Code Name Blue Wren by Jim Popkin
A non fiction book written by Jim Popkin.
Code Name Blue Wren, is a book about an US intelligence agent that was a Cuban spy for more than 17 years. The case was one of the most important double agency cases in US history, due to the amount and importance of the information provided.
Ana Montes, the main character and double agent spy, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the mainland US at a young age. She has two siblings, and the relationship with her father had a big impact on her personality. He was an aggressive person that regularly when things didn’t go as he expected beat most of the family. From quite young she started to get interested in different books about socialism that she took a liking to. The new ideas that she was exposed to, influenced her political thinking and the relationships she made with like minded people.
After graduating from college she started working as an analyst in an US intelligence agency, and from there she developed her career, while changing agencies within different US establishments.
During her 20´s, at the beginning of her working career she was approached by a friend, who was a Cuban spy, and was offered a possibility of spying for Cuba. Ana was interested in it from the first moment and from then she started spying for Cuba. As she was working with very sensitive and private US government information, she was able to provide Cuba extremely valuable intel.
She had a solid and successful career working for the US. Her colleagues respected her, and considered Ana a valuable employee. She had several promotions and recognitions.
Ana’s lifestyle was demanding and stressful. She was having a double life with two highly demanding jobs. During the day she worked the normal working hours for the US agency and at night she provided sensitive information to Cuba.
Sending the information to Cuba was done with her computer using encryption or codes, and on rare occasions in person and at hidden places. The double life style that she was living had big implications on both her personality and personal life. Friends and family found she was getting more distance from them. To make the situation worse, Ana´s sister, and brother-in-law, had started working for the FBI.
Ana was able to provide plenty of information, while the most important is considered to be the one related to the NIFFY project, which involved the launching of secret satellites to spy on both Russia and Cuba.
There were several suspicions of Ana´s actitudes during many years, however, it was difficult to doubt a highly respected employee. After several years of hidden investigation by some FBI employees, they managed to make a solid case against her, thus allowing the FBI to formally investigate her.
The FBI found the necessary information to accuse her, and the court sentenced her to life in prison.
During an interview done with Ana after her arrest, she explained that her illegal activity was not due to money, but ideological ideas, as she believed that the actions of Americans against Cuba and other South American countries were wrong and immoral.
For centuries, Spain controlled Puerto Rico, colonizing it and importing slaves from Africa to harvest sugarcane and tobacco. But in 1898, the US Navy bombarded Spanish troops in San Juan and easily won over the island, while simultaneously taking military control over Cuba. In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States under terms of the Treaty of Paris. (The government of Cuba was temporarily handed to the Americans in 1899, with Cuba winning independence in 1902.) Congress in 1917 extended American citizenship to Puerto Ricans, but kept it as a US territory with limited rights. Puerto Ricans would have to register for the draft and fight on behalf of the US military but were denied statehood.
To this day, Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States is unequal. Puerto Ricans are US citizens but have no right to vote for president if they live on the island.
“She did it for idealistic reasons.
The twenty-seven-year-old “unhesitatingly agreed to work through the Cubans to ‘help’ Nicaragua,” Defense Department investigators later reported.
“The Castro regime has long targeted the United States for intensive espionage activities,”
The CIA’s numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro or destabilize his regime date back to the Kennedy Administration and the thwarted 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Many more attempts became public in 1975, when Senator Frank Church of Idaho conducted hearings on the CIA’s plots involving foreign leaders.
“at least eight plots involving the CIA to assassinate Castro from 1960 to 1965.”104 Some were absurd, involving poisoned wet suits, toxic cigars, and aerosol attacks. Others were more sophisticated and called for the use of mafia figures to take out the Cuban leader. In 1960, one of the mobsters asked his CIA handlers if he could be furnished with “some type of potent pill that could be placed in Castro’s food or drink,” according to CIA records that were declassified in 2007. The 702-page data dump, the CIA’s so-called “Family Jewels” report, details twenty-five years of misdeeds by the spy agency and helps to explain Castro’s fear of US meddling, and worse, in Cuba.
DIA, the nation’s primary producer of foreign military intelligence.
Today with more than sixteen thousand employees worldwide, DIA is the main intelligence arm for the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the combatant commands. It’s the CIA for the Department of Defense, if you will, disseminating highly classified information to American warfighters. The DIA closely tracks foreign militaries to protect the United States and its allies. There’s a need for an honest broker. In the 1950s, the Army, Navy, and Air Force were known to inflate assessments of Soviet capabilities and to inefficiently produce duplicative assessments of foreign forces. President John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, established the DIA in 1961 to provide impartial and integrated intelligence for the entire Department of Defense. The new agency proved its worth just a year later, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when DIA’s Chief of the Latin American Division helped to discover Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba—seventy-foot SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles hidden in the woods on the western end of the island.111 It was an early indication of the importance of the DIA to winning, or preventing, wars around the globe. Ana was now a fully recruited Cuban spy, an agent in place, deep behind enemy lines.
“In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them.”
DIA reassigned Ana to work full-time as a longform Nicaragua analyst.
The Cuban government and its DGI spy service were thoroughly in bed with the Sandinistas, having helped to train their guerrilla leaders prior to the Revolution and maintaining close ties once the Sandinistas ran Nicaragua throughout the bloody 1980s. Ana had an equally impressive understanding of the military capabilities of the Contras, the rebel forces supported by Reagan and the CIA that were battling the Sandinistas for control of Nicaragua.
With the end of the civil wars in both Nicaragua and El Salvador, Ana’s early justifications for helping Cuba had fizzled.
“The object of the conspiracy was for coconspirators to function as covert spies serving the interests of the government of the Republic of Cuba within the United States by gathering and transmitting information to the Cuban government…”
Ana compromised one of the most expensive and significant classified programs in recent US history.
Montes divulged to the Cubans intricate details about US stealth satellites that can orbit the earth undetected. Conventional
The secret MISTY satellite program that Ana compromised had a price tag in the billions, and was designed to be untraceable by the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Cubans, and other American adversaries.
“Who are you? Where is the meaning(s) in your life? Struggling with decisions? We all are.” —Ana’s psychiatrist, writing in Psychology Today
Ana is regarded by national security professionals as “one of the most damaging spies in US history” because of the longevity of her career, her nearly unlimited access to classified information, and the power she wielded as a Cuba expert inside the insular US Intelligence Community. Aldrich Ames at the CIA and Robert Hanssen at the FBI divulged intelligence to the Russians that crippled massive spy programs and led directly to the execution of well-placed operatives in the secret employ of the United States. Their double-dealing still has the power to shock. But as dangerous as Ames and Hanssen were, their crimes consisted primarily of selling the family jewels. Ana distinguished herself by not just giving away valuables to Havana, but simultaneously downplaying the Cuban threat. She’s forever enshrined in the rogues’ gallery of most harmful American spies by assuring generals in the morning that Cuba had become a paper tiger, while in the afternoon, robbing their SCIFs blind. Ana not only revealed the names of Cubans working undercover for the United States, a truly dangerous betrayal. She also “served as an agent of influence,” Van Cleave said, allowing her briefings and analytic reports to be “colored by her loyalties to Cuba.” The DIA’s Lisa Connors spent four months interviewing Ana after her arrest. Connors said Ana should have gotten a life sentence for her crimes. “She wasn’t just stealing information and revealing people and revealing our sources. But she also was influencing our policy,” Connors said in her first interview about the case. “She was incredibly dangerous because she affected our policy. We were not looking where we should have been looking because she was directing our attention elsewhere.”
Montes not only had a hand in drafting the 1998 Cuba report, but also passed some of our most sensitive information about Cuba back to Havana,”
Ana then explained her idealistic rationale for spying. Looking at Judge Urbina, she said: “I believe our government’s policy towards Cuba is cruel and unfair; profoundly unneighborly. And I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.”
She then fantasized that her traitorous behavior might somehow bring the two nations closer. “I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility toward Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.” She ended by expressing a gullible worldview of Cuba that ignored the Castro brothers’ more than forty-year history of political repression, their campaign to export Communism far and wide, and the many armed conflicts that Cuba has supported around the globe. “I hope for U.S. policy that it’s based, instead, on neighborly love, a policy that recognizes that Cuba, like any nation, wants to be treated with dignity and respect…” Ana told the judge. “It would enable Cuba to drop its defensive measures and experiment more easily with changes. And it would permit the two neighbors to work together and with other nations to promote tolerance and cooperation