with so few details, the FBI investigation had stalled.

Carmichael got to work. He and his colleague Karl “Gator” James began inputting some of the FBI’s closely held clues into their employee databases. DIA workers surrender many of their privacy rights when applying for security clearances, and Carmichael had access to reams of personal financial records, medical histories and detailed travel itineraries. The computer search produced more than a hundred possible employee matches. After scanning through about 20 subjects, the name “Ana Belen Montes” popped onto Carmichael’s screen.

Carmichael knew her. Four years earlier, one of Montes’s fellow DIA analysts had squealed on her, troubled by her occasionally aggressive efforts to access sensitive information. Carmichael had even interviewed Montes and thought she had been lying. “I was left with this nagging doubt,” he recalls. But Montes had been able to explain away all her actions, and Carmichael had closed the case. Now the computer screen was blinking Montes’s name, and he was convinced she must be a spy. “I knew, I really knew it was her,” he said.

But the FBI was unimpressed. Lead agent Steve McCoy riddled holes in Carmichael’s thesis, pointing out that many other federal workers and contractors matched the same circumstantial shreds of evidence that had supposedly tied Montes to the case. And some of Carmichael’s evidence made no sense.

Carmichael conceded there were holes in his theory and reminded himself that Montes was a stellar employee. He also knew that few women have been prosecuted for espionage in America since the Cold War. Still, Carmichael was certain he was on the right track. As he walked out of the FBI that first day, he swore a pledge. “I can remember looking off, in the direction of the DIA and being so freakin’ pissed off,” Carmichael fumed years later. “I told Gator we’re going to war. I said, ‘We’re getting rid of that … woman, and these guys don’t know it yet, but they’re opening a case on her.’ ”

Carmichael built a dossier on Montes and began badgering McCoy with facts, dates and coincidences. He made excuses to stop by McCoy’s office to talk about Montes and fill in holes. And when he was ignored, he went over McCoy’s head.

After nine weeks, Carmichael’s relentless campaign paid off. McCoy was sold and persuaded headquarters to open a full investigation. “The bureau got really lucky when the DIA came to us with Montes as a suspect,” said Pete Lapp, McCoy’s partner on the case. Despite their differences, McCoy says Carmichael deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his tenacity: “He broke the case. He gave us our subject,” and “from that point on, the FBI made the case.”

Once the FBI was fully engaged, it assigned more than 50 people to work the investigation and won permission from a skeptical Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to conduct surreptitious searches of Montes’s apartment, car and office. FBI operatives tailed Montes and filmed her making suspicious calls on pay phones. Lapp used a national security letter, a form of administrative subpoena, to gain unfettered access to Montes’s credit records. Montes, he learned, had applied for a line of credit in 1996 at a CompUSA store in Alexandria. Her purchase? The same model of Toshiba laptop that the FBI had learned about from its original source when it began its UNSUB investigation. “It was awesome, it was awesome,” Lapp recalls. “This was regular old detective work.”

Still, no one had witnessed Montes meeting a Cuban, typing coded messages at work or stuffing anything classified into her pocketbook. For Lapp, then, there was a lot riding on the first sneak-and-peek of Montes’s apartment. He needed concrete proof that Montes was a spy. Yet he couldn’t risk tipping her off with a messy search. “There’s no bigger stress that I’ve had professionally than being in someone’s apartment, legally, with them not knowing it and having a chance to get caught,” said Lapp, a former police officer. “You’re being a cat burglar, legally, but you can get caught, and the entire case is blown.”

Adding urgency was Montes’s pending promotion to the CIA advisory council. Carmichael needed to quietly stall the assignment. With help from then-DIA director Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, they concocted a simple ruse. At the next big staff meeting, someone would casually mention that a large number of DIA employees were on loan to outside agencies, a common practice. Wilson would explode and announce a total freeze on external assignments. The theatrics worked. Montes never knew that the agency-wide moratorium was designed just for her. Dozens of supervisors at other Washington agencies had called Wilson to complain, but the bogus temper tantrum kept Montes out of the CIA.

***

Just as the FBI’s criminal case was building steam, Montes fell in love. She had begun dating Roger Corneretto, a senior intelligence officer who ran the Cuban intelligence program for SouthCom, the military installation the Wasp network had tried to infiltrate. Eight years her junior, Corneretto was attracted to Montes’s ambition, tight skirts and smarts.

Corneretto said that, at first, he enjoyed the challenge of trying to woo the DIA “ice queen.” “It took a long time for her to finally let me in, and when she did I realized that warmth and niceness were not going to come pouring out in a way to make up for how she was and for her inexplicable hostility to good people,” Corneretto recalled in a recent e-mail.

Corneretto is married now and still works for the Pentagon. He reluctantly agreed to discuss his ill-fated office romance. “As a close community we were all fooled, but on top of that, I was even dating her, so [my] sense of shame and guilt and failure and personal responsibility was indescribable,” he said. He calls Montes “an unapologetic, highly educated, volunteer thug for a police state” and declares that “she will never be off the hook with me.”

Despite her boyfriend’s obvious intel potential, investigators believe that Montes’s affections were real. She fantasized about starting a family and ditching her espionage career. But her handlers refused to let their top producer quit. “I’m a human being with needs that I couldn’t deny. I thought the Cubans would understand,” she later revealed to her debriefers. But spy agencies don’t work that way. “She naively believed that they would thank her for her assistance and allow her to stop spying for them,” the CIA commented in its analysis.

***

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FBI agents Steve McCoy, left, and Pete Lapp. (Photograph by Charlie Archambault)

On May 25, 2001, Lapp and a small team of black-bag specialists slipped inside Apartment 20. Montes was out of town with Corneretto, and the FBI searched her closets and laundry bins, paged through shelves of neatly stacked books and photographed personal papers. They spotted a cardboard box in the bedroom and carefully opened it. Inside was a Sony shortwave radio. Good start, Lapp thought. Next, techs found a Toshiba laptop. They copied the hard drive, shut down the computer and were gone.

Several days later, a secure fax machine at the Washington field office began churning out the translated contents of the hard drive. “That was kind of our eureka moment,” Lapp said.

The documents, which Montes had tried to delete, included instructions on how to translate numbers-station broadcasts and other Spy 101 tips. One file mentioned the true last name of a U.S. intelligence officer who had been operating undercover in Cuba. Montes had revealed the agent’s identity to the Cubans, and her Cuban intelligence officer thanked her by noting, “We were waiting here for him with open arms.”

But the FBI needed more. It wanted the crypto codes that it was certain Montes carried in her purse. It fell to Carmichael to design a plan so Montes would abandon her pocketbook in her office. As described in Carmichael’s 2007 book, “True Believer,” the elaborate stunt included a bogus software glitch and a phony invitation to speak at a meeting just one floor away. The conference-room location was close enough Montes might not bring her pocketbook, and the meeting was kept short enough that she wouldn’t need her purse to buy lunch afterward.

On the day, two IT geeks huddled by Montes’s cubicle to investigate an annoying new computer malfunction. One of them happened to be FBI Special Agent Steve McCoy. When her colleagues weren’t looking, McCoy tossed Montes’s pocketbook into his toolbox and slipped off. The FBI quickly copied the contents and returned the pocketbook. Inside her purse were pager warning codes and a phone number (area code 917) later traced to Cuban intelligence.

Without any eyes-on evidence of a dead drop of classified documents, though, the FBI worried that Montes would be able to plea-bargain her way out of trouble. But they were out of time. Hijacked planes had just slammed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and overnight the DIA was on a war footing. Montes was named an acting division chief, based on her seniority. Making matters worse, DIA supervisors who were ignorant of the investigation had selected Montes as a team leader to process target lists for Afghanistan. Wilson, the DIA director, had demanded strict operational security regarding Montes. But now he wanted her out of the way. Cuba had a long history of selling secrets to the United States’ enemies. If Montes obtained the Pentagon’s war plan for Afghanistan, DIA officials worried, the Cubans would eagerly pass the information to the Taliban.

Carmichael came up with one final deception. On Sept. 21, 2001, a DIA supervisor called Montes with an urgent request from the DIA inspector general’s office to help deal with an infraction by one of her subordinates.

Moments later, Montes appeared in the inspector general’s office and was ushered into a conference room, where McCoy and Lapp were waiting for her. McCoy played good cop, suggesting vaguely that a technical source or an informant had led them to her. Montes went pale and stared ahead, blankly. McCoy soft-pedaled her culpability, hoping she might try to offer innocent rationales for unauthorized contacts with Cuban officials. But when Montes asked if she was under investigation and requested a lawyer, the charade ended. “I’m sorry to tell you, but you are under arrest for conspiracy to commit espionage,” McCoy announced. Lapp slapped on the handcuffs, and they escorted Montes out of the DIA for the last time.

A nurse, oxygen tanks and a wheelchair had been positioned in the wings, but the Queen of Cuba didn’t need any help. “We figured she would just kind of collapse, be a wreck,” Lapp said. “And I think she could have just carried both of us out on her back. She walked out that calm — I won’t say ‘proud’ — but with that kind of composure.”

Later that day, an FBI evidence team scoured Montes’s apartment for hours. Hidden in the lining of a notebook they found the handwritten cipher Montes used to encrypt and decrypt messages, scribbled shortwave radio frequencies and the address of a museum in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where she was meant to run in an emergency. The crib sheets were written on water-soluble disappearing paper.

***

For Lucy Montes, Ana’s arrest was humiliating. She and Tito had worried they would lose their FBI jobs, and the anger kept coming in waves. But for nearly a decade, Lucy saw little point in piling on against Ana. “I thought it was better to be a sister and not a judge and jury,” Lucy said.

But in late 2010, Ana went too far. From her Texas prison cell, she wrote an angry letter suggesting that Lucy should see a psychologist to deal with her latent rage. The hypocrisy was too much. “I thought now would be a good time for me to tell you exactly what I think about you,” Lucy replied on Nov. 6, 2010, in a two-page letter she shared with this reporter. “I never told you before because … it seemed a cruel thing to do since you were in prison. But you need to know what you’ve done to all of us.”

Lucy began by invoking their beloved mother, Emilia. “You should know you ruined Mom’s life. Every morning she wakes up devastated by what you did and where you are,” Lucy wrote. It’s not enough, Lucy added, that Mom “was married to a violent man for 16 years and raised four children by herself. No, you had to ruin her final years when she should be living in peace and contentment.”

Then she turned to the rest of Ana’s inner circle. “You betrayed your family, you betrayed all your friends. Everyone who loves you was betrayed by you,” Lucy wrote. “You betrayed your co-workers and your employer, and you betrayed your nation. You worked for an evil megalomaniac who shares or sells our secrets to our enemies.”

Finally, Lucy tore down Ana’s tired rationalizations. “Why did you really do what you did? Because it made you feel powerful. Yes, Ana, you wanted to feel powerful. You’re no altruist, it wasn’t the ‘greater good’ you were concerned for, it was yourself. You needed power over other people,” Lucy concluded. “You are a coward.”

In interviews, Lucy refuses to make excuses for her sister. While her late father did have a frightening temper, Lucy also remembers him as a compassionate man with solid values. “We all grew up in the same household, we all had the same parents, so you can’t blame everything on what happened at home,” Lucy said. “If there’s one thing my father taught us, it’s respect for the law and authority. It never even entered my mind that my sister would be capable of such a thing, because we weren’t raised that way.”

***

Ana Montes lives today at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, in a 20-inmate unit reserved for the nation’s most dangerous female offenders. She could have been charged with treason, a capital offense, but pleaded guilty to espionage in exchange for a 25-year sentence. She still has another decade to go. “Apparently it’s pretty horrific in there for her,” Lucy says. “She says it’s like being in an insane asylum.”

U.S. military and intelligence agencies spent years assessing the fallout from Montes’s crimes. At a congressional hearing last year, the woman in charge of the damage assessment testified that Montes was “one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history.” Former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave told Congress that Montes “compromised all Cuban-focused collection programs” used to eavesdrop on high-ranking Cubans, and it “is also likely that the information she passed contributed to the death and injury of American and pro-American forces in Latin America.”

Strict prison rules bar Montes from talking to the media and all but a few friends and relatives. But in her private correspondence, she refuses to apologize. Spying was justified, she says, because the United States “has done some things that are terribly cruel and unfair” to the Cuban government. “I owe allegiance to principles and not to any one country or government or person,” Montes writes in one letter to a teenage nephew. “I don’t owe allegiance to the US or to Cuba or to Obama or to the Castro brothers or even to God.”

***

Lucy Montes knows all about allegiance. When Ana walks out of prison on July 1, 2023, Lucy will be waiting. She has offered to let Ana live in her home for a few months, to get settled. “There’s nothing acceptable about what she did. On the other hand I don’t feel like I can turn my back on her, because she’s my sister.”

Jim Popkin is a writer living in Washington.

Uma explicação simples para a espionagem na internet

Edward Snowden, herói ou vilão? Vocês decidem.

Como era previsível, Edward Snowden – a fonte do The Guardian e do The Washington Post no escândalo do Prism, o programa que permite à Agência de Segurança Nacional dos Estados Unidos interceptar todo o tipo de comunicações electrónicas – tornou-se uma figura polémica. Há aqueles que o consideram um herói, que luta pela transparência e pelo cumprimento da lei. Outros, acreditam que ele é um traidor e que, por isso, merece ir para a cadeia. Os argumentos de ambos os lados são válidos. Numa altura em que o seu paradeiro é desconhecido e em que o Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos já está a preparar as acusações contra ele, é interessante tentar perceber o que os leitores deste blogue acham do que ele fez. Por isso, O Informador estreia-se no mundo das sondagens. Não custa muito. Basta um clique.