Ace Spycatcher Chris Simmons Responds to the Miami Herald
"Simmons, you Doity Wascal! You caught me AGAIN! First Ana Montes, Now these!"
Whoo-boy! Thank God Lieut. Col. Simmons is on OUR side!
Recently the Herald ran a story that "overlooked" a few details regarding the spies he has outed. So Simmons fired off a letter, pointing out the "discrepancies." This letter the Herald also seems to have "overlooked," or perhaps even "misplaced."
The Lieut. Col. has chosen to share it with us:
Too Little, Too Late, And Still Wrong
I was appalled by the errors and omissions in Juan Tamayo’s article “Ex-U.S. Official Was Investigated For Espionage”(7 Sep 09).
The Miami Herald presents only two new facts in this article. First, the FBI’s written acknowledgement that it investigated Dr. Alberto Coll for espionage and second, Coll’s admission that he knew he was the subject of an espionage case rather than a criminal inquiry regarding a travel violation.
In stark contrast to these two meager facts, the errors in the Miami Herald story are numerous:
First, you totally misrepresented Bill Gertz’s brief account of Alberto Coll in his book “Enemies: How America’s Foes Are Stealing Our Vital Secrets--And How We Let It Happen. Officials did not tell Gertz they “believed” [your word] Coll was a spy. Instead, they stated it as a fact. Gertz wrote “Cuba’s intelligence service had recruited Coll…in part, by using a female agent to seduce him.” Gertz also noted that Coll’s “…spying was uncovered in 2005.” These are not Gertz’s opinions or assessments, but facts provided to him by U.S. Government officials. You could have verified this yourself by calling him directly (his number is on his webpage, “The Gertz File”). You failed to take this elementary fact-checking step, something I confirmed by calling Bill Gertz myself.
Second, Coll maintained a top-secret clearance during his tenure with the U.S. government, not a secret clearance as you reported.
Third, Coll’s security clearance was permanently revoked and his law license suspended for a year following his plea agreement, two easily verifiable facts you omitted.
I am also curious as to the self-serving boast that “a month after his [Coll’s] conviction,” the Miami Herald filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Justice Department. Why did you limit yourself to the Justice Department? After all, Coll worked for the Navy. As such, the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) conducted a joint investigation. Any reputable newspaper would have filed FOIA requests with both entities.
Likewise, you failed to contact Special Agent (Retired) Ron Olive, who led the NCIS office in Newport, Rhode Island during the Coll investigation. Now an author, a simple call to his publisher could have facilitated an interview.
On a related note, when is the Miami Herald going to file a FOIA request for the debriefings of Captain Jesus Raul Perez Mendez? The former Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) officer defected in 1983 and “outed” at least 67 Cuban Intelligence officers, agents, collaborators and organizations. A three and a half page overview of his reporting has been available on the internet for years. Equally important, Perez Mendez is still alive and as of last year lived in Puerto Rico. When can we expect the Miami Herald to investigate this story? A Pulitzer Prize surely awaits the reporter who lands that exposé.