Monday, January 22, 2007

The CIA in Western Europe and the Abuse of Human Rights


January 2007

Covert action by the CIA and other intelligence services is designed to
remain secret. Academics and the public at large therefore to this very
day face great difficulties in answering two specific questions: What
covert action has the CIA carried out in Europe during its almost
60 years of existence? Did CIA covert action violate human rights in
Europe? Some operations, however, have become known and are now
in the public research domain. Among them are the clandestine anticommunist
stay-behind networks set up by the CIA in case of a Soviet
invasion of Western Europe. As the details of the operation emerge only
gradually some sources suggest that the stay-behind network was
linked to terrorist groups, adding further interest to this largely
unknown research subject at a time when the so called ‘war on
terrorism’ has forced academics to examine present and historical
terrorism data once again.


After its creation in 1947 the US foreign intelligence service Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) was given the explicit task not only to collect and
analyse information from across the world, but also to engage in covert action
in foreign countries. Many of these operations carried out by the CIA ever
since have violated the national sovereignty of the target country and must
therefore be considered as illegal. When the National Security Act was
passed, which created both the CIA and the National Security Council (NSC),
US lawmakers refrained from explicitly mentioning the words ‘covert
action’, but more obscurely gave the CIA the duty to ‘perform such other
functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as
the National Security Council may from time to time direct’.1
From its very beginning, the CIA has therefore operated at or across
the borderline of legality. CIA deputy director Ray Cline many years later

Intelligence and National Security, Vol.21, No.5, October 2006, pp.760 – 781

ISSN 0268-4527 print 1743-9019 online
DOI: 10.1080/02684520600957712 ª 2006 Taylor & Francis

explained that the inconspicuous little phrase ‘such other functions and duties
related to intelligence’ referred to covert action and represented an extremely
powerful ‘elastic catch-all clause’ allowing the National Security Council to
instruct the CIA to carry out a very broad range of operations in foreign
countries.2 ‘We did not mention them [the covert action operations] by
name’, Clark Clifford later reasoned, ‘because we felt it would be injurious to
our national interest to advertise the fact that we might engage in such

Still today many US citizens are not aware of the fact that some of its
clandestine services have engaged in at times illegal covert action across the
world for almost 60 years. The details of these operations are only known to a
small group of active and former participants, as well as academics and
journalists with an interest in this field. In the wake of the Watergate scandal
US public interest in covert action rose in the 1970s, with critical debates
ensuing on the need and morality of covert action. And with the introduction
of the internet in the 1990s a larger global audience has become interested in
covert action. ‘Who decides when CIA should participate in covert actions,
and why?’ is one of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the official CIA
homepage. ‘Only the President can direct the CIA to undertake a covert
action’, the CIA answers on its homepage.

Such actions usually are recommended by the National Security
Council (NSC). Covert actions are considered when the NSC judges
that US foreign policy objectives may not be fully realized by
normal diplomatic means and when military action is deemed to be
too extreme an option. Therefore, the Agency may be directed to
conduct a special activity abroad in support of foreign policy where
the role of the US Government is neither apparent nor publicly

Covert action can take many forms, from the financial support of friendly
publications to the mounting of significant paramilitary efforts, but it must
remain secret at all times. This, obviously, is not possible, and sometimes
covert action can be traced back to the CIA and the NSC, whereupon the
reputation of US presidents, due to their dominant position within the
NSC meetings, can suffer a heavy blow, as experienced by President John
F. Kennedy after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. ‘By covert
action operations’, US President Richard Nixon therefore stressed, ‘I mean
those activities which, although designed to further official US programs
and policies abroad, are so planned and executed that the hand of
the US Government is not apparent to unauthorized persons’.5 US
Congressman Otis Pike defined covert action as an ‘activity other than
purely information-gathering, which is directed at producing a particular
political, economic, or military result’.6
If illegal covert action can be traced back to the desk of a US President in
the White House a threat to the credibility of the presidency can result. In
order to limit this threat the President will as a rule apply the ‘plausible
denial’ strategy and deny that he had ordered the CIA or other governmental
agents to carry out the covert action in question and as a sign of outrage fire
lower ranking members of the administration. Some have observed that
‘plausible denial’ can amount to presidential lying, because, to quote the CIA
homepage, ‘only the President can direct the CIA to undertake a covert
action’. US Congressman Otis Pike insisted after his investigation into covert
action that presidents can no longer claim to have been out of the loop: ‘The
Pike Committee destroyed the old doctrine of ‘‘plausible denial’’’.7 And also
William Corson, former US Marine Commander in Vietnam, criticized the
‘plausible denial’ strategy as it leads to ‘an elaborate charade of Presidential
non-involvement which, if accepted at face value, suggests that successive
Presidents have either been blithering idiots, or not considered important
enough to possess the need to know’.8
Despite their secrecy, academics have studied and described a number of
clandestine operations that the CIA carried out in Latin America, Africa and
Asia. They include the military coup d’e´tat against President Salvador Allende
in Chile in 1973 and Operation Condor, a covert Latin American military
network designed to seize and murder political opponents across state
borders.9 The support of Jonas Savimbi’s Unia}o Nacional para a Independe
ˆncia Total de Angola (UNITA) in Angola after 1975, and the overthrow of
Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in cooperation with the British MI6 in
Iran in 1953, are among many well known examples of CIA covert action.
But what exactly has the CIA been doing in Europe? Still today, almost
60 years after the creation of the US foreign intelligence service, little
research exists on this sensitive question. Some have assumed that the
transatlantic friendship between the USA and the countries of Western
Europe had led to a situation in which the CIA refrained from carrying out
dirty tricks in Europe, a speculation which, however, cannot be supported by
the evidence.10

ITALY 1948

One year after the creation of the CIA in Washington, the United Nations
General Assembly in 1948 in New York passed the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Ever since a contradiction has existed between CIA covert
actions on the one hand, and UN human rights on the other hand, as the
former quite regularly and in numerous countries violated the latter.

Human rights, it is well known, had been violated consistently by an almost
endless chain of actors from literally all countries of the world long before the
CIA was created. This has led some observers to ridicule the concept of
human rights, above all because the passing of the resolution in the General
Assembly did not end human rights violations.
Others, including prominently Eleanor Roosevelt, have insisted that human
rights must never be ridiculed as all human beings depend on them. On 28
September 1948 she came to Paris for a presentation of the human rights
principles and declared at the Sorbonne: ‘I have chosen to discuss this issue
in Europe because this has been the scene of the greatest historic battles
between freedom and tyranny’. With the destruction of the Second World
War in vivid memory the late US President’s wife firmly declared: ‘Human
rights exist to the degree that they are respected by people in relations with
each other and by governments in relations with their citizens’.11
As reaffirmed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights people have the
right to free and fair elections. ‘The will of the people shall be the basis of the
authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine
elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures’.12 While it is well known
that the Soviet Union, eager to protect its sphere of influence, did not respect
this right in Eastern Europe, illustrated dramatically in Czechoslovakia and
Berlin in the post-war years, the US also, equally eager to protect its own
sphere of influence as agreed in Yalta, manipulated elections.
The first covert action operation ever carried out by the CIA targeted a
European country, Italy, and specifically the strong Italian Communist Party.
US President Harry Truman, together with all other members of the National
Security Council in Washington, feared that in Italy’s first post-war election
the communists might win an overwhelming victory. The first numbered
document issued by the National Security Council, NSC 1/1 of 14 November
1947, therefore stressed: ‘The Italian Government, ideologically inclined
toward Western democracy, is weak and is being subjected to continuous
attack by a strong Communist Party’.13 Thereafter, in one of its first
meetings, the newly created National Security Council on 19 December
1947, adopted the top secret directive NSC 4-A which ordered CIA Director
Roscoe Hillenkoetter to undertake a broad range of covert activities to
prevent a communist victory in the first national post-war Italian election
scheduled for 16 April 1948.

Within the CIA Hillenkoetter gave the task to manipulate the Italian
election to the CIA covert action department ‘Office of Policy Coordination’
(OPC), headed by Frank Wisner. Targeting liberated Europe with covert
action was a highly sensitive strategy, as the NSC members knew. If
uncovered, European trust in the USA could be severely damaged. Therefore
the highest standards of secrecy were applied. There were only three copies
of NSC 4-A, one of which Hillenkoetter had ‘closely guarded in the
Director’s office, where members of his own staff who did not ‘‘need to
know’’ could gain no access to it’. A second copy was with George F.
Kennan at the State Department.14

Most Italians were unaware that the CIA manipulated the elections in
1948. The Italian Communist Party (PCI), the largest in Western Europe, and
the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), had united for the elections, forming the
Popular Democratic Front (FDP). They competed with the Christian
Democratic Party (DCI), which had been newly created after the Second
World War with US assistance. Washington decided that of a total of
574 seats in the Italian parliament the majority, at least 288 seats, had to be
secured by the CIA-supported DCI. The DCI was strengthened by pumping
ten million dollars into its campaign.15 And the communist and socialist
coalition was weakened through a smear campaign. The CIA issued
‘anonymous pamphlets which defamed PCI candidate’s sex and personal
lives, as well as smearing them with the Fascist and/or anti-Church brush’.16
This tactic of targeting specific seats to give control to the DCI rather than
going for a complete sweep ‘was successful in all but two of the two hundred
plus seats selected’.17 In the final election the DCI won 307 seats, with 48 per
cent of the vote, with the leftist coalition unexpectedly polling only 31 per
cent, and thus not even reaching 200 seats.

While not everybody agrees that the CIA was the decisive factor which
secured DCI victory, President Truman was so impressed by the CIA’s Italian
operation that he saw to it that covert action was institutionalized as an
instrument of US statecraft. Only two months after the Italian election, on
18 June 1948, the National Security Council passed directive NSC 10/2 to
replace NSC 4-A. While NSC 4-A had authorized the CIA to carry out covert
action in Italy only, NSC 10/2 gave the CIA the task to carry out covert action
across the world. The document stated that ‘covert operations’ are understood
to be:

all activities . . . which are conducted or sponsored by this government
against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign
states or groups but which are so planned and conducted that any US
Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized
persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly
disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall
include any covert activities related to: propaganda; economic warfare;
preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition,
and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including
assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee
liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements
in threatened countries of the free world.18

By creating the CIA and passing NSC 10/2 Truman had unleashed US dirty
tricks on a grand scale. ‘During his twenty-year retirement Truman
sometimes seemed amazed, even somewhat appalled, at the size and power
of the intelligence community he had brought into being’, British historian
Christopher Andrew commented.19 Retired and fragile, Truman claimed that
he had never intended the CIA ‘to operate as an international agency engaged
in strange activities’.20

Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the start of the socalled
‘war on terrorism’, CIA covert action in Europe once again made
media headlines and became the subject of a highly controversial debate.
During this debate the CIA was accused of immoral and illegal operations
relating to secret prisons, so-called ‘black sites’, torture, sometimes referred
to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, and exported torture, so-called
‘extraordinary renditions’ in which suspects were secretly transferred to third
countries that routinely use torture.

European politicians protested strongly. ‘We don’t even need to talk about
the fact that it’s totally unacceptable for people here in Europe just to be
abducted’, German Interior Minister Otto Schily criticized. He was alluding
to the case of Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born 42-year-old German citizen
who had been abducted during a CIA covert action operation while on
holiday in Macedonia in late 2003. According to his own testimony Masri
had then been taken to Afghanistan, where he was drugged and beaten while
being held captive in a secret CIA prison. Masri was released when the CIA
realized that it had mistaken him for a terrorist, whereupon the US
ambassador in Germany offered his apologies to Otto Schily.21

The Universal Declaration stated clearly that ‘No one shall be subjected to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.22 Aware
of 500 years of European colonialism and two world wars, many Europeans
were critical of the abuse of power under whatever new pretexts. ‘In the war
against international terrorism’, Schily stressed, ‘there must be no law-free
territories and definitely no torture’.23 As debates spread on whether CIA
techniques included torture at all, the Washington Post opened a new debate
and reported that the CIA was operating secret prisons, so-called ‘black sites’
in Asia, Latin America and also Europe.

Public perceptions linked the reports on torture with those on the black
sites and concluded that the CIA was an intelligence service which operated
beyond democratic checks and balances and, according to totalitarian
nightmares, tortured in remote dark cells. ‘The men from the pages of a bad
spy novel throw people they don’t like into secret prisons that officially do
not exist, snug little dungeons hidden away in undisclosed countries’,
Eugene Robinson commented in The Washington Post, and criticized those
‘American officials whose un-American treatment of prisoners in the war on
terrorism has shamed our nation’.24

According to the US media the CIA’s covert detention system has at times
established facilities in eight countries, including, among others, Thailand,
Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and existed also in Eastern
European countries.25 The New York-based non-governmental organization
Human Rights Watch presented flight records showing that CIA planes had
carried prisoners from Kabul to Polish and Romanian military facilities
during covert action operations. CIA planes allegedly also repeatedly landed
at airports in Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, and Libya, as well as in Germany, the
United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Macedonia, Cyprus, the
Czech Republic, and Greece. The Council of Europe sharply criticized such
CIA covert action and gave Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty the
challenging task to carry out an official investigation into the CIA black
sites in Europe. The press wrote of ‘one man confronts the CIA’, and Marty
added: ‘Realistically, I feel like a biker who competes in a race against a

‘This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work’, CIA Director
Porter Goss, insisted in public interviews. ‘We use lawful capabilities
to collect vital information, and we do it in a variety of unique and
innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture’.27
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a tour through Europe in the
Ukrainian capital of Kiev in December 2005 stressed: ‘As a matter of US
policy, the United States’ obligations under the CAT [Convention
against Torture], which prohibits, of course, cruel and inhumane and
degrading treatment, those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever
they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United

But many Europeans and Americans were not convinced by CIA Director
Goss and Secretary of State Rice. ‘The question remains whether she [Rice]
means the same thing by torture as we do’, Karsten Voigt, the German
government’s coordinator on German–US relations, explained when large
discrepancies emerged between what the EU and the NSC considered to be
torture.29 Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights
Watch, sided with the EU and flatly rejected the claims of both Goss and
Rice: ‘It’s public knowledge that the CIA has used ‘‘waterboarding’’,
mock executions, extended sleep deprivations, and other forms of severe
mistreatment of detainees. The Bush administration’s statements that it
doesn’t use torture are simply meaningless’.30

The CIA interrogation technique known as ‘water boarding’ became the
focus of the discussion. On the condition that their names and identities
remain secret CIA officers confirmed to the US media that the CIA used
water boarding on suspects incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on
military bases as one of six ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ instituted in
mid-March 2002 by the NSC. ‘The prisoner is bound to an inclined board,
feet raised and head slightly below the feet’, an unnamed CIA source
described the technique. ‘Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and
water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a
terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment
to a halt’.31

While most Europeans insisted that water boarding is torture, CIA officers
who spoke to the US media on condition of anonymity were split on the issue.
Some insisted that these were ‘harsh techniques’, but not torture, and they
were necessary to fight terrorism: ‘There are many who feel these techniques,
properly supervised, are both valid and necessary, the sources said’. Other
CIA officers disagreed on moral or pragmatic grounds. Some argued that
confessions obtained this way are unreliable and provide questionable
information aimed at pleasing the interrogators. ‘This is the problem with
using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what
they think you want to hear’, one source said.32

All questioned CIA officers confirmed that these interrogation techniques
are not being carried out by ‘CIA runaway agents’ but follow the chain of
command which goes back to the Deputy Director of Operations at CIA
headquarters in Langley, who is supported by the Director of Central
Intelligence and the National Security Council of the administration of
President George Bush Junior. ‘When an interrogator wishes to use a
particular technique on a prisoner’, one source said, ‘the policy at the CIA is
that each step of the interrogation process must be signed off at the highest
level – by the Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA. A cable must be
sent and a reply received each time a progressively harsher technique is
used’. In one instance an officer caused the death of one detainee at a mud
fort dubbed the ‘salt pit’ that is used as a prison in Afghanistan. CIA sources
said the death occurred when the prisoner was left to stand naked throughout
the harsh night after being doused with cold water. It is ‘bad interrogation.
I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture’s bad enough’,
former CIA officer Bob Baer argued.33 Kenneth Roth, executive director of
Human Rights Watch, criticized: ‘Many interrogation techniques authorized
for use by the CIA amount to torture. Their authorization by higher-ranking
officials is illegal and potentially criminal’.34


Arguably the largest publicly known covert action operation carried out by
the CIA in Europe occurred during the Cold War in the western part of the
then divided continent. In cooperation with the British foreign intelligence
service MI6 the CIA covert action branch set up and ran for 40 years
clandestine anti-communist stay-behind armies in the NATO countries
Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium, Luxemburg,
Holland, Denmark and Norway, as well as in the officially neutral
countries Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Austria.35
Former CIA Director William Colby emphasized that the stay-behind
operation was ‘a major program’ of the CIA, designed to have top secret
armed soldiers in Western Europe ‘ready to be called into action as sabotage
and espionage forces when the time came’.36 In case of a Soviet invasion of
Western Europe the international stay-behind network was designed to fight
as a secret NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) guerrilla force behind
enemy lines on Soviet-occupied territory. In order to implement the major
programme the CIA and the MI6 for many years closely cooperated with
European military and civilian intelligence services, including among others
SIFAR (Italy), UNA (Switzerland), MIT (Turkey), SGR (Belgium), BVD
(Netherlands), BND (Germany), DGSE (France), NIS (Norway), KYP
(Greece), and PIDE (Portugal).

The strategic thinking behind the stay-behind networks rested on the
experiences of the Second World War and particularly Adolf Hitler’s
Blitzkrieg which had led to the rapid occupation of large parts of Europe.
After the Second World War British and US military strategists feared an
invasion and occupation of Western Europe by the Soviet Union, and decided
that a secret guerrilla and resistance movement should be set up during
peacetime. Within the CIA the covert action department Office of Policy
Coordination under Frank Wisner was responsible for setting up the staybehind

The stay-behind networks remained top secret for decades and were only
discovered after the end of the Cold War. The first English book which in the
1990s dealt with the phenomenon appeared in 1995. Entitled Killing Hope:
US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, William Blum’s
critical history of international CIA operations related that ‘this covert
paramilitary network, code-named ‘‘Operation Gladio’’ . . . established units
in every non-communist country in Europe . . . from an operational point of
view, it appears that the CIA and other intelligence services were calling the

Blum based his story in parts on the revelations of former CIA operatives,
including Philip Agee, who had joined the CIA in 1957, served in Latin
America and other countries, but left the agency in 1969 on moral grounds.
In his publications Agee revealed the existence of clandestine stay-behind
armies, declaring that ‘paramilitary groups, directed by CIA officers,
operated in the Sixties throughout Europe’. In some countries, according to
Agee, the secret armies were directed against a potential internal enemy:
The Greek-American CIA officer recruited several groups of Greek
citizens for what the CIA called, ‘a nucleus for rallying a citizen army
against the threat of a leftist coup’. Each of the several groups was
trained and equipped to act as an autonomous guerrilla unit, capable of
mobilizing and carrying on guerrilla warfare with minimal or no
outside direction. The members of each such group were trained by the
CIA in military procedures. The weapons were stored in several

Agee deliberately revealed names and top secret operations in his
publications in order to destabilize and weaken the CIA. This infuriated
the CIA, and the agency chased him through numerous countries. Today
Agee, who is a strong supporter of Fidel Castro, lives in Havana.
When in 1996 secret CIA arms caches belonging to the stay-behind
network were discovered in neutral Austria, Chancellor Franz Vranitzky
angrily insisted that he knew absolutely nothing of a secret army and together
with Austrian President Thomas Klestil demanded that the United States
launched a full-scale investigation into the violation of Austria’s ‘permanent
neutrality’.40 Yet while Swanee Hunt, US ambassador to Austria, offered her
apologies, CIA sources familiar with the stay-behind covert action operation
claimed that the Austrian government had been well informed of operation
stay-behind. ‘The entire Austrian government from Chancellor Leopold Figel
[in office from 1945 to 1953] onwards knew of these arms caches and the
whole operation’, Richard Helms, director of the CIA from 1966 to 1973,
declared. ‘What the Americans have done here was highly welcome to
the Austrian government. The government was not only informed of the
arms caches but also . . . of the stay-behind operation’.41 And at the State
Department in Washington Nicholas Burns added: ‘The aim was noble, the
aim was correct, to try to help Austria if it was under occupation. What went
wrong is that successive Washington administrations simply decided not to
talk to the Austrian government about it’.42

According to Italian sources familiar with Gladio (the code name given by
the CIA to the Italian stay-behind network), the CIA used the secret soldiers
also in the total absence of a Soviet invasion to influence European politics
through covert action operations. General Gerardo Serravalle, commander of
the Italian stay-behind within the Italian military intelligence service from
1971 to 1974, recalled how one day the CIA, which supplied all secret
soldiers across Western Europe with cash, guns and explosives, had stopped
sending money and weapons for his Gladio unit. Serravalle was angry and
called for a meeting with the chief of the CIA station in Italy, Howard
Stone, on the clandestine Gladio training centre Saboteur’s Training Camp
(Centro Adestramento Guastatori, CAG) in Sardinia on 15 December 1972.
Serravalle recalled the meeting as follows:

I realized that the CIA interests, as represented by these officials,
weren’t really concerned with the level we had reached in training but
rather with the subject of internal control. That is, our level of readiness
to counter street disturbances, handling nation-wide strikes and above
all any eventual rise of the Communist Party.43

Serravalle got a very clear impression of what the CIA and the US government
wanted: ‘Mr. Stone stated, quite clearly, that the financial support of the
CIA was wholly dependent on our willingness to put into action, to
programme and plan these other – shall we call them – internal measures’.44
Greatly disturbed members of the Italian parliament investigated the secret
CIA army in the 1990s and came to the sensitive conclusion that members of
the CIA network had linked up with Italian right-wing extremists in covert
action and had supported them in a top secret campaign which included
terrorist attacks against civilians which were wrongly blamed on the Italian
communists in order to discredit them at the polls. When Stanfield Turner,
CIA director from 1977 to 1981, was questioned on this dark side of the staybehind
operation in an interview in December 1990, Turner angrily ripped off
his microphone and shouted: ‘I said, no questions about Gladio!’45
The European network of clandestine stay-behind networks was coordinated
by NATO. For in case of an invasion of Western Europe it would have
been NATO’s task to coordinate military manoeuvres and re-establish
European independence. Within NATO two clandestine committees, the socalled
‘Clandestine Planning Committee’ (CPC), and the ‘Allied Clandestine
Committee’ (ACC), both linked to NATO’s SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters
Allied Powers Europe) met regularly on the level of officers from the various
European military intelligence services in order to discuss questions related
to stay-behind and secret warfare.

Both the CIA and US Special Forces took part in the secret NATO
meetings of ACC and CPC, according to Serravalle: ‘At the stay-behind
meetings representatives of the CIA were always present. They had no voting
right and were from the CIA headquarters of the capital in which the meeting
took place. . . .Or members of the US Forces Europe Command were present,
also without voting right’.46

Thomas Polgar, who had retired in 1981 after a 30-year-long career in the
CIA, explained with an implicit reference to CPC and ACC that the staybehind
programmes were coordinated by ‘a sort of unconventional warfare
planning group linked to NATO’. In these two clandestine planning groups
senior officers of the CIA, MI6 and NATO regularly meet with senior officers
of European intelligence services, at times represented by the director of the
intelligence service as ‘each national service did it with varying degrees of
intensity’. According to Polgar the ACC and CPC representatives ‘would
meet every couple of months in different capitals’, adding that ‘in Italy in the
1970s some of the people went a little bit beyond the charter that NATO had
put down’.47

While NATO refused to publicly provide details on the stay-behind
operation, an unnamed NATO official reasoned that the delicacy of the staybehind
data should not be overlooked by international researchers, stressing
that in Germany the CIA had recruited Nazis into the stay-behind in order to
guarantee an anti-communist conviction. The CIA, according to this unnamed
NATO source, ‘incorporated lock, stock and barrel the espionage outfit run
by Hitler’s spy chief Reinhard Gehlen. This is well known, because Gehlen
was the spiritual father of Stay Behind in Germany and his role was known to
the West German leader, Konrad Adenauer, from the outset’.48 When
German politicians learned of this they spoke of a ‘Ku-Klux-Klan’ and asked
for a detailed investigation. ‘The affair is a case for the national public
prosecutor’, German parliamentarian Hermann Scheer declared, ‘because
the existence of an armed military secret organization outside all governmental
or parliamentary control, is incompatible with the constitutional
legality, and therefore must be prosecuted according to the criminal law’.49

Yet when Scheer was informed that also his party, the Social Democrats
(SPD), had been involved with the operation during its time in government,
the SPD decided to refrain from investigating CIA covert actions in Europe.
In almost all countries national parliaments remained ignorant of the
existence of the secret networks throughout the Cold War. This led some
parliamentarians to conclude that the stay-behind networks were illegal and
incompatible with national constitutions as they operated beyond checks and
balances and with virtually no democratic oversight. The EU parliament
therefore passed a resolution on the stay-behind networks on 22 November
1990, sharply criticizing NATO and the US intelligence services for
having set up military structures in Europe which for decades operated
beyond democratic control. And in Belgium, Italy and Switzerland parliamentary
investigations led to the demobilization of the respective secret

In France the socialist government of President Francois Mitterrand in late
1990 claimed that no secret stay-behind army linked to the CIA existed on
French soil. Yet he was contradicted by Italian Prime Minister Giulio
Andreotti who publicly confirmed that all governments of Western
Europe were involved in the stay-behind affair. Andreotti let the press know
that far from having been closed down long ago, representatives of the
French secret army had also taken part in the secret ACC meeting in Brussels
as recently as 24 October 1990, causing considerable embarrassment in

‘There were probably a lot of Frenchmen who wanted to be ready if
something happened’, retired CIA officer Edward Barnes reasoned. Barnes
had served in France as a CIA liaison officer to the French stay-behind during
the French Fourth Republic and had left the country in 1956. Resisting a
Soviet occupation was the primary purpose of the stay-behind network as
Barnes confirmed, while promoting anti-communist political activity in
France ‘might have been a secondary consideration’.50

According to Admiral Pierre Lacoste, who directed the French foreign
intelligence service, DGSE, from 1982 to 1985 under President Mitterrand, ‘a
limited number of people’ from the French stay-behind network were
involved in ‘terrorist actions’ against de Gaulle and his Algerian peace plan
in the early 1960s. Lacoste insisted, however, that the Algerian anti-de Gaulle
operations had been the only case when the French secret soldiers had
become operational inside France and stressed that he believed that Soviet
contingency plans for invasion nevertheless justified the stay-behind
programme also during his time in office.51

Italian Senators of the Democratic Left Party (Partito Democratico della
Sinistra, PDS), which had replaced the Italian Communist Party after the
collapse of the Soviet Union, under the chairmanship of Senator Giovanni
Pellegrini, looked at the data in more detail, heard witnesses, saw documents,
and presented a 326-page report in June 2000.52 The former Communists
came to the conclusion that – apart from preparing for a Soviet invasion – the
secret Gladio army had, together with the CIA, the Italian military
intelligence service, and selected Italian right-wing terrorists, fought the
Italian Communists and the Italian Socialists for fear that the latter would
betray NATO ‘from within’. ‘Those massacres, those bombs, those military
actions had been organized or promoted or supported by men inside Italian
state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to
the structures of United States intelligence’.53

When British historian Trevor Barnes approached the delicate research
field of CIA covert action in Europe he confessed in 1985 that one still knows
very little, adding that some data was available on CIA covert operations in
France. ‘The CIA, according to a former agent, bribed at least one regular
member of the French cabinets in the decade’, Barnes reported, but
cautiously added that this is ‘only the tip of a covert action iceberg which
will slowly be uncovered’.54 If the data found by the Italian researchers is
correct and the CIA supported terrorism in Western Europe, then indeed
the covert action iceberg is much bigger than even Barnes might have

While some in Italy questioned the independence of former communists
and their allegations that CIA covert action in Europe had included the
support of terrorism, others had more trust in members of the Italian
intelligence community who also went on record with claims that CIA covert
action in Europe included the sponsoring of terrorism. In March 2001,
General Giandelio Maletti, the former head of Italian counter-intelligence,
had to testify on the Piazza Fontana case. Shortly before Christmas 1969, four
bombs had exploded in public places in Rome and Milan, killing 16 and
maiming and wounding 80, most of them on the Piazza Fontana in Milan.
After the massacre, the Italian intelligence service had planted bomb parts in
the villa of well-known leftist editor Giangiacomo Feltrinelli in order to place
the blame on the Communists and the extreme left.55

‘The CIA, following the directives of its government, wanted to create an
Italian nationalism capable of halting what it saw as a slide to the left, and,
for this purpose, it may have made use of right-wing terrorism’. Maletti
testified in the Piazza Fontana trial. ‘The impression was that the Americans
would do anything to stop Italy from sliding to the left’, the 79-year-old
General explained, and added: ‘Don’t forget that Nixon was in charge and
Nixon was a strange man, a very intelligent politician, but a man of rather
unorthodox initiatives’.56

The stay-behind networks in Western Europe remain to this day amongst
the most polarizing CIA covert action operations. ‘Prudent Precaution or
Source of Terror?’, the international press hence wisely asked upon the
discovery of the network in 1990.57 Most observers, including the author,
agree that assisting resistance groups in Soviet-occupied Europe would have
been a ‘noble task’, to use the words of State Department spokesman
Nicholas Burns. While on the other hand the sponsoring of terrorism in
whatever form and against whatever target is clearly unacceptable and
would represent the darkest possible form of CIA human rights violations in

It is crucial to note that the evidence for the two interpretations of this CIA
covert action operation cannot be accessed in the same manner. The prudent
precaution data, hence the post-invasion resistance task, is accessible and
confirmed beyond any doubt. But the specifics of the terror data are much
more difficult to unravel and therefore contribute to an ongoing agitated
debate. Academics like the author who venture into this uncharted territory
must rely on newspaper reports which at times attempt to be sensational in
order to gain market shares, books of former participants who give their
personal twist to the story, parliamentary reports, and juridical testimonies.
Still today only a very limited amount of written governmental documents on
stay-behind are publicly available. ‘The information superhighway is barely a
macadam path when it comes to throwing light on the truth of the Gladio
networks’, John Prados of the National Security Archive in Washington
correctly observed.58

Other scholars, including Olav Riste of the Norwegian Institute for
Defence Studies, are highly sceptical of the ‘torrent of allegations about
Gladio’s involvement in coup plans and various terrorist attacks’. Riste, who
agrees with Prados that ‘documentary evidence is extremely difficult to
come by’ in the field of international stay-behind research, claims that most
books and articles on the subject are ‘products of muckraking journalists
with a conspiratorial bent, or ‘‘revelations’’ by disgruntled officers with axes
to grind’. Yet by first classifying all journalists who worked on Gladio
as ‘muckraking’, and secondly discrediting all intelligence officers who
spoke out on Gladio and terrorism in front of judges and parliamentarian
commissions in various countries as ‘disgruntled’, Riste discards without
further investigation some of the most important sources in this delicate
research field. It does not add strength to Riste’s argument that, based
on his valuable research on the Norwegian stay-behind, he implicitly
upholds the claim that stay-behind networks were never involved in
terrorism in any country of Western Europe, while admitting at the
same time that he did not look at the other countries and that sources are

On the other side of what is now an animated international Gladio debate
among scholars and observers, the stay-behind networks have been compared
to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, despite the fact that, first, we still
do not know the full story of either ‘Al Qaeda’ or ‘Gladio’, and second the
comparison of two enigmatic historical phenomenon is risky, to say the least.
‘The army of saboteurs’ operated ‘without meaningful oversight, and many
with a visceral hatred for anything Left-wing’, notes Phil Chamberlain in the
British Tribune. ‘So, it was small wonder that Gladio operatives decided not
to wait for any invasion, but put their irregular warfare skills to the test. The
result was a litany of atrocities across the continent which Al Qaeda has come
nowhere near matching’.60

Philip Davies of the Brunel University Centre for Intelligence and Security
Studies in England acknowledges that

these networks became something of a public scandal and row in
Europe when it was discovered that in Italy in particular, members of
the stay-behind system had been involved in atrocities committed by
the military and security service during the 1970s intended to disrupt
the political left by committing acts of terror attributed to the militant
extreme left of the period.

Davies insists, however, that ‘few of these [networks] had quite the same
bloody post-recruitment track record of the Italians’ and therefore criticizes
that the current author’s book ‘consistently tries to portray the operation as an
attempt by NATO and the United States to manipulate the politics and harass,
disrupt or even murder members of the political left’. Yet then Davies
concludes that ‘Paramilitary groups have a history of going rogue’ and the
‘lesson is: once you have trained and armed anyone they are difficult to
disarm and impossible to untrain, and you can never completely control what
they do with either in the long run’, a wise observation which surely does not
apply to Italy only, as for instance the data on Turkey, Spain, Portugal and
Greece suggests.61

‘In this age of global concern with terrorism it is especially upsetting to
discover that Western Europe and the United States collaborated in creating
networks that took up terrorism. In the United States such nations are called
‘state sponsors’ and are the object of hostility and sanction’, John Prados
highlighted the far-reaching implications of the Gladio debate. ‘Can it be that
the United States itself, Britain, France, Italy and others should be on the list
of state sponsors? The Gladio story needs to be told completely so as to
establish the truth in this matter’.62

The US government strongly disagreed. When the networks were first
discovered in 1990 the administration of George Bush senior refused to
comment, while an unnamed ‘US government official familiar with
Operation Gladio’ claimed that Gladio was ‘solely an Italian operation. We
have no control over it whatsoever’, adding, that ‘If there are allegations that
the CIA was involved in terrorist activities in Italy, they are absolute

More than 15 years after the discovery of the networks in Europe the
administration of George Bush junior, finally, felt a need to take a stand on
the ongoing international Gladio debate. On 20 January 2006 the State
Department of Condoleezza Rice rejected the claim that the stay-behind
networks were linked to terrorism in Europe. The State Department issued a
statement on the internet in which it wrongly claimed that these claims were
based only on the US Field Manual FM 30-31B, which instructs US agents to
carry out false flag terrorism but which the State Department termed a Soviet
forgery. It is a ‘false notion that West European ‘‘stay-behind’’ networks
engaged in terrorism, allegedly at US instigation’ the State Department
insisted. ‘This is not true, and those researching the ‘‘stay behind’’ networks
need to be more discriminating in evaluating the trustworthiness of their
source material’.64

The ‘source material’ in question is the Field Manual 30-31B, one passage
of which reads:

There may be times when HC [Host Country] governments show
passivity or indecision in the face of Communist or Communistinspired
subversion, and react with inadequate vigor to intelligence
estimates transmitted by U.S. agencies. Such situations are particularly
likely to arise when the insurgency seeks to achieve tactical advantage
by temporarily refraining from violence, thus lulling HC authorities
into a state of false security. In such cases, U.S. Army intelligence must
have the means of launching special operations which will convince the
HC governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent
danger and of the necessity of counteraction.

Then FM 30-31B goes on to suggest that US agents infiltrate the enemy and
carry out ‘violent actions’, presumably including terrorism, in the name of the

To this end, U.S. Army intelligence should seek to penetrate the
insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of
forming special action groups among the more radical elements of the
insurgency. When the kind of situation envisaged above arises, these
groups, acting under U.S. Army intelligence control, should be used to
launch violent or non-violent actions according to the nature of the
case . . . In cases where the infiltration of such agents into the insurgent
leadership has not been effectively implemented, it may help towards
the achievement of the above ends to utilize ultra-leftist organizations.
In the 1980s FM 30-31B was presented as a genuine US document to the
Italian public by the Italian Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the
US-linked secret Masonic Lodge Propaganda Due (P2), headed by Licio
Gelli.65 Gelli declared, ‘The CIA gave it to me’.66 FM 30-31B is dated 18
March 1970, Headquarters of the US Army, Washington DC, and signed by
General Westmoreland. William Westmoreland commanded American
military operations in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968 and thereafter
served as US Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972. He died in the summer
of 2005 and is no longer available to testify whether Annex B is a Soviet
forgery as the State Department claims, or whether it is a genuine US
document which he signed. Documentary film-maker Allan Francovich asked
Ray Cline, CIA Deputy Director from 1962 to 1966, whether FM 30-31B was
an authentic document or a Soviet forgery, and the latter responded on the
BBC: ‘Well, I suspect it is an authentic document. I don’t doubt it. I never
saw it but it’s the kind of special forces military operations that are described.
On the other hand you gotta recall, that the defence department and the
President don’t initiate any of those orders, until there is an appropriate

It is somewhat contradictory that the US administration urges academics
with an interest in covert action to investigate historical documents more
carefully, while at the same time it is limiting access to crucial documents.
The National Security Archive (NSA) at George Washington University in
the USA tried to shed some light on Operation Gladio and in 1991 filed a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Yet the CIA refused to reveal any staybehind
documents. Nine years later the author placed a FOIA request with the
CIA, whereupon the CIA raised FOIA exemptions B1 and B3 relating to top
secret operations and replied that ‘The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the
existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request’.68
The author appealed this decision of the CIA and argued that ‘The
documents that were withheld must be disclosed under the FOIA, because the
secrecy exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3) can only reasonably refer to CIA
operations which are still secret today’. Arguing that this was no longer
the case the author concluded: ‘If you, Mrs. Dyer, raise FOIA secrecy
exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3) in this context, you unwisely deprive the CIA
from its voice and the possibility to take a stand in a Gladio disclosure
discourse, which will take place regardless whether the CIA decides to
participate or not’.69 In February 2001 the CIA replied that ‘Your appeal has
been accepted and arrangements will be made for its consideration by the
appropriate members of the Agency Release Panel. You will be advised of
the determinations made’. The CIA stressed that the Agency Release Panel
deals with appeals ‘on a first-received, first-out basis’, and that the process
could take some time as at ‘the present time, our workload consists of
approximately 315 appeals’.70 More than five years later the author has still
not had a reply.


Research into CIA covert action and human rights violations in Europe
remains a challenging task for academics, as the evidence available is limited,
morally sensitive and at times contradictory. This is true also of the staybehind
operation, which is particularly sensitive as elements of the network
were not only a valuable ‘safety net’ ready to be activated in case of a Soviet
invasion, but seem to have engaged in criminal activities including terrorism.
When the stay-behind networks were discovered in 1990 the press
observed that the ‘story seems straight from the pages of a political thriller’71
and argued that this large international covert action programme represented
‘the best-kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War
II’.72 Beyond such sensational journalism the hard facts were, however, much
more difficult to come by. Also 15 years later it remains unclear when or
whether the full story on the CIA stay-behind operations in Western Europe
will be available for a larger public.

After the end of the Cold War a remarkably large percentage of European
citizens became highly sceptical about the moral integrity of the United
States and its foreign policy. ‘The interventions of the US government in
world affairs, often vigorously opposed within the United States, uniformly
have been either cynical, or brutal or both’, claimed for instance British
Professor Michael Dummett.73 This disillusion, which grew during the
presidency of George Bush junior, neglects the fact that not all members of
past and present US administration are cynical, and that indeed many,
including members of the CIA and other US intelligence services, went to
work with a moral focus: to confront the totalitarian Soviet Union and fight
for human rights during the Cold War, or to confront terrorism in the twenty-
first century.

Yet while focusing on human rights as an end, a glorious goal, the means
employed to reach the end were brutal, justified by reference to the equally or
more brutal tactics of the totalitarian Soviet Union during the Cold War, or by
reference to the brutality of the different terrorist networks in the twenty-first
century. By employing all means, regardless of their immorality and
brutality, US foreign policy increasingly resembled the policies of its
enemies. The Gladio data suggests that the US, like its enemies, engaged in
terrorism, while Guantanamo, black sites and other special US prisons
deprive prisoners of basic rights and in this respect share features of the
Soviet Gulag system. ‘After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in
coping with this problem of Soviet communism’, George Kennan had wisely
warned in 1946 in his famous ‘Long Telegram’ on the Soviet Union, ‘is that
we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping’.74


1 Thomas Etzold and John Gaddis, Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy
1945–1950 (New York: Columbia University Press 1978) p.12.
2 Philip Willan, Puppetmasters. The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy (London: Constable
1991) p.20.
3 Quoted in Christopher Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only. Secret Intelligence and the
American Presidency from Washington to Bush (New York: Harper Collins Publishers 1995)
4 Official CIA homepage: 5
5 Presidential Directive, National Security Decision Memorandum 40, Responsibility for the
Conduct, Supervision and Coordination of Covert Action Operations, Washington February
17, 1970. Signed: Richard Nixon. Unpublished. Found by the author through the Declassified
Documents Reference System.
6 Report of the House Select Committee on Intelligence [Pike Committee], Ninety-fourth
Congress, as published in Village Voice, New York City, February 1976, p.83.
7 CIA. The Pike Report, with an introduction by Philip Agee (Nottingham: Spokesman Books
1977) p.17. A month after the Pike Committee was handed in Congressman Pike alleged in
the US House of Representatives on 9 March 1976 that threats were made against him by the
CIA’s Special Counsel for legal affairs, Mitchell Rogovin. Allegedly Rogovin had said to
Searle Field, staff director of the House Select Committee on Intelligence headed by Pike:
‘Pike will pay for this [investigation and report], you wait and see . . .We will destroy him for
this. I’m serious’. Rogovin denied having made such threats. See ibid. p.7.
8 William Corson, The Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire
(New York: The Dial Press 1977) p.345. Compare also on the erosion of plausible deniability
under the Bush administration: James Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and
the Bush Administration (London: The Free Press 2006) pp.24–7. New York Times reporter
James Risen in December 2005 first broke the story that the National Security Agency began
spying on domestic communications soon after 9/11. His book State of War, which he
published shortly thereafter, contained numerous details on CIA covert action operations and
disturbed the US intelligence community greatly. ‘Readers deserve to know that every
chapter of State of War contains serious inaccuracies’, the CIA director of public affairs
protested in the press. ‘The author’s reliance on anonymous sources begs the reader to trust
that these are knowledgeable people’. (CIA responds to Risen’s ‘State of War’, Official
statement from CIA Director of Public Affairs, NBC News, 3 January 2006).
9 Patrice Mc Sherry, Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America
(Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield 2005).
10 See Richard J. Aldrich, The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence
(London: John Murray 2001); Hugh Wilford, The British Left, the CIA and the Cold War:
Calling the Tune? (London: Frank Cass 2003); Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the
Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books 1999).
11 Eleanor Roosevelt, The Struggle for Human Rights, Speech delivered 28 September, 1948 in
Paris, France: 5
12 Article 21, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Adopted and proclaimed by the United
Nations General Assembly resolution 217 of 10 December 1948 5
13 Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only (note 3) p.171.
14 Arthur Darling: The Central Intelligence Agency. An Instrument of Government. To 1950
(London: Pennsylvania State University Press 1990) p.245.
15 Corson, Armies of Ignorance (note 8) p.299. As the operation was secret the money was dirty
and had to be laundered first. Corson explains that this was done by first withdrawing 10
million dollars in cash from the Economic Stabilization Fund, laundering it through
individual bank accounts and from there ‘donate’ it a variety of CIA front organizations.
16 Ibid. p.298.
17 Ibid.
18 ‘NSC 10/2: National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects’, 18 June 1948,
Formerly Top Secret, Contained in full in Etzold and Gaddis Containment (note 1) p.125.
19 Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only (note 3) p.198.
20 Ibid.
21 David Crossland, ‘CIA Flights. Rice Visit Fails to Build Bridges’, Spiegel Online English
edition, 7 December 2005 5,1518,389057,00.
22 Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Adopted and proclaimed by the United
Nations General Assembly resolution 217 of 10 December 1948, 5
23 Crossland, ‘CIA Flights’ (note 21).
24 Eugene Robinson, ‘Out of a Bad Spy Novel’, Washington Post, 4 November 2005.
25 Dana Priest and Josh White, ‘Policies on Terrorism Suspects Come Under Fire. Democrats
Say CIA’s Covert Prisons Hurt U.S. Image; U.N. Official on Torture to Conduct Inquiry’,
Washington Post, 3 November 2005.
26 Miklos Gimes, ‘Alle Gegen Marty. Sta¨nderat Dick Marty soll kla¨ren, ob europa¨ische
Regierungen US Geheimgefa¨ngnisse dulden. Doch niemand hilft ihm, auch die Schweiz
nicht. Eine Spurensuche’, Tages Anzeiger Magazin, December 2006.
27 John Diamond, ‘CIA Chief: Interrogation Methods ‘‘Unique’’ but Legal’, USA Today, 20
November 2005 5
28 David Gollust, ‘Rice Says American Ban on Mistreating Prisoners Applies Worldwide’,
Global Security, 7 December 2005 5
29 Crossland, ‘CIA flights’ (note 21).
30 Human Rights Watch, U.S.: Rice Miscasts Policy on Torture. Remarks at Start of Europe
Visit Leave Concerns Unanswered, 5 December 2005 5
05/usint12147.htm4. See also: Risen, State of War (note 8) pp.31–3.
31 Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, ‘CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described. Sources
Say Agency’s Tactics Lead to Questionable Confessions, Sometimes to Death’, ABC News,
18 November 2005 5¼13228664.
32 Ibid.
33 Ibid.
34 Human Rights Watch (New York), ‘CIA Whitewashing Torture’, 21 November 2005
35 For an international overview compare: Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies. Operation
Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass 2005). Available also in
Italian and Turkish, and forthcoming in Greek translation in 2006.
36 William Colby, Honorable Men. My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster 1978)
37 Ibid. p.81.
38 William Blum, Killing Hope. US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II.
(Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press 1995) p.107.
39 Philip Agee and Louis Wolf, Dirty Work. The CIA in Western Europe (Secaucus: Lyle Stuart
Inc. 1978) pp.154–5.
40 Ian Traynor, ‘Britain Pressed to Reveal Arsenals: Austria Demands Truth on Allies’ cold War
Tactics’, The Guardian, 22 January 1996, and Hella Pick, ‘Britain Hid Arms in Cold War
Austria: Allies Relied on Former Waffen SS Personnel to Repel Potential Soviet Invasion –
US Weapons may now be in the Hands of Neo-Nazi’, The Guardian, 27 January 1996.
41 ‘Es muss nicht immer Gladio sein. Attentate, Waffenlager, Erinnerungslu¨cken’, Austrian
political magazine Zoom 4/5 (1996) p.18. Translated by the author from the German original.
42 The Sunday Times, 28 January 1996.
43 General Serravalle testimony in front of Frankovich’s camera. Serravalle speaks Italian, the
English translation is by the film company (subtitles). See Allan Francovich, Gladio: The
Puppeteers. Second of total three Francovich Gladio documentaries, broadcast on BBC2 on
17 June 1992.
44 Ibid.
45 The Independent, 1 December 1990.
46 Ibid. p.79.
47 Jonathan Kwitny, ‘The CIA’s Secret Armies in Europe’, The Nation, 6 April 1992, p.445.
48 British periodical Searchlight, January 1991.
49 Quoted in Leo Mu¨ ller, Gladio – das Erbe des Kalten Krieges. Der Nato-Geheimbund und sein
deutscher Vorla¨ufer (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991) p.14. Translated by the author from the
German original.
50 Jonathan Kwitny, ‘The CIA’s Secret Armies in Europe. An International Story’, The Nation,
6 April 1992, pp.446 and 447.
51 Ibid.
52 Senato della Repubblica. Commissione parlamentare d’inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e
sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabiliy delle stragi: Stragi e terrorismo in
Italia dal dopoguerra al 1974, Relazione del Gruppo Democratici di Sinistra l’Ulivo,
Rome, June 2000. The eight members were: Valter Bielli, Atonio Attili, Michele Cappella,
Piero Ruzzante, Alessandro Pardini, Raffaele Bertoni, Graziano Cioni, Angelo Staniscia.
Translated by the author from the Italian original.
53 Final report as quoted in: Philip Willan, ‘US ‘‘Supported Anti-left Terror in Italy’’. Report
Claims Washington Used a Strategy of Tension in the Cold War to Stabilize the Centre-
Right’, The Guardian, 24 June 2000.
54 Trevor Barnes, ‘The Secret Cold War: The CIA and American Foreign Policy in Europe,
1946–1956’, The Historical Journal 24/2 (1981) pp.399–416 (part one); and The Historical
Journal 25/3 (1982) pp.649–70 (part two), quote from part two, p.660.
55 Senato della Repubblica. Commissione parlamentare d’inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e
sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabilii delle stragi: Il terrorismo, le
stragi ed il contesto storico politico, Redatta dal presidente della Commissione, Senatore
Giovanni Pellegrino, Roma 1995, p.157.
56 Philip Willan, ‘Terrorists ‘‘Helped by CIA’’ to Stop Rise of Left in Italy’, The Guardian,
26 March 2001.
57 International news service Reuters Western Europe, 15 November 1990.
58 Foreword by John Prados in Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies (note 35).
59 Olav Riste, Review of Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies, in Intelligence and National Security
20/3 (September 2005) p.550.
60 Phil Chamberlain, ‘Al Qaida has got Nothing on this Terror and Mayhem’, review of Ganser,
NATO’s Secret Armies, Tribune, 9 September 2005.
61 Philip Davies, Review of Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies, Journal of Strategic Studies 28/6
(December 2005) p.1064.
62 Foreword of John Prados in Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies (note 35).
63 The Washington Post, 14 November 1990. The only other article by The Washington Post
which features the keyword ‘Gladio’ appeared on 8 August 1993, again solely on Italy. This,
compared to 39 articles on Gladio in the same time period in the British newspaper The
Guardian, might be taken as an indicator of how badly the Gladio phenomenon was covered
in the US press.
64 US Department of State: Misinformation about ‘Gladio/Stay Behind’ Networks Resurfaces.
Thirty Year Old Soviet Forgery Cited by Researchers, 20 January 2006 5http://
65 Commissione parlamentare d’inchiesta sulla loggia massonica P2. Allegati alla Relazione
Doc. XXIII, n. 2-quater/7/1 Serie II, Vol. VII, Tomo I, Roma 1987, pp.287–98.
66 Allan Francovich, Gladio Part III. The Footsoldiers, Observer Film Company, 50 minutes
(shown on BBC2, 24 June 1992).
67 Ibid.
68 Letter dated 28 December 2000 of the CIA to the author concerning Gladio FOIA request
number F-2000-02528.
69 Letter dated 23 January 2001 of the author to Mrs. Dyer at the CIA.
70 Letter dated 7 February 2001 from the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator Kathryn I.
Dyer to the author.
71 The Times, 19 November 1990.
72 The Observer, 18 November 1990.
73 Letter of Michael Dummett to The Independent, published 22 April 1991.
74 ‘Moscow Embassy Telegram Nr. 511: ‘‘The Long Telegram’’’, 22 February 1946, Etzold and
Gaddis, Containment, p.63.

============= THE USA GOVERNMENT REPLIES =============

Misinformation about "Gladio/Stay Behind" Networks Resurfaces

Thirty Year-Old Soviet Forgery Cited by Researchers

In December 2005, misinformation resurfaced in Greece claiming, falsely, that a secret “stay behind” network, which the Greek government had set up with CIA assistance, had committed acts of terrorism. During the Cold War, West European countries set up clandestine “stay behind” networks, which were designed to form the nucleus of resistance movements if the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Western Europe.

The Greek writer making the claim – and a Swiss researcher who wrote a 2005 book on the “stay behind” networks – both give credence to a Soviet forgery from the 1970s, which has long been publicly identified as a phony document.

“Gladio,” which means “sword” in Italian, was the name the Italian government chose for the “stay behind” network it established in the early days of the Cold War. Other West European governments formed similar networks.

During World War II, anti-Nazi resistance movements had sprung up throughout Europe, but supplying them by airdrops and other risky measures had been difficult and uncertain. The “stay behind” networks sought to avoid such problems by stockpiling weapons in secret caches ahead of time, and recruiting volunteers who would form the core of resistance movements, if needed. The program remained one of the Cold War’s best-kept secrets until it was revealed in late 1990, first in Italy and then in other West European countries.

Soon after the “stay behind” networks were revealed, some media accounts accused them of misdeeds, including domestic acts of terrorism. In April 1992, some 18 months after Gladio’s disclosure, journalist Jonathan Kwitny wrote in The Nation that, “evidence so far hasn’t supported initial allegations that the secret armies used their hidden C.I.A.-supplied caches of weapons and explosives to carry out political violence that killed civilians.”

Nevertheless, such claims resurfaced on December 18, 2005, in To Proto Thema, Greece’s best-selling investigative/sensationalist Sunday newspaper, which ran a full two-page story by Kleanthis Grivas, headlined, “Terrorism in Post-War Europe.” Grivas accused Greece’s “stay behind” network of several assassinations and bombings.

Some of the claims are clearly absurd. Grivas accused Greece’s “stay behind” network, known as “Sheepskin” or “Red Sheepskin,” which he says was “organized by Greek special forces and the CIA,” of assassinating CIA station chief Richard Welch in Athens in 1975. Thus, Grivas bizarrely accuses the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of one of its own senior officials.

Grivas also accused “Sheepskin” of the assassination in Athens of British military attaché Stephen Saunders in 2000, despite the fact that the Greek government stated it dismantled the “stay behind” network in 1988. In reality, the Greek terrorist organization “17 November” was responsible for both assassinations.

Thirty Year-Old Soviet Forgery Cited by Researchers

Grivas and other prominent “stay behind” researchers appear to have been influenced by a bogus text that first surfaced in 1976, a Soviet forgery purporting to be Supplement B to the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 30-31.

The U.S. Army did have a Field Manual (FM) 30-31 in the 1970s, and a “Supplement A” to it existed, but not a “Supplement B.” The purported “Supplement B” was a forgery apparently concocted by the Soviet disinformation service.

Field Manual 30-31B, also known as the “Westmoreland Manual” because it was purportedly signed by General William Westmoreland, was exposed as a “total fabrication” in February 1980 hearings before the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Committee hearings state:

In February 1976, a photocopy of the bogus FM 30-31B was left on the bulletin board of the Embassy of the Philippines in Bangkok, Thailand with a cover note from an anonymous “concerned citizen.” This is a typical Soviet bloc practice. Surfacing attracted little attention. FM 30-31B reappeared in 1978 when it was reprinted in two Spanish publications, El Pais (18 September) and El Triunfo (23 September). This was the work of a Spanish communist and a Cuban intelligence officer. Since September 1978, the manual and/or articles concerning it have appeared in the world press in more than 20 countries, including the United States. [Source: Soviet Covert Action (The Forgery Offensive), Hearings before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House of Representatives, 96th Congress, Second Session, February 6, 19, 1980, p. 86.]

The hearings added that, “in summer 1979, the Soviets prepared Portuguese-language copies of the forgery and covertly circulated them among military officers in Lisbon.” (p. 87)

The forgery was written so that it appeared to offer “proof” that the United States was the secret sponsor of terrorist acts in foreign countries, stating, in a section on “Agents in Special Operations:”

There may be times when HC [Host Country] governments show passivity or indecision in the face of Communist or Communist-inspired subversion, and react with inadequate vigor to intelligence estimates transmitted by U.S. agencies. Such situations are particularly likely to arise when the insurgency seeks to achieve tactical advantage by temporarily refraining from violence, thus lulling HC authorities into a state of false security. In such cases, U.S. Army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince the HC governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger and of the necessity of counteraction.

To this end, U.S. Army intelligence should seek to penetrate the insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of forming special action groups among the more radical elements of the insurgency. When the kind of situation envisaged above arises, these groups, acting under U.S. Army intelligence control, should be used to launch violent or nonviolent actions according to the nature of the case. Such actions could include those described in FM 30-31 as characterizing Phase II and III of insurgency.

In cases where the infiltration of such agents into the insurgent leadership has not been effectively implemented, it may help towards the achievement of the above ends to utilize ultra-leftist organizations. [Source: Soviet Covert Action (The Forgery Offensive), p. 184.]

A poor quality copy of the forgery and a declassified cover note describing how it surfaced can be viewed on the Internet.

Grivas and other “stay behind” researchers have treated the Soviet forgery as if it were a real document.

In Grivas’ book, Terrorism: a Privileged Means of Policy Making, he reportedly treats FM 30-31B as if it were authentic. An August 4, 2002 article in the Greek communist weekly Rizospatsis, which stated that it obtained its information from Grivas’ book, saw FM 30-31B as evidence that the United States had been behind the upsurge of radical leftist terrorism in Western Europe in the mid-1970s. It stated:

It is worth noting that the implementation of the Manual coincided with a surge in terrorist activity, such as the RAF [Red Army Faction] in West Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy. It is also worth noting that the activities of 17N [17 November] in Greece began in 1975. It was a critical time that had all the characteristics included in the Manual.

Swiss researcher Daniele Ganser, who works at Zurich’s Center for Security Studies, has also been fooled by the forgery. Ganser treats the forgery as if it was a genuine document in his 2005 book on “stay behind” networks, Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe and includes it as a key document on his Web site on the book. Ganser writes, “FM 30-31B is maybe the most important Pentagon document with regard to the stay-behind armies.” He goes on to speculate that the bogus document may provide the blueprint for terrorist acts that occurred during the Cold War in Western Europe.

Former CIA Director Describes Setting Up “Stay Behind” Networks

Former CIA director William Colby wrote about his role in setting up “stay behind” networks in Scandinavia in his 1978 memoir Honorable Men:

One of the main fields of the OPC's [Office of Policy Coordination, the unit in the CIA responsible for paramilitary activities] work then [in 1951] was planning for the not unlikely possibility of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. And, in the event the Russians succeeded in taking over any or all of the countries of the Continent ... the OPC wanted to be in a position to activate well-armed and well-organized partisan uprisings against the occupiers. But this time, unlike ... similar OSS paramilitary teams that went in to help the French maquis and other resistance movements during World War II, the OPC didn't want to have to arm and organize those partisans after the occupation, using such dangerous and fallible operations as night flights, supply drops, and parachute infiltrations behind enemy lines. No, this time ... we intended to have that resistance capability in place before the occupation, indeed even before an invasion; we were determined to organize and supply it now, while we still had the time in which to do it right and at the minimum of risk. Thus, the OPC had undertaken a major program of building, throughout those Western European countries that seemed likely targets for Soviet attack, what in the parlance of the intelligence trade were known as “stay-behind nets,” clandestine infrastructures of leaders and equipment trained and ready to be called into action as sabotage and espionage forces when the time came. (pp. 81-82)

Colby makes it clear that the NATO allies with whom he worked in Scandinavia were full partners in such plans:

… the governments themselves would build their own stay-behind nets, counting on activating them from exile to carry on the struggle. These nets had to be coordinated with NATO’s plans, their radios had to be hooked to a future exile location, and the specialized equipment had to be secured from CIA and secretly cached in snowy hideouts for later use. (p. 82)


A thirty year-old Soviet forgery has been cited as one of the central pieces of “evidence” for the false notion that West European “stay-behind” networks engaged in terrorism, allegedly at U.S. instigation. This is not true, and those researching the “stay behind” networks need to be more discriminating in evaluating the trustworthiness of their source material.

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posted by u2r2h at 10:03 PM


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