COOPERATION WITH CUBA
The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community were directed to expand ties with the communist regime in Cuba under a presidential directive issued by the White House last month.
President Obama said his normalizing of relations with Cuba will replace an “outdated policy” that failed to advance U.S. interests and support reforms in the Cuban state.
“The objective of the new policy is to help the Cuban people to achieve a better future for themselves and to encourage the development of a partner in the region capable of working with the United States to confront regional challenges, such as climate change, disease and illicit trafficking,” Mr. Obama said.
Critics say the policy is naive and likely to strengthen repressive communist rule on the island nation ruled since 1959 by Fidel Castro and now his brother Raul.
Any intelligence cooperation is expected to be difficult since Cuba’s spy services have been conducting aggressive operations against the United States for decades.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper testified to Congress in January that Cuba remains a regional hostile intelligence threat for the United States.
“For example, Iranian and Cuban intelligence and security services continue to view the United States as a primary threat,” Mr. Clapper said.
Under the new directive, Presidential Policy Directive-43, spy agencies will have to lower their guard and engage the Cuban intelligence apparatus.
According to the order, the DNI is required to “support broader United States Government efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, with Intelligence Community elements working to find opportunities for engagement on areas of common interest through which we could exchange information on mutual threats with Cuban counterparts.”
The directive does not say how intelligence with the Cubans will be shared. A DNI spokesman had no comment on the directive. Former Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence officer Scott W. Carmichael said it is ironic that the United States might cooperate on nonproliferation with a nation that once brought the United States to the brink of nuclear war.
“But it’s a good idea,” Mr. Carmichael said. “We do have some common ground with Cuba, on issues of mutual interest and concern, so it makes sense to share information which benefits both countries.”
The Pentagon, too, is being ordered to step up exchanges with the Cuban military.
“The Department of Defense (DOD) will continue to take steps to expand the defense relationship with Cuba