Document:Michael Ledeen, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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Disclaimer (#3)Document.png book extract  by Edward S. Herman dated 1990
Subjects: Michael Ledeen
Source: The "Terrorism" Industry

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Michael Ledeen has long been associated with CSIS and was one of the founding organizers of JINSA. During the Reagan years, Ledeen moved into the higher circles of power, serving as Secretary of State Haig's advisor and agent in Italy, as a consultant on terrorism, and playing a role in both the Bulgarian connection case and the Iran-contra affair. With these connections, Ledeen had exceptional media exposure, appearing on ABC's "Nightline" and "This Week with David Brinkley," PBS's "MacNeill Lehrer Newshour," and CNN's "Crossfire." He has also written op ed columns and articles for numerous magazines and newspapers and edited the 'Washington Quarterly' (published by CSIS) prior to going to work for Haig.

Ledeen's academic career came to an end when he was denied tenure at Washington University in St. Louis in 1972 for, among other reasons, plagiarism. [1] During the 1970s, he worked as a journalist in Italy with 'II Giornale Nuovo', a right-wing newspaper reputedly controlled by the CIA. [2] During this Italian stint he collaborated regularly with Claire Sterling in anticommunist propaganda closely tied to ongoing U.S. interventionist strategies.[3] In 1980 he entered into a collaboration with Francesco Pazienza, an agent of the Italian secret service (SISMI) and a member of Rome's extreme right-wing Masonic Lodge, P2 (Propaganda Due), headed by the fascist Licio Gelli. In an Italian criminal court in 1985, Pazienza was judged guilty of political manipulation, forgery, and the protection of criminals and terrorists, among other offenses. Indeed, according to the findings of the court, Pazienza falsified information about the Bologna bombing in order to divert attention away from the real (right-wing) terrorists who had staged the attack. Ledeen is identified in the court documents as an agent of SISMI, possibly placed on their payroll by Pazienza himself. Ledeen collected money for his services to SISMI, which included "risk assessment," the training of Italian intelligence agents, and providing reports on terrorism to the Italian government.[4] Pazienza and Ledeen worked together in the so-called Billygate affair during the 1980 presidential campaign. luring Jimmy Carter's brother into a compromising relationship with Qaddafi (this according to prosecuting Judge Domenico Sica). During the Reagan transition, to quote Italian police official Umberto d'Amato, "there was an interregnum during which relations between Italy and the United States were carried on in the persons of the duo Pazienza-Ledeen." [5] Later, the pair were important participants in the creation of the Bulgarian plot to kill the pope, a story that succeeded in gulling most of the major media in the West.

Ledeen has moved within the power structure and between Western governments according to opportunity, for personal advantage and perhaps also in pursuit of political ends that are not entirely clear. Although serving as a loyal agent of the U.S. state in Italy in the 1970s, his service in the Billygate affair was to the Republican party. He was on the payroll of the Italian secret service agency SISMI in the early 1980s, but his manipulations in Italy caused the new head of SISMI to declare before Parliament in 1984 that Ledeen was an "intriguer" and unwelcome in Italy. [6] His attachment to Israel, reflected in his JINSA connection, may have influenced his pursuit of the hostage deal with Iran (Israel favored such a transaction), and his former boss in the Pentagon, Noel Koch, asserts that while Ledeen was in Italy the CIA station chief there took him to be "an agent of influence of a foreign government."[7]

In articles written for 'Commentary' and the 'New Republic', Ledeen argued in favor of U.S. support for right-wing terrorists ("resistance forces") such as UNITA and the Nicaraguan contras, and claimed that the Soviets had aligned themselves with the Mafia in order to use drug money to support international terrorism. In the first piece, entitled "Fighting Back;" Ledeen urged the U.S. government to assassinate selected leaders of the Sandinista, Cuban, East German, Libyan and Palestinian armed forces as a "counterterrorism" measure.[8] In "K.G.B. Connections," after repeating the oft-told tale of the Bulgarian plot to kill the pope, Ledeen asserted that the Soviets were working with drug smugglers because they are "alarmingly short of hard cash these days": "Yuri Andropov's old organization, the K.G.B., has apparently become a major backer of drug smugglers, arms runners, and terrorists. . . ."[9] And all of this without a shred of evidence to support his charges.

Ledeen's writings on terrorism, as exemplified by the examples above, are intellectually negligible and entirely opportunistic. [10] His superior in the government, Noel Koch, who hired him as an expert consultant on terrorism at the urging of Reagan officials, described his work on the subject as "transparent crap." Not only did the head of SISMI denounce him as an intriguer. but the authors of the Tower Commission Report concluded that the CIA should permanently terminate its relationship with Ledeen and his associate, Ghorbanifar. All of this, however, has not interfered with his status as a terrorism expert for the U.S. mass media. His connections are still potent, the right-wing and Israeli lobby are fond of him, he is glib and his "transparent crap" is therefore acceptable.


  1. ^ . Charles R. Babcock, "Ledeen Seems to Relish Iran Insider's Role," Washington Post, Feb. 2, 1987; p. A.16; Eric Alterman, "Michael Ledeen," Regardies, April 1987.
  2. ^ , Fred Landis. "Robert Moss. Arnaud de Borchgrave, and Right-Wing Disinformation," Cover/Action Information Bulleitin. no. 10 (Aug,-Sept. 1980), p, 43.
  3. ^ . See chapter 5, p. 83.
  4. ^ . Herman and Brodhead, Bulgarian Connection, pp. 94-95; Jonathan Kwitny, "Tale of Intrigue: Why an Italian Spy Got Closely Involved in the Billygate Affair," Walt Street Journal, Aug. 8, 1985.
  5. ^ . Quoted in Sandro Acciari and Pietro Calderoni, "C'ero io, c'era Pazienza," L'Espresso. Nov. II, 1984.
  6. ^ . Maurizio De Luca, "Fuori l'intrigante," L'Espresso, Aug, 5, 1984.
  7. ^ . Quoted in Christopher Hitchens. "Minority Report," Nation, Nov. 14, 1988. p. 482, Koch makes this statement following remarks on the Pollard case and Ledeen's constanl efforts to obtain secret documents that seemed to have little bearing on his supposed responsibilities in Koch's office.
  8. ^ . Michael Ledeen, "Fighting Back," Commentary, Aug. 1985, p, 28.
  9. ^ . Michael Ledeen, "K.G.B. Connections," New Republic, Feb. 28, 1983, pp. 9-10.
  10. ^ . For a fuller analysis and numerous further examples, see Herman and Brodhead, Bulgarian Connection. pp. 161-73.