What if you suddenly discovered that our government was filled through and through with members of a secret Masonic lodge. Imagine, for a moment, learning that the head of the FBI, the CIA, the INS, numerous generals, and important members of the press and business community were members and “had sworn ultimate allegiance to their grandmaster rather than to the nation.” You’d probably think the world had gone mad, but this is exactly what happened in Italy in 1981. That link will show you how the story broke in the New York Times. The lodge was called Propaganda Due or P2, and its grandmaster was a former liaison to Hermann Goering named Licio Gelli.
Why is this important today? Because important Americans had and have connections to the Propaganda Due operation, especially through the Knights of Malta. And Propaganda Due was not just some group of powerful freemasons. In the words of the Italian government:
In a report to the Government, the Milan magistrates wrote that “Gelli had constructed a very real state within the state,” using blackmail, favors, promises of advancement and bribes.
“Lodge P-2 is a secret sect that has combined business and politics with the intention of destroying the constitutional order of the country and of transforming the parliamentary system into a presidential system,” the magistrates said.
“Gelli’s strategy has been to bring under his control a large number of powerful and highly placed persons and thus to break down, for the first time in Italian history, the separation between political, administrative, military and economic spheres,” they said.
Third World Traveler provides a left-wing interpretation of how P-2 operated in Italy and in Latin America.
P-2 contributed to the strategy of tension, that was pursued by right-wing extremist groups in Italy during those years when the purpose was to destabilize Italian politics, creating a situation that such groups might be able to exploit in their own interest to bring about an authoritarian solution to Italy’s problems.
Delle Chiaie was a principal organizer for three of the most famous of these incidents, the 1969 bomb in the crowded Piazza Fontana of Milan (16 deaths, 90 injuries), the 1970 coup attempt of Prince Valerio Borghese (a CIA client since 1945), and the Bologna station bombing of August 2, 1980 (85 deaths, 200 injuries). In December 1985 magistrates in Bologna issued 16 arrest warrants, including at least three to P-2 members, accusing members of the Italian intelligence service SISMI of first planning and then covering up the Bologna bombing. One of these 16 was P-2’s leader Licio Gelli, who had spent most of the post-war years in Argentina.
A small group of anarchists, penetrated by delle Chiaie’s man Mario Merlino, were blamed at first for the Piazza Fontana bombing, even though Sismi knew within six days that delle Chiaie was responsible, and Merlino had planted the bomb.
After 1974, when the right-wing “strategists of tension” lost critical support with the ending of the Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish dictatorships, they appear to have looked increasingly for new friendly governments in Latin America. Delle Chiaie began to work for Chile’s service DINA in 1975, the first contacts having been made through Aginter by Michael Townley, who would later murder Letelier with the help of CORU Cubans for DINA. (Delle Chiaie is said to have come from South America to Miami in 1982, with a Turkish leader of the fascist Grey Wolves who was a friend of the Pope’s assassin Mehmet Agca.)
The P-2’s support for Latin American terror seems to have been in part a matter of internal Roman Catholic politics: an attempt by one faction to use right-wing death squads to eliminate the Church’s liberation theologians and moderate Christian Democrats. Both the contras and Mario Sandoval Alarcon were part of the anti-liberationist campaign: the contra radio maintained a steady propaganda campaign against the Maryknoll Sisters in Nicaragua; Lau of the contras murdered Archbishop Romero of El Salvador; and Lau’s patron Sandoval, at the 11th WACL [World Anti-Communist League] Conference in 1978, denounced the “intense Marxist penetration…acting within the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.” During the two years after the CAL adopted the Banzer Plan in 1978, “at least twenty-eight bishops, priests, and lay persons were killed in Latin America; most of their murders were attributed to government security forces or rightist death squads. That number multiplied after 1980 as civil war spread through Guatemala and El Salvador.” We have already seen how Reagan’s termination of the Carter “human rights” policies was followed by the decimation of the Guatemalan Christian Democrats.
The CAL/P-2 connection was and remains a drug connection as well. The terrorist delle Chiaie has been accused of ties to some of the French Connection heroin merchants who had relocated to Italy; while CAL Chairman Suarez Mason, according to the Italian magazine Panorama, became “one of Latin America’s chief drug traffickers.”
This Latin American WACL drug connection appears to have been originally put together by former Argentine Interior Minister Jose Lopez Rega, a P-2 member and Gelli intimate who was responsible for restoring Peron to power in 1973 and arranging for European experts in “dirty war” tactics to launch death squad tactics against the terrorist left. Lopez-Rega was later said to have been directly involved with other P-2 members in the Argentine-Paraguayan cocaine traffic, and to have used French members of the Ricord drug network as terrorists for his underground AAA (Alianza Argentina Anticomunista). Ex-CIA Cuban exile terrorists involved in the drug traffic also worked with the AAA, as well as for Somoza.
Now, I urge you take the above with a grain of salt. What’s important is that Propaganda Due used false-flag operations. They carried out terrorist attacks, blamed them on left-wing radicals, and then used the public’s fear to justify a more authoritarian and right-wing form of government. And, once again, Propaganda Due had important allies in the American government. But let’s look at Delle Chiaie (from the Toronto Star, July 5, 1987):
An activist since the 1950s, Delle Chiaie was a key figure in the formulation of the so-called “strategy of tension” in the 1960s and 70s, whereby neofascist extremists attempted to achieve chaos and the eventual seizure of power by carrying out attacks and provocations that were blamed on left-wing groups.
In a recent analysis of Italian right-wing terrorism, journalist Franco Ferraresi wrote that groups like Delle Chiaie’s National Vanguard, “had many links with other neofascist and neo-Nazi groups in Europe, as well as with the secret services of countries (at that time under right-wing leadership) such as Spain, Portugal, Greece, South Africa and Rhodesia, not to mention Italy.”
They were also aided by secret Masonic lodge P-2, in which grandmaster Licio Gelli attempted to create a power base through an organization of powerful men, including government and police officials. Gelli, believed to be hiding out in South America, is also charged as a mastermind in the Bologna bombing.
Delle Chiaie fled Italy in 1970, after he had been picked up for questioning in the wake of the Milan bombing.
He made his headquarters in Spain, then ruled by Fascist dictator Gen. Franco, and in Portugal, ruled by Fascist Marcello Caetano.
According to published reports, Delle Chiaie worked for the Spanish and Portuguese secret police, and became friendly with Argentine dictator Juan Peron, then in Spanish exile.
He also managed clandestine trips back to Italy, where he allegedly organized and took part in two unsuccessful coup attempts, in 1970 and 1974.
From Iberia he went on to Latin America where, in 1974, he reportedly met Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and ended up working for him.
Panorama magazine says Delle Chiaie wrote of Pinochet: “Great impression. His words gave me the sensation that he had decided to help us.”
Delle Chiaie reportedly moved to Argentina after Peron resumed the presidency in 1973, and helped establish the leader’s personal “Triple A” death squad.
Shuttling from Argentina to Chile to Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America – and still making clandestine trips back to Italy – Delle Chiaie was reportedly involved in a long list of clandestine dealings with right-wing regimes, secret services, death squads and security operations protecting drug barons.
Now let’s look at a long excerpt from Craig Unger’s Vanity Fair piece:
In 1981 the Italian Parliament banned Propaganda Due, and all secret organizations in Italy, after an investigation concluded that it had infiltrated the highest levels of Italy’s judiciary, parliament, military, and press, and was tied to assassinations, kidnappings, and arms deals around the world. But before it was banned, P-2 members and their allies participated in two ideologically driven international black-propaganda schemes that foreshadowed the Niger Embassy job 20 years later. The first took place in 1980, when Francesco Pazienza, a charming and sophisticated Propaganda Due operative at the highest levels of SISMI, allegedly teamed up with an American named Michael Ledeen, a Rome correspondent for The New Republic. According to The Wall Street Journal, Pazienza said he first met Ledeen that summer, through a SISMI agent in New York who was working under the cover of a U.N. job.
The end result of their collaboration was a widely publicized story that helped Ronald Reagan unseat President Jimmy Carter, whom they considered too timid in his approach to winning the Cold War. The target was Carter’s younger brother, Billy, a hard-drinking “good ol’ boy” from Georgia who repeatedly embarrassed his sibling in the White House.
It began after Billy mortified the president in 1979 by going to Tripoli at a time when Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, was reviled as a radical Arab dictator who supported terrorism. Coupled with Billy’s later admission that he had received a $220,000 loan from Qaddafi’s regime, the ensuing “Billygate” scandal made headlines across America and led to a Senate investigation. But it had died down as the November 1980 elections approached.
Then, in the last week of October 1980, just two weeks before the election, The New Republic in Washington and Now magazine in Great Britain published a story co-authored by Michael Ledeen and Arnaud de Borchgrave, now an editor-at-large at The Washington Times and United Press International. According to the story, headlined “Qaddafi, Arafat and Billy Carter,” the president’s brother had been given an additional $50,000 by Qaddafi, on top of the loan, and had met secretly with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. The story had come dramatically back to life. The new charges were disputed by Billy Carter and many others, and were never corroborated.
A 1985 investigation by Jonathan Kwitny in The Wall Street Journal reported that the New Republic article was part of a larger disinformation scam run by Ledeen and SISMI to tilt the election, and that “Billy Carter wasn’t the only one allegedly getting money from a foreign government.” According to Pazienza, Kwitny reported, Michael Ledeen had received at least $120,000 from SISMI in 1980 or 1981 for his work on Billygate and other projects. Ledeen even had a coded identity, Z-3, and had money sent to him in a Bermuda bank account, Pazienza said.
Ledeen told the Journal that a consulting firm he owned, I.S.I., worked for SISMI and may have received the money. He said he did not recall whether he had a coded identity.
Now let’s looks at what infamous CIA man, Dewey Clarridge has to say. Take particular notice of the reference to the ‘red brigades’. The red brigades were the group of leftist/communists that were infiltrated and set up as the perpetrators of terrorism by Propaganda Due.
Duane R. Clarridge, a longtime CIA field agent (NE & SE Asia) and administrator who was pardoned by George HW Bush for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, describes Michael Ledeen as a “fine journalist,” “a scholar,” and a friend. However, he comments that their friendship had a “rocky start.” Clarridge wrote that Ledeen made “life difficult for us [the CIA]”. He noted that the CIA took a “dim view” of individuals such Ledeen and retired CIA officer Theodore Shackley who freelanced with foreign intelligence services. In 1980, Ledeen and Shackley teamed up to provide “war games-type training” for European intelligence services, including Italy’s intelligence service.
Clarridge explains that Ledeen’s damage to Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign by “trumpeting of the Billy/Qaddifi relationship” earned the appreciation of Alexander Haig and other prominent Republicans. Clarridge wrote that Ledeen further aggravated the CIA by becoming an unofficial conduit between Haig and General Giuseppe Santovito, head of the Italian Military Service (SISMI).
Clarridge noted that Ledeen shared the views of Claire Sterling. Sterling contended in his 1980 book “The Terror Network” that the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc “extensively sponsored and trained the Red Brigades and other terrorist organizations.” Clarridge commented that the book “implied (without documentation) that the Italian intelligence services — people such as Santovito — knew this and were sitting on the information.”
When Santovito was in Washington on a trip organized by Ledeen, Clarridge describes going uninvited to the Watergate Hotel intercept Santovito in the lobby before Santovito left for the State Department to meet with Haig. Clarridge believed Haig was looking to Santovito for “evidence of Soviet or Eastern Bloc collusion in the activities of the Red Brigagdes.” Clarridge recalls saying “Look, General, you know as well as I do that you have absolutely no evidence of any Soviet or Eastern Bloc involvement in training or guiding the Red Brigades. Isn’t that true?” Santovito replied “Yes, that’s true.” [ “A Spy For All Seasons: My Life in the CIA,” Duane R. Clarridge, Scribner, 1997, pgs. 187-189. ]
Clarridge notes that in 1987, as he was retiring from the agency after being formally reprimanded, it was his friend Ledeen who used connections with a prominent General Dynamics shareholder to introduce Clarridge to the General Dynamic executives who offerred him a position at the company.
Also notice that Ledeen endeared himself to Alexander Haig, a prominent member of the Knights of Malta.
Here’s a little more about the Knights of Malta and their efforts to arm the contras [from the Washington Post, December 27, 1984.
A private humanitarian organization called the Americares Foundation, working with the Order of the Knights of Malta, has channeled more than $14 million in donated medical aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala over the last two years.
The bulk of the supplies, worth about $10 million, has gone to hospitals and clinics in El Salvador, according to Americares’ founder and president, Robert C. Macauley. But part of $680,000 in aid to Honduras went to Miskito Indians linked to U.S.-backed rebels fighting the leftist government of Nicaragua, according to a Knights of Malta official in Honduras.
Much of the $3.4 million in Americares’ medical aid to Guatemala has been distributed through the armed forces as part of its resettlement program of “model villages” aimed at defeating leftist insurgents, said the official, Guatemalan businessman Roberto Alejos.
Prominent in the U.S. end of the operation are businessman J. Peter Grace, head of the W.R. Grace conglomerate and chairman of the American division of the Knights of Malta; attorney Prescott Bush Jr., brother of Vice President Bush; former treasury secretary William E. Simon, and Macauley, a New Canaan, Conn., businessman.
Among the 1,750 U.S. members of the Knights are CIA Director William J. Casey, former secretary of state Alexander M. Haig Jr. and former secretary of health, education and welfare Joseph A. Califano, although they apparently are not involved in the Americares effort. Former national security affairs adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski is honorary chairman of Americares’ board of directors.
The Knights, formally called the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John, of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta,” was founded in 1099 to aid the wounded and to battle Moslems during the Crusades. Based in Rome, the devoutly Roman Catholic order has 10,000 members in 42 nations and is recognized diplomatically as the world’s only sovereign nation without territory. It has ambassadors in 40 countries. Medical aid thus can be moved through diplomatic “pouches” into needy countries without going through customs, Grace said in an interview.
The Americares program is among the largest of dozens of private relief efforts in Central America. Under the Reagan administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is trying to encourage private involvement in foreign aid worldwide, partly to bypass bureaucratic tangles in the receiving nation and partly to avoid the strings that Congress often ties to federal programs.
Alejos, co-chairman of the Knights of Malta in Honduras, said in a recent interview with freelance reporter Peter H. Stone that “some of the Americares aid went to the Miskito Indians” there. Congress has banned U.S. aid to Nicaraguan rebels, called “contras” and based in Honduras. The Miskitos are divided, but several tribes have joined the rebels.
Alejos said eight Honduran hospitals have benefited, including one in the Indian area called Mosquitia.
In Guatemala, Alejos told Stone, the Guatemalan army delivers Americares medicine to people in the model villages, which are along the Mexican border.
Alejos, a major sugar and coffee grower, lent his Guatemalan estates to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1960 to train Cubans for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
But all officials contacted insisted that neither the Knights nor Americares has any political involvement in Central America. Both groups have extensive histories of charitable work, particularly with refugees in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Poland.
Grace said he started the medical shipments to Central America in 1983 by calling Macauley and suggesting that Americares and the Knights of Malta work together there. Bush and Simon, members of the Americares advisory committee, help to raise funds and obtain free medicine.
Grace, Bush and Macauley said there is no link between their effort and Reagan administration policy in the region.
Instead, they said, they “beg” free or nearly free medicines and equipment donations from major U.S. companies and wangle cut-rate shipping to Central America. The aid then is distributed to civilian hospitals, clinics and medical centers by local Knights of Malta members, who generally are well-to-do businessmen, lawyers, doctors or others with such facilities as warehouses, trucks or planes at their disposal.
Such people do not tend to be sympathetic to leftest guerrillas, and critics charge that medical and humanitarian aid helps the Salvadorans and the Guatemalan government fight the rebels by freeing other money to buy arms.
“On that basis you’d never be able to help anybody anywhere,” Macauley said.
Now, I’ve written about this before when I wanted to discourage Kossacks from donating tsunami money to Americares. Of course, Americares claims they have cleaned up their act but they don’t really dispute their former role as a CIA front organization.
So, you can draw you own conclusions. Personally, I think that Michael Ledeen is a fascist, that there are a lot of people like him that have been involved in Catholic, radically anti-communist organizations, that they have carried out acts of terrorism and other disinformation campaigns to further their political aims, and that they represent at least as much of a threat to world peace as any Islamic terrorist. So, when Michael Ledeen calls for us to invade Iran and predicts that Iran will commit terror acts in Israel or against U.S. interests, then I get very concerned.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I lay out these facts and sources so you can make up your own mind.