A former State Department official and his wife pled guilty last week to three decades of providing classified U.S. national defense information to state sponsor of terrorism Cuba. According to the Miami Herald, the husband and wife spy team “appeared in good spirits” during a court appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia a few miles away from Virginia in Washington, DC. In return for the guilty plea, the couple will spend the balance of their golden years behind bars, rightly so, without possibility of parole.
The statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips succinctly summarized the matter: the “guilty plea and impending sentence close the book on this couple’s contemptuous betrayal of our nation. Thanks to a well-planned and executed counterintelligence investigation that included unprecedented cooperation among multiple U.S. agencies, the Myers’s serious transgressions of compromising our nation’s classified secrets will now be appropriately addressed with significant prison sentences. Others who would think to compromise and jeopardize our nation’s security should be forewarned.”
The day before this hearing, advocates of easing U.S. sanctions on Cuba were testifying before a Congressional Committee in the House of Representatives. It is too bad the plea deal was not announced the day before that hearing for it was a yet another clear reminder why easing U.S. sanctions on Cuba is not warranted at this time. Travel to Cuba by American citizens is like oil sales are to Iran – a money line to sustain a repressive regime.
No one should be allowed to visit, not even family, unless there is an extreme humanitarian need. Easing of travel restrictions will not only afford the regime much-neeed hard currency, but will also allow it to find more ways to spawn characters like Ana Belen Montes or the Myers, to name a few, who will compromise U.S. national security interests. Easing travel will not foster regime change. Only a robust program of economic isolation by the United States, and one would hope allies, can force the regime to change its ways. Such an approach has worked in places such as South Africa. It can work in Cuba.
It is too bad that the Obama Administration rolled back the Bush Administration restraints on travel. This diplomatic and economic carrot was quickly denounced by the regime as not enough. But they will accept it because they need the cash and the distraction. Hopefully, that is all the easing of restrictions that there will be on our end. U.S. law is clear. The Cuban regime knows what it must do to secure concessions from the United States. There is no need to help them or make it easier for the dictator and his supporters to hold on to power. The Myers plea deal is case in point – the current regime has no interest in working with the United State, quite the opposite – it, like fellow state sponsor of terrorism Iran, still seeks to undermine U.S. interests.
Read the complete Justice Department statement and a background on the case, here.