US Intelligence has gone from being a joke to an oxymoron in the post 9/11 world.
Recent “intelligence” on Cuba and its ailing ex-dictator seems to have missed the mark.
Given the publishing of “True Believer”, the US /Cuba spy game is getting a little attention of late.
From most accounts, it seems the US is on the short end of the spy stick.
This article from McClatchy’s Bachalet explores the subject:
As Fidel Castro appears to be growing more active, and U.S. reports that he has cancer increasingly seem off the mark, Cuba watchers are questioning just how much American spies know about what's happening on the island.
Washington, as a result, is now largely ignorant of what is happening within the inner circles in Havana as Cuba undergoes a transfer of power from Castro to his brother Raul, according to several people familiar with U.S. intelligence on the island.
The U.S. intelligence community's current assessment is that Castro is more ill than Havana is admitting, and that change in Cuba is unlikely in the near term, though a power struggle is possible further down the road.
Not surprisingly, the article lays a large part of the blame on the lack of an American presence in Havana brought about by the economic sanctions on Cuba and its tightening by George W. Bush:
The Bush administration's policy is to curtail all contacts with the Cuban government to a minimum, further isolating U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
"They are on the outside," said Phil Peters, a Cuba watcher at the conservative Lexington Institute in Virginia.
While I agree that Washington probably has no clue about what’s going on within the high echelons of the Cuban government, the lower layers of the government bureaucracy are a gold mine of information.
These lower level government bureaucrats and military officers are in the same boat as everybody else on the island. Cuba is a place rife with corruption at all levels. Individuals that have no qualm about skimming from the government or taking a bribe from a foreign investor or taking a bribe to let a human smuggler ferry some Cubans to freedom, will not think twice about providing information to anyone with a fistful of dollars.
You don’t even have to have ”intelligence” to know that the Cuban nomenklatura is all working on a “plan B” which they may have to institute if it goes downhill when Castro finally dies. We all know the Castro family is looking for homes in Latin America and Europe.