Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Propaganda Due: A Strange and Terrible Journey Into the Heart of the Deep State Part XI

Welcome the eleventh installment in my epic examination of Propaganda Due (P2), the notorious Masonic lodge linked to a host of outrages in Italy and far beyond. Over the course of this series it has been revealed that there was far more to the saga of P2 than the numerous Masonic conspiracy fever dreams could possibly comprehend. For those of you just joining me or trying to catch up, here is a brief run down of what has already been addressed:

With the first installment I briefly gave an overview of P2 as well as the background of its Venerable Grand Master, former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. With the second installment I considered P2's ties to a host of terrorist bombings that rocked Italy during a period known as the "Years of Lead" as well as it ties to the international fascist terror network known as Aginter Press.

Part three began to examine the role P2 played in what is commonly referred to as "the Great Vatican Banking Scandal" or the "Banco Ambrosiano affair" by considering the backgrounds of three of its key players: Bishop Paul Marcinkus (long suspected of being a P2 initiate) and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi (both of whom were P2 members as well as having extensive ties to the Mafia). The five installment wrapped up the Great Vatican Banking Scandal by considering the role the Rothschild banking dynasty played in it, as well as series of bizarre robberies that occurred in the mid-1980s usually involving Brinks armored cars potentially linked to it as well as the ritualistic death of Calvi.

Calvi's body
With the sixth installment I began to consider the role P2 played in various political assassinations, beginning with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of famed Italian statesman Aldo Moro as well as the mysterious and sudden death of Pope John Paul I after only thirty-three days as the supreme pontiff. Parts seven and eight dealt with the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, with a special emphasis in its ties to the arms-and-drug trafficking that ran through Communist-controlled Bulgaria and extensively involving Italy and Turkey (and orders such as P2 and the Grey Wolves). The ninth installment began to consider the forces behind P2, beginning with the support given to it by the US intelligence community and Pentagon via Operation Gladio. The tenth (!) and most recent installment considered the extensive control the Catholic secret society (or cult, as some have suggested) Opus Dei wielded over P2.

the seal of Opus Dei
Presently I would like to pick up with another mysterious Catholic secret society extensively linked to P2: the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), more commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta. First let us begin with a bit of background about the Order.

As is well known in conspiracy circles, the SMOM traces its origins back to the Crusades-era Knights Hospitallers, contemporaries of the even more notorious Knights Templar. These two military orders rubbed shoulders frequently in the Holy Land and this has led to much speculation within conspiracy circles that they were linked. But in point of fact, there is ample evidence that the Hospitallers and the Templars had quite an intense rivalry, as shall be addressed in a moment. For now, here's a more conventional rundown of the matter at hand:
"The Knights of Malta are understandably a rather misty concept. They inspire comparisons with Dan Brown's mystical fantasies of Vatican conspiracies bordering on black magic. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (an abbreviated title from a previously far grander and longer one) is an extremely ancient Catholic lay order of chivalry, dating from the First Crusade (1096-99). The Order's former territories (Rhodes and Malta) have long since melted away. To compensate, there is a world-wide network of medical missions operating in 120 countries. According to Wikipedia, the Knights are supported by some 12,000 active members who oversee and support 20,000 medical personnel. So much for the worthy field of good endeavors. However, the charitable functions are far overshadowed by the Order's status as a recognized sovereign state, complete with an observer seat at the UN, and the full kit bag of diplomatic privileges. These include the precious facility of couriers passing borders without hindrance, which any espionage organization is bound to prize. But surely, even a subliminal state with exactly three registered citizens need some kind of government? The Sovereign Order has one, an inner council of the Knights, which in turn response to the absolute authority of the Vatican.
"The American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has argued that behind the cover of charitable functions, the Knights are waging a cultural war on behalf of Christianity. He claims their fertile recruiting grounds include the highest levels of the American state and related friendly powers, the secret services and the Pentagon. Speaking in Washington DC at Georgetown University's Foreign Policy School in January 2011, he said: 'They do see what they're doing... it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.' Of course Hersh got the full Dan Brown treatment for the eye-rolling US media. But Hersh's central theme is absolutely correct. The Vatican, aided by the sovereign Maltese Knights and secretive inner cults like Opus Dei, is an essential component of the totemic pathology that we recognize as the war on terror."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 267-268)
the flag of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Among Hersh's claims, according to the contemptuous Foreign Policy, were:
"He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, 'are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.' ”
While the Establishment tried desperately to ridicule Hersh's claims, the reality is that the Knights of Malta have enjoyed a close relationship with the US intelligence community since practically the latter's inception. Salon notes:
"Keating’s use of “alleged” here is curious, given that the membership of Reagan-era CIA director Bill Casey in the Knights of Malta has been a fact widely reported in the press and never denied by Casey himself. Historian Joseph E. Persico, a former Republican speechwriter for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the co-author of Colin Powell’s autobiography, includes Casey’s membership in a routine list of charitable accomplishments, in his sympathetic biography Casey: from the OSS to the CIA (Penguin 1990). (Casey’s membership is asserted on Page 105 of the paperback.)...
"In addition to Casey and McCone, the Knights of Malta also counted among their members former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton — a fortuitous alliance as Angleton led the postwar intelligence efforts to subvert Italy’s 1948 elections. His success partnering with organized crime, right-leaning former fascists and the Vatican not only marginalized Italy’s homegrown Communist Party, it also encouraged Congress in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Conservative luminary and National Review founder William F. Buckley — who spent two years after college as a CIA 'political action specialist' in Mexico City — was also a Knight, as was none other than William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, the head of the CIA’s precursor organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From 1970 to 1981, France’s intelligence agency was also headed by a member of the Order, Alexandre de Marenches. De Marenches would go on to be a co-founder of the Saudi-funded private intelligence group the Safari Club — one of George H. W. Bush’s many end-runs around congressional oversight of the American intelligence establishment and the locus of many of the worst features of the mammoth BCCI scandal."
Knight of Malta Alexandre de Marenches, whom we first encountered in part seven
In addition to official intelligence networks, the SMOM has also penetrated deep into the even larger pool of private groups. At least one senior official for the private contractor previously known as Blackwater was a member of SMOM:
".., Joseph Schmitz, like Erik Prince and other executives of Blackwater, was a Catholic and a Christian fundamentalist. Some would go so far as to say he was a religious fanatic obsessed with implementing 'the rule of law under God.' In numerous speeches given during his time as Pentagon Inspector General, Schmitz articulated his vision and understanding of the global war on terror, employing the rhetoric of Christian supremacy. 'No America today should ever doubt that we hold ourselves accountable to the rule of law under God. Here lies these fundamental difference between us and the terrorists,' Schmidt said in June 2004 speech, just after returning from trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. 'It all comes down to this – we pride ourselves on our strict observance to the rule of law under God.' On his official biography, Schmitz proudly lists his membership in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Christian militia formed in the eleventh century, before the first Crusades, with the mission of defending 'territories that the Crusades had conquered from the Moslems.' The Order today boasts of being 'a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps, and public institutions' and 'diplomatic relations with 94 countries...'
(Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 367)
Now let us return to P2. Multiple influential figures within P2 were also initiates in the Maltese knights. One such figure was the lawyer and businessman Umberto Ortolani.
"One of Gelli's closest P2 associates was Italian lawyer and businessmen Umberto Ortolani. Like 'The Puppet Master,' Ortolani learned early in life the value of secret information. During the Second World War he became head of two large operational units of SISMI, the military intelligence agency in Italy. His specialty was counterespionage. A Roman Catholic, he appreciated while still a young man that one of the real centres of power was across the Tiber within Vatican City. Consequently his penetration of the Vatican and its quarters of influence was total..
"...  He subsequently received many more Vatican honours and awards. He even succeeded in affiliating Licio Gelli, a non-Catholic, to the Knights of Malta and the Holy Sepulchre. A close friend of Casaroli, the man usually referred to as Vatican's Kissinger because of his major involvement in foreign policy, lawyer Ortolani provided his P2 master with an unrivalled access to any Vatican dignitary. Like his master, Ortolani is a man who, on paper at least, is the citizen of many countries. Born in Vierbo in Italy, he has since become a Brazilian national. A useful byproduct of that arrangement is that no extradition treaty exists between Italy and Brazil."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 107-108)
"Count" Umberto Ortolani
Both Gelli and Ortolani have been widely sited as members of the Sovereign Order of Malta by credible researchers. What's more, there have been indications that it was actually Ortolani who was the master of Gelli.
"... Clara Calvi, widow of Banko Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi, that the real head of P2 had been Giulio Andreotti, followed at the top of the organization by Francesco Cosentino, secretary-general of the Chamber of Deputies, and businessman Umberto Ortolani: according to this hierarchy, Gelli was only fourth in the pecking order of the Lodge?"
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 57)
Thus, the potential number three and four individuals in P2 were Maltese knights. According to the Wall Street Journal, former Italian prime minster Giulio Andreotti was also a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Potentially, then, the bulk of the movers and shakers in P2 were members of SMOM. As was noted in part eight, another powerful P2 initiate, General Giuseppe Santovito (the head of SISMI, for many years Italy's most powerful intelligence service) was also a SMOM member.

Beyond these P2 initiates and affiliates, numerous individuals we have encountered over the course of this series were SMOM members. They include:
  • General Alexander Haig: The SMOM member who green lighted Gelli's involvement in P2 (noted in part one)
  • General William "Wild Bill" Donovan: the founder of the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA who, as noted in part eight, helped establish an underground network of financial institutions engaged in the laundering of drug money and arms transactions that included the banking empires of Sindona and Calvi
  • Alexandre de Marenches: long time director of SDECE (France's primary external intelligence service from 1944 until 1982) and co-founder of the Safari Club; played a key role in falsely linking the Soviet Union to the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, as noted in part seven
  • Reinhard Gehlen: head of the Gehlen Org, a collection of veterans of Nazi Germany's Eastern intelligence network enlisted by the CIA and who later established the BND (Germany's primary intelligence service) as was as playing a key role in coordinating the German wing of Gladio; the BND seems to have played an extensive role in the attempted assassination of John Paul II, as noted in part eight and nine
  • William Colby: the CIA director also closely linked to Opus Dei who played a key role in establishing Gladio (noted in part ten)

Maltese Knights Haig (top), Donovan (top middle), Gehlen (bottom middle) and Colby (bottom)
Besides Operation Gladio (which involved both P2 and SMOM extensively), numerous Maltese knights turn up in the Iran-Contra affair which, as noted in part four and five, heavily involved P2. They include:
  • William Casey: CIA director who "encouraged" (potentially via the attempted assassination) Pope John Paul II to back the Polish Solidarity movement as well as the Contras
  • General Vernon Walters: a close Reagan affiliate who made dozens of trips to the Vatican during the peak of its involvement with the Contras
  • Colonel Albert Carone: an SMOM member who served as Oliver North's bagman during Iran-Contra as well as a go between with the Mafia
  • J. Peter Grace: the wealthy industrialist whose various "charitable" activities in Central America helped fund the Contras and like organizations

Casey (top), Walters (top middle), Calone (middle bottom), and Grace (bottom)
The presence of so many Maltese knights within P2's hierarchy as well as surrounding one of the lodge's chief projects (namely, the arming of the Contras and like organization in Central America) is highly suggestive. Clearly the SMOM seems to have provided, in part, the infrastructure necessary for an organization like P2 to thrive in. Naturally, the bulk of conspiracy theorists who have addressed this peculiarity have continued to echo the baseless yet longstanding claims that SMOM is totally under the thumb of Freemasonry.

Such notions are the product of speculation history surrounding Freemasonry, much of it total quackery. And yet, one of the most compelling speculative histories of Freemasonry that has received some acknowledge from mainstream historians takes a much different view of the relationship between SMOM and Freemasonry.

In Born in Blood amateur historian John J. Robinson compellingly argued that Masonry had its origins with the Knights Templar and that the Templars in turn had a running feud with the Knights Hospitallers (from which SMOM traces its roots) that was later taken up by Freemasonry. He even goes so far as to suggest that the Knights Hospitallers were one of the three "ruffians" --Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum --responsible for the murder of Hiram Abiff, Masonry's mythological founder. Hiram in turn is widely believed to be a stand in for Jacques de Molay, the final Grand Master of the Knights Templar at the time of the Order's brutal suppression.
"As we search British history to find an unfinished temple as a basis for an exclusively British secret society, we find just one answer, in the religious order that often called itself by that simple name alone: the Temple. Jacques de Molay and his predecessors signed documents over the title Magister Templi, Master of the Temple. And that temple, taking its name from the Temple of Solomon, certainly was left unfinished upon the murder of its masters, who also had been tortured to reveal their secrets by three assassins who ultimately destroy them. Not Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum, but Philip the Fair of France, Pope Clement V, and the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Many who have read only the Catholic Church's summations of the Templar suppression may object, stating that only the King of France could be considered the 'assassin' of the Knights Templar, having done all the dirty work and having coerced a weak pope to help him. True, that is the church's usual version to this very day, but the historical facts speak somewhat to the contrary, if we look again at events described earlier in this book.
"When Edward II of England declined to torture the Templars, the Pope could have thrown the problem back to Edward's father-in-law, the king of France: no one forced Clement V to dispatched ten church torture specialist to London. The Pope could have lived with the acquittal of the Templars on Cyprus: No one forced him to demand a new trial, or to dispatch a torture team with the power to draw upon the local Dominicans and Franciscans if extra help was required. Nor did the king of France prevail in his desire that only one of his family be made the head of a combined Hospitaller/Templar order, with full access to their combined wealth. And if Clement V had been merely a timorous puppet pope with Philip pulling the strings, as church historians would have us believe, the king of France would have been the new owners of the Templar properties in France, not the Hospitallers. The pope was much tougher, or at least much more obstinate, than we had been led to believe and it would appear that he had contrived a plan of his own in concert with the Hospitallers.
"That order has managed to escape any criticism in the matter of the Templar suppression, but apparently only because it had kept a low profile throughout, probably for the very good reason that its role and its reward had been worked out in advance. It is well known that the papacy was in favor of the union of the Templars and Hospitallers and had already determined that Foulques de Villaret, Master of the Hospitallers, would be the Grand Master of the combined orders. The Templars, at their headquarters on Cyprus, had heard of the serious intent to combine the orders and had taken the time to prepare a written rebuttal. The Hospitallers, at their own headquarters on that same island, must have received the same information, yet they prepared no rebuttal, written or verbal. In fact, de Villaret managed to stay away from the meeting in France altogether, with no recorded papal criticism for his absence. That was undoubtedly because his presence wasn't needed and because there was no point in chancing a confrontation between the two orders, especially since the pope was already dedicated to looking after the interests of the Hospitallers. Not only did the Hospitallers offer no objection to the concept of the merger, but they made no attempt whatever to speak up for their brother warrior-monks as they were arrested and tortured. They simply stayed out of it and bided their time, until Clement V, much to the anger of King Philip, declared that all of the confiscated Templar property would go to the Knights Hospitaller and that all released Templars could be taken into the Hospitaller order, thereby achieving de facto the union he had been planning all along, with full Hospitaller approval and cooperation. If one looks for motive, the Hospitaller order was the major beneficiary of the suppression of the Templars, as had probably been planned from the beginning. The pope and Hospitallers together thwarted the aims of Philip of France, and there should be no doubt that the Hospitallers rank as one of the three assassins of the Order of the Temple."
(Born in Blood, John J. Robinson, pgs. 271-273)

Again, this is all highly, highly speculative. But so are most things concerning P2 and it has frequently been sited by conspiracy theorists as the smoking gun of a Masonic takeover of the Vatican. And yet, as we have seen in these past two installments, there are very strong indications that P2 was in fact a tool of SMOM and Opus Dei, two of the most right wing factions within Catholicism.

Along these lines, it is also interesting to note (as addressed in part five) that P2 donned black robes modeled after those of the Dominicans and referred to themselves as "black friars" within their meetings. Roberto Calvi's body was found dangling from Blackfriars Bridge in London, which derived its name from a Blackfriars Monastery, a Dominican priory once located nearby. The Dominicans assisted in the torture of the Templars and also played a key role in the suppression of the Cathars (a Medieval Gnostic sect also long linked to the traditions of Freemasonry).

The various allusion to the Dominicans combined with presence of so many Opusians and Maltese knights behind P2 seem indicate that it is far more likely conservative factions within the Vatican had co opted Freemasonry (an alleged centuries old enemy of the Church) and were actively using it as a tool for their own aims. Certainly mainstream Masonic lodges deserted P2 in droves, yet the waning movement took yet another blow with the revelations concerning P2. P2 is one of the last instances when a Masonic lodge wielded real political power and it is likely that the movers and shakers behind  it hoped for such an outcome.

The waters are further muddied by allegations that Opus Dei and SMOM have had an ongoing rivalry as well, one that traced back to a plot involving Opus Dei founder Escriva de Balaguer. Robert Hutchison, one of the few researchers to extensively chronicle Opus Dei, notes:
"Another hypothesis that tickled the imaginations of some was that Opus Dei's directorate in Rome had considered attempting a takeover of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem, called of Rhodes, called of Malta, as it was the only church institution to hold the status of an independent state. Some titled Opusian gentleman were already members of the Order and its sovereign council in Rome feared a coup d'etat. As Marquise of Peralta, Escriva de Balaguer might have thought he was eligible for the highest rank of the Maltese Cross as the Order's regulations permit only celibate knights of noblesse to become Grand Master. In addition to being recognized as a sovereign head of state, the Grand Master holds a rank in the church that is equivalent to a cardinal and this, too, would have appealed to the newly titled prelate. But when it was learned that the Grand Master had been a secular person, this plan was dropped."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pgs. 152-153)
de Balaguer
This researcher finds it difficult to believe that this takeover bid, if it in fact happened, was very serious. Certainly it does not seem to have hindered the working relationship of these two orders, who frequently appear together in any number of intrigues. But the possibility that there were separate factions for Opus Dei and SMOM within P2 can not be totally discounted.

Certainly though it seems that the actual leadership of P2 was far more Catholic and conservative leaning rather than the prophets of some absurd Masonic-Judaic-Communistic New World Order that the conspiracy theorists frequently allege. And with that I shall wrap up for now. Having addressed most of the players behind P2, I shall next move along some fringe groups and the possible influence on the ideology of P2 that they had. Stay tuned.

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