Just a month before the 2016 election, President Barack Obama signed a policy directive ordering the U.S. intelligence community to share sensitive U.S. intelligence with Cuba’s communist government, despite the fact that one of the top U.S. intelligence official had branded Cuba as one of America’s biggest espionage threats. The presidential policy directive, which was issued as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to normalize U.S. relations with the Castro regime, required the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to “exchange information on mutual threats with Cuban counterparts.”
“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) will 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 Obama directive stated.
The Obama administration put some flesh on the bones of the October 2016 directive by signing a January 2017 law enforcement agreement with Cuba officially committing the U.S. to sharing sensitive intelligence with the island nation’s communist regime.
“The memorandum signed Monday commits the U.S. and Cuba to sharing information, carrying out joint investigations and possibly stationing law-enforcement officials in each other’s countries,” the Associated Press (AP) reported just days before Obama left office. The AP report characterized the agreement as a “pledge to share intelligence with Cuban state security.”
USA Today noted that Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, was physically present at the signing ceremony for the U.S.-Cuba intelligence-sharing agreement on January 16, 2017.
While the Obama administration’s plan to share U.S. intelligence with Cuban spies was immediately opposed by a handful of Republican members of Congress, the intel sharing agreement received scant attention from most mainstream U.S. media sources.
In its primary report announcing the initial Obama administration policy directive last October, for example, the New York Times did not even mention the controversial intelligence-sharing agreement with Castro’s government. That report ran on the front page of the newspaper the morning after the Obama directive was issued.
Several lawmakers noted at the time that the intelligence-sharing deal with Cuba could result in the communist regime sending U.S. intelligence to Iran.
James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, testified to Congress just months before Obama inked his deal with Cuba that the Castro regime represented one of the top global espionage threats against the U.S.
“Targeting and collection of US political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated,” Clapper said in prepared remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of 2016. “Russia and China pose the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American member of Congress, characterized the Obama administration’s deal with Cuba as “reckless, dangerous, and contrary to U.S. national security interests.”