Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Role of Cuban Intelligence Gathering in Regime Sustainment

Due to the long stemming political and economic ramifications of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior continues to collect information on U.S. interests through a variety of methods for economic and regime sustainment reasons.  Paranoia and fear of U.S. regime removal may be involved in the overall cause and effect driving Cuba’s intelligence gathering against the U.S., but the main emphasis is economical regime sustainment as it generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually and is viewed as one of the primary revenue streams for sustaining the state (House of Representatives, p. 16).

U.S. sanctions against Cuba “issued by the U.S. Government on July 8, 1963, under the Trading With the Enemy Act” (U.S. Department of Treasury, p. 4) has left Cuba almost isolated under modern capitalist globalization, and as a result Cuba has learned the value of “providing America’s adversaries with an endless stream of U.S. secrets collected by its Signals Intelligence sites, complemented with reporting from traditional human spies” (House of Representatives, p. 16).  When the term ‘U.S. interests’ is mentioned in transcripts by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. government, it is not exclusive to political and military interests.  Quite frequently it means heavy private sector interests, and that elevates Cuba to more of an economic hindrance to U.S. private sector interests rather than an actual military or political intelligence threat.

Much of the success that Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence has achieved in intelligence gathering on the U.S. has rippled down through the decades from the Cuban state’s Cold War experience with the Soviet Union in the form of KGB training and the “use of former Russian signals intelligence-gathering equipment” (Lefebvre , p. 460) that can be utilized due to Cuba’s close proximity of the United States.  Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence is reported to have one of the most successful SIGINT programs on the international stage, most likely due to its success in targeting “White House communications, key military communications nodes, NASA and U.S. Air Force communications associated with rocket telemetry and commercial services dealing with financial and commodity communications” (House of Representatives, p. 16).  The private sector is mentioned in the citation as commercial services, financial communications and commodity communications, and to understand the scope of private sector espionage a reference can be made to the state of Pennsylvania affidavit concerning the Chinese intelligence gathering, or espionage, against Westinghouse concerning nuclear reactor contract bidding with the state of China (therefore private sector negotiating with state entities).  With this in mind, it is easy to see how Cuba can help sustain itself through an international “market place of U.S. secrets” (House of Representatives, p. 9) led by foreign and international private sector buyers.

In addition to Cuban SIGINT efforts against the United States, HUMINT and OSINT intelligence gathering methods are also successfully employed by Cuba due to large Cuban exile and immigration populations within the United States, especially in the state of Florida.  Not only can Cuban intelligence infiltrators gather political, military, and economic information which “can find its way to other major U.S. opponents and be used by them against U.S. interests” (Lefebvre, p. 453), but can also be used for or against competing private sector entities under international globalization.

Cuba takes advantage of its proximity to the United States through intelligence gathering and intelligence marketing in order to somewhat counter U.S. economic sanctions, and while it may not be able to avoid U.S. influenced regime change for the long term future, it has succeeded in regime sustainment since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Department of the Treasury.  2012.  Cuba: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions.  Office of Foreign Assets Control, January 24, 2012.  Accessed December 4, 2014.

Hearing Before the Subcommitte on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives.  2012.  “Cuba’s Global Network of Terrorism, Intelligence, and Warfare” House of Representatives, May 17, 2012.  Accessed on December 4, 2014.

Lefebvre, Stéphane.  2009.  “Cuban Intelligence Activities Directed at the United States, 1959–2007”.  International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 22, no. 3 (June 2009): 452-469.  Accessed on December 4, 2014.

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