Ana Belen Montes, the most effective and damaging Cuban spy known to have penetrated U.S. intelligence, was a major warrior in the long nasty war between the United States and its communist neighbor.
On Jan. 6, after serving just over 21 years of a 25 year sentence for espionage, she was released from a maximum security prison, perhaps drawing the curtain on the deadly clandestine conflict involving efforts by Cuban exiles and their U.S. allies to reverse the revolution led by Fidel Castro.
By the time of her arrest in 2001, Montes had been a mole inside the Defense Intelligence Agency for 17 years, feeding U.S. secrets to Cuba during the civil wars in Central America, where Cuba and the U.S. military backed opposite sides in conflicts in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Even as the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its lifeline of economic and military support for Castro’s regime, Montes rose in rank and importance in the DIA.
She became the agency’s chief analyst in charge of processing U.S. intelligence about the island, earning the sobriquet, “Queen of Cuba,” both for her unrivaled expertise and her imperious manner. . . .
. . . .Montes was a “true believer,” to borrow the term used by one of the counterintelligence agents who caught her—which differentiates her from better known U.S. moles who turned coat mostly for money. Her parents were from modest families in Puerto Rico, and Ana began the process of radicalization in 1977 during a trip to Spain where her boyfriend was a young leftist who had experienced the worst years of the dirty war in Argentina, Popkin writes.
A gifted academic studying at the prestigious School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University School in Washington, she opposed the Reagan administration’s sponsorship of the Contra fighters seeking to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
A Puerto Rican classmate—who also happened to be a Cuban agent—encouraged her outrage on Nicaragua and took her to meet a “friend” in Cuba’s U.N. mission in New York. There her recruitment to work with the regime’s intelligence service was formalized, originally with the sole idea of supporting the Nicaraguan cause.
Soon Montes arranged a trip to Cuba for training in her new craft. Popkin mentions that, according to evidence gathered after her arrest, Cuba helped Montes pay off student loans and buy a laptop, but otherwise did not pay her to spy. . . (read more at Military.com)
Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed
by Jim Popkin
The incredible true story of Ana Montes, the most damaging female spy in US history, drawing upon never-before-seen material and to be published upon her release from prison, for readers of Agent Sonya and A Woman of No Importance.
Just days after the 9-11 attacks, a senior Pentagon analyst eased her red Toyota Echo into traffic and headed to work. She never saw the undercover cars tracking her every turn. As she settled into her cubicle on the 6th floor of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, FBI Agents and twitchy DIA officers were hiding in nearby offices. For this was the day that Ana Montes–the US Intelligence Community superstar who had just won a prestigious fellowship at the CIA–was to be arrested and publicly exposed as a secret agent for Cuba.
Like spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen before her, Ana Montes blindsided her colleagues with brazen acts of treason. For nearly 17 years, Montes succeeded in two high-stress jobs. By day, she was one of the government’s top Cuba experts, a buttoned-down GS-14 with shockingly easy access to classified documents. By night, she was on the clock for Fidel Castro, listening to coded messages over shortwave radio, passing US secrets to handlers in local restaurants, and slipping into Havana wearing a wig.
Montes didn’t just deceive her country. Her betrayal was intensely personal. Her mercurial father was a former US Army Colonel. Her brother and sister-in-law were FBI Special Agents. And her only sister, Lucy, also worked her entire career for the Bureau. The highlight of her distinguished 31 years as a Miami-based language specialist: Helping the FBI flush Cuban spies out of the United States. Little did Lucy or her family know that the greatest Cuban spy of all was sitting right next to them at Thanksgivings, baptisms, and weddings.
In Code Name Blue Wren, investigative journalist Jim Popkin weaves the tale of two sisters who chose two very different paths, plus the unsung heroes who had to fight to bring Ana to justice. With exclusive access to a “Secret” CIA behavioral profile of Ana, family memoirs, and Ana’s incriminating letters from prison, Popkin reveals the making of a traitor—a woman labelled “one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history” by America’s top counter-intelligence official.
After more than two decades in federal prison, Montes will be freed in January 2023. Code Name Blue Wren is a thrilling detective tale, an insider’s look at the clandestine world of espionage, and an intimate exploration of the dark side of betrayal.