SpyCast 1.24.23
Ep 571 | 1.24.23

“Code Name Blue Wren: Cuban Spy Ana Montes” - with Jim Popkin

Show Notes


Jim Popkin (Twitter, LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss America’s most damaging female spy, Ana Montes. Jim is a four-time recipient of the national Emmy Award for outstanding journalism.

What You’ll Learn


  • How Ana Montes was recruited
  • Her espionage at the heart of the Department of Defense
  • Cuban intelligence tactics 
  • The molehunt to capture Montes


  • The “City of Spies” Washington D.C.
  • Betrayal and familial loss

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

She’s “the most famous spy no one’s ever heard of” – Why? Clouded by the tragedy of 9/11, Ana Montes was arrested on suspicion of espionage on September 21, 2001, as the Twin Towers smoldered. She had been spying for Cuba for almost two decades, sending secrets from the heart of American intelligence to Fidel Castro’s regime. 

This week, author and investigative journalist Jim Popkin joins Andrew to discuss Ana Montes’ story framed by his new book, Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America's Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed. Jim debriefs us on how Ana was recruited, how she gathered and sent secrets, and how she ultimately the net closed in on her. 


The timing couldn’t be better to discuss Ana Montes’ story. Ana was released from prison two weeks ago on January 6th after serving 21 of her 25-year prison sentence. Why has Ana been released while fellow spies who caused tremendous damage, Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, remain incarcerated? Tune into this week’s episode to find out!

Quotes of the Week

“There's a haunting message that the FBI found on her laptop from the Cubans that said, ‘Thank you so much for revealing [Redacted.] We are waiting for him here with open arms.’ So, she revealed the real name of someone who was headed to Cuba, the Cubans were aware of it, and, and they were, ‘waiting for him with open arms.’” – Jim Popkin.


Headline Resource

  • Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America's Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed, J. Popkin (Hanover, 2023)


*Beginner Resources*


  • Castro’s Nemesis: True Stories of a Master Spy-Catcher, C. Simmons (Independently Published, 2022)
  • American Spies, M. Sulick (GUP, 2013)
  • True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, S. Carmichael (Naval Institute, 2009)
  • United States-Cuban Relations: A Critical History, E. M. Dominguez (Lexington, 2008)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*

  • “Lasso of Truth!”
  • Wonder Woman’s secret power has a connection to the polygraph...