The Wake-Up Call

Hamas is as close as Ecuador. And they're arguing about American targets.

So Diaz set a trap. Big O was scheduled to attend a meeting of a clandestine exile group. Diaz went to the owner of the house where the meeting was to be held and asked for permission to tape the gathering. The next day the informant came to Diaz and told him the group had planned to blow up a boat. Diaz had the tape and knew the informant was lying. Armed with the evidence, he told the FBI Big O was no good. To this day he is flabbergasted at the response: The FBI refused to cut him loose because it would embarrass the bureau.

"They said, “We can't blackball him. We must have warehouses full of his fucking reports. All these years this guy has been lying to us, and what are we going to say now?'" he recalls.

"So not only does [lack of cooperation] effect the inner relations among the agencies but bad guys capitalize on it. This guy was a suspected agent for Castro. He was putting pressure on the Cuban activists to do more stuff, and then he would tell on them to the FBI. So he was an agent provocateur, an informant for the FBI, and a suspected Castro agent!"

Battle-tested against terrorism, former U.S. Marshal José Lopez counsels a return to basic counterintelligence
Steve Satterwhite
Battle-tested against terrorism, former U.S. Marshal José Lopez counsels a return to basic counterintelligence


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Diaz says nothing was ever done about the informant, although local police stopped using him.

"Everything can't be done by the federal government," says former Metro-Dade homicide detective José Diaz. "Give more resources to local and state law-enforcement agencies so they can have more people. [They] need to share their resources and intelligence. If [the feds] had closer relations with local police departments, they could solve the problem of having people who speak the language."

"If [fighting terrorism] continues to be solely a federal task, it will be a failure," concurs former ATF chief Robert Creighton. "The FBI has 12,000 agents or so. What are 12,000 people going to do in a country of 300 million? The only way we are going to be successful is if state and local law enforcement are involved 100 percent."

Raul Diaz puts it bluntly: "Somebody has to tell local not all FBI agents are assholes. Then you have to tell the FBI that all local police officers are not spies. They have to trust each other."

Not everybody sees it this way. Former Miami DEA chief Thomas Cash points out existing overlap between local and federal authorities. He believes some collaboration is detrimental. "Our federal agencies spend a lot of time doing local police work in the name of cooperation," complains Cash. "The words task force mean nobody is responsible."

But Raul Diaz believes it's too dangerous not to cooperate. "They don't want locals to know, because God forbid they should fuck up an operation," he says. "Well you know what? They could have had Mohamed Atta when that [traffic cop] stopped the man and checked him on the computer, but [Atta] wasn't [in the database]."

"[The terrorists] need to fear every police car they see," insists Creighton.

The tendency to hoard information rather than make it useful by distributing the data attracts the ire of former U.S. Marshal José Lopez.

"You have no idea how much bullshit is classified in the bowels of this government," he says. "I have seen newspaper articles that are classified.... [Then] you come and ask me: “Do you know about this?' and I say, “I cannot tell you; it's classified.' That has to change. We have to share."

José Diaz also criticizes the Florida legislature's recent eagerness to deprive the public of information by restricting access to public records, not least of all because it interferes with his private investigative business. "It's the worst thing they can do," he believes. "How are we going to know about backgrounds? Private industry has no [way] to find out if they are hiring illegal aliens or not.

"If a terrorist can access illegal weapons and bacteria like anthrax, do you think they cannot get driver's license information? Please, it's child's play. It is infantile to think if you can get weapons, and even weapons of mass destruction, that you as a terrorist with the resources, the money, and the contacts, will not be able to hack into a computer or outright buy it from a city employee. Yet you hear all these people now cry we should ban access to public records."

Rolando Eugenio Martinez refuses to talk about operational issues. It is part of the code of a man who conducted well over 300 clandestine missions into Cuba. Today, still spry and muscular at the age of 79, he deflects questions about how law enforcement should combat terrorism. Professionals in the government will do the job is his stock reply. But he will address more fundamental issues, which Martinez believes the nation must face to strengthen itself.

His almost generational conviction in the importance of supporting the government comes from a deep-seated patriotism to both the United States and Cuba. It is a belief that led Martinez astray when he helped break into the Watergate Hotel in 1972, on what he believed to be the orders of President Richard Nixon. At the time he worked for the CIA, the only agent among the Cuban "plumbers" arrested. He takes pride in the fact that he did not reveal his CIA association, even as he served fifteen months in prison for the break-in.

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