Wednesday, September 2, 2009

True Believer

by Scott W Carmichael Naval Institute Press 2007. $27.95. ISBN 9781591141006. Hardcover. 352 pages.
Ana Montes appeared to be a model employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Known to her coworkers as the Queen of Cuba, she was an overachiever who advanced quickly through the ranks of Latin American specialists to become the intelligence community's top analyst on Cuban affairs. But throughout her sixteen-year career at DIA, Montes was sending Castro some of America's most closely guarded secrets and at the same time helping influence what the United States thought it knew about Cuba. When she was finally arrested in September 2001, she became the most senior American intelligence official ever accused of operating as a Cuban spy from within the federal U.S. government. Unrepentant as she serves out her time in a federal prison in Texas, Montes remains the only member of the intelligence community ever convicted of espionage on behalf of the Cuban government.
Author Scott W Carmichael is a counterespionage specialist as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). While his writing style reads more like a police report, you quickly adopt his passion; which more than makes up for his writing style. 
Due to the highly classified nature of the DIA, little can be revealed of what was actually compromised. 
In 1986, US Army Special Forces Sgt Gregory A Fronius was killed in El Salvador. His death, while not conclusively proven, is believed to have been one of the results of Montes' espionage work. Carmichael had pledged his earnings from this book to the family of Sgt Fronius - truly a noble undertaking and an extra good reason to buy the book.
Modern intelligence and espionage continues to plague the US defense establishment and industry. The work of dedicated agents such as Mr Carmichael must be supported and encouraged at all levels.
Kudos to the author for bringing this story to public's attention. While overshadowed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the arrest of Ms Montes and subsequent conviction is a real success against for foreign espionage.

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