In a gripping interview with Blaze Books in connection with his most-recent title, “Disinformation“, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence officer to ever defect, Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa provided his insights on a wide array of topics, from Putin’s Russia to the disinformation campaign to rebrand Pope Pius XII to “Hitler’s Pope” to the links between Leftism and anti-Semitism to the Boston bombing, and all things in-between.

Below is our interview, which was conducted via email. It has been abridged for readability. All citations are courtesy of Lt. Gen. Pacepa.

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Communist imagery during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. (Image source: Twitter user @Bachscore)

Playing devil’s advocate here, some might argue that since the Soviet Union was defeated, Americans shouldn’t care about a book on Soviet disinformation tactics. What would you say to these people?

Pacepa: The very idea that the Soviet Union was defeated is disinformation in itself. The Soviet Union changed its name and dropped its façade of Marxism, but it remained the same samoderzhaviye, the historical Russian form of autocracy in which a tsar is running the country with the help of his political police.

During the Soviet Union, the KGB was a state within the state. Now the KGB is the state. Over 6,000 former KGB officers are running Russia’s federal and local governments. The Soviet Union had one KGB officer for every 428 citizens. In 2004, Russia had one FSB officer for every 297 citizens.

During the Soviet Union, the KGB was a state within the state. Now the KGB is the state.
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How would you describe today’s Russia?

Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history. It is a brand new form of totalitarianism, which we are not yet familiar with. Now the KGB, rechristened FSB, is openly running Russia.

On Sept. 11, 2002, hordes of former KGB officers gathered in Moscow at the Lubyanka—the headquarters of the old and new KGB. They had not congregated to sympathize with America’s national tragedy of the previous year, but to celebrate the 125th birthday of Feliks Dzerzhinsky—the man who created the most criminal institution in contemporary history. One of my former bosses, KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny, groused to a crowd: “I think a goal was set to destroy the KGB, to make it toothless.”[1] A few days later, Moscow’s mayor, Yury Lushkov, one of Russia’s most influential politicians, reversed himself by saying he now wanted to restore Dzerzhinsky’s statue to its place on Lubyanka Square.

It will not be easy to break Russia’s five-century-old tradition of being a police state. Nevertheless, man would not have learned to walk on the moon had he not first studied what the moon was really made of and where it lay in the universe. This is one reason we wrote “Disinformation.” Let’s hope a new generation of Russians will learn the truth, and will give that immense country a new national identity.

What would you hope is the primary takeaway for readers from your book?

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Title: Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism

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Pacepa: That Marxism and its earthly Socialism are immense disinformation operations, and that all they have left behind is former Marxist countries that ended up looking like trailer camps hit by a hurricane, and leaders roasting in Dante’s Inferno. That all Marxists who have ever risen to lead a country have ended up in hell—all, from Trotsky to Stalin, Tito to Enver Hoxha to Mátyás Rakosi, Sékou Touré, Nyeree and Hugo Chavez. That all had their days of temporary glory, but that all ended in eternal disgrace. Some, like Khrushchev and Ceausescu, were even found unworthy of having their final resting place marked by any gravestone. A few remnants, like Fidel and Raul Castro, are still hanging on, but they certainly have a place in hell reserved and waiting for them.

Perhaps our book may also help President Obama abandon his craving for Marx’s utopian ideology, “to each according to his need,” which is transforming the United States into a decaying socialist country in all but name.

In your book you discuss the decades-long disinformation campaign against Pope Pius XII, who was ultimately branded (quite wrongly) by some as “Hitler’s Pope” for his actions during World War II. Can you explain why the Soviets and their allies were so concerned with smearing and discrediting him?

All Marxists who have ever risen to lead a country have ended up in hell…from Trotsky to…Chavez
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Pacepa: On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany capitulated to the Allies, which now included the Soviet Union. Once denied diplomatic relations with most of the Free World, Stalin joined the exclusive victors’ club. He was (unsuccessfully) nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was ready to take on the world. There was, however, one more enemy he wanted to defeat: Pope Pius XII, who equated communism with Nazism and issued a “Decree against Communism” which excommunicated all Catholics who joined the Communist Party or collaborated with communist organizations.

Pius XII’s “Decree against Communism” was the largest excommunication in the history of the Catholic Church. That was unacceptable to the man who had become the Soviet Union’s only god—at whose order 168,300 Russian Orthodox clergy had been arrested during the purges of 1936–1938 alone, 100,000 of whom had been shot. Stalin could not arrest Pius XII, but he could change his past to make him look as an enemy of the new, post-World War II world.

The…worst…damage…to the Free World has been caused by the Kremlin’s disinformation operations
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There is a widespread belief that the worst damage from Soviet/Russian intelligence operations against the West has been the theft of highly classified secrets, such as the technology for the atom bomb. Not so. The absolutely worst—and often irreparable—damage done to the Free World has been caused by the Kremlin’s disinformation operations designed to change the past…In 1978, when I broke with communism, I left in my office safe a slip of paper on which Gen. Sakharovsky had scrawled: “Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo.” (A drop makes a hole in a stone not by force but by constant dripping.) That Latin saying, Sakharovsky explained, encapsulated the whole concept of disinformation and framing. Lying next to it was Mao Zedong’s version: “A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth.”

The Kremlin’s repeated lie that Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope has become the “truth”—a lie so firmly established against all evidence to the contrary, that for most educated people who have not looked closely at the subject, there seems nothing to discuss.

You dedicated a significant part of the book to the connection between the Soviet framing of Pius XII and the current international terrorism. Could you synthesize that part here?

Pacepa: On the face of it, there may seem to be no connection between the framing of Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” and international terrorism. However, for someone who was sitting atop the former Soviet bloc’s intelligence pyramid at a time when both movements were born, there is a strong correlation.

Both the framing of the pope and the threat of international terrorism were born at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB. Both grew out of the Kremlin’s anti-Semitism and its addiction to framing people and countries. And both were intended to slander and undermine the faith of the Judeo-Christian world, while at the same time driving a wedge between Jews and Christians.

That brings me to the crux of the matter. Anti-Semitism has always generated terrorism.

Anti-Semitism has always generated terrorism.
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In the wake of the Boston bombing, the Russians made a very public effort to turn over evidence they had on the Tsarnaevs’ radicalization and Russian commitment to cooperating with U.S. authorities on counter-terrorism. Do you believe there are any ulterior motives at play?

Pacepa: Absolutely. One of Putin’s main objectives since he installed himself in the Kremlin has been to reset Russia’s image as a world power. His first public success was Hillary Clinton, whose policy toward Russia was indeed called “Reset”—erroneously translated by the State Department as “Peregruzka” which means “overcharged.” Next, Putin “solved” the “mystery” of the Boston bombing. His message: If Washington had just acted on Moscow’s generous tip about the Tsarnaevs’ terrorist connection, the whole Boston tragedy would have been avoided. On Sept. 11 2013, the New York Times published an op-ed signed by Putin, in which he bitterly criticized our policy toward Syria. Soon after that, Putin took over our policy toward Syria—and in the process he saved the skin of one of his closest allies, Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad.

It seems that now Putin is going to also take over our foreign policy toward Egypt. The Obama administration threw President Mubarak, our most reliable Arab ally in the Middle East, under the bus, and is now further alienating Egypt by condemning its military coup that dethroned president Mohamed Morsi, who tried to transform Egypt into a fief of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. The Sunday Times of London predicted Putin may soon be visiting Cairo, where he “would likely get a warm, if not rapturous reception, both in government and on the street.”

One of the bombshells in your book is on the fact that the Soviets under Andropov had a dedicated plan to radicalize the Islamic world against the West generally and Israel specifically. Can you elaborate on this strategy, and in your view has it been effective?

Pacepa: In 1972, during a breakfast in his office, KGB chairman Andropov told me that “our” disinformation machinery should ignite a campaign aimed at transforming Arab anti-Semitism into an anti-American doctrine for the whole Muslim world. The idea was to portray the United States as a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money and run by a rapacious “Council of the Elders of Zion” (the KGB’s derisive epithet for the U.S. Congress), the aim of which was to transform the rest of the world into a Jewish fiefdom. Andropov made the point that one billion adversaries could cause far greater damage than could a mere 150 million.

The KGB boss described the Muslim world as a waiting petri dish, in which we could nurture a strain of hate-America. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism and victimology. We had only to keep repeating, over and over, that the United States was a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money, with the goal of taking over the whole world.

The KGB community threw millions of dollars and thousands of people into that gigantic project, as described in our book.

The grisly decapitation…of…Daniel Pearl in 2002 symbolizes Andropov’s legacy.
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…The grisly decapitation and dismembering of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 symbolizes Andropov’s legacy. The mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, gruesomely mur­dered Pearl because he was an American Jew. The Kremlin’s continued silence about the framing of Pius XII, who was politically decapitated in part because he had protected the Jews, symbolizes another Andropov legacy.

Given the spread of progressivism and dominance of cultural Marxism in the West, did the West win the Cold War?

Pacepa: The Cold War is indeed over, but, unlike other wars, that one did not end with the defeated enemy throwing down his weapons. In spite of the press coverage given to its nuclear competition, the Cold War was in fact waged primarily for the purpose of conquering minds, and it seems that the loser’s mindset cannot be changed from one day to the next…

The Cold War was in fact waged primarily for the purpose of conquering minds
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Is it too far-fetched to suggest that this post-Cold War Russia calls up the hypothetical image of a postwar Germany being run by former Gestapo officers, who reinstate Hitler’s “Deutschland Über Alles” as national anthem, call the demise of Nazi Germany a “national tragedy on an enormous scale,” and invade a neighboring country, perhaps Poland, the way Hitler set off World War II?

You discuss in your book the fact that the word glasnost was perverted from its original meaning. Can you elaborate on this?

Pacepa: All of the Western media and most of the Western “experts,” even in intelligence and defense establishments, believe that Gorbachev invented the word glasnost to describe his proclaimed effort to lead the Soviet Union “out of its totalitarian state and to democracy, to freedom, to openness.” So does the committee that gave Gorbachev the Nobel Peace Prize. The venerable Encyclopedia Britannica defines glasnost as: “Soviet policy of open discussion of political and social issues. It was instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s and began the democratization of the Soviet Union.”[2] Merriam-Webster agrees.[3] And the American Heritage Dictionary defines Gorbachev’s glasnost as “an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings.”[4]

Glasnost was a[n]…instrument…to embellish the stature of a leader, not a catchword for openness
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But for those of us who once led the Soviet bloc intelligence community, glasnost was a dezinformatsiya instrument used to embellish the stature of a leader, not a catchword for openness, as it has lately become known to the rest of the world. Glasnost was not invented by Gorbachev and it does not mean openness. Glasnost is an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image.

In the mid 1930s—half a century before Gorbachev’s glasnost—the official Soviet encyclopedia defined the word glasnost as a spin on news released to the public: “Dostupnost obshchestvennomy obsuzhdeniyu, kontrolyu; publichnost,” meaning, the quality of being made available for public discussion or control.[5] In other words, glasnost meant, literally, publicizing, i.e., self-promotion.

Since the 16th century’s Ivan the Terrible, all that country’s leaders have used glasnost to promote themselves inside and outside the country. [Goes on to describe history, and picks up in the 1950s]

…At that time, I was already a Soviet bloc intelligence officer. I was, however, not yet aware that a Marxist tyrant’s image was so important that the despot would go to any lengths, even to the point of killing and imprisoning millions, rewriting history, manipulating religion, destroying institutions, and changing traditions, all in an effort to beatify himself—or to demonize his competitors and enemies.

You mention in your book that the KGB had significantly more agents dedicated to penetrating Western institutions and propagandizing therein, than it had traditional intelligence-gathering agents. Why were KGB resources allocated this way?

During the Cold War, disinformation and glasnost were a lot more important…than stealing secrets.
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Pacepa: During the Cold War, disinformation and glasnost were a lot more important for the KGB community than stealing secrets. Sakharovsky used to preach that, to use a mundane figure of speech, one might compare old-fashioned, classical espionage with a pickpocket’s snatch.  If the deed was discovered, the result would be painful but normally not life-threatening for the victim; however, most of the time it would not even be noticed. Classical espionage, like picking pockets, was an accumulation of one-time thefts. Our disinformation and glasnost techniques, on the other hand, were a continuous process, conceived to invade people’s minds and consciences and there to put down roots. That was the future. That was going to open up a whole new era in the history of communist foreign intelligence.

In your book you described the KGB’s Operation “Ares.” Let’s talk about it.

Pacepa: …Andropov was convinced that the war in Vietnam provided a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make Europe fear America’s military terror and instill discord between the Old Continent and its own leader at that time, the United States.

Operation “Ares” started in 1965, when the KGB transformed the vitriolic anti-American international Conference on Vietnam into an international organization, colloquially called the Stockholm Conference, and staffed it with undercover officers of the Soviet bloc foreign intelligence services—including the DIE. The Stockholm Conference also received an average of 15 million dollars yearly, delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars in order to hide their origin.[6]

[T]he anti-Vietnam…protesters…came to regard their own government, not communism, as the enemy
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Our book details this KGB disinformation operation. Here I will only note that “Ares” did indeed change the United States, just as Andropov predicted. By 1968, the anti-Vietnam War protesters in the U.S. numbered almost seven million. They came to regard their own government, not communism, as the enemy.[7]

In 1972, I had a long discussion with Andropov about this operation in his dark, cavernous KGB office, which breathed secrecy from every inch of its thick walls, just as his “Ares” did. “Our ‘Ares’ turned America against her own government,” Andropov started off in his soft voice. It damaged America’s foreign policy consensus, poisoned her domestic debate, and built a credibility gap between America and European public opinion that was wide and deep. Now all we had to do was to continue planting the seeds of “Ares” and water them day after day after day. Eventually, American leftists would seize upon our “Ares” and would start pursuing it of their own accord. In the end, our original involvement would be forgotten, and “Ares” would take on a life of its own. That was how human nature worked, Andropov explained. Our “Ares” would change America forever.

…How did our venerable American sense of patriotism arrive at this point? [i.e. anti-war sentiment in Democratic Party during the GW Bush Administration]

…Sen. Joseph Lieberman said, explaining the problem in a nutshell on May 27, 2008. “Now, the Democratic Party sees America as the main danger to the world’s peace. The Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemies because we had provoked them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America’s fault.[8]

Sen. Lieberman was right on the money, but he knew only one side of the coin. The huge KGB disinformation and glasnost effort is the other side.

During the Cold War, more people in the Soviet bloc worked for various “Ares” operations than for the Soviet army and defense industry put together. The bloc’s intelligence community alone had well over one million officers and several million informants around the world. All were involved in deceiving the West—and their own people—or in supporting this effort. To them should be added the vast number of people working for the international disinformation organizations that the KGB secretly created.

In your view what is the best way to fight against Leftist disinformation?

Pacepa: By revealing the truth…Your Blaze and Glenn Beck’s tremendous power of persuasion could change night into day. Together you could also persuade the American public, administration and Congress to take another look at President Truman’s NSC 68/1950.

That National Security Council report did not blame videos or books for the Cold War’s ideological and terrorist attacks against the United States. That down-to-earth, 58-page document described the challenges facing the United States in realistic terms. “The issues that face us are momentous,” NSC 68/1950 stated, “involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself.”[9]

Therefore, NSC 68/1950 contained a two-pronged political strategy: superior military power and a “Campaign of Truth,” defined as “a struggle, above all else, for the minds of men.” Truman argued that the propaganda used by the “forces of imperialistic communism” could be overcome only by the “plain, simple, unvarnished truth.”[10] The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberation (soon to become Radio Liberty) became part of Truman’s “Campaign of Truth.”[11]

Romania’s second post-communist president, Emil Constantinescu, summed it all up:

Radio Free Europe has been a lot more important than the armies and the most sophisticated missiles. The ‘missiles’ that destroyed Communism were launched from Radio Free Europe, and this was Washington’s most important investment during the Cold War. I don’t know whether the Americans themselves realize this now, seven years after the fall of Communism, but we understand it perfectly well.[12]

You talk at length about the anti-Semitism that underpinned and animated much of the Leftist attack on the West, including in the media through plays such as “The Deputy.” Why is it that Leftism and Jew-hatred have gone hand in hand?

Pacepa: Most leftists are totalitarians, and totalitarianism (what we now innocuously call the “nanny state”) always requires a tangible enemy. The Jews, who were not protected by the power of a state, proved a convenient enemy for both leftist and rightist totalitarians…

[After describing history of anti-Semitic ideas] These anti-Semitic ideas were soon embodied in one of the most resilient pieces of disinformation in history: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, forged by Tsar Alexander III’s political police, the Okhrana.[13] To disguise its hand, the Okhrana claimed it to be the minutes of the first Zionist Congress (1897 in Basel, Switzerland), at which the Jews had allegedly plotted to take over the world. The Protocols was compiled by the Okhrana to compromise the new generation of Jewish intellectuals who wanted to modernize the country.

The author of the Protocols was Petr Ivanovich Rachovsky, an Okhrana disinformation expert assigned to France, who had been inspired by the wave of anti-Semitism aroused by the Dreyfus controversy.[14] Rachovsky lifted most of his text from an obscure 1864 French satire called Dialogue aux Enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (“Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu”), written by Maurice Joly and accusing Emperor Napoleon III of plotting to seize all the powers in French society.

I once saw both original documents in the KGB archive. Rachovsky had done nothing more than substitute the words the world for France and the Jews for Napoleon III. In 1921, the Times of London published a devastating exposure of the forgery by printing extracts from the Protocols side-by-side with the passages from the Joly book that had been plagiarized.[15] Yet that did not stop the Protocols from becoming the basis for much of Hitler’s anti-Semitic philosophy as expressed in Mein Kampf, written in 1923.

[Regarding a disinformation campaign beginning in 1959]…“We planted the seeds of anti-Semitism in Germany, and only we can revive them,” Khrushchev explained. The code name of his operation was “Zarathustra,” to symbolize that anti-Semitism was as immortal in the German mind as was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphoristic book Also Sprach Zarathustra (“Thus Spake Zarathustra”) in German literature. The task was to “discreetly” disseminate copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout West Germany and the rest of Western Europe. During the almost two decades that I continued to remain in Romania, our intelligence community disseminated several million Protocols—translated into German, English, French and Arabic—to leftist organizations around the world, to mosques, and to countless people whose names were randomly selected from telephone books.

We do not have an instrument that can scientifically measure the results of disinformation operations. But it is safe to presume that the combined effect of spreading millions of Protocols around the world and portraying the United States as a Zionist instrument used to subjugate the world to Jewish interests played a role in generating the shameful anti-Americanism costumed in the robes of anti-Semitism that we are facing today.

 

 


[1] Douglas J. Brown, “Chekists Around the World Celebrate 9/11,” NewsMax.com, September 19, 2002, published in www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/18/170000.shtml.

[2] Glasnost, Britannica Concise, as published on http://concise.britanica.com/ebc/article-9365668/glasnost.

[5] Tolkovyy SlovarRusskogo Yazyka (Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language), ed. D.N. Ushakov (Moscow: “Soviet Encyclopedia” State Institute, 1935), Vol. I, p. 570.

[6] Herbert Romerstein, Soviet Active Measures and Propaganda, Mackenzie Institute Paper no. 17 (Toronto, 1989), pp. 14-15, 25-26. WPC Peace Courier, 1989, no. 4, as cited in Andrew and Gordievsky, KGB, p. 629.

[7] Marvin E. Gettleman, Vietnam and America: A documented history, New York: Grove Press, 1985, p. 54.

[8] Joseph Libermann, “Democrats and Our Enemies,” The Wall Street Journal,

[9] Gary B. Nash, Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana, The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, combined volume, 6th Edition (New York, Longman, 2007).

[10] Elizabeth E. Spalding, The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism 1 (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).

[11] The American Committee for Freedom for the Peoples of the USSR was started in 1951, and its broadcast station became known as Radio Liberty.  For more on VOA during this period, see David F.  Krugler, The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945-1953 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000); for more on RFE/RL, see Arch Puddington, Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2000).

[12] Nestor Ratesh, “Radio Free Europe’s Impact in Romania during the Cold War,” prepared for the Conference on Cold War Broadcasting Impact,  Stanford, CA, October 13-15 2004.

[13] The Okhrana had been founded in 1881 by Alexander III. It replaced the Department of State Police, which failed to save the life of his father, tsar Alexander II.

[14] In 1894, French captain Alfred Dreyfus, a wealthy Alsatian Jew, was falsely sentenced for espionage by an anti-Semitic court and deported to Devil’s Island. Émile Zola, a leading supporter of Dreyfus, promptly published J’accuse, reproving the judges for their anti-Semitism. Zola was tried for libel but escaped to England. The violent partisanship over this case dominated French life for more than a decade.

[15] Philip Grave, “The Protocols: A Literary Forgery,” The Times, London, August 16, 17 and 18, 1921, as published in  www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi?documents/protocols/protocols.zion.

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