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Editor’s note: Thirty-five years after his defection to America, Ion Mihai Pacepa, who was Romania’s former spy chief under notorious communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, still lives under the protection of a CIA-created identity, but he was finally honored Sunday in a major six-hour television event. The mega-program included broadcast of the new two-hour WND Films documentary based on insider-information Pacepa has shared with Western intelligence, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West.”
By Ronald J. Rychlak
The 1989 fall of communism in Eastern Europe was so peaceful that it enriched our vocabulary with the “velvet” revolutions. There was one exception: Romania was the only Soviet bloc country whose tyrant was executed by its own people.
In April 1978, President Jimmy Carter had welcomed Romania’s tyrant, Nicolae Ceauşescu, to the White House. Romania was at that time a communist nation, but Ceauşescu used the Russian “science” of dezinformatsiya to present himself as an anti-Soviet leader, a man with whom the West could do business. Carter praised his guest as a “great national and international leader.”
Standing alongside the two presidents at the White House that day was Ceauşescu’s right-hand man, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence service. Pacepa ran the enormous dezinformatsiya machine that, among other things, hoodwinked Western heads of state, intelligence analysts, university experts and the general public on five continents into believing that Ceauşescu was a great and admirable democrat.
Three months later, Pacepa walked into the U.S. Embassy in West Germany and requested political asylum. President Carter approved it, and Pacepa was secretly flown to the United States. There, Pacepa told Carter how Ceauşescu had duped him.
Carter did not believe what Pacepa said. Fortunately, the CIA and the next U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, did. Pacepa was eventually given a new identity and a new life in the United States. In 1987, he published a book,“Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus’ Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption.” That book showed the whole world what Ceauşescu truly was: a Moscow-educated terrorist who was living a life of luxury made possible by the illegal sale of arms, drugs and human beings. The book’s serialization on Radio Free Europe, its Romanian translation secretly infiltrated into Romania, and a pocket-book version translated into Hungarian completed the job.
“Red Horizons” had a significant impact inside Romania. On Christmas Day 1989, Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were tried and convicted on charges including genocide. They were sentenced to death and executed. On Jan. 1, 1990, “Red Horizons” began being serialized in the new official Romanian newspaper Adevărul (“The Truth”), which wrote that the book had “played an incontestable role” in overthrowing Ceauşescu.
Before he was overthrown, however, Ceauşescu imposed two death sentences on Pacepa, and a bounty of $2 million was put on his head. Ceauşescu also created a special intelligence unit whose only task was to assassinate Pacepa. Although the post-communist Romanian Supreme Court rehabilitated him, the government refused to recognize that judgment. The sentences and bounty remain. Pacepa is surely the only legally rehabilitated defector who is still sentenced to death in his native country.
Recently, Pacepa has become the target of a new kind of attack. Books and articles have appeared in Romania claiming that, according to some (undisclosed) documents allegedly found in CIA archives, Ceauşescu was a pro-Western leader who had intended to break Romania away from the Soviet bloc. Unfortunately, according to this latest disinformation, Ceauşescu was executed in 1989 because the CIA concealed that Ceausescu was pro-Western and that Pacepa was a KGB agent.
As preposterous as the story sounds, it lies at the center of a book written by the American-born Larry Watts. It is titled “With Friends Like These … The Soviet Bloc`s Clandestine War Against Romania.” Watts, who lives in Romania, previously wrote a book aimed at rehabilitating Marshall Ion Antonescu, Romania’s tyrant leader during the Nazi occupation. In “With Friends Like These,” Watts again tries to defend a criminal responsible for genocide, this time by blaming Pacepa.
Watts claims that the proof that Pacepa was a KGB agent was provided by former CIA director James Woolsey, who allegedly disclosed that Pacepa acknowledged to him, in his CIA office, that he had been a KGB agent all his life. Romanian leftist media are now full of this lie. In fact, Woolsey first met Pacepa 17 years after Woolsey left the CIA, and he has now written a powerful introduction to Pacepa’s new book, “Disinformation,” which I had the honor to co-author with him. That book may have a good deal to do with the recent efforts to slander Pacepa.
In “Disinformation” – subtitled “Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism” – Pacepa reveals the thinking and approach behind Soviet bloc disinformation operations. He also provides new details about Romania under Ceauşescu, Soviet efforts to implicate the CIA in the Kennedy assassination and Kremlin-directed efforts to frame the Catholic leader during World War II, Pope Pius XII, as being “Hitler’s pope.”
Unable to counter the truth, Romanian communists and leftists from other backgrounds are now attacking Pacepa. Fortunately, he is not one to be intimidated. He has faced down true threats before, and he defeated all of them. These new fabrications are barely a nuisance. Readers of “Disinformation” will easily be able to discern the truth: Pacepa did a great service to the West by informing American leaders about Soviet disinformation, but he provided an even bigger service to Romania with his role in the downfall of Ceauşescu.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Order Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak’s brand new book, “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion and Promoting Terrorism” or the companion film, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy To Destroy The West.” Better yet, get both the book and DVD together – and save!
Ronald J. Rychlak is a historian and law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he teaches courses in constitutional law, criminal procedure, and terrorism and the law. The author of several books, including “Hitler, the War, and the Pope,” Rychlak is the co-author, along with Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, of the just-released blockbuster book “Disinformation.”