Walter Kendall Myers (born April 15, 1937) is a retired U.S. State Department Officer who, with his wife, Gwendolyn, was arrested and indicted on June 4, 2009, on charges of spying for Cuba for nearly 30 years. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a U.S. federal court in July 2010.
Kendall Myers is the grandson of Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. He is also related to William Howard Taft through his father. He graduated from Brown University and earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. In 1977, he began working for the U.S. State Department as a Contract Instructor at its Foreign Service Institute; and, for 20 years, he has been a part-time faculty member at Johns Hopkins' Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. From 2000 until his retirement in October 2007, he worked as a European analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). Myers’ State Department service was primarily in domestic positions. Myers’ spouse, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, was never employed by the U.S. Department of State.
US–UK "special relationship" controversy
In November 2006, Myers created controversy by describing the "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom as "one sided" and a "myth". He said that he was "ashamed" of the treatment by US President George W. Bush toward Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In response, then UK MP Denis MacShane said, "After the Republican defeat in the midterm election, every little rat who feasted during the Bush years is now leaving the ship. I would respect this gentleman, who I have never heard of, if he had had the guts to make any of these points two or five years ago."
The US State Department distanced itself from Myers comments, stating, "He was speaking as an academic, not as a representative of the State Department."
On June 4, 2009, Myers was arrested and charged, along with his wife Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, with acting as an illegal agent of the Cuban government for nearly 30 years, with providing classified information to that government, and wire fraud. Authorities said that Myers and his wife were caught by an FBI undercover operation and that they had been spying for Cuba for "nearly three decades." Mr. Myers’ arrest was the culmination of a three-year joint FBI/Department of State Diplomatic Security Service investigation. Based on general information provided by the FBI, the Diplomatic Security Service conducted a comprehensive internal investigation that resulted in the identification of Mr. Myers by Diplomatic Security as the probable Cuban agent, and ultimately led to his arrest. The authorities also said that Myers usually relied on his memory or notes for information rather than stealing documents. The couple allegedly used shortwave radio to communicate with Cuban intelligence and also were said to have met with Cuban agents in numerous locations both inside and outside the United States. Myers told undercover agents that he had spent an evening with Fidel Castro in 1995.
It is alleged that the Myers' actions may not have been prompted by greed, but more by ideology. According to a "law enforcement official", they were "true believers" in the Cuban system. The United States federal affidavit quoted a diary entry by Kendall Myers as saying, "I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit.", and referred to Fidel Castro as "one of the great political leaders of our time." Other entries quoted reference a comparison of health care in the United States and healthcare in Cuba, and "complacency about the poor" in the United States.
The Myers pleaded guilty on November 20, 2009, at a hearing before Judge Reggie Walton in U.S. District Court. Myers pleaded guilty to a three-count criminal information charging him with conspiracy to commit espionage and two counts of wire fraud. His wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging her with conspiracy to gather and transmit national defense information. As part of his plea agreement, Kendall Myers has agreed to serve a life prison sentence and to cooperate fully with the United States government regarding any criminal activity and intelligence activity by him or others. As part of her plea agreement, Gwendolyn Myers has agreed to serve a sentence of between six and seven and a half years in prison and to cooperate fully with the United States government.
On July 16, 2010, Kendall Myers was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. His wife Gwendolyn was sentenced to a total of 81 months in prison. Myers is currently incarcerated at the federal ADX Florence supermax facility in Colorado.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered that a damage assessment be done to investigate the extent of damage done to United States security. The Secretary of State directed staff to conduct a comprehensive review of this case. She has also undertaken a thorough assessment of past and current Department of State security procedures and practices and provide recommendations for any appropriate or necessary improvements to ensure effective measures are in place to protect sensitive and classified information. In addition, the Secretary directed the Department to conduct a comprehensive damage assessment in coordination with the intelligence community in accordance with established damages protocols and regulations.
|“||I can't help but admire their disinterested and courageous conduct on behalf of Cuba. Those who in one form or another have helped to protect the Cuban people from the terrorist plans and assassination plots organised by various U.S. administrations have done so at the initiative of their own conscience and are deserving, in my judgment, of all the honours in the world.||”|
|— Fidel Castro, days after the Myers couple's arrest |
Upon hearing the news of Myers' arrest, Fidel Castro stated that the case read like "an espionage comic strip". The former Cuban leader declined to say whether the Myers couple really had passed secrets to his regime, but added that they deserved praise if they did.
- "Treason from within" by Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
- "Couple indicted on charges of spying for Cuba". msnbc.com. June 5, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Cuban Spies Arrested http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/06a/124404.htm
- Jason Ryan; Theresa Cook; Lisa Chinn (June 5, 2009). "Couple Accused of Spying for Cuba". abcnews.go.com. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Del Quentin Wilber; Mary Beth Sheridan (June 6, 2009). "State Dept. Retiree Accused of Spying". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Toby Harnden (June 5, 2009). "Ex-US State official Kendall Myers and wife Gwendolyn charged with spying for Cuba". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Tom Baldwin; Philip Webster (November 30, 2006). "US State Department official - relationship is one-sided". timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Myers' indictment
- "Ex-State official, wife accused of spying for Cuba". CNN.com. June 5, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- "D.C. Couple Is Indicted on Charges of Spying for Cuba". washingtonpost.com. June 5, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- "Retired U.S. State Official, Wife Indicted on Charges of Spying for Cuba". foxnews.com. June 5, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Yost, Pete (16 July 2010). "In Cuban spy case, man gets life, wife 5 years". MSNBC. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Alleged Cuban Spies Given Praise From Castro by The Huffington Post, June 8, 2009
- Why Cuban Spies Are So Difficult To Find by Pamela Hess, The Huffington Post, June 6, 2009
- Disdain for U.S. Policies May Have Led to Alleged Spying for Cuba by Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post, June 7, 2009
- Supermarket Trollies - Tools of Trade for Castro's 'Spies' by The Sydney Morning Herald, June 9, 2009
- Cuba's Spy Program Deeply Rooted in U.S. by Carlos Montaner, The Miami Herald, June 23, 2009
- Spying for Fidel: The Inside Story of Kendall and Gwen Myers By Toby Harnden, "The Washingtonian" October 5, 2009