State Department Official and Wife Arrested for Spying for Cuba
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
A State Department official — with the highest security clearance available — and his wife were arrested for conducting espionage for the Cuban government for close to 30 years and conspiring to provide classified US information to the Cuban government, according to documents obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Walter Kendall Myers, 72, and his wife Gwendolyn Steingaber Myers, 71, (a/k/a Agent 123 and Agent E-634), both residents of Washington, DC, were arrested by FBI agents. They made their initial appearances on Friday in US District Court for the District of Columbia. They were charged with conspiracy to act as illegal agents of the Cuban government and to communicate classified information to the Cuban government. Each of the defendants is also charged with acting as an illegal agent of the Cuban government and with wire fraud.
“The clandestine activity alleged in the charging documents, which spanned nearly three decades, is incredibly serious and should serve as a warning to any others in the US government who would betray America’s trust by serving as illegal agents of a foreign government. We remain vigilant in protecting our nation’s secrets and in bringing to justice those who compromise them,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“This case demonstrates the care we must take in protecting our nation’s valuable secrets, and shows the dedication and perseverance of the men and women investigating this crime who never tired in finding those now charged with betraying our country,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips.
“Intelligence services from around the globe continue to steal what information they can from the United States,” said Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director for the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Vigilance must be matched with patience to successfully bring their agents to trial. I would particularly like to thank the men and women in my office who worked on this case and who work on other espionage investigations. They work without accolades; silently protecting the safety and security of the United States and its citizens.”
According to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Kendall Myers began his work at the State Department in 1977, initially serving as a contract instructor at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va. After living briefly in South Dakota, he returned to Washington, DC and resumed employment as an instructor with FSI. From 1988 to 1999, in addition to his FSI duties, he performed periodic work for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Kendall Myers later began working full-time at the INR and, from July 2001 until his retirement in October 2007, he was a senior analyst for Europe and he specialized in intelligence analysis on European matters and had daily access to classified information. He received a Top Secret security clearance in 1985 and, in 1999, his clearance was upgraded to Top Secret/SCI.
(Writers Note: Some classified information is so sensitive that even the extra protection measures applied to Top Secret information are not sufficient. This information is known as “Sensitive Compartmented Information” (SCI) or Special Access Programs (SAP), and one needs special “SCI Access” or SAP approval to be given access to this information.)
Gwendolyn Myers moved to Washington, D.C., in 1980 and married Kendall Myers in May 1982. She later obtained employment with a local bank as an administrative analyst and later as a special assistant. Gwendolyn Myers was never granted a security clearance by the US government.
According to the affidavit, Kendall Myers traveled to Cuba in December 1978 after receiving an invitation from an official who served at the Cuban Mission to the United States in New York City. His guide while in Cuba was an official with Cuba’s Foreign Service Institute. This trip provided the Cuban Intelligence Service with the opportunity to assess or develop Myers as a Cuban agent, according to the affidavit.
Approximately six months after the trip, the Myers were visited in South Dakota by the official from the Cuban Mission in New York and, according to the affidavit, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers agreed to serve as clandestine agents of the Cuban government. Afterwards, the Cuban Intelligence officials directed Kendall Myers to pursue a job at either the State Department or the CIA. Kendall Myers, accompanied by his wife, then returned to Washington, DC, where he resumed contract work at the State Department and later obtained a State Department position that required a Top Secret security clearance.
According to the affidavit, during this time frame, the Cubans often communicated with its clandestine agents in the United States by broadcasting encrypted radio messages from Cuba on shortwave radio frequencies. Clandestine agents in the United States monitoring the frequency on shortwave radio could decode the messages using a decryption program provided by Cuban Intelligence. Such methods were employed by defendants previously convicted of espionage on behalf of Cuba. According to the affidavit, the Myers have an operable shortwave radio in their apartment and they told an FBI source that they have used it to receive messages from the Cuban Intelligence Service.
According to the affidavit, in April 2009, the FBI launched an undercover operation to convince the couple that they had been contacted by a Cuban intelligence officer and to ascertain the scope of their activities for the Cuban government.
On April 15, 2009, an FBI undercover agent posing as a Cuban intelligence officer approached Kendall Myers in Washington, DC, stating that he had been sent to contact Myers by a named Cuban intelligence official in order to obtain information. The FBI source also congratulated Kendall Myers on his birthday and offered him a cigar. Myers agreed to meet the source later that day at a nearby hotel and volunteered to bring his wife along to the meeting.
During the meeting later that day, the couple agreed to meet the source again and to provide information on US government personnel with responsibility for Latin America. According to the affidavit, the couple also made a series of statements about their past activities on behalf of the Cuban Intelligence Service, including acknowledging having received coded messages from them via shortwave radio, meeting with officials in Mexico, and being alert to surveillance. “We have been very cautious, careful with our moves and, uh, trying to be alert to any surveillance,” Kendall Myers allegedly told the FBI source.
In subsequent meetings with the FBI undervover, Myers and his wife allegedly agreed to provide information on the April 17-19, 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as to use specified code words, signals and encryption programs to transmit information via email during future interactions with the source. They also asked the source to “send special greetings…and hugs” to certain Cuban officials.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Myers discussed how they had passed information to Cuban agents, with both agreeing that the most secure way was “hand-to-hand.” According to the affidavit, Gwendolyn Myers said her favorite way of passing information to agents involved the changing of shopping carts in a grocery store because it was “easy enough to do.”
Kendall Myers told the FBI undercover that he typically removed information from the State Department by memory or by taking notes, although he did occasionally take some documents home. “I was always pretty careful. I, I didn’t usually take documents out,” he said. According to the affidavit, he also acknowledged delivering information to the Cubans that was classified beyond the “Secret” level. He further stated that he had received “lots of medals” from the Cuban government and that he and his wife had met and spent an evening with Fidel Castro in 1995.
According to FBI reports, the FBI collects high frequency messages broadcast by the the Cuban Intelligence Service to its agents and has identified messages that it has determined were broadcast to a handler of Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers. In addition, the FBI has confirmed trips by the couple to Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Jamaica that correspond to statements made by the defendants. In addition, the FBI has identified emails to the couple in 2008 and 2009 from a suspected representative of the CuIS in Mexico who was allegedly requesting that the couple travel to Mexico.
The affidavit further indicates that an analysis of Kendall Myers’ classified State Department work computer hard drive revealed that, from August 22, 2006, until his retirement on Oct. 31, 2007, he viewed more than 200 sensitive or classified intelligence reports concerning the subject of Cuba, while employed as an INR senior analyst for Europe. Of these reports concerning Cuba, the majority was classified and marked Secret or Top Secret, the affidavit alleges. An FBI review of Kendall Myers’ State Department security files further revealed numerous false statements by him to conceal the couple’s clandestine activities on behalf of the Cubans, according to the FBI.
According to the FBI report, Kendall Myers engaged in a scheme to defraud the State Department and the United States by means of false pretenses and caused the US government to lose property, specifically money in the form of salary payments. By not disclosing his clandestine activity on behalf of the Cuban Intelligence Service and by making false statements to the State Department about his status, Kendall Myers allegedly defrauded the State Department whenever he received his government salary. Gwendolyn Myers is also criminally liable for this alleged wire fraud scheme.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDailyReview.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. Kouri is the author of two books: Crime Talk: Conversations with America’s Top Crimefighters, and Assume the Position: Police Science for Novelists, Journalists and Screenwriters.
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Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.