Retired State Department worker Walter Myers, 72, and his wife, Gwendolyn, 71, who were arrested in June and accused of spying for Cuba for three decades, pled guilty yesterday in a deal that will see him languish behind bars for the rest of his life, but which also leaves open the possibility that she may be released in six years. Walter Myers reportedly agreed to a life sentence partly to help his wife get less prison time in the hopes that she would not die behind bars. (This is very similar to the way notorious spy Aldrich Ames and his wife Rosario were sentenced in 1994. Ames agreed to plead guilty and accepted a life sentence in return for his wife being given a mere 5 year prison term.)
Previously filed court documents indicate the couple received little money for their efforts, but instead professed a deep love for Cuba, Castro and the country's system of government. In a diary quoted in the federal affidavit released in June, Myers wrote, "The abuses of our system, the lack of decent medical system, the oil companies and their undisguised indifference to public needs, the complacency about the poor, the utter inability of those who are oppressed to recognize their own condition ... I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit."
Myers is the scion of one of Washington's most storied families. His mother, Elsie Alexandra Carol Grosvenor Myers, was the granddaughter of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. The Myerses lived in a luxury co-op complex in Northwest Washington that over the years was home to cabinet members, judges, congressmen and senators, including the late Barry Goldwater, according to the Washington Post. Under the plea deal, the couple agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in cash and property to the U.S. government, the total of Myers's State Department salary over the years, including their prized 37-foot Malo sailboat.
It gives insight into the flaws of the man that he could rail indignantly in his diary about America's perceived "complacency about the poor" while living in a luxury condo complex with cabinet members, judges and senators. It's also so telling about the elitist and patronizing motives behind their spying that Walter Myers also complained in his diary about, "the utter inability of those who are oppressed to recognize their own condition."
I also thought it was interesting how their spying tradecraft evolved over the years. Near the end of their careers, they were apparently sending encrypted e-mails from internet cafes. But at the start, 30 years ago, they reportedly delivered secret documents by exchanging shopping carts with their Cuban handlers in local grocery stores (a practice that Gwendolyn confessed they abandoned years ago once closed circuit TV cameras became more prevalent in stores).