Friday, December 12, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Curious Times of Ronald Stark Part V

Welcome to the fifth installment in my examination of the life and times of infamous LSD baron Ronald Hadley Stark. With part one of this series I briefly addressed Stark's pre-1969 days as well as his introduction to the legendary "hippie mafia" known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. With the second and third installment I moved on to the Brotherhood's rise and down fall as well as Stark's connections to the "Microdot Gang" (a British LSD smuggling network the succeeded the Brotherhood as the world's lead supplier in the mid-1970s) along with a few odds and ends about Stark's Robert A Heinlein fetish and his failed recruitment of legendary psychiatrist R.D. Laing.

the wanted poster for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (top) and headlines concerning the incarceration of Richard Kemp and Christine Bott (bottom), two key figures in the so-called "Microdot Gang"
With the fourth and most recent installment I noted the Microdot Gang's downfall and Stark's ties to extremist groups involved in the "armed struggle" such as the Angry Brigade, the IRA and the PLO. I left off with the contacts Stark established with Italy's notorious Red Brigades after he was suddenly arrested in 1975 and conveniently placed in the same prison where much of the terror organization's original leadership was being held. As has been noted through out this series, I am greatly indebted to the research presented by the blog Brainsturbator/Skillumati in the groundbreaking article published there on Stark.

With the introductions out of the way, let us consider the Red Brigades in greater depth as they are a crucial, if little explored, aspect of Stark's "career." The origins of the Red Brigades, known as Brigate Rosse (BR) in Italian, are widely attributed to Renato Curcio and a group of followers (largely comprised of students and workers) that began to surround him in the late 1960s. Initially the Red Brigades were one of numerous militant leftist groups that sprung up throughout Italy and much of the Western world following the student protests of the late 1960s but that would soon change.
"The Red Brigades became the most successful and notorious of these groups, and Renato Curcio dominated its early history. Curcio had a Catholic education, and he continued to practice his faith up to within two years of being converted to revolutionary terrorism. Born in 1941, Curcio arrived at the university of Trento in 1964 and began to study sociology. As late as 1965 he was still reading Jacques Maritain, but by the following year the Christian activist in him had vanished and a new kind of Marxist revolutionary was struggling to be born as he immersed himself in the works of Marx, Lenin and Mao. Curcio became a leader among student activists in Trento, helping to edit, along with Mauro Rostagno, the Proposta di foglio di lavoro, which called for a new university radicalism against capitalism. They wanted to create an universita negativa (negative university) offering controcorsi (countercourses) that would negate the evil capitalist hegemony. According to Curcio, it was time to start preparing for the revolution, to set on a journey that would resemble the long march of Mao. Curcio also collaborated on a self-styled Marxist-Leninist monthly publication, Lavoro politico, which was edited by Walter Peruzzi. Lavoro politico enjoyed prestige as the theoretical journal par excellence of the radical student movement. Its writers called for a revolutionary class war in Italy along lines prescribed by Marx, Lenin, and Mao. They held the Red Guard of China in particularly high esteem. In this mental environment Curcio formed his own uncompromising revolutionary ideals.
"He left the university in 1969 and moved with his wife, Margherita Cagol, to Milan. There they played leading roles in organizing the Collettivo Politico Metropolitano (Metropolitan Political Collective), which was founded on 8 September of that year. In Curcio's mind a direct connection existed between the student demonstrations of 1968 and the hot autumn of the factory workers in 1969. He set himself to organize these disturbances toward revolutionary ends, and that was the purpose of the collective, in which both student and worker groups participated. Curcio and Cagol brought to the collective their varied experiences in the radical student movement while such organizations as the Gruppo di Studio Sit-Siemens, CUB Pirelli, and Gruppo di Studio IBM functioned as direct channels to the industrial work place. Thus, the collective, whose heritage would include the Red Brigades, took life a coupling between the foremost revolutionary elements in Italy: the student protest movement and worker radicalism in factories."
(The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Richard Drake, pgs. 8-9)
The Collective's heritage would also include another organization that potentially brought a third player into the mix besides the students and workers.
"... the Hyperion language school in Paris, suspected of being a co-ordinating centre for terrorism in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Investigators were continuing, the report said. They were never completed, as an article giving details of the inquiry appeared on the front page of the Corriere della Sera newspaper the following month (24 April 1979), prompting the French authorities to withdraw their co-operation. The French showed their pique by destroying all the telephone intercepts carried out till then and informing their Italian colleagues that there was nothing suspicious about the language school so far as they were concerned. The 'indiscretion' of an officer in the domestic secret service, SISDE, had effectively torpedoed the investigation, drawing a protective veil around the Hyperion.
"The school was founded in 1976 by Corrado Simioni, Vanni Mulinaris and Duccio Berio, three of the fathers of left-wing terrorism in Italy. They had been together in the Collettivo Politico Metropolitano (Metropolitan Political Collective) in Milan, a forerunner of the Red Brigades organization. When Renato Curcio left the CPM to set up the Red Brigades, Simioni, Mulinaris and Berio founded their own terrorist organization, the Superclan. The name, given them by the Red Brigades, was an abbreviation of Superclandestini (Superclandestine) and referred to their obsession with secrecy. They believed that the masses were not yet ready for revolution but that, to prepare for the day, they should infiltrate their members into all organizations of the extreme left. According to one former Superclan member, the organization was known to affiliates as 'the Company' or as 'the Red Aunts' and the 'Superclan' tag was seen as a calumny invented by the Red Brigades. He related that a leading Superclan member had expressed the view that 'the BR were a military organization without a leadership and that the Company was capable of providing the BR with leadership and for that purpose had already infiltrated some of its men into the Red Brigades organization'. During its short history as an activist terror outfit, the Superclan concentrated most of its energies on fund-raising armed robbers. 
"Simioni's concern with money and the large quantities he seemed to have at his disposal aroused the suspicion of several of his comrades. Red Brigades founder Alberto Franceschini took a personal dislike to him. 'Elegant and smartly dressed, he was always driving around in Maseratis, arguing that a guerrilla, to conceal himself and spread confusion, should behave like a perfect bourgeois,' Franceschini wrote in his autobiography. After seeing the movie Queimada, the Red Brigades dubbed Simioni 'l'ingles'. 'In the film Marlon Brando plays "l'ingles", the liberal intellectual who first organizes the revolt and then its bloody suppression.' Franceschini distrusted the Superclan so much that he insisted that its members be kept on the fringes of the Red Brigades when some of them asked to be admitted to the organization. After his arrest, the first message he had smuggled out of prison to the BR leaders who were still at large concerned the Superclan and warned them 'to be extremely wary of any comrades coming from Corrado [Simioni's] group'.
"Simioni's chequered career amply justifies the suspicion. He was born near Venice in 1934 and began his political career in the Socialist Party, where he was known for his anti-communism. He was expelled from the party for unspecified 'immoral conduct', after which he became involved in cultural activities on behalf of the United States Information Service (USIS). He also spent a couple of years in Munich, where he claimed to be studying theology, but other accounts have him working for the CIA-financed Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts to Eastern Europe from that city. His name appears on a list of CIA agents operating in Italy that came into possession of the left-wing newspaper Lotta Continua in the late 1960s. Whatever he was doing, his experience abroad had turned him into a radical left-winger. Renato Curcio was given a strong personal reason for distrusting Simioni when the Superclan leader tried to persuade Mara Cagol, Curcio's wife, to participate in an expedition to blow up the US consulate in Athens without informing her husband. Cagol told Curcio about the approach and he talked her out of going. Another Italian girl and a Greek Cypriot were sent in her place and the two were killed when their bomb exploded prematurely on 2 September 1970..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 188-190)
Mara Cagol, wife of Curcio
Simioni was not the only figure linked to the Hyperion language with alleged ties to intelligence either.
"Some of the directors of the Hyperion School had been members of the long-disbanded Metropolitan Political Collective of Milan in the late sixties... Former members of the collective included Mario Moretti and Giovanni Senzani, both of whom went on to become founder members of the Red Brigades. At the time of the Moro kidnap in 1978, these two were still at liberty and still in contact with the Hyperion School. Senzani, however, was himself served up by the security forces as a pentiti after his arrest in 1982. But, according to deputy chief of the Genoa police, Arrigo Molinari, Senzani was 'definitely in contact' with representatives of SISMI military intelligence long before his arrest and was being protected by them."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 171) 
Giovanni Senzani
There has also long been speculation that the above-mentioned Mario Moretti, who effectively was running the BR by that point, was also an intelligence asset. But more on that later.

At this juncture it is interesting to note that this concept of the Hyperion language school controlling the BR behind the scenes is consistent with the structure of the Red Brigades Stark presented to Italian authorities while serving as an informant in prison:
"The American provided a somewhat anomalous account of the structure of the Red Brigades organization during a meeting with officials from the Interior Ministry's anti-terrorism unit in July 1977. Their report says Stark described the terrorist organization as being divided into three levels. The lower level was that of the factories, the second was the 'operational group', with more than 300 members, and the most secret level was that of the 'Military and Industrial Information Centre', whose members operated mainly in Rome and about whom 'everything is known'. The officers drew a small sketch to illustrate Stark's description. When I showed it to BR founder Alberto Franceschini in 1988 he said he knew nothing of such a structure. One can only assume that by 1977 the Red Brigades were no longer divided into columns (by city) and fronts (by activity), under the control of the Strategic Directorate, but that the organization had a secret structure, unknown even to one of its founder members. Alternatively, if Stark was neither lying nor mistaken, he may have wanted to convey some kind of message to his interlocutors by challenging official accounts of the Red Brigades organization. His challenge went further, claiming that Curcio was not the real head of the organization but made to appear so in order to mislead the police. His account is somehow reminiscent of magistrate Guido Calogero's conclusions, which questions whether the known Red Brigades members were the ones that really counted and highlighted the manipulative role of the Hyperion language school in Paris. The suggestion that Stark was about to make revelations along these lines would certainly have given a jolt to the custodians of these secrets."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 311)
Indeed, but to what purpose? Perhaps a glimpse of it can be discerned in the arms the Hyperion language school allegedly procured for the Red Brigades.
"The role of the Hyperion language school, with an office on the prestigious Quai de la Tournelle close to Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris, tallies with Prosecutor Pietro Calogero's description of a terrorist command structure, dictating the course of political violence in Italy. According to several 'repentant' terrorists, the school handled international relations and weapons procurement for the Red Brigades after the arrest of their original leadership. 'The fact is that the Hyperion was created to provide protection to various fugitives and that function enabled its directors to establish contact with many terrorist organizations,' Red Brigades member Michele Galati told magistrates after his arrest. Galati said the school was in contact with the IRA, ETA and the PLO and was able to purchase arms for the Red Brigades from minority factions within the Palestine Liberation Organization..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 190)
an emblem of the PLO
"Coincidentally", at least two of these terror organizations the Hyperion school forged ties with --the IRA and the PLO --were also organizations that Stark had had dealings with since at least the early 1970s. Curcio and much of the rest of BR's original leadership were imprisoned by 1975 while the Hyperion school was not officially founded until 1976. Thus, it could not have theoretically been supplying arms to the BR until then. But shortly after Stark was arrested in 1975 and put in the same prison as much of the BR leadership was being held he made a modest proposal to them.
"While awaiting trial in Don Bosco Prison in Pisa, Stark worked as an assistant to the prison barber and put his multi-lingual talents to good use by translating legal documents for prisoners. His allegiances, however, had once again apparently swung from one extreme to the other. Stark was now holding court with inmates who were members of the Red Brigades and other left-wing groups. He showed a very thorough knowledge of Middle East politics and let it be known that he was connected with armed Palestinian factions in the Lebanon --particularly the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) --and it may be that he even passed himself off as primarily a Palestinian in the 'national identity' sense."
 (Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 164)
the logo of the PFLP
The PFLP is one of several groups, the largest being Fatah, that comprise the PLO. Apparently during this time Stark also claimed to Renato Curcio that he had assisted two Palestinian terrorist in escaping Italy during the early 1970s. We shall come back to this claim in the next installment. But as to Stark's above noted purpose in explaining to authorities the new structure of the Red Brigades, perhaps it was his way of letting certain VIPs know that the BR had been brought into the fold of radical leftist groups he had infiltrated and put into contact with one another over the years? (This would also be in line with the revolutionary aspirations Stark derived from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, as noted in part two of this series.)

Nor was the BR the only group Stark targeted during his time in Italy's prison system. He would also try to establish ties between  other radical leftist groups and the PLO during this time. One such group was the Armed Revolutionary Action (ARA).
"... Enrique Paghera, who was an ARA member. Paghera... had been arrested in possession of a hand-drawn map of a Lebanon PLO camp and a coded letter of introduction to the leader of the camp saying in Arabic, 'I would like to see the father of Layla', the name of Ron Stark's daughter. Both of these documents... came from Stark during his previous imprisonment. Paghera was also in possession of instructions on how to make contact in Rome with a Libyan intelligence agent who would be able to help him get to Lebanon. In fact Paghera did succeed in contacting the presumed Libyan at a college in Rome.
"The Moro Commission later found it 'incomprehensible' that the SISMI (military secret service) failed to carry out its request to follow up the numerous leads on the alleged Libyan agent and identify him. The Commission suspected that Stark and SISMI were working together to establish 'false trails' of Libyan involvement in Italian terrorism.
"At the time, Stark, facing new charges of membership of an armed band, said that he had simply let Paghera know of a refuge, in case he needed one. However, the Moro Commission noted, 
"'... it may be presumed that he wanted to create a direct link, not existing at that time, between Italian terrorism and Palestinian guerrillas, following a request which he himself said he had received from Curcio and Bertolazzi [Red Brigades leaders], with whom he had collaborated in prison on brigatisti documents and even on a cryptographic system of communication.'"
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 183)
The allegations that Stark instructed Curcio and other Brigadists in a cryptographic system will be highly relevant in the next installment, so do keep it in mind dear reader. But moving along.

While its highly debatable whether there was any contact between the Italian paramilitary left and Libyan or Palestinian terrorists prior to Stark befriending the Red Brigades' original leadership in prison, the BR officially developed a working relationship with the PLO by 1976 thanks to their contacts with the Hyperion language school.
"The Red Brigades leader who was responsible for weapons procurement, and made regular trips to Paris for that purpose, was Mario Moretti. Before joining the Red Brigades, Moretti had been a member of Superclan. He rose to prominence after the arrest in 1974 of the founding fathers of the Red Brigades and it was he alone who handled the Paris connection. For a while he was even suspected of being a secret service agent by his fellow BR members because of the almost miraculous way in which he avoided arrest when all around him were being caught by the police. His early contact with Superclan, his connection with the Hyperion and his refusal to clear up the mysteries surrounding the Moro kidnap, which he personally directed, give further cause for doubt about his revolutionary purity."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 190-191)
Indeed, even more evidence of Moretti's ties to one Western intelligence service or another has emerged in recent years.
"By the time of Moro's liquidation, the leadership of the Red Brigades (the so-called 'stage one' commanders) realised during long hours of reflection in confinement that their ranks were thoroughly riddled with traitors to the cause. The comrades poured venom on the alleged killer of Moro, Mario Moretti, as a stooge and agent of Italian intelligence. Senator Sergio Flamigni, who wrote a dozen works about Moro over the course of a decade, concurred in his book published in 2004, La sfinge delle Brigate Rosse: delitti, segreti e bugie del capo terrorista Mario Moretti (The Sphinx of the Red Brigades: Crimes, Secrets and Lies of Terrorist Chief Mario Moretti). Moretti received six life sentences for the murder, but served only 15 years before he was paroled..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 78)
Moretti today
The arrests of the original Red Brigades leadership and the rise of Moretti as the group's leader were the result of a highly controversial intelligence operation mounted by Italy's secret services.
"The watershed between the relatively mild and relatively idealistic Red Brigades of the early years and the blind terror of the later years came in 1974 with the arrest of Renato Curcio and Alberto Franceschini, two of the movement's founding fathers. Their removal from the scene gave the ambitious Mario Moretti control over the organization and paved the way for his policy of constant military escalation, culminating in the Moro kidnap. The arrests were the fruit of a successful infiltration of the organization by the carabinieri. It is worth bearing in mind the observation of author Gianfranco Sanguinetti that nothing is easier for the secret services than to infiltrate a terrorist group and supplant the original leadership 'either through certain timely arrests or through the killing of the original leaders, which generally occurs in a shoot-out with the police, prepared for the operation by their infiltrators.
 "The successor to Marco Pisetta, the first known infiltrator of the Red Brigades, was an ex-Franciscan friar named Silvano Girotto. Girotto had acquired the nickname 'Brother Machine-gun' for his exploits as a left-wing guerrilla in South America. It is fairly clear that from the very start his revolutionary persona was a fraud, created for him by a secret service, probably the CIA. On his return to Italy he set about gaining admission to the Red Brigades. He was assisted in this aim by a profile of him as a left-wing revolutionary published in Candido (14 May 1974), a right-wing magazine linked to the Italian secret service. It appeared during the Sossi kidnap under the title: 'This is the man who could save Sossi.' After a couple of exploratory meetings with Red Brigade leaders, Girotto was admitted to the organization, which decided to make him responsible for terrorist training. Both meetings had been watched and photographed by plainclothes carabinieri and after a third, on 8 September, Curcio and Franceschini were arrested at Pinerolo near Turin. Their capture changed the Red Brigades profoundly; from then on the tactics of the organization were increasingly violent and its principal enemy was no longer the Christian Democrat Party and the right, but the revisionist traitors of the PCI and the policy of historic compromise...
"There were a number of anomalies about the Pinerolo incident. Most glaring was the question why Curcio and Franceschini were arrested at all, thus blowing Girotto's cover. Had the ex-friar been allowed to continue his infiltration, the entire organization could very probably have been rounded up. When questioned about this by the Moro commission, General Dalla Chiesa, who commanded the operation, offered the lame explanation that he was obligated by law to arrest suspected criminals as soon as they were identified. Dalla Chiesa was not a man noted for his attention to legal niceties and it is hard to believe that he really gave higher priority to such scruples than the defeat of the Red Brigades."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 205-206) 
informant Silvano "Brother Machine-gun" Girotto
Prior to the arrests of Curcio and the rest of the original leadership the Red Brigade had not been an especially violent organization. The only murders it had been linked to were the killings of two members of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) party during a break-in to the group's offices in Pradua. The BR had not intentionally set out to kill anyone, however, but merely to obtain documents. It was only when they unknowingly stumbled upon the two MSI members, who then put up a fight, that the killings occurred.

the banner of the MSI, of which more will be said in the next installment
The group's first deliberately planned murder did not occur until June 8, 1976, when the BR assassinated Public Prosecutor Francesco Coco. This of course occurred well after the BR's original leadership had been captured or killed (as in the case of Curcio's wife). As noted in part four, plans for the Coco assassination had been passed on to Italian authorities by Ronald Stark after he had befriended Curcio and other BR members in prison. The authorities did nothing with this tip.

From here on the BR's activities would become both increasingly violent and senseless, which thoroughly discredited them (and much of the left) in the eyes of the Italian public. And this transformation occurred after the BR was effectively taken over by a man long suspected of intelligence ties and while the original BR membership was shooting the breeze with Stark in prison.

Its interesting to note at this point that while Curcio and the rest of the original leadership were still at large and in command certain elements of Italian society had carried out a bombing and attempted to blame it on the Red Brigades.
"In a forest near the Italian village Peteano a car bomb exploded on May 31, 1972. The bomb gravely wounded one and killed three members of the Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police force. The Carabinieri had been lured to the spot by an anonymous phone call. Inspecting the abandoned Fiat 500, one of the Carabinieri had opened the hood of the car that triggered the bomb. An anonymous call to the police two days later implicated the Red Brigades, a Communist terrorist group attempting to change the balance of power in Italy at the time through hostage-taking and cold-blooded assassinations of exponents of the state. The police immediately cracked down on the Italian left and rounded up some 200 Communists. For more than a decade the Italian population believed that the Red Brigades had committed the Pateano terrorist attack.
 "Then, in 1984, young Italian Judge Felice Casson reopened the long dormant case having discovered with surprise an entire series of blunders and fabrications surrounding the Peteano atrocity. Judge Casson found that there had been no police investigation on the scene. He also discovered that the report which at the time claimed that the explosive used in Peteano had been one traditionally used by the Red Brigades was a forgery. Marco Morin, an expert for explosives of the Italian police, had deliberately provided fake expertise. He was a member of the Italian right-wing organization 'Ordine Nuovo' and within the Cold War context contributed his part to what he thought was a legitimate way of combating the influence of the Italian Communists. Judge Casson was able to prove that the explosive used in Peteano contrary to Morin's expertise was C4, the most powerful explosive available at the time, used also by NATO..."
(NATO's Secret Army, Daniele Ganser, pg. 3)
Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a member of the neo-fascist Ordine Nuovo, who was ultimately convicted of planting the car bomb in Peteano 
But more on those neo-fascist organizations and their ties to NATO in the next installment. For now, let us consider what is easily the Red Brigades most well known act of terrorism: the kidnapping and subsequent murder of former prime minster and Christian Democrat Party leader Aldo Moro. This incident, long shrouded in controversy, is essentially Italy's very own Kennedy assassination. First a bit about the actual kidnapping:
"Moro was kidnapped on the morning of 16 March 1978, as he drove to Parliament for the opening of a confidence debate on a newly former government for national unity, which would enjoy the support of the PCI for the first time since 1947. Moro's car was approaching a crossroads, where Via Mario Fani meets Via Stresa, in the residential suburb where he lived, when a Fiat 128 with diplomatic number plates reversed around the corner into its path. The sudden manoeuvre forced the driver to brake abruptly and the escort car, following close behind, rammed into the back of them. The two men from the white car and a further four who had been waiting in the street, wearing the uniforms of Alitalia airline pilots, opened fire on Moro's bodyguards, killing all five of them. Only one guard succeeded in returning fire, loosing two shots. Three of the bodyguards were not killed outright but were finished off at close range.
 "Of the ninety-one shots fired by the terrorists, the majority were fired by just two people, one of them responsible for forty-nine and the other for twenty-two shots. One of the witnesses to the scene described the principal gunman as calm and determined, showing 'complete mastery of his weapon', a sub-machine gun. A ballistics report on the attack described it as a textbook operation, perfectly planned 'both to leave Moro unharmed and to prevent the accidental wounding of accomplices'. It also noted that the professional skill of the principal gunman did not correspond to that of any known Red Brigades member...
"On 9 May, after fifty-five days in captivity, Moro's bullet-riddled body was found in the boot of a red Renault 4 car abandoned in Via Caetani, a central Rome street half-way between the headquarters of the Christian Democrat and Communist Parties. He had been shot eleven times, ten times with a Browning 7.65 mm 'Skorpion' submachine-gun and once with a 9 mm pistol. Ballistics experts found that two of Moro's entry wounds were not aligned with the bullet holes in his clothes, while the other nine were. This led them to deduce that the first two shots were fired while Moro was alive and able to move and the others on a separate occasion, after he was unconscious or dead. Surprisingly, although the evidence pointed to Moro having been shot while he lay in the back of the car, there were hardly any traces of blood, leading to the assumption that he may have initially been laid on a plastic covering, which was subsequently removed. His wounds had been staunched with paper handkerchiefs to prevent the outflow of blood or body fluids. No Red Brigades member with direct knowledge of the circumstances of his death has contributed any information about it to authorities..."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 214-216)

images of the car from which Moro was abducted from
Thus, on the day Moro was literally heading to the Italian parliament with the objective of forming a new government that included the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI, the Italian Communist Party), he was alleged abducted by the communist terror group the Red Brigades. While the PCI hardly enjoyed robust support amongst the radical Italian Left the decision of the BR to kidnap Moro at this juncture baffled and even infuriated such quarters, who hotly denounced their actions. After all, what could really be gained by the Left by preventing the first communist party from being brought into a Western European government at this time? And one that was democratically elected no less. That alone would have been a huge propaganda coup for Communism.

Factions of the Italian right and within the US hotly contested Moro's plan, however. He had been contemplating such actions since the mid-1970s and had been sternly warned by the US during this in turn even though he personally saw the inclusion of the communists in Italy's government as inevitable after their massive gains at the polls in recent years.
"As the Italian Communists and Socialists remained very strong at the polls and controlled large segments of the Italian parliament, it was obvious that they should have been included in the government. Yet it was equally clear that US President Nixon categorically opposed such an opening towards the left for the feared exposure of NATO secrets. Following the Watergate scandal, covert action enthusiast Nixon was forced to resign on August 8, 1974 and Vice President Gerald Ford entered the White House the next day to declare 'Our long national nightmare is over.' The word was also heard in Italy where many hoped for a new start and therefore acting Italian Foreign Minister Aldo Moro of the DCI together with Italian President Giovanni Leone in September 1974 flew to Washington to discuss the inclusion of the Italian left in the government. Their hopes were shattered. Ford pardoned Nixon for all crimes he had committed during his time in the White House and kept key players of the Nixon administration in office. In a heavy confrontation with Henry Kissinger who under Nixon served as the President's National Security Advisor and now under Ford held the powerful position of Foreign Minister, the Italian representatives were told that under no circumstances must the Italian left be included in the Italian government. Italy had to remain firmly and strongly within NATO...
"Upon his return to Italy, Moro was sick for days and contemplated his complete withdraw from politics. 'It's one of the few occasions when my husband told me exactly what had been said to him, without telling me the name of the person concerned,' Moro's wife Eleonora later testified. 'I will try and repeat it now: "You must abandon your policy of bringing all the political forces in your country into direct collaboration. Either you give this up or you will pay dearly for it..."'"
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 79)
And pay he did. It probably goes without saying, but the assistance the United States offered Italy during the Moro kidnapping has raised more than a few questions over the years.
"... Moro had barely been seized when President Jimmy Carter despatched the US government's chief expert on conflict resolution, the Cuban-born, Harvard and French-educated PhD Steve Pieczenik, hot foot to Rome. He was no conventional Ivory Towers publicity-shunning boffin. Pieczenik was close enough to the inner secrets of successive US governments to earn the political equivalent of Grammy awards for his psychological insights delivered to four secretaries of state --Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance, George Shultz and James Baker. According to his personal website, it appears scarcely any conflict failed to invite his attention. And that was just his day job. He doubled all of this with writing racy psycho-political bodice rippers for the thriller factory run by Tom Clancy. For good measure, he had a sideline advising the arch-neocon Council for Foreign Relations. In Rome, the famous psycho-warrior joined a crisis committee composed of Christian Democrat luminaries. Ostensibly, Pieczenik was despatched by Carter as a supporting negotiator charged with extracting the former premier alive. Whether this was ever really the intention is open to serious debate.
"The crisis cabinet was chaired by the ever-mercurial Cossiga --a brawler rather than quiet and patient deliberator --whose tendency to shoot from the hip could nonetheless prove useful in generating distractions. Cossiga, as chief lieutenant of Andreotti, had no intention of securing the release of Moro. The 'shrewd political project worked out by Moro' was intended to perish with its author. The catalyst in despatching Pieczenik was Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's Polish-born National Security Advisor. Coming as he did from a country which had suffered the brunt of Soviet aggression, Brzezinski viewed the Moro project of soft accommodation with the communists with great disdain. Pieczenik has offered conflicting accounts of his own role. He knew from long experience that if the intention really was to secure Moro's freedom, the political price would be relatively modest. Publicly, this was supposed to be the release of an incarcerated minor female brigadier, Paola Bescuschio, confined in jail since 1975. Quite why the Brigate Rosse should be tempted by such a trifling morsel, supposedly having such an important bargaining chip in their possession, is inexplicable. Pieczenik insisted that he gave up on the case because the emergency committee was 'riddled with informers,' and by the end amounted to just Cossiga and himself staring at each other. So he raised his hands with exasperation, boarded a plane and went home. But in 2006, he gave an interview to French TV in a different light. Subsequently expanded in a book called We Killed Aldo Moro (2008), Pieczenik said that ultimately Moro was abandoned to his fate because he was giving his captors vital secrets of the state, in particular the hints of a 'NATO guerrilla army.' Of course the implications is that Moro believed himself to be a captive of a force other than the Red Brigades."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 69-70)
Steve Pieczenik, who in recent years has become a frequent guest of Alex Jones...
More will be said about this force other than the Red Brigades holding Moro and the hints of a "NATO guerrilla army" in the next installment. For now it should also be noted that the assistance Moro had awaiting him in the Italian secret services during this incident was even less favorably disposed to the Christian Democrat head than US policy makers. Many of these individuals also happened to be on the same crisis committee the above-mentioned Steve Pieczenik was involved with.
"In practice, the search for Moro's prison was co-ordinated by the Interior Ministry and a special crisis committee, many of whose members belonged to or later joined P2, the right-wing masonic lodge which opposed Moro's policy toward the PCI. Among the eight P2 members appointed to the committee were the heads of the domestic and military intelligence services, the head of the finance police and the regional commander of the carabinieri. Given their political orientation it would not be entirely surprising if they did less than their utmost to secure Moro's release. The minutes of the committee's meeting on 17 March give an idea of the quality of their contribution to the task at hand. SISMI Director Giuseppe Santovito informed the group that he believed two Japanese and a West German had participated in the Via Fani attack. He also drew the committee's attention to the imminent arrival of a ship from Cyprus at the port of Marina di Grosseto. There is no evidence whatever that his contribution had any grounding in fact. Santovito continued to provide the committee with misleading information, reporting the next day on the need for increased patrols on the Yugoslav border.
 "On 24 October 1977, Parliament had passed a bill reforming the secret services, replacing the Defensive Information Service (SID) with the Military Security Information Service (SISMI) and the domestic Democratic Security Information Service (SISDE). This reorganization would be used as an excuse to argue that the security services were 'without eyes and without ears' at the time of the Moro kidnap. The reform effectively led to the demolition of the most reliable anti-terrorism organization and to the appointment of P2 members at the top of the new agencies..."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 225)
And it is here that I shall wrap up for now. In the next installment I shall consider Ronald Stark's possible involvement in the Moro incident as well as these bizarre neo-fascist orders that were highly active in Italy during this time. Stay tuned.

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