U.S. authorities questioned Cuban exiles in Miami in the late 1970s to collect intelligence information about the Cuban armed forces, declassified documents show.
The U.S. Army project was known as Latin Emigre Exploitation Program, or LEEP, according to a 1979 document posted on governmentattic.org in September. The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s Annual Historical Review for fiscal year 1979 stated:
In the area of HUMINT, the US Army Operational Group initiated the Latin Emigre Exploitation Program (LEEP) to overtly debrief Cuban emigres entering the United States through, or living in, Miami, Florida. It was hopeful that LEEP would not only provide substantive intelligence information but would also provide a realistic training opportunity for FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) interrogators/analysts under the aegis of REDTRAIN. (Editor’s Note: I believe REDTRAIN stands for Rosters of Readiness Training). In September 1979, CDR INSCOM approved the Overt Operational Proposal, and the Chief of Staff, HQ INSCOM forwarded a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Chief of Staff, FORSCOM for his signature. In light of the anticipated MOU approval, personnel began arriving in Miami prior to the close of the fiscal year to establish LEEP.
The Latin Emigre Exploitation Program (LEEP) (also known as LASSO by FORSCOM) is an initiative of the US Army Operational Group (USAOG), INSCOM, to overtly debrief Cuban emigres entering the US through, or living in, Miami, Florida. The objectives of LEEP are twofold: First, to obtain substantive intelligence information which will satisfy validated requirements; and, second, to provide a realistic training vehicle for FORSCOM interrogators/analysts under the aegis of REDTRAIN. In mid-1976, perceiving a potential for intelligence collection in the (then) few Cuban refugees entering the US, CPT Bruce Jackson, CDR, USA Field Station Homestead, developed eleven EEI (essential elements of information) from Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) background sheets on three former Cuban military personnel. These EEI were forwarded through HQ INSCOM, and finally levied for action on the Domestic Collection Division (DCD), Central Intelligence Agency. By March 1977, eight of the eleven EEI had been satisfied; however, no concerted efforts to debrief Cuban emigres were taken. Undaunted, CPT Jackson addressed this potential with the Deputy Commanding General for Security and Production (DCG-SP), INSCOM, following the 1978 INSCOM Commanders’ Conference and eventually prepared both a Fact Sheet (27 October 1978) and a message (1419002 February 1979) which conveyed his continued belief in the utility of expending some efforts to extract intelligence information from this population.
In fact, INSCOM had already entered into negotiations and discussions with OACSI, DA, the FBI, and the CIA in order to establish parameters, and with FORSCOM to secure the participation of that command’s personnel under REDTRAIN. The latter step was considered necessary both to obtain the assistance of linguistically qualified interrogators in what could be an extensive debriefing effort and, concomitantly, to provide a realistic training exercise for the participating FORSCOM personnel. As a result, CDR, INSCOM. approved the Overt Operational Proposal (OVOP) on 5 September.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Chiefs of Staff of INSCOM and FORSCOM to delineate the responsibilities of each command in this project was informally negotiated by representatives of USAOG and FORSCOM. This MOU was signed by the Chief of Staff. INSCOM and forwarded to the Chief of Staff, FORSCOM on 2 October 1979 for signature.
Two USAOG personnel arrived in Miami in early September 1979 to finalize coordination procedures with the local FBI and the Domestic Collection Division, CIA offices; the one FORSCOM interrogator arrived in early October 1979. The FBI personnel have been cooperative, within their priorities, to the point of inviting LEEP members to accompany them to interviews, thus permitting acquisition of both background data and substantive intelligence information.
Because of the uncertain potential LEEP holds for answering US Army requirements on Cuba, it has been decided that the program should initially be run on a temporary basis. A review will be conducted not later than six months after publication of the first LEEP intelligence information report (IIR).
A 1981 Army Intelligence and Security Command Annual Historical Review discussed U.S. efforts to develop a database on Cuban ground forces. The document, posted on governmentattic.org in October, contained top secret portions before it was declassified. It stated:
In addition to analyzing and projecting the Soviet threat over the next 15 to 20 years to facilitate Army planning, the intelligence production personnel possess the capability to provide all-source assessments of other potentially hostile forces as well. In February 1981, a joint task force composed of representatives from Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center
(ITAC) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) produced and disseminated the most comprehensive data base on Cuban ground forces Order of Battle. (OB) ever assembled.
This special task force was chaired by ITAC and comprised of 52 expert intelligence analysts; it achieved major breakthroughs in gathering, organizing, and exploiting Cuban OB. This effort was the most exhaustive examination of Cuban ground forces undertaken within the US Government in nearly two decades.
The Cuban ground forces OB study established new standards of analytical excellence and baseline format for future multidiscipline/multiagency projects within the National Intelligence community. The study also served as the cornerstone of a uniquely detailed, all-source, special reassessment of Cuban ground force capabilities.