Untold Stories about the terrorist attacks in
part 3/3 Italy
As Casson survived, the knot unravelled. Based on the documents he had discovered, Casson contacted the parliamentarian commission, which under Senator Libero Gualtieri was investigating the massacres and terrorism. Gualtieri and his fellow Senators were greatly worried by the findings which Casson had made and agreed that the investigation into the Gladio secret army had to be included in the work of the commission, for it represented the key to both the massacres and the reasons why they had remained mysterious for so many years. On August 2, 1990 the Senators ordered the head of the Italian executive, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, 'to inform the parliament within sixty days with respect to the existence, characteristics and purpose of a parallel and occult structure which is said to have operated within our secret service of the military with the aim to condition the political life of the country'.
The next day, on August 3, 1990, Prime Minister Andreotti took a stand in front of the parliamentary commission and for the first time in
's post-war history confirmed as acting member of the Italian government that a NATO-linked secret security structure had existed in the country. Italy
Andreotti assured the Senators that he would present a written report to the parliamentary commission on the secret security structure within 60 days: T will present to the Commission a very precise report which I have asked the Defence Department to prepare. It is about the activities based on NATO planning that have been started for the eventuality of an attack and occupation of
Italy or parts of . As far as I have been informed by the secret services such activities have continued until 1972. Italy
After that it was decided that they were no longer necessary. I will provide the Commission with all the necessary documentation, be it on the problem in general, be it on the specific findings made by judge Casson in the context of his investigations into the Peteanomassacre.'
Aged 71 at the time of his Gladio testimony, Giulio Andreotti, is not a regular source by any standards. At the time of his testimony he looked back on a lifelong political career with probably no parallels in any country of
Western Europe. As the leading representative of the conservative Christian Democratic Party (Democrazia Cristiana Italiana, DCI), which had functioned as a bulwark against the PCI during the entire Cold War, Andreotti had enjoyed the support of the . He personally knew all United States US presidents, and by many within and outside Italy was considered to be the most powerful politician of Italy's (1945-1993). First Republic
Although the governments in
Italy's fragile First Republic had changed in short intervals Andreotti throughout the Cold War had cunningly managed to remain in power in numerous coalitions and had thus established himself as the dominant presence in the Italian government residence at Palazzo Chigi in . Rome
Born in Rome in 1919, Andreotti became Minister of the Interior at the age of 35, and thereafter established an unprecedented record by holding the office of Prime Minister seven times, and serving furthermore 21 times as Minister, of which six times as Foreign Minister. His admirers compared him with Julius Cesar and called him 'divine Giulio', while his critics have accused him of being the quintessential back-room wheeler-dealer and nicknamed him 'the uncle'. Allegedly Andreotti's favourite gangster movie was 'Good fellows' for Robert De Niro's line 'never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut'. Most agreed that it was part of Andreotti's strategy which had allowed divine Giulio to survive a large number of
's intrigues and crimes, many of which he was directly involved in. Italy
By exposing Operation Gladio and the secret armies of NATO 'the uncle' had broken his silence. As the
First Republic collapsed with the end of the Cold War, powerful Andreotti, then an old man, was dragged in front of numerous courts in which accused him of having manipulated the political institutions, of having cooperated with the mafia and of having given secret orders according to which opponents were assassinated. 'The Justice system has gone crazy', acting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shouted when in November 2002 the appeals court in Italy sentenced Andreotti for 24 years in prison. As the judges received death threats and were put under police protection, the television channels interrupted their broadcasting on the Italian football league to report that Andreotti had been found guilty for having given Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti the order to kill investigative journalist Mino Pecorelli in 1979 in order to cover up the truth on the assassination of Aldo Moro, the chairman of the DO. Perugia
The Catholic Church attempted to save the reputation of divine Giulio when Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, upon learning the shattering news, declared: 'Also Jesus Christ was crucified before his resurrection.' Yet despite all the alarm Andreotti did not end up behind prison bars as the verdicts were overruled in October 2003 and 'the uncle' walked free.
During the first Gladio revelations in front of the Italian Senators on August 3,
1990 'the uncle' had with reference to the secret stay-behind army cunningly claimed that 'such activities have continued until 1972' in order to limit the personal damage which loomed. For in 1974 as acting Defence Minister Andreotti had gone on the record stating to a judicial inquiry investigating right-wing massacres: 'I can say that the head of the secret services has repeatedly and unequivocally excluded the existence of a hidden organisation of any type or size.' 1 9 In 1978 he made a similar testimony in front of judges investigating a right-wing bombing in
When the Italian press revealed that the secret Gladio army, far from having been closed down in 1972 was still active Andreotti's lie collapsed. Thereafter in August and September 1990, like seldom before during his time in office, Andreotti very actively transferred international messages, searched contacts and had meetings with numerous ambassadors.20 As international support was not forthcoming, the Prime Minister, fearing for his power, went into the offensive and attempted to highlight the responsibility of the White House in the United States and numerous other governments in Western Europe who had all not only conspired in the secret war against the Communists but actively participated in it. In order to draw attention to the involvement of foreign nations, Andreotti employed an effective but somewhat awkward strategy. On October 18, 1990 he sent his messenger to walk in a great hurry the few steps from the government residence at Palazzo Chigi in
to Piazza San Macuto where the parliamentary commission resided. Rome
The messenger delivered Andreotti's report entitled 'The so called "Parallel SID" -
The Gladio Case' to the secretary at the reception of Palazzo Chigi. A member of the parliamentary commission, Senator Roberto Ciciomessere, heard by coincidence that
Andreotti's report had arrived and passed by the secretary at Palazzo Chigi. Upon looking through the text the Senator was mightily surprised, for in it Andreotti provided not only a brief description of operation Gladio, but contrary to his
August 3 statement admitted also that the occult Gladio organisation was still active.
Senator Ciciomessere asked for a photocopy, yet this was denied, as according to standing procedures, first the President of the commission, Senator Gualtieri, was to read the report. Yet Gualtieri never got to read this first version of Andreotti's report on operation Gladio. For exactly when Gualtieri was about to put the sensitive document into his briefcase three days later to take it home and read it over the weekend the telephone rang, and on the phone was the Prime Minister himself who told the Senator that he immediately needed his report back 'because a few passages need reworking'. Gualtieri was annoyed but assented reluctantly and sent the document back to Andreotti's Palazzo Chigi after photocopies had been made.
The unusual manoeuvres of Giulio Andreotti sent a roar through
and heightened the attention. The newspapers headlined 'Operation Giulio' in a word play on 'Operation Gladio' and between 50,000 and 400,000 annoyed, scared and angry people organised by the PCI marched through central Rome in one of the biggest demonstrations in the capital for years chanting and carrying banners: 'We want truth.' Some marchers dressed up as Gladiators. While PCI leader Achille Occhetto told the crowd in the central Piazza del Popolo that this march will force the government to reveal the dark secrets long held back: 'We are here to obtain truth and transparency Italy
On October 24 Senator Gualtieri had Andreotti's report on the 'Parallel SID' back in his hands. Shortened by two pages this final version was now only ten pages long. Senator Gualtieri compared it with the photocopies made of the first version and immediately noted that sensitive parts especially on the international connection and similar secret organisations in other countries had been cut out.
Furthermore the secret parallel organisation, which before had been spoken of in the present tense implying continuous existence, was now spoken of in the past tense. The awkward strategy of Andreotti to send in a document, withdraw and amend it, only to provide it anew, could thus hide nothing. Observers agreed that the manoeuvre necessarily drew attention exactly to the amended parts, hence the international dimension of the affair, in order to take away some weight from Andreotti's shoulders. But no international support was forthcoming.
In his final report Andreotti explained that Gladio had been conceived as a network of clandestine resistance within NATO countries to confront an eventual Soviet invasion. After the war the Italian military secret service Servizio di Informazioni delle Forze Armate (SIFAR) predecessor of the SID, and the CIA had signed 'an accord relative to the "organisation and activity of the post-occupation clandestine network", an accord commonly referred to as Stay Behind, in which all preceding commitments relevant to matters concerning Italy and the United States were reconfirmed'. The cooperation between the CIA and the Italian military secret service, as Andreotti explained in the document, was supervised and coordinated by secret non-orthodox warfare centres of NATO: 'Once the clandestine resistance organisation was constituted, Italy was called upon to participate...in the works of the CCP (Clandestine Planning Committee) of 1959, operating within the ambit of SHAPE [NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe]...; in 1964 the Italian secret service also entered the ACC (Allied Clandestine Committee).'
The secret Gladio army, as Andreotti revealed, was well armed. The equipment provided by the CIA was buried in 139 hiding spots across the country in forests, meadows and even under churches and cemeteries. According to the explanations of Andreotti the Gladio caches included 'portable arms, ammunition, explosives, hand grenades, knives and daggers, 60 mm mortars, several 57 mm recoilless rifles, sniper rifles, radio transmitters, binoculars and various tools'.24 Andreotti's sensational testimony did not only lead to an outcry concerning the corruption of the government and the CIA among the press and the population, but also to a hunt for the secret arms caches. Padre Giuciano recalls the day when the press came to search for the hidden Gladio secrets in his church with ambiguous feelings:
'I was forewarned in the afternoon when two journalists from "Il Gazzettino" asked me if I knew anything about arms deposits here at the church. They started to dig right here and found two boxes right away. Then the text also said a thirty centimetres from the window. So they came over here and dug down. One box was kept aside by them because it contained a phosphorous bomb. They sent the Carabinieri outside whilst two experts opened this box, another had two machine guns in it. All the guns were new, in perfect shape. They had never been used.'
Contrary to the testimony of right-wing terrorist Vinciguerra of the 1980s, Andreotti stressed in his 1990 report that the Italian military secret service in general as well as the Gladio members in particular had nothing to do with the terror that Italy had suffered from. He explained that all Gladiators before their recruitment had gone through intensive testing and were chosen based on the 'rigorous application' of the Secret Service Art to ensure their 'scrupulous fidelity to the values of the anti-fascist republican constitution', and to exclude anyone who held administrative or political office. Moreover, the law required that, as Andreotti noted, 'the preselected subjects do not have a penal record, do not partake in active politics, nor participate in any sort of extremist movement'.26 At the same time Andreotti stressed that the members of the network could not be questioned by judges and that member names and further details on the secret army were classified.
The 'operation, on account of its current forms of organisation and application - as foreseen by NATO directives and integrated into its relative planning - is to be carried out and refined in a framework of absolute secrecy.'
The Andreotti revelations on the 'parallel SID' shocked
. For many, a secret CIA NATO army in Italy and beyond seemed hardly credible. Was such a structure at all legal? The Italian daily La Stampa harshly commented: 'No raison d'etat could be worth maintaining, covering up or defending a secret military structure composed of ideologically selected members - dependent upon, or at least under the influence of, a foreign power - that allegedly serves as an instrument of political struggle. No definition could be given to it other than high treason and an attack on the Constitution.'28 In the Italian Senate representatives of the Green Party, the Communists and the Independent Leftist Party accused the government of having used the Gladio units for domestic surveillance and acts of terror to condition the political climate. Above all the Italian Communists Party (PCI) was convinced that not foreign armies but they themselves had been the true target of the Gladio armies during the entire post-war period. Commentators insisted that 'with this mysterious Parallel SID, conjured up to head off an impossible coup by the left, we have seriously risked making a coup d'etat by the right possible... Italy
We cannot accept that... this super SID was passed off as a military instrument destined to operate "in case of enemy occupation". The true enemy is only and has always been the Italian Communist party, i.e. an internal enemy.'
Unwilling to shoulder the blame alone Prime Minister Andreotti on the very same day that he presented his final Gladio report stepped in front of the Italian parliament and declared: 'Each chief of government has been informed of the existence of Gladio'. This caused massive embarrassment and compromised, among others, former Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi (1983-1987), former Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini of the Republican Party (1981-1982) who at the time of Andreotti's revelations was President of the Senate, former Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani (1980-1981) who in 1990 was serving as secretary of the ruling DCI, and above all former Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga (1978-1979) who in 1990 was the acting Italian President. The high-ranking magistrates thus drawn into the abyss by Andreotti reacted with confusion. Craxi claimed that he had not been informed, until he was confronted with a document on Gladio he had signed himself as Prime Minister. Spadolini and Forlani also suffered from general amnesia, but later had to make smaller amendments to their statements. Spadolini to the amusement of the Italian public stressed that there was a difference between what he knew as former Defence Secretary and what he knew as former Prime Minister.
Only Francesco Cossiga, Italian President since 1985, proudly confirmed his part in the conspiracy. During an official visit he paid to Scotland he pointed out that he was 'proud and happy' for his bit in setting the secret army up as junior Defence Minister of the DCI in the 1950s.31 He declared that all Gladiators were good patriots and testified that 'I consider it a great privilege and an act of trust that... I was chosen for this delicate task... I have to say that I'm proud of the fact that we have kept the secret for 45 years.'
With his embracement of the compromised army linked to terrorism the President upon his return to
found himself in the midst of a political storm and requests across parties for his immediate resignation or for his impeachment for high treason. Judge Casson was audacious enough to ask head of state Cossiga to testify in front of the investigating Senate committee. Yet the President, no longer happy, angrily refused and threatened to close down the entire parliamentary Gladio investigation: 'I'll send the law extending its mandate back to Parliament and, should they re-approve it, I will have to examine the text anew to see if the conditions exist for the extreme recourse to an absolute [Presidential] refusal to promulgate.'33 The attack was completely without any constitutional grounds and critics started to question the President's sanity. Cossiga stepped down from the Presidency in April 1992 three months before his term expired. Italy
In a public speech in front of the Italian Senate on November 9, 1990, Andreotti stressed once again that NATO, the
United States and numerous countries in Western Europe including Germany, Greece, Denmark and had been involved in the stay-behind conspiracy. To prove this point, classified data was leaked to the press and the Italian political magazine Panorama published the entire document, 'The parallel SID - Operation Gladio' which Andreotti had handed to the parliamentary Commission. When Belgium France tried to deny its involvement in the international Gladio network Andreotti mercilessly declared that France as well had secretly participated in the most recent Gladio ACC meeting which had taken place in but a few weeks ago on October 23 and 24, 1990. Thereupon, somewhat embarrassed, also Brussels confirmed that it had been involved in Gladio. The international dimension of the secret war could no longer be denied and the military scandal swept across France Western Europe. Following the geographical zones of NATO membership it thereafter crossed the Atlantic and also reached the . An Italian parliamentary commission investigating Gladio and the Italian massacres in 2000 concluded: 'Those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence United States