Ion Mihai Pacepa
Ion Mihai Pacepa (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈon miˈhaj paˈt͡ʃepa]; born 28 October 1928) is a former three-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of Communist Romania, who defected to the United States in July 1978 following President Jimmy Carter's approval of his request for political asylum. He is the highest-ranking defector from the former Eastern Bloc. At the time of his defection, General Pacepa simultaneously had the rank of advisor to President Nicolae Ceauşescu, acting chief of his foreign intelligence service and a state secretary of Romania's Ministry of Interior.
Ion Mihai Pacepa
Pacepa in 1975
|Service years||1951–78 (defected)|
Subsequently, he worked with the American Central Intelligence Agency in various operations against the former Eastern Bloc. The CIA described his cooperation as "an important and unique contribution to the United States".
Activity in the Romanian Intelligence
Ion Mihai Pacepa's father (born in 1893) grew up in Alba Iulia, the capital of the principality of Transylvania, which at that time was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, where he worked in his own father's small kitchenware factory. On 1 December 1918, Transylvania was united with Romania, and in 1920, Pacepa's father moved to Bucharest, working for the local branch of the American car company General Motors.
Born in Bucharest in 1928, Ion Mihai Pacepa studied industrial chemistry at the Politehnica University of Bucharest between 1947 and 1951, but just months before graduation he was drafted by the Securitate, and got his engineering degree only four years later. He was assigned to the Directorate of Counter-sabotage of the Securitate. In 1955, he was transferred to the Directorate of Foreign Intelligence.
In 1957, Pacepa was appointed head of the Romanian intelligence station in Frankfurt, West Germany, where he served two years. In October 1959, Minister of the Interior Alexandru Drăghici appointed him as head of Romania's brand new industrial espionage department, called S&T (short for Ştiinţă şi Tehnologie, meaning "science and technology" in Romanian) of Directorate I, being the head of Romanian industrial espionage, which he managed until his defection in 1978. He was involved with the establishment of Romania's automobile industry, and with the development of its microelectronic, polymer, and antibiotic industries.
Between 1972 and 1978, Pacepa was also President Nicolae Ceauşescu's adviser for industrial and technological development and the deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence service.
Pacepa defected during July 1978 by walking into the American Embassy in Bonn while in Germany, where he had been sent by Ceauşescu with a message to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. He was flown secretly to the U.S. presidential airport near Washington, in a United States military airplane.
In a letter to his daughter, Dana, published in the French newspaper Le Monde in 1980 and broadcast over and over by Radio Free Europe, Pacepa explained the reason for defecting: "In 1978 I got the order to organize the killing of Noël Bernard, the director of Radio Free Europe's Romanian program who had infuriated Ceausescu with his commentaries. It was late July when I got this order, and when I ultimately had to decide between being a good father and being a political criminal. Knowing you, Dana, I was firmly convinced that you would prefer no father to one who was an assassin."
Noël Bernard died in 1981 of cancer, after being allegedly irradiated by the Securitate.
Pacepa's defection destroyed the intelligence network of communist Romania, and through the revelations of Ceausescu's activity, it affected the latter's international credibility and respectability. An article published by The American Spectator in 1988 summed up the devastation caused by Pacepa's "spectacular" defection: "His passage from East to West was a historic event, for so carefully had he prepared, and so thorough was his knowledge of the structure, the methods, the objectives, and the operations of Ceausescu's secret service, that within three years the entire organization had been eliminated. Not a single top official was left, not a single major operation was still running. Ceauşescu had a nervous breakdown, and gave orders for Pacepa's assassination. At least two squads of murderers have come to the United States to try to find him, and just recently one of Pacepa's former agents — a man who had performed minor miracles in stealing Western technology in Europe at Romanian behest — spent several months on the East Coast, trying to track down the general. They didn't succeed."
During September 1978, Pacepa received two death sentences from Communist Romania, and Ceauşescu decreed a bounty of $2 million US dollars for his death. Yasser Arafat and Muammar al-Gaddafi set one more million dollars reward each. During the 1980s, Romania's political police enlisted Carlos the Jackal to assassinate Pacepa in America in exchange for one million dollars. Documents found in the Romanian intelligence archives show that the Securitate had given Carlos a whole arsenal to use in "Operation 363" for assassinating Pacepa in the United States. Included were 37 kg. plastic explosive EPP/88, 7 submachine guns, one Walther PP pistol serial # 249460 with 1306 bullets, 8 Stechkin pistols with 1049 bullets, and 5 hand grenades UZRG-M.
Carlos was unable to find Pacepa, but on 21 February 1980, he bombed a part of Radio Free Europe's headquarters in Munich, which was broadcasting news of Pacepa's defection. Five Romanian diplomats in West Germany, who had helped Carlos the Jackal in this operation, were expelled from the country.
On 7 July 1999, Romania's Supreme Court Decision No. 41/1999 cancelled Pacepa's death sentences and ordered that his properties, confiscated by Ceauşescu's orders, be returned to him. Romania's government refused to comply. In December 2004, the new government of Romania restored Pacepa's rank of general.
According to Michael Ledeen in 2016, the two death sentences remain in effect and Pacepa "has lived in secret" since his defection.
Writings and political views
Pacepa is a columnist for the Internet conservative blog site PJ Media. He also writes articles for The Wall Street Journal and various American conservative publications, such as National Review Online, The Washington Times, the online newspaper FrontPage Magazine and the World Net Daily.
During 1987, Pacepa published a book, Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief. A Romanian translation of Red Horizons printed in the U.S. was infiltrated into Communist Romania, and a Mao-style pocketbook of Red Horizons was illegally printed in Communist Hungary (now a valuable collector item). In 1988, Red Horizons was serialized on Radio Free Europe, arousing "huge interest among Romanians". According to Radio Romania, "the streets of Romania's towns were empty" during the RFE serialization of Red Horizons. On 25 December 1989, during the last part of the Romanian Revolution, Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, were sentenced to death at the end of a trial where most of the accusations came almost word-for-word out of Red Horizons. (A second edition, published in March 1990, contained the transcript of Ceauşescu's trial, which was based on facts presented in Red Horizons.)
On 1 January 1990, the book began being serialized in the new official Romanian newspaper Adevărul (The Truth), which on that day replaced the Communist Scînteia (The Spark). In its lead, Adevărul explained that the book's serialization by Radio Free Europe had "played an incontestable role" in overthrowing Ceauşescu" according to the text on the back cover of the book's second edition, published during 1990. Red Horizons was subsequently republished in 29 countries, and it was made into a documentary movie by the Hungarian TV.
In 2010, The Washington Post recommended that Red Horizons be included on the list of books that should be read in schools, next to Whittaker Chambers's Witness. In 2011, Red Horizons was re-published as an e-book by Google. Its hard copies are still in book stores.
During 1993, Pacepa published The Kremlin's Legacy, in which he tried to wean his native country away from its continued dependency on a Communist-style police state. During 1999, he authored the trilogy The Black Book of the Securitate, which has become a bestseller in Romania.
Alleged assassinations by the KGB
In a 2006 article, Pacepa describes a conversation he had with Nicolae Ceauşescu, who told him about "ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill": László Rajk and Imre Nagy from Hungary; Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu and Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej from Romania; Rudolf Slánský and Jan Masaryk from Czechoslovakia; Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran; Palmiro Togliatti from Italy; US President John F. Kennedy; and CCP Chairman Mao Zedong. Pacepa provides some additional details, such as an alleged plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by the KGB.
Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination
In 2007, Ivan R. Dee published Pacepa's book Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination that argues Lee Harvey Oswald was recruited as a KGB agent. According to Pacepa, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the assassination of Kennedy, then changed his mind but was unable to stop Oswald. Pacepa wrote that Jack Ruby was subsequently instructed to kill Oswald in order to silence him. The work was said to rely heavily on the work of the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and Edward Jay Epstein.
In a review of Pacepa's book published in Human Events, Michael Ledeen, former adviser for terrorism to President Reagan, writes: "A new book from General Ion Mihai Pacepa is cause for celebration, because he is among a tiny handful of people who know a lot about the intelligence services of the Soviet Empire, and because he writes about it with rare lucidity, always with an eye to helping us understand our world. His first book, 'Red Horizons,'is indubitably the most brilliant portrait of a Communist regime I've ever read. 'Programmed to Kill' is equally fascinating. Pacepa painstakingly takes us through the documentary evidence, including invaluable material on Soviet bloc cyphers that throws new light on Oswald's letters to KGB officers in Washington and Mexico City. … No novelist could have written a more exciting story, made all the more compelling because of Pacepa's first-hand involvement in the Russians' efforts to hide their Oswald connection." In H-Net Reviews, Stan Weeber called Programmed to Kill "a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy" and "a 'must read' for everyone interested in the assassination of President Kennedy."
Publishers Weekly stated "those inclined to suspect a conspiracy was behind JFK's murder will likely remain unpersuaded by Pacepa's circumstantial, speculative case" and that Programmed to Kill offered "no convincing Soviet motive for the assassination." According to author Joseph Goulden in The Washington Times, Pacepa's belated account "rests rather flimsily on circumstantial evidence and supposition." In a review for Studies in Intelligence, Hayden B. Peake called Pacepa's theory an "imaginative story" and "implausible".
Alleged Soviet role in supporting terrorism in the Middle East
In a 2006 article written during the Second Lebanon War, Pacepa says the Soviet Union spread anti-Semitic propaganda across the Middle East to increase hatred for the Jews, and by extension Israel and America. Pacepa writes that Soviet propagandists described America as a "Jewish fiefdom" and spread the idea that Israel planned to make the Islamic Middle East into a "Jewish colony." Furthermore, he describes Soviet Union's alleged role in propagating and funding terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Alleged Soviet campaign against the Vatican
Pacepa alleged that the Soviet Union tried to discredit the Papacy. In a 2007 article, he stated: "In my other life, when I was at the center of Moscow's foreign-intelligence wars, I myself was caught up in a deliberate Kremlin effort to smear the Vatican, by portraying Pope Pius XII as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer."
In 2012, Pacepa revealed he was writing a book called Disinformation that gives details of the Seat 12 plot and the Soviet "science" of framing. It is co-authored by Pius XII expert and professor of law at the University of Mississippi, Ronald J. Rychlak. In an interview, Pacepa claimed that the original idea to blacken the Pontiff's reputation came from Joseph Stalin in 1945, who wanted the Church out of Ukraine. On 3 June 1945, his Radio Moscow proclaimed that Pius XII had been "Hitler's Pope." But the insinuation fell flat as it came the day after Pius XII had condemned the "satanic spectre of Nazism" on Vatican Radio. Moreover, Pius was being lauded for his wartime efforts to protect religious minorities by, among others, President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill (who described him as "the greatest man of our time"), and Albert Einstein. Stalin's disinformation efforts were rejected by that contemporary generation "that had lived through the real history and knew who Pope Pius XII really was," Pacepa explained. He said the KGB tried again, promoting Rolf Hochhuth's 1963 play The Deputy. As that generation "had not lived through that history and did not know better, [this] time it worked."
In 2013, Pacepa published Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism co-authored with law professor Ronald J. Rychlak, who studies the history of religion.
Iraq and WMD
Pacepa supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In opposition, large anti-war demonstrations were held in cities across the world. Pacepa contends that these protests were contrived and anti-American, which Russia assisted. Pacepa wrote during October 2003 that it was "perfectly obvious to me" that the Russian GRU agency helped Saddam Hussein to destroy, hide, or transfer his chemical weapons prior to the American invasion of Iraq during 2003. To this end, he claims that an operation for the removal of chemical weapons ("Operation Sarindar") was prepared by the Soviet Union for Libya, and that such a plan existed and was implemented in Iraq.
- Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, 1987. ISBN 0-89526-570-2
- Red Horizons: the 2nd Book. The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu's Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption, 1990. ISBN 0-89526-746-2
- The Kremlin Legacy, 1993
- Cartea neagră a Securităţii, Editura Omega, Bucharest, 1999. ISBN 973-98745-4-1
- Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, 2007. ISBN 978-1-56663-761-9
- Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, 2013. ISBN 978-1-93648-860-5
- The KGB’s Man, 2003
- Khaddafi's "Conversion", 2003
- Ex-spy fingers Russians on WMD, 2003
- From Russia With Terror, 1 March 2004
- No Peter the Great, 20 September 2004
- Putin's Duality, 5 August 2005
- Left-Wing Monster: Ceausescu, 10 February 2006
- Who Is Raúl Castro? A tyrant only a brother could love., 10 August 2006
- Russian Footprints, 24 August 2006
- Tyrants and the Bomb, 17 October 2006
- The Kremlin’s Killing Ways, 28 November 2006
- Propaganda Redux , 7 August 2007
- What I Learned as a Car Czar, 2 June 2009
- The Secret Roots of Liberation Theology, 25 April 2015
- Red Horizons: the 2nd Book. The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu's Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption, 1990. ISBN 0-89526-746-2
- "Red past in Romania's present", by Arnaud de Borchgrave, The Washington Times, 14 January 2004
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- "What I Learned as a Car Czar". The Wall Street Journal. 2 June 2009.
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- "The Securitate Arsenal for Carlos," Ziua, Bucharest, 2004
- Leeden, Michael (4 September 2016). "The Greatest Spy Speaks About The Threat To America". Forbes. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
- Pacepa, Ion Mihai (28 November 2006) "The Kremlin's Killing Ways" Archived 8 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, National Review Online.
- "Romania’s Rebirth" Archived 14 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine, National Review Online, 27 July 2006
- Peake, Hayden B. (June 2007). Vaart, Andres (ed.). "The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf" (pdf). Intelligence in Public Literature. Studies in Intelligence. Washington, D.C.: Center for the Study of Intelligence. 52 (2): 88–89. ISSN 1527-0874. OCLC 30965384. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
- Publishers Weekly (25 June 2007). "Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- Kennedy Assassination and Soviet KGB Connection Explored in Book. Human Events (28 December 2007). Retrieved on 2016-11-16.
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- What does Moscow have to do with the recent war in Lebanon?. National Review. Retrieved on 16 November 2016.
- "Moscow's Assault on the Vatican", National Review Online, 25 January 2007
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- Spontaneous anti-American demonstrations? Think again National Review Online 18 March 2003
- "Ex-spy fingers Russians on WMD". Archived from the original on 4 April 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), The Washington Times, 2 October 2003
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