Art Moore entered the media world as a public relations assistant for the Seattle Mariners and a correspondent covering pro and college sports for Associated Press Radio. He reported for a Chicago-area daily newspaper and was senior news writer for Christianity Today magazine and an editor for Worldwide Newsroom before joining WND shortly after 9/11. He earned a master's degree in communications from Wheaton College.More ↓Less ↑
Thirty-five years after his dramatic defection to the U.S., the Romanian government officially has commended former spy chief Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa for breaking with the former communist regime and has invited him to visit the country as an honored guest.
Pacepa, who was the top aide to communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu before defecting in 1978, received a letter from the Romanian government praising him for his part in the downfall of communism.
The Aug. 16 letter notes that the next day would mark 35 years since the Ceausescu regime sentenced Pacepa to death in a show trial. The letter also points out that in 1999, the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice decided that the 1978 death sentence was a grave judicial error, as Pacepa’s guilt was never proved.
Moreover, Pacepa – who besides being sentenced to death for “treason” by the communist regime also had a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head set by Ceausescu and fellow tyrants Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gadhafi – is now being invited by the Romanian government to visit the country and recount his experiences to help cast light on the communist era.
The invitation came from the Bucharest-based Institute for the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism and for the Remembrance of the Romanian Diaspora, a governmental institution directly responsible to the Romanian prime minister.
The letter was issued a couple of weeks after a national television station in Romania declared July 28, 2013, to be “Pacepa Day,” commemorating 35 years since the spy chief’s defection to the U.S. The station organized an unprecedented, six-hour prime-time program to celebrate the event. As WND reported, it was the longest Romanian TV show ever broadcast on a single subject and drew a large audience, mostly of viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.
At the center of the TV program was a two-hour American documentary movie on Pacepa’s life and the significance of his 1978 defection to the CIA. Former CIA director James Woolsey participated in the TV show by phone.
Pacepa’s voice is particularly needed in Romania today, the institute says, to inform a younger generation that has become confused by the “revisionist views” of “pseudo-historians.”
The reference is to defenders of Ceausescu’s legacy in Romania, including former members of the dreaded secret police, the Securitate, who have criticized Pacepa and his new book, “Disinformation,” and a companion documentary, both published by WND.
Pacepa’s first book, “Red Horizons,” published in 1987, is credited with helping foster the overthrow and execution of Ceausescu.
The current critics, however, have portrayed the dictator as a maverick who defied the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s and served as a reliable ally to the U.S. and NATO. Nevertheless, according to the institute, Ceausescu’s legacy as a megalomaniacal tyrant who brutally punished any opposition to his rule and impoverished his people while he lived in luxury is undeniable.
“Our institute recognizes the major role you played in unmasking the criminal nature of the communist dictatorship in Romania, and especially the illegal and despotic role of the political police of this totalitarian regime,” according to a translation of the letter to Pacepa, signed by Andrei Muraru, the institute’s executive president.
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
Muraru noted that the institute’s invitation to Pacepa is an attempt to counteract “pseudo-historians, tentatively disguised as rehabilitating the Ceausescu dictatorship, in order to negate the role you played in the Cold War and your efforts to present the truth.”
Pacepa’s new book shows how Ceauşescu engaged in a long-term disinformation campaign to present himself to the West as an anti-Soviet leader with whom it could do business. In a visit to the White House in 1978, President Jimmy Carter praised Ceausescu as a “great national and international leader.”
After his defection, Pacepa told Carter the Romanian leader had duped the White House, but Carter didn’t believe him. Later, however, President Reagan found Pacepa to be a major asset in his confrontation with the Soviet Union. Reagan was given an early copy of the manuscript of Pacepa’s “Red Horizons” and referred to it as “my bible for dealing with dictators.”
Breaking with the tyrant
Pacepa has called July 28, 1988, “the most important benchmark of my life.”
“On that day I became an American citizen,” he told WND. “On that same day I was credited by the CIA as being the only person in the Western world who had single-handedly demolished an entire enemy espionage service – the one I had managed.”
Pacepa said he received a letter that day, signed by the CIA’s deputy director for operations, stating: “Dear Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa, you have made an important and unique contribution to the United States of which you can justly be proud.”
Pacepa told WND he is deeply grateful to the president of the institute, Muraru, and to the Romanian government for finally breaking the grip of the communist-nationalists who cast as traitors those, like Pacepa, who helped the U.S. oppose Ceausescu.
“I betrayed Romania during the years I served Ceausescu and his Romania, which was a communist nightmare owned by a two-bit Dracula,” Pacepa told WND.
“I deeply regret those years, and I am grateful to the Lord for giving me the strength to break with that tyrant when he was in full power and to help his own people to send him to the scaffold,” he said.
Pacepa also expressed his gratitude to the institute and to the Romanian government “for recognizing my contribution to the liberation of Romania.”
“I will do my best to build a strong bond between my native country and my new homeland,” he added.
In the letter, the institute told Pacepa that Romania’s “younger generation needs real clarification, pertinent answers, and authoritative views on the recent past of our nation.”
“Your presence at a series of lectures at the academy and in Romanian universities would considerably contribute to demolishing the negative and revisionist views aimed at rehabilitating the regime of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, views that more and more frequently appear in public,” the letter says.
A visit to Romania by Pacepa, says Muraru, would be an act “of revisiting the truth about the past.”
It would also help make the public aware of his break with communism in 1978 and “contribute to clarifying the role and nature of totalitarian communism under Ceausescu.”
Heating up the atmosphere
The Romanian “revisionists” also drew attention in a recent commentary by Petre M. Iancu for the Romanian-language service of German radio broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Referring to Pacepa, Iancu said it should be no surprise that “the spy who once found refuge in the U.S. is still heating up the atmosphere in Romania.”
Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Iancu said “the blow that the general dealt to communism was so severe, that it measurably contributed to the demolition of the Soviet Empire.”
Former members of the Securitate, he said, who were never removed or punished by the post-communist regimes, have perpetuated myths about Pacepa, including that he was an agent of the KGB.
“Put into circulation by the ultranationalist Securitate directorate, and supported by the fabricated stories and pseudo-history of the Romanian-American Larry Watts and more recently by some bloggers from the fold of the Securitate, these lies are desperately trying to lend credence to certain claims that are few, but insistent, toxic and false,” he said.
One such claim, Iancu said, is that Ceausescu was a “patriot, because he opposed Moscow,” and that he was “far from starving and killing his own people through cold and terror.”
Although the assassination squads Ceausescu sent to the U.S never found Pacepa, he remains under deep cover because of ongoing threats.
As late as 2004, Romania still had arrest warrants for Pacepa at its borders. To this day, his personal property has not been returned to him. And, despite the lifting of the death sentence, some elements of the Romanian government still consider Pacepa a traitor and threaten his life.