This is an extended book review of “Disinformation — Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism” (2013) by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Prof. 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. Lt. Gen. Pacepa and Prof. Rychlak describe in this book 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 continues to this day, propagated by left-wing radicals who hate Western civilization in general and the Catholic Church and America in particular.
Pacepa is the highest ranking defector ever to come over to the United States from the intelligence services of the Eastern-Soviet bloc and 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. At the time of his defection in 1978, Pacepa was chief of communist Romania’s espionage service and the top advisor to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
An introduction to disinformation
Soviet Gen. Aleksandr Sakharovsky created the communist Romanian secret police, the securitate, and when in 1951 young Pacepa was drafted into the Romanian Intelligence Services, 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 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
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. Gen. 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 minions 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 historical 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 that 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, 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
According to 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, 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 anti-Semites 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.
In the concluding Part 2 of this article, we will discuss Lt. Gen. Pacepa’s revelations about the basis for disinformation in creating the liberation theology movement, communist front organizations (still functioning today in the West and the U.S.), the orchestration of anti-America demonstrations, the fomenting of hatred in the Third World, and the incitement of Islamic terrorism against the West and the United States.
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.