tv Declassified CNN September 16, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
cubans don't get credit for being a first class intelligence service and they are first class. they have proven their worth time and time again over the last 20 years especially over the united states. >> in our world in the counterintelligence world the cubans are very aggressive and have been successful for years.
though they may not pose a military threat, a lot of times they can sell it to other countries. >> when we were about to invade iraq, cuba was communicating intelligence information because of their proximity of us to the regime of saddam hussein. >> they're very aggressive and they're very good. >> the record suggests that cubans have been particularly successful in getting american citizens to supply them with information. ♪ >> there are a number of reasons for that but the one that strikes thus most is ideological reasons. they did not do it for money. americans who grew up in the united states in the mid to late 60s, a lot of these men and women saw the vietnam war going on and at the bay of pigs, we showed the eval side of america. and a number of them said what
do i do to help people who are beinged aversely effected by the united states? >> the cubans have a long history of successfully penetrating different aspelcts f the united states government. montez is probably one of the most well known cases. >> she did not do it for money. >> ms. montes now faces 25 years imprisonment to be followed by supervised release. >> for years the intelligence community had had been monitoring transmissions being sent by the cubans up the east coast of the united states. >> most of their broadcast to their agents are invoice transmission numbers that are
read out. these transmissions led to the arrest. montes in 2001. they were quite proud of her arrest but unfortunately following her arrest, they were horrified that the transmissions had had not ceased. this led the intelligence community to conclude they had had another high value asset inside the united states and therefore a new unsubinvestigation commenced. unknown subject. unknown submeans unknown. >> i definitely can't get into specifics about when the investigation was initiated. but by 2007 intelligence reporting indicated there were
multiple penetrations of the united states government, at least one of which was located inside the state department. >> the state department's primarily role is to conduct relations with foreign governments. the reason governments like cuba are so interested in the state government is because it implements foreign policy and that's why an un-sub inside the state department is very dangerous. >> when you have an unsub you take the information available and establish what we referred to as a matrix, which is a profile of what that person or people look like. so we knew that the likely agency within the united states government that was penetrated was the state department, that it was penetrated by more than one individual working together.
that those individuals had had lived in the washington d.c. area for an extended period of time. they received their transmissions in english. one of those individuals was proficient in morris code and one of the agents was known to have a tumor on their shoulder in late 1996. >> how did you get the information in the matrix point? >> i'm sorry. that's classified. >> you want to protect your own sources and methods. >> i wish it was blue eyes, brown hair, walks with a limp. these are things like the person spoke english. thanks, right? really narrows down our list. >> i assumed responsibility as it lead fbi case agent for the unknown subject investigation and we engaged diplomatic security in an effort to try to get their assistance to identify
this individual. >> the burrow of diplomatic security is the long arm of the state department. we run security at embassies. the foreign minister of a certain country comes in, we'd be responsible for that. i've worked more hand in hand with the fbi. that's my sole purp stoost help them with state department cases or information they need from the state department. booth the historical subject matter expertise that we needed. >> on may 3rd, 2007, i was approached by the fbi liaison officer who explained to me that they had had an unsub espionage case and thought i would be able to help them resolve that question. >> so robert and i went over to fbi head quarters and they presented to us information from the intelligence community
believing that the state department had been penetrate would a possible spy. >> and this information specifically was coded messages being sent by short wave frequencies from cuba to the united states. when i asked the fbi how long the transmissions had been going, they had hsaid at least years and in the state department you have to travel every couple of years. that means he is a civil service employee. do you know how many subjects we have just eliminated? and they all looked at me in amazement. now we knew what we had was a civil service employee who worked between 1990 and 1999. all the sudden unsub started to
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♪ ♪ backed by the service and security of american express. the cubans had had another high value asset working in the united states and therefore a new un-sub investigation commenced. >> i think it might even be in this instance more complicated than identifying a needle in a haystack. >> so i told the fbi at the end of that meeting that if this matrix is correct we will find and identify the unsub.
that was a bold statement. >> robert had one of our other agents in the office take the points from the fbi, boil that down and we came up with about 27 subjects. >> i now knew i had had my work cut out for me. i go down and see my colleague in the personal security review section. the list of 27 names. barbara, can you get me the security files on all 27 of these people. you get the fieles in your name and i go to another office with no window. i didn't want anybody to see what i was doing. hundreds of pages of paper. it's mind numbing. then you had to read page after
page after page and this is the reality of counterintelligence work. i've never jumped out of a plane, never driven an aston martin. that's not counterintelligence. that's james bond. real counterintelligence agents sit in front of a screen, read files and interview people. and your eyes start to strain and get discouraged. and then i open up file 13. my heart was racing. there's no other way to describe it. every piece of the matrix fit like a glove. it was kendall meyers. >> kendall best fit everything we were looking at and for robert and i it was that good feeling like we think we found the person based on the information and now we have to
prove it and talhat's the hard part. >> not only were there matches that we expected in the file revealed that he took a trip to cuba in 1978. >> two other state department employees travelled down there and that's when we think cubans first spotted and assessed him for recruitment. >> he moved from an unsub to a directed, targeted investigation on kendall meyers. >> at that point we tried to learn as much about his life as possible, everything from the time he joined the state department to the present day. >> he came from a very affluent background, well educated. a very intelligent guy. >> kendall meyers came from a little bit of american royalty. his family had a lot of old money. >> kendall meyers is the great, great grandson of alexander graham bell. he is an american blue blood.
>> he was respected within the state department, a very smart man. >> as far as everybody was concerned, he was a model employee. he did his job magnificently. a well respected analyst. >> so kendall was an analyst for the state department but this wasn't the case of the state department being penetrated, this was a case of the intelligence community being penetrated. he worked in the intelligence portion of the state darmntd. >> unfortunately the office of intelligence research gets all the information from the entire intelligence community. cia, dia, nsa, imagery, everything. that is why he could have been the most damaging cuban spy castro had had.
. >> so after we established that kendall was likely one of the agents we were looking for through doing background investigation on his wife when we found out, she was likely involved as well. >> we found that gwen was an activist ininside -- in south dakota. sglm abourezk was known to have strong cuban feelings. maybe she started to get the same kind of in:ations and feelings about it castro government. >> having a husband and wife team was unusual but it made sense she was likely involved as
well. >> how could gwen be a spy for cuba if she herself did not have access to classified information? >> you just need access to someone who has access to classified information. the first thing we needed to do was focus the investigation on kendall because he had access to the state department. so i knew that we needed to move the investigation to physical surveillance, electronic surveillance. try to collect evidence we could prosecute him with. >> everybody wanted one charge and that was 794. >> when you have an individual with access to that type of information, he can do severe damage to the united states government and potentially cost someone their lives.
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and change the way you wifi. thnchs first thing we needed to do was focus it investigation on kendall because he had access to the state department. >> we had to be able to show that kendall meyers was in fact passing classified information to a person not authorized or received. >> so we needed to move the investigation to physical surveillance, electronic
surveillance. >> some of the things we do in these types of cases are monitor email traffic, install microphones into vehicles and residents. >> my role was collaborating with the fbi and gathering information, as much as possible about kendall meyers. i was the one that had had easiest access to the state department. conduct business of the state department, i would do that. >> you have to follow him. you have to monitor him. you have to see where he goes. you to see who he talks to on the phone, what he pulls up on his computer. skrou to look at everything and anything that are suggestive of espionage activity. >> we were hoping to catch him in the act where he was removing information from the state department and provideing it to the cubans.
>> and that's what we had to try to do. and he did not do it. so he was not removing classified documents from his office and walking out of the building. we were all convinced it's him. but no counterintelligence, no espionage indicators. >> so kendall 's had had no activity, no contact. >> it appeared that they were no longer operational. they weren't continuing to provide the cubans with intelligence. that presented us with a problem of not being able to catch them in the act if they're not still active. it doesn't matter, what matters is that at one time or another they chose to betray their country and we're going to identify them and prosecute them if we can, regardless of how
long they've been dormant. so at that point we were only going to be able to show historical espionage activity, not ongoing espionage. >> i had had just transferred from our computer forensics branch. fbi asked us for help and we had areas of expertise that were useful. >> nsa's role, specifically andreas who was the lead counterintelligence agent assigned to the investigation was in part to conduct a forensic review of kendall meyers' computer activity at the state department. >> forensics were just pieces of computer information that helped tell a story. whether or not you look at a web page, those are all pieces of information. and so you put those all together and get a pretty
compelling picture of what somebody's doing day to day. the great thing about audit and forensics is the audit and forensic data goes back far more so that we could get a better picture of kendall and what his actions were before he became the subject of the investigation. >> we found he was going what we call off topic with alarming reggialat reggialator. 40% of his searches were dedicated to searching for information the cubans would have found interesting. that's when i really, really thought that we had the right guy. but we did more to be certain
and prove that case. we wanted to show positively that he was accessing national defense information via his access there at the state department and provideing it to the cubans. it was essential to charging espionage. >> and the information we had suggested that kendall was working for cuba but we still did not have him providing national defense information to a foreign power. >> we were starting to get a little frustrated because while we were happy that we the unsubor kendall meyers, we're not seeing any espionage indicators. what made everything worse was the fact that kendall meyers submitted an early retirement. >> when kendall retired, it was a blow to the investigation because you lose home field advantage. you lose it ability to control
at least an aspect of their life. >> even though he had left the state department, even though he was no longer in direct access to u.s. government information, he still had a lot in his head and if he were going to choose to work with the cubans again in the future, that could be very damaging. >> so we had to basically regroup and come up with a new strategy. dental professionals recommend using an electric toothbrush. for an exceptionally fresh feeling choose philips sonicare diamondclean. hear the difference versus oral b.
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kendall's retirement was detrimental to our case from the standpoint we wanted to show positively that he was accessing national defense information and provideing it to the cubans. that was essential to charging espionage. >> now he was enjoying his retired life on his beautiful 34-foot sail boat that he'd bought in sweden, brought to the united states. >> from my perspective, he was a bit of a hypocrite. he supported the cuban and socialist movement from a yacht. i couldn't quite wrap my head around that. >> the contrast between the justification for helping the cuban people and the sheer
luxury that they lived in, it's hard to ignore. >> we suspect that due the fact that most sale boats have an advanced radio system, that he very well could have been using it as an operations platform but we never found any evidence of that. >> we have our suspect but no counterintelligence indicators. >> so what do you do? >> you keep monitoring him. you find a little nugget here and there. you go into his apartment while he and his wife are gone somewhere. and look for things. >> it next logical step was to perform a physical search of the meyers' residence. there's a lot that goes into conduco conducting a thorough methodical search when you don't want
people to know you've done that, the stress level was very high. very high. during the course of the search we found a number of items related to cuba. a cuban sailing guide, nautical charts related to cuba. a book titled "on becoming cuban." >> and we would call that a clue. >> in and of them schselves non these things were evidence that they were spies, but additionally we found a short wave radio. they actually still had the means to receive short wave radio broadcasts. we found a diary that recounted
his 1978 trip to cuba and conveyed a very positive image of cuba, a very negative image of the united states. >> it was a glowing report about the cuban revolution, how the people are doing well. castro's a great leader. >> it essentially conveyed kendall's infatuation with cuba. >> kendall 's diary was critical. the next piece in evidence was stunning. >> in a filing cabinet in their closet, there was a record that indicate gwen a tumor on her shoulder in late 1996 that was a matrix point that we were looking for. we knew that one of the cuban agents had a tumor on their shoulder. i had had chills up my spine
when i saw this medical record. i couldn't believe it and this is where i think all doubt in my miepd was removed. this was beyond coincidence. >> we could have charged them with being foreign agents, false statements but none of those charges in our mind held them accountable for what they did and quite frankly didn't come with the penalty we thought that they deserved. >> shortly after the fbi searched, we found out that kendall was signing up for a course on how to do over the horizon sailing. so there was a legitimate fear on the part of the investigative group that that might be one of their modes of escape is to calmly go out to the boat and sail home and home for them was
cuba. >> he could go over the horizon. and it really wouldn't take much of an effort to get to cuba. it's 90 miles off the florida coast. >> and with the nautical charts and the cuba sailing guide. >> there was a conclusion reached that he was a flight risk and would be leaving the united states for cuba in the very near future. there was a sense of urgency. we had to do something in order to get him before they escaped to cuba. s why a cutting edge university counts on centurylink to keep their global campus connected. and why a pro football team chose us to deliver fiber-enabled broadband to more than 65,000 fans. and why a leading car brand counts on us to keep their dealer network streamlined and nimble. businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink.
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defense information to the cubans during their espionage careers and to do that we were going to need to conduct an undercover operation and attempt to reactvate them as cuban agents. >> there were several things we considered. almost all were rejected until ultimately we came up with a final, almost desperate solution. a false flag. >> the false flag is at sure ai. >> it idea for the false flag was the get kendall meyers to accept this individual as an authentic cuban intelligence officer and provide him with information that would incriminate him. it is arguably the riskiest counterespionage move you can make. if it doesn't work, you know he'll never take a bite at any
other suspicious apple. >> there's a lot of planning and coordination that goes into it. there's a lot of strategy on how to gain that person's trust. >> how do we want to do this. what's our story for reengaging them? >> so at this time kendall was still teaching at johns hopkins. so it was agreed we would use what we call parole to see if he would take the bait. parole would be like did i meet you in paris? it's like a code word to say i know who you are. this is who i am. >> our plan was to have the individual posing as the cuban intelligence officer approach kend tool get his opinion on the incoming administration at that point in time that might effect
policy towards cuba. so we put the undercover in a position where he could approach kendall as he went in the building and they greeted him, nukted he had been sent there by an individual kendall was familiar with. he handed him a cuban cigar and wished him a happy birthday. the undercover was very believable. part of the fees we were establishing with him was he had had a thick accent and at one point during the approach it seemed like it was going to backfire because the individual was trying to communicate with kendall and kendall couldn't understand a word he was saying. he repeatedly said that he wanted to meet at the double tree and kendall thought he was saying w 3. he said let's meet at the double tree. it's right down the street. and he said w 3? w 3? i was listening.
i couldn't bare to watch at this point. i was so afraid it was going to go wrong. but then the undercover pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote it down for him. and it became very apparent to kendall who this was and that he was there on behalf of cuban intelligence to reestablish contact with kendall in an effort to gain access to information. and agreed to meet later that afternoon. ho hook, line, and sinker, absolutely. >> after that initial exchange happened, kendall went in and the first thing he did was call gwen sd was very apparent he was happy. >> i think he believed they couldn't wait. they had had to have kendall's opinion and that was a good thing. >> he was so excited.
he said you're not going to believe it. you've got to come down, you've got to come down. >> kendall was the one with the access to information and the fact he decided to bring gwen along was something we could only dream of. >> so the undercover who they believed was a cuban intelligence officer and kendall and gwen all met for a drink in the bar of the double tree. >> the false flag was excellent. he started off a little small talk. asked them how they were doing in retirement and started talking about he did work for us in the past. he's kind of small. but by kendall saying oh, yeah, i did. that is a minimum acknowledgment but it's a tremendous acknowledgment. >> the meeting was good. they took it well. the only person that ever
mentioned anything about something not being right, gwen did say at one point hey, do you think this is all right? and kendall said absolutely. this is good. it's my birthday. cuban cigar. >> gwen may have had had some reservations but kendall convinced her everything was okay. after the initial meeting in the hotel bar, there were three more meetings we had with kendall with our undercover. >> during the discussions they were confirming operational detail. so he told the undercover his code name was 202. it's the area code for d.c. >> he started to explain how laughingly so they shared information at the shopping karts. >> and they would copy them and bring them back. >> his wife also made admissions
about working with kendall to obtain classified information and send it to the cubans. >> gwen was more really involved in operations, she was involved in dead drops, passes, processing information that kendall had had remove frumd the state department. >> she is a 100% co conspirator. so we now started to build up a file on who he met with times and dates, spy craft and we pass the information to. >> we learned the full story of kendall's recruitment. we told our undercover the same cuban intelligence officer that invited kend tool travel to cuba in 1978 then travelled to south dakota where kendall was living in 1979. >> and what the cuban intelligence service officer did was walk right up to kendall and gwen's door, knock on the door and introduce himself.
that's how bold and confident the cubans were that they could recruit kendall meyers. >> the interesting thing about kendall was he basically would do it as long as gwen was along for the ride. they would do it together. >> so that the day she was recruited, she was recruited one minute later. >> we didn't know until then that it actually been for two 1/2 decades. >> in each meeting we were able to grab historical information, places they travelled, places they met the cubans but in the three meetings we had with them, we didn't get our national defense information. >> so the objective of the fourth meeting was to push to get them to provide us specific instances of providing national
defense information. >> it was really important for us to prepare the undercover as best we could to go in there and press them. >> i was extremely nervous that it wasn't going to work. it was nerve-wracking. >> that that point we didn't have another trick up our sleeve. sfx: netflix mnemonic sfx: t-mobile mnemonic sfx: netflix mnemonic t-mobile's unlimited now includes netflix on us. that's right, netflix on us. get four unlimited lines for just forty bucks each. taxes and fees included. and now, netflix included. so go ahead, binge on us. another reason why t-mobile is america's best unlimited network.
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it was really important for us to prepare the under cover as best we could to go in there and kind of press them. >> our under cover did a great job of pushing him for a specific example of something sensitive that he had passed to the cubans. and kendall provided a few examples. which did meet the threshold we were looking for with respect of being examples of very sensitive and classified signals of intelligence. >> what was it? >> absolutely not going to tell you.
kendall became became uncomfortable with it. but it was a little too late by then. >> when he provided us the national defense information, we knew we had enough information to arrest him. >> we entered the room and an arrest was made. gwen made a great expreliminaries which was essentially she knew it all along. >> you think about these people as cuban spies, but underend they were a couple. and that the wife telling the husband an i tell you so. >> we took them both into custody and interviewed them separately to try to convince them there on the spot they
should cooperate, and they refused to talk to us. >> i was at the washington field office, and they brought him back for mug shots and figureprints, and our attorneys discussions with our legal counsel. >> a retired state department member and his wife have been accused of conspiring with cuba. >> he was allegedly cuban agent 202. his wife, gwen, who worked at a local bank was agent 123. after his arrest kendall agreed to pleeld guilty, but under one condition, there was leniency for his wife. >> so kendall myers got life, and gwen got 81 years. >> she only got about 67 years,
and she took the life in jail. i think he very much loved her, and she didn't want to see her spend the rest of her life in jail. that's the reason he pled guilty. >> part of the sentencing was they agreed to be fully cooperative. i think we ended up having 70 something debriefing sessions with him. and it became apparent to me he was a narcissist, a hypocrite, and obviously he was a traitor. >> the fbi got first crack at him. i had second crack at him. and my job was to find out from kendall where the weaknesses were in the state department, why'd he'd been so successful in what he did. and kendall, i think, was extraordinarily candid with me. >> it's not something i planned. it's not a plot, but it turned out my best friends were my best sources and vice versa.
and that in a way was the sinful paradox of my career as a cuban agent. >> for all the nobility that kendall wraps his espionage in, the guy essentially screwed over the people that were close to him regularly. i mean he manipulated people on a regular basis to get very sensitive information and pass it to an adversary. these people trusted him. they were his friends, his peers at work. and he didn't care. >> when we debriefed him, he told us that, you know, he believed that what he was doing was helping the revolution, helping the cuban people. >> if they loved the people so much, they should have just sailed there and help them. but they didn't. they didn't want to leave their penthouse and their $650,000 yacht. they wanted to have all of that. >> during the debriefing we actually learned that in 1995
they actually met fidel castro. that was something we were not aware of, obviously and was a significant indicator how valuable kendall and gwen were to the cubans. >> he was castro's most valuable spy in the u.s. government. he compromised hundreds of millions of dollars of operations. he identified specifically the names of both covert and overt u.s. government intelligence officers. there was no diplomatic initiative that castro didn't know ahead of time what america's hand was. castro should have made every single one of our moves. how do you think he made seven presidents? >> he was the personal spy for fidel castro. >> not all american citizens take an oath of allegiance. but he took an oath of allegiance to the u.s. government to protect the u.s.