The Cuban Five: 15 Years Around an Oxymoron
Shortly after the FBI raid against the Wasp Network on September 12, 1998, Fidel Castro told CNN that his intelligence services infiltrated into the U.S. for gathering “information exclusively on terrorist activities against Cuba. [We] are interested neither in any report on the U.S. military mechanism nor in sending spies to any of the U.S. military bases.”
The conclusive evidence for refuting Castro’s claim is the very communication between his Directorate of Intelligence (DI) in Havana and the Wasp Network in Miami. The FBI deciphered specific orders from the DI and wholehearted attempts of the Wasp Network to infiltrate the South Command (Miami) and the military bases of Boca Chica (Key West) and MacDill (Tampa).
An encrypted message from the DI notified the leader of the cell, Gerardo Hernandez (Giro), that “the Center has decided to assign the South Command, which will be located in Miami soon, to a group of comrades: Mario [Joseph Santos], Julia [Amarylis Silverio], Gabriel [?] and Lorient [Antonio Guerrero], under the leadership of comrade Allan [Ramón Labañino].”
Another message ordered Lorient, who has already got a job in Boca Chica, “to keep on gathering military information [and] to achieve a broader penetration.” Lorient reported back to Giro having befriended some Brian, the son of a military chief in Guantanamo base, and “because of the military ties of this relationship, we will continue developing it (…) Brian is about to start his military service in an Air Force base in Texas [It´s] a relation that surely will provide us important information in the future.”
Thus, it doesn´t matter whether the Wasp Network never got classified military information or put the U.S. national security at risk. It is an issue from old textbooks that conspiring does not concern the outcome, but the agreement and the intention (“Developments in the Law: Criminal Conspiracy,” Harvard Law Review, Vol. 72, No. 5, March 1959, page 922). It is irrelevant even that there wouldn´t have been any intention to inflict damage to the U.S., because espionage is legally defined in a crystal clear disjunctive clause: “to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation” (18 U.S.C. § 794).
For being a spy it is enough to lie in wait at the service of a foreign state. The U.S. National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has simply picked up Castro´s thread to spin a yarn: that intelligence officers and agents from a certain country could infiltrate into another without being deemed as spies.