Belmont Club

"Agent 202 to Agent 123"

CNN reports that a former State Department official and his wife have been arrested for spying for Cuba.  The blog of the Legal Times says they were known as “Agent 202” and “Agent 123” respectively. They received instructions from their handlers via shortwave radio. Agent 202 was recruited in 1978.

According to the affidavit accompanying the indictment, Kendall, an army veteran and Johns Hopkins University PhD, was first recruited by Cuba during a visit to the island in 1978. At the time he was employed by the State Department’s Foreign Services Institute.

After returning from the island, he allegedly wrote that he had become “bitter” about the political situation in the United States, and that “watching the evening news is a radicalizing experience.”

“Everything one hears about Fidel suggests that he is a brilliant and charismatic leader,” he wrote. “Fidel has lifted the Cuban people out for the degrading and oppressive conditions which characterized pre-revolutionary Cuba. He has helped the Cubans to save their own souls. He is certainly one of the great political leaders of our time.”

Capitol Hill Cubans has a lot of detailed information, much of it apparently taken from the indictment. Agent 202 was discovered after an audit of his hard drive after retirement, plus analysis of communications intercepts, indicated that he had been spying for the Cubans.

According to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Kendall Myers began his work at the State Department in 1977, initially serving as a contract instructor at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Va. After living briefly in South Dakota, he returned to Washington, D.C., and resumed employment as an instructor with FSI. From 1988 to 1999, in addition to his FSI duties, he performed periodic work for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR).

Kendall Myers later began working full-time at the INR and, from July 2001 until his retirement in October 2007, he was a senior analyst for Europe for INR, where he specialized in intelligence analysis on European matters and had daily access to classified information through computer databases and otherwise. He received a Top Secret security clearance in 1985 and, in 1999, his clearance was upgraded to Top Secret/SCI. …

According to the affidavit, Kendall Myers traveled to Cuba in December 1978 after receiving an invitation from an official who served at the Cuban Mission to the United States in New York City. … Approximately six months after the trip, the Myers were visited in South Dakota by the official from the Cuban Mission in New York and, according to the affidavit, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers agreed to serve as clandestine agents of the Cuban government. …

The public is reminded that criminal complaints and indictments contain mere allegations and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

He was arrested after an April, 2009 FBI undercover operation caught him on tape agreeing to identify US government officials with responsibility for Latin America. … According to the affidavit, he also acknowledged delivering information to the CuIS that was classified beyond the “Secret” level. He further stated that he had received “lots of medals” from the Cuban government and that he and his wife had met and spent an evening with Fidel Castro in 1995.

A 2006 blog post from Stubborn Facts noticed a speech by Myers at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Advanced International Studies carried in a Times Online article.

The policy of hugging America close has been a failure for the British, a US State Department analyst claims … Dr Myers said that he could not think of anything to put on “the asset side of the ledger” for the Prime Minister other than being an articulate advocate of the war and foil for Mr Bush. “When Tony said it, at least the words strung along eloquently.” But he added: “Unfortunately, Tony Blair’s background was as an actor, not as an historian. If only he had read a book on the 1920s [when Britain briefly occupied Iraq], he might have hesitated.” …

He added that “in a certain sense I hope they [Britain] break it with us” because it was important for Britain to have stronger bonds with the EU. “But what I think and fear is that Britain will draw back from the US without moving closer to Europe. In that sense, London’s bridge is falling down.”

Kendall’s alleged and sudden outrage at the poor treatment of Cuba in 1978 during the Carter Administration and the six month period between his hiring by State and his recruitment by the foreign intelligence suggests that his sympathies were set long before then.  His story may begin long before the actual recruitment and extends, I suspect, beyond the involvement of Agent 123 as well.  The edges of conspiracy are vague and the real story is often buried beneath layers of misdirection. To ordinary people, the events as described in the affidavit sound like a bad episode from the Republic Serials, with a TS-SCI cleared federal employee receiving instructions over shortwave radio from a cigar-chomping dictator with plans to rule the hemisphere. This can’t happen, but it does. Implausible or not, this world exists. It’s odd to realize that there are people out there, wearing either white or black hats, who weigh their words habitually to make sure that one part of their lives doesn’t leak out into the other; who observe strange rules of transportation and communication; who are watching and are watched. The shadow wars are real. Ok. Take a deep breath and wait thirty seconds. Now we can forget that universe exists.

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