Connect with us

World

How Cuban Spy Used Incredible Memory To Betray US

Published

on

Cuban

Ana Belén Montes poses for a photo shortly after her release from a 20-year prison sentence. Her brown hair is streaked with grey, and she is approximately 66 years old.

There was little evidence that Montes had spent years as a covert Cuban spy embedded deep within the US government. Or that she was formerly regarded as one of the most dangerous intelligence operators targeting the country.

That, according to experts, is what made her the ideal spy.

Ana Montes was caught on September 21, 2001, and was later found guilty of plotting to spy on the United States.

Cuban

US Intelligence Searching For Decades

For nearly a decade, US intelligence authorities had been looking for a Cuban mole inside the government, but determining who was sending sensitive information to the Cubans proved to be a herculean effort.

“It truly is a needle in a haystack,” said Pete Lapp, a former FBI agent who, along with his partner, Steve McCoy, was part of the team that proved Montes was a Cuban spy.

Lapp and his team were tasked with finding and eliminating the mole. To complicate matters further, Mr. Lapp claimed that the Cubans also attempted to conceal Montes’ gender by implying that the spy was a man with high-level clearance, thus broadening the pool of prospective targets.

“It would have been a lot easier if we had known we were looking for a woman,” he admitted.

The FBI was looking for a lady and a top US intelligence official in Cuba and Central America.

The Cuban Queen

Cuba played a long game with Montes. Mr. Lapp says that she was asked to spy for them before graduating from graduate school. So, she became an “operative of the Cuban intelligence service” and joined the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

“She did an excellent job of being near-perfect, and everything she accomplished as an analyst simply served to build a wall of security around her,” he explained.

Ana Montes moved up in the US intelligence services. Before becoming a senior intelligence operative studying Cuba, she first worked on a portfolio for El Salvador and Nicaragua. Her expertise earned her the title “Queen of Cuba” within the agencies.

She also sent some of the most sensitive information about the country to a foreign government that was against it for more than 17 years.

Cuban

On The Run for 17 Years

“One of the reasons I think she never got caught was she primarily memorized the knowledge that she took away,” said Jim Popkin, author of Code Name Blue Wren, which chronicles Montes’ climb through the ranks and eventual capture.

“She had a day job where she sat silently, studiously, and memorized as many sensitive documents as possible. Her nocturnal duty was to go home, type it up on a Toshiba laptop, encrypt it, and send it to her handler.”

Instead of working for money, Montes eventually admitted to investigators that she spied on the US because she opposed her government’s interventionist actions in Central America and Cuba.

Mr. Popkin said, “She was especially dangerous because she told the real names of American spies in Cuba.”

That information alone could have put lives in danger, but Montes also revealed the existence of a multibillion-dollar stealth satellite used by the US to spy on Russia, China, and Iran.

“That’s why intelligence officers call her one of the most damaging spies in American history and, in my opinion, the most damaging female spy we’ve ever had,” Mr. Popkin added. By 2000, intelligence agencies suspected Montes of being a spy, and Mr. Lapp and his team narrowed down on her as a suspect.

An International Spy

“Let’s not focus on catching her in the act of spying,” I insisted. “Let us first ensure that we have the proper individual,” Mr. Rapp stated.

After looking for the mole for years, Lapp and his team finally found him over Memorial Day weekend in 2001. They went to Montes’ house and found a laptop under her bed with secret information from the 1990s.

“I thought, holy [expletive], holy [expletive],” said Mr. Lapp, whose inquiry will be detailed in the upcoming book Queen of Cuba.

Montes receives a National Intelligence Certificate of Distinction from CIA Director George Tenet.

Leading the compartmentalized life of a spy meant lying not just to the nation’s highest intelligence organizations but also those closest to her, including her family.

Cuban

The Cuban Queen

Her sister, Lucy, was one of four close family members who worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The day Montes was caught, the rest of the world discovered she was a spy for the Cuban government.

Mr. Popkin talked to the family for his book, and he said that the family’s anger at her betrayal was mixed with relief when she was sent to prison.

“It did give [Lucy] some solace just to understand a little bit more about her sister and why their once-close connection had deteriorated over the years,” he added.

Ana Montes was released on January 6 after serving most of her 25-year term. Montes said she wishes to live a “quiet and private existence” now that she is out of prison and back in Puerto Rico. However, within hours of her release, Montes stated that she was still thinking about Cuba.

“I encourage anyone who wishes to focus on me to do so on significant subjects, such as the major problems confronting the Puerto Rican people or the United States’ economic embargo on Cuba,” she said in a statement provided to BBC News by her lawyer, Linda Backiel.

“Who has asked the Cuban people in the previous 60 years if they want the United States to enforce a strangling embargo that causes them to suffer?”

But Montes’ release was a setback for Mr. Lapp and the men and women who had worked to bring her to justice for years.

“I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less painful,” he added.

SOURCE – (BBC)

 

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

Continue Reading

Sports

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

Published

on

china
China | AP news Image

Chinese divers won seven of eight gold medals at the previous Olympics in Tokyo, making it one of the best performances in Olympic history.

More is predicted this time in Paris.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

China has dominated diving for decades. However, it has never completed the elusive gold medal sweep at the Games. In a recent article, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official publication, called this lapse “regrettable”.

How is that for pressure?

“I hope that all of us can stand on the top of the podium,” Tokyo gold medalist Quan Hongchan said in an interview with state media.

They might, and the evidence is already startling.

China has won 47 out of 64 gold medals, dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when it earned its first diving gold. Add to that 23 silver and 10 bronze. If you start counting from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has won 27 of 32 gold medals.

That’s almost perfect, but someone always spoils the party, such as American David Boudia, Australian Matthew Mitcham, British Tom Daley, or Russian Ilya Zakharov.

The People’s Daily called the team to “launch an all-out bid this time for gold medals in all diving events.”

Three years ago, at 14, Quan won gold on the 10-meter platform. Teammate Chen Yuxi, who won gold in synchro on the platform, was only 15. Both have returned and are most likely in separate classes.

Wang Zongyuan, the silver medalist on the 3-meter springboard in Tokyo behind teammate Xie Siyi, is expected to be the favorite in Paris.

The American Challenge
Drew Johansen will coach the United States diving team for the fourth consecutive Olympics. Wenbo Chen, the University of Minnesota’s Chinese-born coach, assists the head coach at Indiana University. Purdue coach David Boudia, who won an Olympic gold medal on the platform in 2012, is also on the staff.

Three Tokyo silver medalists are back: Andrew Capobianco, Jessica Parratto, and Delaney Schnell. They all reached the podium in synchronized events, which may provide the best opportunities for Americans and others.

Parratto will dive again with Schnell on the 10-meter synchronized platform while Capobianco is on the 3-meter springboard. He did not qualify for synchronized. Schnell and Daryn Wright will compete on the platform.

“The world has been catching up to the Chinese in all the events except for women’s platform,” Johansen told reporters. “Chinese women on the tower are still way ahead of the world.”

Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook have a chance in the 3-meter synchronized springboard, while Bacon and Alison Gibson should compete as soloists.

Carson Tyler is the new name to watch in both the 10-meter platform and the 3-meter springboard, a rare in both disciplines and reminiscent of Greg Louganis’ double-double gold medals in 1984 and 1988.

“Carson has shown up as a great mental performer,” Johansen added.

“We’ve managed to beat China in certain events over the years and I feel like some parity has come to the sport,” he said afterward. “We have been hovering around those gold medals and points away from getting them.”

According to Johansen, part of the objective is to create pressure on the Chinese by attempting more difficult dives that, if completed successfully, will earn them more points.

“It’s a risk-reward game,” he explained.

The Mental Game
Johansen praises Xu Yiming, who taught Chinese Olympic divers from the mid-1980s to the 2000s, for sharing his technical expertise with the rest of the globe. Johansen considers Xu a mentor from their time together while Johansen was coaching at Duke University.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

“He taught me a lot of their physical techniques right after he retired,” she said.

After incorporating this knowledge, the next plateau is mental conditioning.

“I physically couldn’t train them any better,” he told me. “I didn’t know anyone who was doing it better. The only way I could help my athletes succeed was to mentally prepare them, which I didn’t know how to do.

Johansen says he’s lately started creating a “performance think tank” to educate mental focus and sports psychology. Without naming names, he stated that the team comprises a Navy SEAL, a book author, and others who practice executing under pressure.

The program was launched only a few months ago and includes Paris, but the primary focus is on the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

“We acquired China’s physical skills, but if we want to beat them, we must also overcome them intellectually. “I’m convinced of that,” Johansen stated. “We have an advantage over the Chinese if we can be mentally stronger and better performers.”

SOURCE | AP

Continue Reading

World

Former President Trump Survives Being Shot at Pennsylvania Rally

Published

on

former President Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents

The United States Secret Service has announced that former President Trump is safe after being shot at a rally in Pennsylvania. A video shows Trump grimacing and placing his right hand to his head before the Secret Service intervenes.

“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a Secret Service spokesperson said on X after what the agency called an incident. “This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

Multiple shots were heard at the outdoor rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, shortly after President Trump began his speech.

The Secret Service then surrounded President Trump pushing him beneath the platform, while armed officers took up positions at the front of the stage. President Trump repeatedly raised his fist to the audience and shouted as he was led to a vehicle by the Secret Service.

There is no information on whom the attempted assassin may have been or if any arrests have been made.

former President Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents

President Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents – AP Image

In a statement, Trump’s communication director, Steven Cheung, said that the former president “is fine” and being checked over at an unnamed medical facility. He said President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act.

Reuters reports the venue where Trump was speaking was abandoned with chairs knocked over and yellow police tape around the stage. A helicopter flew above and law enforcement officers walked through the area, the video feed showed.

Armed law enforcement officers were also seen on a roof near the stage where President Trump was standing.

In 2020 a New York man upset with what he perceived as Donald Trump’s threat to democracy was criminally charged on Monday with threatening to kill the former president, who he once referred to as Hitler, the Guardian reported.

According to an unsealed complaint, Thomas Welnicki, 72, of Rockaway Beach, showed an interest in assassinating the then-president in an interview with US Capitol police in July 2020, as well as repeated calls to the Secret Service the following year.

Welnicki was charged with threatening to kill, kidnap, and do bodily damage to Trump. He allegedly told Capitol police that if Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to resign, he would “acquire weapons” and “take him down”. In one voicemail left with the Secret Service, he stated that he would “do anything I can to take out” Trump.

Continue Reading

World

On Anniversary Of Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Art’s Spirituality Keeps Fans Engaged Around The Globe

Published

on

Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo | AP news Image

MEXICO CITY — Frida Kahlo has no religious affiliations. So, why did the Mexican artist depict various religious motifs in her paintings before her death on July 13, 1954?

“Frida conveyed the power of each individual,” said Ximena Jordán, an art researcher and curator. “Her self-portraits are a reminder of the ways in which we can exercise the power that life — or God, so to speak — has given us.”

Kahlo, born in 1907 in Mexico City, where her “Blue House” is still exposed to the public, drew inspiration from her own experiences to create her art.

The bus accident she survived in 1925, the physical suffering she suffered as a result, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, all fueled her creativity.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo | AP News Image

On Anniversary Of Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Art’s Spirituality Keeps Fans Engaged Around The Globe

Her perspective on life and spirituality forged a bond between her paintings and their viewers, many of whom are still ardent admirers of her work on the 70th anniversary of her passing.

According to Jordán, one of the keys to understanding how she accomplished this is through her self-portraits.

Kahlo appears in several of her paintings, yet she does not depict herself in a naturalistic manner. Instead, Jordán claimed, she “re-created” herself using symbols conveying inner human life’s profundity.

“Diego and I” is an excellent example. Kahlo painted it in 1949, and it sold for $34.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York in 2021, setting an auction record for a work by a Latin American artist.

Kahlo’s demeanor in the picture is calm despite the tears that fall from her eyes. Rivera’s face is on her forehead. In the center of his head is a third eye, representing the unconscious mind in Hinduism and enlightenment in Buddhism.

According to certain views, the artwork reflects the grief Rivera caused her. Jordán, on the other hand, proposes an alternative interpretation.

“The religiosity of the painting is not in the fact that Frida carries Diego in her thoughts,” Jordán informed me. “The fact that she bears him as a third eye, and Diego has a third eye of his own, reflects that his affection for her made her transcend to another dimension of existence.”

In other words, Kahlo illustrated how people connect with their faith via love.

“I connected with her heart and writings,” said Cris Melo, a 58-year-old American artist whose favorite Kahlo piece is the one mentioned above. “We had the same love language, and similar history of heartache.”

Melo, unlike Kahlo, was not involved in a bus accident that penetrated her pelvis and resulted in a lifetime of surgery, abortions, and leg amputations.

Melo, however, claimed to have suffered from bodily pain for years. And amid that anguish, afraid that her strength might wane, she told herself, “If Frida could handle this, so can I.”

Even though most of her work shows her emotional and physical agony, Kahlo’s paintings do not evoke melancholy or helplessness. On the contrary, she is viewed as a woman — not just an artist — capable of dealing with a wounded body but never losing her spirit.

“Frida inspires many people to be consistent,” said Amni, a London-based Spanish artist who only goes by his creative name and uses artificial intelligence to reimagine Kahlo’s work.

“Other artists have inspired me, but Frida has been the most special because of everything she endured,” she remarked. “Despite her suffering, the heartbreak, the accident, she was always firm.”

With him, as with Melo, Kahlo’s most unforgettable pieces are those in which Rivera appears on her forehead, almost like a third eye.

According to Jordán, Kahlo struck a chord that most artists of her day did not. Influenced by revolutionary nationalism, muralists such as Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros maintained a distance from their audience through academic works primarily concentrating on their social, historical, and political beliefs.

Kahlo, on the other hand, was open about her physical difficulties, bisexuality, and the variety of ideas that weigh on the human spirit.

In “The Wounded Deer,” she is transformed into an animal whose body bleeds from being shot with arrows. And, like a martyr in Catholic imagery, Kahlo’s expression is composed.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo | AP News Image

On Anniversary Of Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Art’s Spirituality Keeps Fans Engaged Around The Globe

Kahlo, who supported Marxist theory, saw the Catholic Church as emasculating, meddling, and racist. Despite her dislike for the organization, she recognized that devotion leads to a positive spiritual journey.

A decade after her accident, undoubtedly overwhelmed by her survival, Kahlo began collecting votive gifts, which are little paintings that Catholics offer in appreciation for miracles. Her Blue House still houses the 473 votive offerings.

Jordán speculated that Kahlo may have considered her survival a miracle. “The only difference is that she, due to her context, did not attribute that miracle to a deity of Catholic origin, but to the generosity of life.”

Perhaps that is why, in her final days, she painted a sequence of brilliant, colorful watermelons as her last work.

She painted “Vida la vida,” or “Long live life,” on the canvas above a split watermelon beneath a gloomy sky.

SOURCE – (AP)

Continue Reading

Trending