By ION MIHAI PACEPA
August 7, 2007; Page A11
During last week's two-day summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
thanked President Bush for leading the global war on terror. Mr. Brown
acknowledged "the debt the world owes to the U.S. for its leadership in this
fight against international terrorism" and vowed to follow Winston Churchill's
lead and make Britain's ties with America even stronger.
Mr. Brown's statements elicited anger from many of Mr. Bush's domestic
detractors, who claim the president concocted the war on terror for personal
gain. But as someone who escaped from communist Romania -- with two death
sentences on his head -- in order to become a citizen of this great country, I
have a hard time understanding why some of our top political leaders can dare in
a time of war to call our commander in chief a "liar," a "deceiver" and a "fraud."
I spent decades scrutinizing the U.S. from Europe, and I learned that
international respect for America is directly proportional to America's own
respect for its president.
My father spent most of his life working for General Motors in Romania and
had a picture of President Truman in our house in Bucharest. While "America" was
a vague place somewhere thousands of miles away, he was her tangible symbol. For
us, it was he who had helped save civilization from the Nazi barbarians, and it
was he who helped restore our freedom after the war -- if only for a brief while.
We learned that America loved Truman, and we loved America. It was as simple as
Later, when I headed Romania's intelligence station in West Germany, everyone
there admired America too. People would often tell me that the "Amis" meant the
difference between night and day in their lives. By "night" they meant East
Germany, where their former compatriots were scraping along under economic
privation and Stasi brutality. That was then.
But in September 2002, a German cabinet minister, Herta Dauebler-Gmelin, had
the nerve to compare Mr. Bush to Hitler. In one post-Iraq-war poll 40% of
Canada's teenagers called the U.S. "evil," and even before the fall of Saddam
57% of Greeks answered "neither" when asked which country was more democratic,
the U.S. or Iraq.
Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president
was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the
years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is
regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only
the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified
their own ruler -- as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad,
they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything
in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.
The communist effort to generate hatred for the American president began soon
after President Truman set up NATO and propelled the three Western occupation
forces to unite their zones to form a new West German nation. We were tasked to
take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European
countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred
for Hitler over into hatred for Truman -- the leader of the new "occupation
power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its
freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They
were like putty in our hands.
The European leftists, like any totalitarians, needed a tangible enemy, and
we gave them one. In no time they began beating their drums decrying President
Truman as the "butcher of Hiroshima." We went on to spend many years and many
billions of dollars disparaging subsequent presidents: Eisenhower as a war-mongering
"shark" run by the military-industrial complex, Johnson as a mafia boss who had
bumped off his predecessor, Nixon as a petty tyrant, Ford as a dimwitted
football player and Jimmy Carter as a bumbling peanut farmer. In 1978, when I
left Romania for good, the bloc intelligence community had already collected 700
million signatures on a "Yankees-Go-Home" petition, at the same time launching
the slogan "Europe for the Europeans."
During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world,
pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers
to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut
off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They
were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their
own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived
this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more
willing to believe smut than holiness.
The final goal of our anti-American offensive was to discourage the U.S. from
protecting the world against communist terrorism and expansion. Sadly, we
succeeded. After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious
communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Another million tried to escape, but many died in the attempt. This tragedy also
created a credibility gap between America and the rest of the world, damaged the
cohesion of American foreign policy, and poisoned domestic debate in the U.S.
Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook.
At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued
our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley,
now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried
about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda. On another
occasion, retired four-star general Wesley Clark gave Michael Moore a platform
to denounce the American commander in chief as a "deserter." And visitors to the
national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting
the American president surrounded by the words, "Give Bush the Boot."
Competition is indeed the engine that has driven the American dream forward,
but unity in time of war has made America the leader of the world. During World
War II, 405,399 Americans died to defeat Nazism, but their country of immigrants
remained sturdily united. The U.S. held national elections during the war, but
those running for office entertained no thought of damaging America's
international prestige in their quest for personal victory. Republican
challenger Thomas Dewey declined to criticize President Roosevelt's war policy.
At the end of that war, a united America rebuilt its vanquished enemies. It took
seven years to turn Nazi Germany and imperial Japan into democracies, but that
effort generated an unprecedented technological explosion and 50 years of
unmatched prosperity for us all.
Now we are again at war. It is not the president's war. It is America's war,
authorized by 296 House members and 76 senators. I do not intend to join the
armchair experts on the Iraq war. I do not know how we should handle this war,
and they don't know either. But I do know that if America's political leaders,
Democrat and Republican, join together as they did during World War II, America
will win. Otherwise, terrorism will win. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi predicted just
before being killed: "We fight today in Iraq, tomorrow in the land of the Holy
Places, and after there in the West."
On July 28, I celebrated 29 years since President Carter signed off on my
request for political asylum, and I am still tremendously proud that the leader
of the Free World granted me my freedom. During these years I have lived here
under five presidents -- some better than others -- but I have always felt that
I was living in paradise. My American citizenship has given me a feeling of
pride, hope and security that is surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive.
There are millions of other immigrants who are equally proud that they restarted
their lives from scratch in order to be in this magnanimous country. I appeal to
them to help keep our beloved America united and honorable. We may not be able
to change the habits of our current political representatives, but we may be
able to introduce healthy new blood into the U.S. Congress.
For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts.
Let's return to the traditions of presidents who accepted nothing short of
unconditional surrender from our deadly enemies. Let's vote next year for people
who believe in America's future, not for the ones who live in the Cold War past.
Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have
defected from the Soviet bloc. His new book, "Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey
Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination" (Ivan R. Dee) will be
published in November.
Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever
to have defected from the Soviet bloc country of Romania. The CIA
described his cooperation as "an important and unique contribution
to the United States."
Who Is Raúl Castro?
A tyrant only a brother could love.
National Review August 10, 2006
By Ion Mihai Pacepa
Fidel Castro may be on his deathbed. Or he's already gone.
Unfortunately, in the Communist countries of Latin heritage, the tyrants came
pairs - buy one, get one free. Communist Romania got Nicolae and Elena
Ceausescu. Cuba got Fidel and Raúl Castro. On Christmas Day 1989 the Romanians
themselves of both Ceausescus, and twelve years later Romania joined NATO.
Cuba will soon be left with one Castro, who is heir to the throne.
So who is Raúl Castro? While Western experts speculate that he may plan on
shifting Cuba toward collective leadership and democracy, that's nothing but
wishful thinking. To be sure, I wish they were right, but Raúl has transformed
a paradise on earth into a shambles, and there is good reason to believe that
he will turn Cuba into an even worse tyranny.
I met Raúl many times, both in Cuba and in Romania. He had coordinating responsibility
for the Cuban intelligence service (the Dirección General de Inteligencia, or
DGI), and in the early 1970s he entered into a drug venture with my former
service (the Departamentul de Informatii Externe ,or DIE). Whenever he was not
in Havana or Moscow, he was in Bucharest. We worked, talked, fished, and
snorkeled together. We challenged each other at the firing range; he was an
excellent shot. Together we raced our identical Alfa Romeo cars. I saw nothing
in him suggesting he might ever want to democratize Cuba.
Raúl was always under the influence -of alcohol and self-importance. My Cuban
intelligence counterpart in those days, Sergio del Valle, who was Raúl's
closest associate going back to their early days in the Sierra Maestra, used
to call his boss "Raúl the Terrible" in a semi-serious allusion to the first
Russian to crown himself tsar. Raúl was Cuba's uncrowned tsar - his official
title was "Maximum General." Fidel gave the speeches, hour after hour. Raúl
ran Cuba's economy, her foreign policy, her foreign trade, her justice system,
her jails, her tourism - even her hotels and her beaches.
Raúl is generally perceived as a colorless minister of defense, but he has also
been the brutal head of one of Communism's most criminal institutions: the
Cuban political police. I met him in that capacity. He was cruel and ruthless.
Fidel may have conceived the terror that has kept Cuba in the Communist fold,
but Raúl has been the butcher. He has been
instrumental in the killing and terrorizing of thousands of Cubans, and there
is no question
in my mind but that he would fight tooth and nail to preserve his powers. Otherwise,
sooner or later Raúl would have to account for his crimes, and I do not know
him to be suicidal.
Before meeting Raúl in the flesh, I had gotten a general picture of him from Nikita
Khrushchev and General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the creator of Communist
Romania's intelligence structure, and by this time head of the Soviet foreign
intelligence service, the PGU (Pervoye Glavnoye Upravleniye). That was in
1959. Both Soviets had arrived in Bucharest on October
26 for what was billed as a "six-day vacation in Romania." Never before had Khrushchev
taken such a long vacation abroad, but neither was his visit to Romania a
vacation. He was there to discuss the on-going Cuban revolution with the
current Romanian leader, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, until then the only Communist
tyrant ruling a country of Latin heritage.
Khrushchev dreamed of going down in history as the Soviet leader who had installed
Communism on the American continent, and he was prepared to go to any lengths
to see that dream come true. But Khrushchev did not trust Fidel, believing he
was a stranger to Marxism. The leaders of Cuba's Communist party were
convinced that Fidel was a dangerous adventurer, and the Soviet party
bureaucracy was also reluctant to endorse him.
Khrushchev did trust Raúl, though. According to Sakharovsky, who had secretly
brought Raúl to Moscow in the mid-1950s, it had been love at first sight. Both
Nikita and Raúl loved vodka. Both were fascinated with Marxism. Both hated
school, religion, and discipline. Both considered themselves military experts.
Both were obsessed with espionage and
counterespionage. And both liked to sleep with their boots on. Sakharovsky
the "warm relationship" between the two men to have convinced Khrushchev to throw
himself entirely into the Cuban revolution.
At Khrushchev's order, Sakharovsky had given Raúl an intelligence adviser: Nikolay
Leonov, the PGU's best expert on Latin America. Leonov (today a retired KGB
lieutenant general and member of the Duma) provided Raúl with intelligence on
the military forces of the then Cuban dictator, Batista, and helped Raúl plan
his guerrilla war. In June 1957, Leonov gave him
documents and photographs showing that Washington was providing weapons and
logistical support to Batista, and he suggested that Raúl take a few dozen Americans
hostage to force Eisenhower to withdraw from the conflict. Raúl did so. On June
26, 1958, his guerrilleros kidnapped fifty American and Canadian military and
civilian personnel working in Cuba. Fearing for the lives of the hostages,
Batista declared a cease-fire. That enabled the
Soviets to bring new weapons into Cuba.
The course of the Cuban revolution was changed forever. The era of political kidnappings
was also introduced.
On the night of December 31, 1958, Batista fled Cuba, and the Castro brothers
took over the country. During the following month, Raúl organized the
execution of hundreds of police and military officials of the Batista regime.
The prisoners were shot and the corpses buried in mass graves outside of
Santiago de Cuba.
A year later, Soviet deputy premier Anastas Mikoyan landed in Havana. He was welcomed
by Fidel, Raúl, and the country's new KGB adviser, Aleksandr Shitov. The
latter's task was to help Raúl create a Cuban KGB and a Soviet-style army. In
1962 Khrushchev took the unprecedented step of appointing Shitov as ambassador
to Cuba. Soon, Moscow started secretly building rocket bases in Cuba.
Khrushchev, Raúl, and Shitov - not Fidel - pushed the world to the brink of nuclear
In April 1971 I visited Cuba as a member of a Romanian government delegation attending
a ten-year celebration of Castro's victory at the Bay of Pigs. A couple of
days after the ceremony, Raúl invited me to go ocean fishing on his boat,
together with Sergio del Valle. The other guest was a Soviet civilian who
introduced himself as Aleksandr Alekseyev. "That's Shitov," del Valle
whispered into my ear. "He's now Allende's advisor." (The Marxist
Salvador Allende had been elected president of Chile the previous November.) There,
on that boat, it hit me more clearly than ever before that it was Raúl, not
Fidel, who was holding the reins of the Cuban revolutionary wagon.
In 1972 I prepared an official Ceausescu visit to Havana, and I was also at his
right hand during it. Fidel was the figurehead, Raúl the factotum. The Cuban
first lady was not Fidel's wife, but Raúl's. Elena Ceausescu wrinkled up her
nose at that, but eventually the two first ladies hit it off splendidly. Both
Elena and Vilma Espín Guilloys were school dropouts, both
pretended to be chemists, both had acquired phony doctoral degrees, both had joined
the Communist party before it had come to power in their countries, both
became members of the Council of State, and both were presidents of their
countries' Federation of Women organizations.
During that visit, the Castro brothers and Ceausescu laid the foundation for a
bilateral drug venture. They wanted to flood the world with drugs. "Drugs could
do a lot more damage to imperialism than nuclear weapons could," Fidel pontificated.
"Drugs will erode capitalism from the inside," Raúl agreed. I never heard the
word "money" pronounced, but I was already administering the money Romania was
making from its own drug trafficking. All of it
was going into Ceausescu's personal bank account. By 1978, when I left Romania
for good, that account, called AT-78, held a balance of some $400 million -
in spite of the substantial dents Elena made in it when she bought furs and jewelry
In 2005, Fidel was furious when Forbes Magazine estimated his fortune at $500
million. This year, the magazine upped his worth to $900 million. Particularly
in view of Cuba's penury, this amount is surely more than enough for Raúl to
bribe his political cronies and buy any new allies he needs.
In 1973 I spent a "working vacation" in Havana. Raúl gave me a tour of a huge
factory manufacturing double-walled suitcases and other concealment devices
for secretly transporting arms and explosives for terrorist purposes. By then
Raúl's DGI was working around the clock to expand Cuba's political influence
in South America and the Third World. In particular, they were striving to
consolidate the Sandinistas' power in Nicaragua, to
foment a bloody war in El Salvador, and to help the Soviet/Cuban-backed MPLA
(Movement for the Liberation of Angola) to rise to power in Angola. Raúl's DGI
and his military also had advisers and instructors in Palestine Liberation
Organization bases and had established close cooperation with Libya, South
Yemen, and the Polisario Front for the Liberation of Western Sahara. In the
mid-1970s my DIE was working jointly with Raúl's DGI to support the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist, anti-American
insurgency organization whose task was to spread Communism to South America.
In December 1974 Raúl came to Bucharest to request intelligence and political
support for his new National Liberation Directorate (DNL), a party/intelligence
group tasked to coordinate Cuba's guerrilla and terrorist training camps and
to prop up national liberation movements and
anti-American governments such as those of Nicaragua and Grenada. He got both.
Of course I no longer have inside access to information about Raúl's export of
terrorism and revolution, but I note that in 2001 his FARC took credit for 197
killings in Colombia. On April 11, 2002, the same FARC kidnapped 13 Colombian
lawmakers from a government building in Cali and held Colombian presidential
candidate Ingrid Betancourt hostage. On February 13,
2003, FARC shot down a CIA plane carrying out electronic intelligence-gathering
in southern Colombia, taking three CIA officers hostage. Now Raúl's FARC is seeking
to overthrow the pro-American government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe,
whose father was assassinated by FARC in 1983. I also note that the Communist
president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who idolizes the Castro brothers, has
threatened to stop exporting oil to the U.S. and intends to start a
conventional war against neighboring Colombia, the main U.S. ally in the
Neither within Cuba nor in the outside world does anyone have a clear picture
of Fidel's health - physical or political. Yet perhaps there is something else
going on there that Raúl may have learned from his KGB masters. Leonid
Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982, but the KGB chairman, Yury Andropov,
managed for a few days to keep his death secret from
the public, to gain time for maneuvering himself into the driver's seat. Once settled
into the Kremlin, the cynical Andropov hastened to portray himself to the West
as a "moderate" Communist and a sensitive, warm, Western-oriented man who
allegedly enjoyed an occasional drink of scotch, liked to read English novels,
and loved listening to American jazz and the music of Beethoven. Andropov was
none of the above.
Raúl may try to also portray himself as a peace-loving angel. But Andropov's age
of secrecy is gone. I pray that others who know Raúl as well as I knew Ceausescu
will come forward and disrobe the Cuban tyrant, allowing the world to see him
naked, the way he truly is: an assassin and international terrorist who made a
fortune from the illegal sale of arms, drugs,
and human beings.
Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking official ever to
have defected from the former Soviet bloc. On Christmas Day of 1989, Ceausescu
and his wife were sentenced to death at the end of a trial where most of the
accusations had come almost word-for-word out of Pacepa's book Red Horizons.