Can Havana trust Washington again?

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Progreso Weekly • 25 October, 2013

U.S. government officials are alerting some foreign intelligence services that documents detailing their secret cooperation with the United States are in possession of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, who is now in Russia.
Revelations give additional credibility to Cuba’s complaint that Havana, in good faith, gave Washington information about right-wing terrorist groups in South Florida only to see its own intelligence-gathering operatives arrested and tried.

The revelation, made by The Washington Post on Friday 25, gives additional credibility to Cuba’s complaint that Havana, in good faith, gave Washington information about right-wing terrorist groups in South Florida only to see its own intelligence-gathering operatives arrested and tried.

According to The Post, “the notifications come as the Obama administration is scrambling to placate allies after allegations that the NSA has spied on foreign leaders” and key functionaries in countries such as Germany, France, Pakistan, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.

“Trust in the United States may be compromised,” The Post points out, in what might be considered a major understatement.

During the trial of the 10 Cuban agents rounded up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was learned that the Cuban intelligence agency had provided a trove of documents to the FBI showing links between Cuban-American terrorists and several bombings in Cuba in the late 1990s.

Instead of taking action against the Miami-based terrorists, who included the notorious Luis Posada Carriles, the FBI in 1998 arrested the men and women who had collected the incriminating evidence. After a seven-month trial, five of them were sentenced in December 2001 to long prison terms. They became known as “The Cuban Five.”

One of them, René González, served most of his sentence and was allowed to return to Cuba after renouncing his U.S. citizenship. The four others – Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, and Fernando González – remain in prison.

Though the full extent of the contacts between the Cuban and U.S. intelligence services in the case of The Cuban Five was not made public, it is unlikely that they will be resumed, in the light of the recent disclosures about the NSA’s unbridled interception of communications worldwide.

If so, it would be a pity. Some cooperation between Cuban and U.S. agencies has proved to be beneficial in the areas of rescuing disabled vessels and spotting and halting smugglers of persons and drugs.

The fundamental issue is one of trust, one official in Washington told The Post. “We depend to a very great extent on intelligence-sharing relationships with foreign partners, mostly governments – or, in some cases, organizations within governments […] If they tell us something, we will keep it secret. We expect the same of them. [If that trust is undermined,] these countries, at a minimum, will be thinking twice if they’re going to share something with us or not.”

The Washington Post story can be accessed at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/officials-alert-foreign-services-that-snowden-has-documents-on-their-cooperation-with-us/2013/10/24/930ea85c-3b3e-11e3-a94f-b58017bfee6c_story.html

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