Oliver North Warns Cuban Spy Base Could Be Sold To Chinese

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Former Reagan National Security aide Oliver North thinks it's great that the Russians are closing down the Lourdes spy base in Cuba. However, North believes the United States should keep its eye on Fidel Castro because he could lease that base to the Chinese.

"It's great as long as Castro doesn't lease it to the communist Chinese. Because he now is out 250 million bucks a year," said North in an interview with CNSNews.com.

North believes the American ability to "penetrate what was going on in ... the [former] Soviet Union and now the Russian empire is a lot better than what we know ... is going on in Beijing. And if Beijing does for Lourdes what they have done for the Iraqi intelligence service, we've got more problems than we had before."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that the Russian military will pull out of the Lourdes base, a big Russian spying center that was built during the 1960s after the Cuban missile crisis. He did not say when the actual withdrawal would take place.

Putin also said in Moscow that closing Lourdes would save the Russian government around $200 million a year in rent and salaries.

North thinks it's an indication that Putin needs the United States.

"It's clear that Putin is trying to do what he can to build bridges. It's clear to me that George W. Bush is not going to yield on building a ballistic missile defense. It's clear to me that the Russians want this whole anti-terrorism effort to work, so this is a quid pro quo," North said.

North also thinks that Lourdes is "no longer as important as it once was, ever since we went to satellite communications for long haul defense related stuff. The reason why Lourdes was such an important site back in the 70s and the 80s and I guess even in the 60s was because they were able to pick up all the U.S. military communications up and down the east coast, including the Pentagon."

North also believes that the Russians, because of Lourdes, were able to monitor phone calls within the United States, especially those made within the national security and legislative apparatus.

"People all the time were making phone calls on unclassified lines, so that became a boondoggle for them until we went to satellite and encrypted communications," said North.

North also thinks it was Lourdes-intercepted communications that exposed his role in what later became the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. He believes many of his phone calls made as former President Reagan's national security advisor were recorded at Lourdes and given to the communists.

"There were a lot of us who believed that it was crucial to them. It tipped their hand as to a lot of the stuff that we were doing here. Some of us believe that's how they found out about my role in this whole thing. The first public exposure occurred in a Mexico City newspaper run by the communist party of Mexico and the other was Al-Sherria, a newspaper in Syria that was run by KGB money," North said.

The KGB is the former USSR intelligence agency that was dismantled by the Yeltsin government several years ago.

"It's entirely within the realm of possibility that they picked something up on many of the phone calls from people calling into my office from places like Teheran and all over Europe, Cyprus, Beirut and places like that. That's why the first exposure (of North's role) doesn't come from the New York Times but from those other two newspapers," said North.

While on Reagan's National Security staff, North was involved in planning the Grenada invasion and played a major role in the capture of the hijackers of the cruise ship, Achille Lauro. He also helped plan the U.S. raid on Muammar Quaddafi's terrorist training camps in Libya.

North is perhaps best known for the role he played in carrying out President Reagan's policy of support for the Nicaraguan resistance known as the Contras and his involvement in the rescue of American hostages held in Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1986, North emerged as the central figure in the Iran-Contra affair. President Reagan fired him later that year. Under a grant of immunity he testified before Congress in 1987. He was convicted in 1989 on criminal charges arising from the affair, but his conviction was later reversed on the grounds that immunized testimony had been used at his trial.

In 1994, North was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Virginia, but lost to Democrat Chuck Robb. Since 1995 he has hosted radio and television programs.