This is an extended book review of Disinformation — Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013) by Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald J. Rychlak.
Disinformation is a revealing exposé of evil Soviet history as well as a treatise on the use of propaganda and disinformation in contemporary international relations and national politics. The title and especially the descriptive subtitle fulfill their promise and aptly deliver the goods: Lt. Gen. Pacepa and Professor Rychlak describe in eloquent prose and enthralling narrative how the Soviets used disinformation to undermine freedom, attack religion, promote hatred, and incite terrorism, disinformation that has taken on a life of its own since the Cold War — and that continues to this day, propagated by left-wing radicals who hate Western civilization in general and the Catholic Church and America in particular. The authors possess impressive credentials: Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest ranking defector ever to come over to the United States from the intelligence services of the Eastern-Soviet bloc; and Professor Rychlak is a Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi and a noted expert on both the Catholic Church and the life of Pope Pius XII. The collaboration of Lt. Gen. Pacepa and Prof. Rychlak proves to be an awesome combination, providing a forceful narration, an unmitigated exposé of Soviet disinformation and the mendacious and malevolent reverberations that it has spawned and that continue to be propagated to this day.
At the time of his defection in 1978, Lt. Gen. Pacepa was chief of communist Romania’s espionage service and the top advisor to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Ascending the Ladder of Power and an Introduction to Disinformation
Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky created the communist Romanian secret police, the securitate, and when in 1951 young Pacepa was drafted into the Romanian Intelligence Services (DIE), Gen. Sakharovsky became Pacepa’s teacher and his de facto boss. Unbeknownst to the communists, young Pacepa had been influenced by his father, an executive working for the General Motors affiliate in Bucharest, who admired the United States. Young Pacepa followed his father’s ideological footsteps hoping that one day he would come to America and fulfill his father’s dream. In time, with Russia dominating Romanian affairs and continuous communist indoctrination, socialism came to be accepted by the youth of Romania as the salvation of the world. Thus Pacepa came to accept socialism, worked diligently as a student, became a member of the Romanian nomenklatura, and performed his assigned duties — rapidly and effectively climbing the ladder of the Romanian intelligence services.
According to Lt. Gen. Pacepa, disinformation has a very long tradition in Russia, but was developed to a deadly science by the communist leaders of the USSR and the subservient Eastern bloc intelligence services during the 70 years of the Cold War. Pacepa notes that disinformation (dezinformatsiya), which the Russians also called “framing,” can be so effective that it can denigrate an entire nation or create a new man: It can “glorify the guilty or frame the innocent.” In the affairs of nations, it can smear a great country such as the United States by the accumulation of deceitful but believable propaganda, including artfully created forgeries or outright mendacity.
The Assault on the Catholic Church During the Period of Soviet-Nazi Cooperation and Beyond
The attack against religion reached a crescendo under Joseph Stalin. Within the Soviet bloc and the USSR, Stalin literally destroyed thousands of churches, effectively demolished their moral foundation, and subdued what was left of the Russian Orthodox Church. In time, the Orthodox Church’s highest officials would all virtually be co-opted by the KGB.
And yet, Stalin had a problem with the Baltic States, which he had just recently acquired as territorial rewards from the secret protocol of the Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 signed with Nazi Germany. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact not only called for the simultaneous invasion, submission, and division of Poland between Hitler and Stalin, but also virtually ceded the Baltic states to the Soviet Union. These new Baltic nations — i.e., Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — were largely Catholic countries, and harder to control than the subservient Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union. Unfazed, Stalin sent in his henchman and former executioner, Andrey Vyshinsky (1883-1954), to deceive those countries using disinformation. Betrayed and militarily crushed, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were subdued and annexed to the USSR. General Ivan Serov (1905-1990) then used the Soviet military to force the Russification of those formerly independent nations and to suppress Catholicism in the countries. Stalin would not permit Catholicism to compete with the state religions — Soviet communism and Stalinism.
To destroy the Catholic Church elsewhere, Stalin, his successors, and their Eastern bloc minion counterparts attempted to “frame” Catholic prelates in various countries as having been pro-Nazi before and during World War II; this was accomplished with varying degrees of success. Maligned and framed were Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Croatia; Joszef Mindszenty, Roman Catholic Archbishop and primate of Hungary; Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Poland; Cardinal Josef Beran of Czechoslovakia; and Archbishop Josef Slipuj of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. All of these prelates, in fact, had been staunch opponents of both Nazism and communism, and during the holocaust had been protectors of the Jews throughout Europe. Yet all of them were methodically framed as Nazi collaborators because after the war they had also been ardent anti-communists. The campaign of disinformation, framing, and the savage treatment, both mental and physical, suffered by these prelates is discussed in graphic detail in the book, and is worth reading not only to correct the historic record, but also to understand disinformation methodology.
The “Framing” of Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope”
Most fascinating and grueling is the framing of Pope Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” — a framing campaign ordered by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971). The campaign initially failed. Pacepa notes that in their own lifetime Pius XII and some of the other “framed” prelates could not be successfully calumniated (although some suffered mental and physical anguish and sometimes torture and incarceration) because of their well-known saintly lives and documented opposition to Nazism and communism. But disinformation can take on a life of its own in succeeding generations. People who did not know these great figures in their lifetime can be brainwashed by repeated framing and via disinformation and made to believe the lies — glorifying the guilty or hating the innocent.
Over the years, the Soviet disinformation machine turned savagely against the Catholic Church, and in the case of Pope Pius XII, it would be tremendously successful in framing the real pontiff and creating a false Pius XII. The framing of the saintly pope was only possible because in subsequent generations the disinformation lies were taken over and propagated by atheistic, opportunistic, or leftist collaborators. The framing took on a life of its own, and the pontiff — who, more than anyone in the West, fought Nazi propaganda and protected Jews from all over Europe during the holocaust and World War II — remains calumniated. If Stalin had sought to physically erase Catholicism within the Soviet empire, Khrushchev sought to destroy the moral authority of the Vatican and the way of life it supported in the West. Moreover, at the same time by promoting the associated disinformation campaign of anti-Semitism, the Soviets hoped to further divide and cause dissension in the Judeo-Christian world.
And it’s no wonder that the Soviets wanted to frame Pope Pius XII with a huge disinformation campaign. Pacepa and Rychlak wrote Pope Pius XII was at war with the Soviets, and that he “placed the Vatican and Catholicism on a war footing with communism.” President Harry Truman felt that Catholicism was the greatest weapon he could wield against the perverse ideology of communism, and the American president allied himself with the Vatican, seeking the help of Pope Pius XII in containing communism.
The dezinformatsiya operation against Pius XII was ineffective during the pope’s lifetime because the world knew the truth — that Pius XII had fought Nazism and then communism vigorously — but later generations did not. Pius XII was framed as “Hitler’s Pope,” precisely because he condemned communism as much as he condemned Nazism. He went as far as calling communism an evil philosophy and excommunicated Catholics who registered as members of the Communist Party.
Operation Dragon: “Framing” the CIA for the JFK Assassination
Lt. Gen. Pacepa eloquently describes how disinformation went into high gear in the early 1960s as ordered by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964), under the direction of Aleksandr Shelepin, KGB Chairman (1958-1961); Alexei Kirichenko (1908-1975), Politburo member (1957-1960); and General Aleksandr Sakharovsky (1955-1970), head of the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) of the KGB. Once again the disinformation operations were directed to destroy the moral authority of the papacy and to tarnish the reputation of the United States. Corroboration of these operations has been provided by the revelations of the transcript of the Venona intercepts. Included among these major disinformation campaigns was the attempted initial framing of Pope Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” with the debut of the 1963 play, The Deputy.
Equally impressive and even more successful was “Operation Dragon,” the disinformation campaign to frame and discredit the CIA as the culprit in the JFK assassination, and it began later that same year. It claimed that the CIA killed JFK with the support of the military-industrial complex, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was only a patsy, a CIA plant. The KGB wasted no time propagating the JFK assassination disinformation hoax. The book, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? came out in 1963 in record time, and was written by Joachim Joesten, a German Communist Party operative and published by Italian communist Carlo Aldo Morgani — both KGB agents, and both exposed in the Mitrokhin Archives.
Not leaving anything to chance, the first review of Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? was also written by a Soviet agent, the American traitor Victor Perlo, who was an associate of another paid KGB agent, the author and journalist I.F. Stone, who used his writings to help propagate this and various other disinformation campaigns for the Soviets. “Operation Dragon” was astonishingly successful. The purported cause for the conspiracy was that JFK wanted to cut back military spending and reach out to the Soviets. The military-industrial complex, of course, wanted power and profits, what else? All of this material was grist for the conspiracy mill and numerous books were published using pieces from the disinformation machinery. The disinformation campaign reached a zenith in 1991 with the production of Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK — “the most successful KGB dezinformatsiya in Soviet history.”
The Deputy and Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? were so successful that both disinformation operations are still believed by many people all over the world, including people here in the United States. Pope Pius XII was purportedly “Hitler’s Pope,” and Oswald was the patsy in the JFK assassination. New lies continue to be added to the original framing, and the old disinformation stories continue to propagate themselves — as we shall see, just as Soviet leader Yuri Andropov (1914-1984) would later describe them as having lives of their own.
Disinformation, Calumniation and Strategic Deception Propaged by “Respectable” Western Media Sources
According to Lt. Gen. Pacepa, disinformation continues to this day flourishing on its own against the Church, the West, and the United States, and has caused more damage than all the secrets stolen by the Soviets during the Cold War. For example, it is possible the USSR could have won the war if a third world confrontation had broken out with the U.S. during the 1970s and early 1980s because the Soviets possessed our naval codes, which had been given to them by the espionage and treason of John Walker and his spy ring. But the Cold War did not end in nuclear war but in the largely peaceful collapse of the evil Soviet Empire, except in Romania.
On the other hand, the disinformation campaign of hatred against the United States and the West fomented by the Soviets in the Third World (to include the simmering Islamic East) continues to cause protracted and catastrophic damage to the West. This strategic vilification disinformation operation against the West was perfected by Yuri Andropov, KGB Chairman (1967-1982) and later head of the USSR (1982-84). And despite the fall of the Soviet Union, the KGB-inspired hatred of the West and the U.S. fomented by disinformation has not only persisted but grown exponentially, fed by new lies concocted by a variety of leftist sources and die-hard Marxists, many of them in Western institutions and media outlets. This hatred has given rise to such events as the tragic 9-11 attack and al Qaeda, the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban, and the war in Iraq and Syria, and the terrorists of the Islamic Caliphate.
Disinformation, Lt. Gen. Pacepa reveals, consists of altering the past so as to frame countries and political figures in the West. Although the damaging information was fabricated by the Soviet enemy in the past and today continues to be concocted and disseminated by America haters and leftists of all stripes, disinformation continues because it is propagated by the mainstream media. In fact, Pacepa stresses that for the framing to be successful, the “fabrication must come from respected and reputable Western sources,” and there must be “a kernel of truth” centered around the allegations. In the 1970s an anti-Semitic campaign, code-named “Operation Zarathustra,” was ordered by Andropov and put into operation by the KGB in order to create and widen the rift between Christianity and Judaism, defame Catholicism, and cast the West as a racist and anti-Semitic society. To this effect, a series of incidents of vandalism and desecration of synagogues and cemeteries took place in West Germany and France. These heinous acts were perpetrated by agent provocateurs of the Stasi (East German secret police) and the DIE (Romanian intelligence), but they were framed as having been perpetrated by racist Jew haters and antisemites in the West. To create the preparatory climate for the incidents, the KGB carefully reproduced and disseminated the old, hated Tsarist Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. As we shall see later, the fabricated anti-Semitism of the 1970s took on a life of its own, even intensifying in the 21st century, more than a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Liberation Theology: Disinformation for Latin-American Consumption
Another KGB disinformation campaign was the creation of the pseudo-theological movement propounded in 1968 as Liberation Theology, a movement fabricated specifically for consumption in Latin America. The disinformation was created as to infiltrate and radicalize the recalcitrant Latin American peasants, who had not been receptive to communist propaganda. Liberation theology presented a new possibility for raising the socialist conscience of the peasantry. The peasants were interested only in being left alone to work the land and quietly practice their faith in the Roman Catholic religion. In fact in 1967 the indigenous peasants of Bolivia had rejected Che Guevara and his band of communist insurgents, and had even helped with the defeat, capture, and execution of the Argentinean communist adventurer. The communist front, Soviet-controlled World Council of Churches (WCC) decided that liberation theology was the way to reach them by subverting their religion. For example, below is a painting of an icon depicting the militant Jesus of liberation theology imposing social justice through the barrel of the gun.
The peasants were not fooled and remained recalcitrant. The communist insurgencies, which the Soviets called movements of National Liberation, lacking popular support did not fare well in Latin America. The disinformation did not work and was not successful in radicalizing the peasants and converting them to Marxism. The Marxist guerrillas in Guatemala and El Salvador were rejected and defeated in the wake of the Soviet collapse of 1991. Even in Nicaragua, the Marxists lost control after they were drubbed at the polls.
Nevertheless, popularized by the Western press in the 1970s and 1980s, liberation theology became chic with leftists academicians, purportedly as social justice and an economic reform movement stemming from the catechism of the Catholic Church. But the saintly Mother Teresa knew better and rejected the hoax of liberation theology; when asked by a journalist about the term she responded, “Before one goes about correcting the people’s social and political problems, one must first face God.” Reportedly, the journalist was not amused and moved on!
Most of the priests of the WCC were under the control of the communist-controlled Russian Orthodox Church. Ironically, today there is no Soviet Union, but the WCC marches on and remains under the control of modern radical Marxists, who hate America and the churches they claim to serve. The new WCC agenda is to change the course of Christianity and Western civilization, particularly the Catholic Church, and undermine the traditional morality by discrediting the Vatican, disrupting the West, and smearing the United States in the process.
Disinformation and Subversive Communist-Front Organizations
Communist front organizations helped immensely with framing operations and many of them continue to exist and promulgate anti-American propaganda, years after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Consider the story, which has also been described by David Horowitz, of how Ramparts magazine became a pro-Soviet publication in the 1960s, and when it collapsed in 1975 from its ashes sprang Mother Jones, supported by the communist-controlled Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Like the World Peace Council (WPC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), the IPS is still functioning, spewing anti-Americanism, promulgating Marxist propaganda, and fomenting subversion against the United States. On its website, the IPS describes itself more gently as “a progressive think tank dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful society. In partnership with dynamic social movements, we turn transformative policy ideas into action.”
The World Peace Council is today less apologetic; at its website, it describes itself as “an anti-imperialist, democratic, independent and non-aligned international movement of mass action…. Since its creation in 1949-50, the WPC stood for peace, disarmament and global security; for national independence, economic and social justice and development, for protection of the environment, human rights and cultural heritage; solidarity with and support of those peoples and liberation movements fighting for the independence, sovereignty and integrity of their countries, and against imperialism.” The Indian communist Romesh Chandra, who presided over the WPC in its active pro-Soviet communist campaign against the U.S. in the 1970s, was still, as honorary chairman of the WPC, vociferating against “U.S. aggressiveness in the world and globalization,” two decades after the collapse of the USSR. The same WPC that mobilized demonstrations against the United States to serve Soviet interests in the 1970s and 1980s, today still organizes demonstrations to incite hatred and hostilities against America.
As far as the World Council of Churches, it has moderated its image. Yet consider the fact the Patriarch of Moscow since 2009, is the former Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk — a communist KGB asset code-named “Mikhaylov,” the 1971 Russian Patriarchate acting as foreign representative to the WCC; subsequently in 1975 infiltrated by the KGB into its ruling committee. Father Kirill still holds those positions in the leftist WCC, but at least he may now serve as a moderating influence in the other direction. Under Vladimir Putin, the Patriarch has become a fervent Russian nationalist!
Another disinformation operation fortunately failed in its attempt at framing Pope John Paul II, when one of the key operatives got drunk and at a crucial moment the framing operation was ruined.
KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov — Master of Disinformation
As Yuri Andropov preached, disinformation when nurtured properly will take on a life of its own. In 1999, more than 30 years after the initial commotion caused by the performance of The Deputy, a British leftist writer, John Cornwell, published another book calumniating the Vatican. The Secret History of Pius XII, which resurrected the framing of Pope Pius XII, was not based on original sources as claimed but instead on an earlier KGB disinformation book, Carlo’s Falconi’s The Silence of Pius XII, which in turn was based on a forgery concocted by the former communist government of Croatia.
Disinformation feeds on disinformation, but it is only successful with the aid of willing useful idiots or conscious agents and media outlets, which disseminate the counterfeit information in the West. And yet, without respectable media outlets in the West to promulgate the framing deceptions and calumniations, the planned disinformation is only wasted misinformation. Western media sources propagate the disinformation, and frequently they do so with gusto.
In his memoirs Special Tasks, Pavel Sudoplatov, Deputy Chief of Foreign Soviet Intelligence and head of the Thirteenth Department (known as “Wet Affairs,” a euphemism for sabotage and assassination), aptly described the KGB jargon for deceiving the Western media: “ ‘When the ducks are flying’ means that the press is publishing disinformation.”
According to Lt. Gen. Pacepa, in 1972 KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov further described disinformation as follows: “Dezinformatsiya works like cocaine. If you sniff once or twice, it may not change your life. If you use it everyday, though, it will make you into an addict — a different man.” And when Andropov decided to fool President Jimmy Carter by reinventing the hard-line Romanian communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, “into the West’s favorite tyrant,” he applied the cocaine theory. Andropov instructed Pacepa: “We should plant the image of the new Ceausescu in the West as like opium seeds, one by one. And we should water these seeds day after day, until they bear fruit.” In fact, the campaign paid off well, and Ceausescu, one of the most reliable Soviet hardliners, became “a box office success in the West.” The campaign worked out so well that Andropov tried it himself when he became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1982-1984). And so, on his assuming the Soviet leadership and with Andropov’s disinformation planted, the mainstream American media was happy to report that he was fluent in English, urban and well-cultivated, “a witty conversationalist,” etc. In fact, Edward J. Epstein has such a magnificent selection of what was reported by the progressive obliging media that it is worth quoting him at length:
Andropov’s accession to power last November was accompanied by a corresponding ennoblement of his image. Suddenly he became, in The Wall Street Journal, “silver-haired and dapper.” His stature, previously reported in The Washington Post as an unimpressive “five feet, eight inches,” was abruptly elevated to “tall and urbane.” The Times noted that Andropov “stood conspicuously taller than most” Soviet leaders and that “his spectacles, intense gaze and donnish demeanor gave him the air of a scholar.” U.S. News & World Report, on the other hand, reported that “he has notoriously bad eyesight and wears thick spectacles.”
His linguistic abilities also came in for scrutiny. Harrison Salisbury wrote, “The first thing to know about Mr. Andropov is that he speaks and reads English.” Another Times story took note of his “fluent English.” Newsweek reported that even though he had never met a “senior” American official, “he spoke English and relaxed with American novels.” Confirmation of his command of English appeared in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Washington Post. The Economist credited him with “a working knowledge of German,” and U.S. News & World Report added Hungarian to the growing list. And this quadralingual prodigy was skilled in the use of language, too.
The glorifying framing had worked like a charm for Ceausescu virtually until he was toppled and executed along with his wife Elena in 1991. President Jimmy Carter, who actually approved the defection of Lt. Gen. Pacepa, went as far as apologizing to Ceausescu for having granted asylum to Lt. Gen. Pacepa, and later accused the general of being a KGB plant for denouncing and exposing the man, Nicolae Ceausescu, who we now know was a real criminal.
Disinformation — Fomenting Anti-Semitism and Hatred in the Islamic World
If Khrushchev wanted to break and split asunder the Judeo-Christian world, Andropov wanted to destroy it. “Operation Typhoon” also ordered by Andropov aimed at increasing terrorism in Western Europe and culminated with the 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens. While anti-Semitism was promoted by both Khrushchev and Andropov, as noted previously, Zionism was presented as Nazi-style racism. Andropov went farther and ordered the hijacking of Zionist and Western planes, triggering a series of deadly hijackings during the 1970s. The Thirteenth Department (“Wet Affairs”) was responsible for coordination and providing supplies and technology from behind the scene. Terrorism was thus planned and orchestrated by the KGB without being traceable to Moscow; the KGB was happy to let the Palestinian terrorists take full credit.
“Operation SIG” was a disinformation campaign to create hatred in the Islamic nations by propounding that America was a hated Zionist country, which wanted to dominate the world and turn it into a “Jewish fiefdom.” As we have seen, the KGB not only spread the disinformation with the forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but also had the book translated into Arabic and added documentary evidence. Hundreds of thousands of copies were disseminated in the Arab and Islamic world to sow hatred and inspire terrorism against the West.
With this background we can explain such heinous acts as the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the hostage crisis that followed, the Beirut barracks bombing of 1983, and many of the worst terrorist acts that have taken place since the 1970s, up to the catastrophic 9-11 tragedy in New York City and beyond. Thousands of Muslims celebrated worldwide in the streets of various cities the worse catastrophe to befall the United States ever, the 9-11 tragedy. Islamic jubilation at such a barbaric act! But such was the intense and grotesque hostility generated by framing the United States — the seeds of disinformation planted back in the 1970s by the Soviets and continuing to germinate with the aid of enemies of freedom and sundry America haters — almost two decades after the collapse of the evil empire of Soviet communism.
Disinformation — Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013) by Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald J. Rychlak is a revealing and eloquent book that requires greater dissemination and should be required reading by sober citizens of all civilized nations.
Written by Dr. Miguel Faria
Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is a retired clinical professor of neurosurgery and long time medical editor. He is the author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His website is http://www.haciendapub.com
This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Disinformation — Strategic deception to undermine the Church, the West, and the United States as revealed by Romanian defector Ion Mihai Pacepa. HaciendaPublishing.com, June 5, 2017. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/disinformation-strategic-deception-to-undermine-the-church-the-west-and-the-united-states-as-revealed-by-romanian-defector-ion-mihai-pacepa-by-miguel-a-faria-md/
A version of this article was published in GOPUSA.com on June 7, 2017 (Part 1) and June 23, 1917 (Part 2).
Copyright ©2017 Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D.