WASHINGTON: The United States has named a special "manager" for its intelligence operations against Cuba and Venezuela, in effect putting the two Latin American nations on a par with "axis of evil" states confronted on multiple levels by the administration of President George W Bush.
North Korea and Iran are the only other countries that have been assigned so-called "mission managers," who supervise intelligence operations against them on what the office of national intelligence director called "a strategic level."
In a statement released on Friday, the office of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said the manager would be responsible "for integrating collection and analysis on Cuba and Venezuela across the intelligence community" and "ensuring the implementation of strategies" that have not been disclosed.
"Such efforts are critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy," the statement said.
The director's office said the manager would also be asked to ensure "that policymakers have a full range of timely and accurate intelligence on which to base their decisions."
The document did not say what kind of decisions US officials could be making with regard to either of the targeted countries.
For the moment, the task of handling the Havana-Caracas axis fell to 32-year Central Intelligence Agency veteran J Patrick Maher, whose previous job was deputy director of the CIA's Office of Policy Support.