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Ion Mihai Pacepa
Born October 28, 1928(1928-10-28) (age 94)
Bucharest, Romania
Nationality Romanian

Ion Mihai Pacepa (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈon miˈhaj paˈt͡ʃepa]; born 28 October 1928 in Bucharest, Romania) is a former two-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of Communist Romania, who defected to the United States in July 1978. He is the highest-ranking defector from the former Eastern Bloc, and has written several books and news articles on the inner workings of the communist intelligence services.

At the time of his defection, General Pacepa simultaneously had the rank of advisor to President Nicolae Ceauşescu, acting chief of his foreign intelligence service and a state secretary of Romania's Ministry of Interior. He defected to the United States after President Jimmy Carter's approval of his request for political asylum.

Subsequently, he worked with the American Central Intelligence Agency in various operations against the former Eastern Bloc. The CIA described his cooperation as "an important and unique contribution to the United States".[1]

Activity in the Romanian Intelligence

Pacepa's father came from what is now Slovakia into the Austro-Hungarian-ruled Transylvania and, after the Union of Transylvania with Romania, he settled in Bucharest in 1920.[2] Ion Mihai Pacepa studied industrial chemistry at the University Politehnica of Bucharest between 1947 and 1951, but just months before graduation he was drafted by the Securitate,[2] and got his engineering degree only four years later.

According to his book, The Kremlin's Legacy, he was assigned to the Directorate of Counter-sabotage of the Securitate.[3] In 1955 he was transferred to the Directorate of Foreign Intelligence.[4]

In 1957, he was appointed head of the Romanian intelligence station in Frankfurt/Main, West Germany, where he served two years. In October 1959, Minister of the Interior Alexandru Drăghici appointed him as the head of the technical department of Directorate I, being the head of Romanian industrial espionage.[4]

Between 1972 and 1978, he was Ceauşescu's adviser for national security and technological development and the deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence service. He claims that during the 1960s he was involved with the establishment of a Romanian automobile industry.[5]


Pacepa defected during July 1978 by walking into the American Embassy in Bonn while in Germany, where he had been sent by Ceauşescu with a message to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. He was flown secretly to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in a United States military airplane.

In a letter to his daughter, Dana, published in the French newspaper Le Monde in 1980 and broadcast over and over by Radio Free Europe, Gen. Pacepa explained the reason for defecting: "In 1978 I got the order to organize the killing of Noel Bernard, the director of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian program who had infuriated Ceausescu with his commentaries. It was late July when I got this order, and when I ultimately had to decide between being a good father and being a political criminal. Knowing you, Dana, I was firmly convinced that you would prefer no father to one who was an assassin." In 1981, Noel Bernard was killed by the Securitate.[citation needed]

Gen. Pacepa's defection totally destroyed the intelligence network of Communist Romania, and through the revelations of Ceausescu's activity, it affected the latter's international credibility and respectability. An article published by The American Spectator in 1988 summed up the devastation caused by Gen. Pacepa's "spectacular" defection: "His passage from East to West was a historic event, for so carefully had he prepared, and so thorough was his knowledge of the structure, the methods, the objectives, and the operations of Ceausescu’s secret service, that within three years the entire organization had been eliminated. Not a single top official was left, not a single major operation was still running. Ceausescu had a nervous breakdown, and gave orders for Pacepa’s assassination. At least two squads of murderers have come to the United States to try to find him, and just recently one of Pacepa’s former agents--a man who had performed minor miracles in stealing Western technology in Europe at Rumanian behest--spent several months on the East Coast, trying to track down the general. Happily, they have not found him." [1]

During September 1978, Pacepa received two death sentences from Communist Romania, and Ceauşescu decreed a bounty of two million US$ for his death. Yasser Arafat and Muammar al-Gaddafi set one more million dollars reward each.[6] During the 1980s, Romania’s political police tasked Carlos the Jackal to assassinate Pacepa in America in exchange for one million dollars.[7] Documents found in the Romanian intelligence archives show that the Securitate had given Carlos a whole arsenal to use in "Operation 363" for assassinating Gen. Pacepa in the U.S. Included were 37 kg. plastic explosive EPP/88, 7 submachine guns, one Walther PP pistol serial # 249460 with 1306 bullets, 8 Stechkin pistols with 1049 bullets, and 5 hand grenades UZRG-M.

Carlos was unable to find Pacepa, but on February 21, 1980, he bombed a part of Radio Free Europe's headquarters in Munich, which was broadcasting news of Pacepa's defection. Five Romanian diplomats in West Germany, who had helped Carlos the Jackal in this operation, were expelled from the country.

On July 7, 1999, Romania’s Supreme Court Decision No. 41/1999 canceled Pacepa’s death sentences and ordered that his properties, confiscated by Ceauşescu's orders, be returned to him. Romania's government refused to comply. During December 2004, the new government of Romania restored Pacepa’s rank of general.

Writings and political views

Pacepa is a columnist for the Internet conservative blog site PJ Media. He also occasionally writes articles for The Wall Street Journal and various American conservative publications, such as National Review Online, The Washington Times, the online newspaper FrontPage Magazine and the Worldnet Daily.

Red Horizons

During 1987, Pacepa published a book, Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief. A Romanian translation of Red Horizons printed in the U.S. was infiltrated into the Communist Romania, and a Mao-style pocketbook of Red Horizons was illegally printed in Communist Hungary (now a valuable collector item). In 1988 Red Horizons was serialized on Radio Free Europe, arousing "huge interest among Romanians". According to Radio Romania, "the streets of Romania's towns were empty" during the RFE serialization of Red Horizons. On December 25, 1989, during the last part of the Romanian Revolution, Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, were sentenced to death at the end of a trial where most of the accusations came almost word-for-word out of Red Horizons. (A second edition, published in March 1990, contained the transcript of Ceausescu's trial, which was based on facts presented in Red Horizons.)[8]

On January 1, 1990, the book began being serialized in the new official Romanian newspaper Adevărul, which on that day replaced the Communist Scînteia (The Spark). In its lead, Adevărul explained that the book's serialization by Radio Free Europe had “played an incontestable role” in overthrowing Ceausescu" according to the text on the back cover of the book’s second edition, published during 1990). A couple of years later,, which publishes "Famous Birthdays in History," dedicated 28 October 1928 to: "Ion Mihai Pacepa, Romanian general." Red Horizons was subsequently republished in 27 countries, and it was made into a documentary movie by the Hungarian TV.. In 2010, The Washington Post recommended that Red Horizons be included on the list of books that should be read in schools, next to Whittaker Chambers's Witness. In 2011, Red Horizons was re-published as an e-book by Google, and its hard copies were still in book stores in 2012.

During 1993, Pacepa published The Kremlin's Legacy, in which he tried to wean his native country away from its continued dependency on a Communist-style police state. During 1999, he authored the trilogy The Black Book of the Securitate, which has become a bestseller in Romania.[9]

Alleged assassinations by the KGB

In a 2006 article, Pacepa describes a conversation he had with Nicolae Ceauşescu, who told him about "ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill": László Rajk and Imre Nagy from Hungary; Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu and Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej from Romania; Rudolf Slánský and Jan Masaryk from Czechoslovakia; Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran; Palmiro Togliatti from Italy; US President John F. Kennedy; and CCP Chairman Mao Zedong. Pacepa provides some additional details, such as an alleged plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by the KGB.[8]

Pacepa said that "among the leaders of Moscow's satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy", and that KGB fingerprints are all over Lee Harvey Oswald and his killer Jack Ruby.[8][10] Pacepa has since had a book published on the topic, Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, in which he asserts that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered Kennedy's assassination. Khrushchev is said to have annulled the plan, but Soviet agents were unable to reach Oswald before Khrushchev's annulment order could be executed.

In a review of Pacepa's book published in Human Events, Michael Ledeen, former adviser for terrorism to President Reagan, writes: "A new book from General Ion Mihai Pacepa is cause for celebration, because he is among a tiny handful of people who know a lot about the intelligence services of the Soviet Empire, and because he writes about it with rare lucidity, always with an eye to helping us understand our world. His first book, 'Red Horizons,'is indubitably the most brilliant portrait of a Communist regime I've ever read. 'Programmed to Kill' is equally fascinating. Pacepa painstakingly takes us through the documentary evidence, including invaluable material on Soviet bloc cyphers that throws new light on Oswald's letters to KGB officers in Washington and Mexico City. … No novelist could have written a more exciting story, made all the more compelling because of Pacepa's first-hand involvement in the Russians' efforts to hide their Oswald connection."

In H-Net Reviews, Professor Stan Weeber (McNesse State University) states that "Programmed to Kill is a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy." The review explains that "when successful, a new paradigm essentially connects the dots of the evidence in an extraordinary way to paint a new picture. Pacepa exceeds all prior expectations in this regard. His appendix entitled 'Connecting the Dots' provides a timeline of Oswald’s life, along with Pacepa’s parenthetical commentary showing how his book has illuminated the facts of the Kennedy case. This allows the reader to compare what the author has contributed alongside what is already known." Professor Weeber concluded: " From the most casual reader to the serious student preparing his or her own magnum opus, this book is a “must read” for everyone interested in the assassination of President Kennedy."[11]

According to author Joseph Goulden in The Washington Times, Pacepa's belated account "rests rather flimsily on circumstantial evidence and supposition."[12]

Alleged Soviet role in Palestinian and Islamic terrorism

In a 2006 article written during the Second Lebanon War, Pacepa says the Soviet Union spread anti-Semitic propaganda across the Middle East to increase hatred for the Jews, and by extension Israel and America. Pacepa writes that Soviet propagandists described America as a "Jewish fiefdom" and spread the idea that Israel planned to make the Islamic Middle East into a "Jewish colony." Furthermore, he describes Russia's alleged role in propagating and funding terrorist groups.[13]

Alleged Soviet campaign against the Vatican

Pacepa alleged that the Soviet Union tried to discredit the Papacy. In a 2007 article, he stated: "In my other life, when I was at the center of Moscow's foreign-intelligence wars, I myself was caught up in a deliberate Kremlin effort to smear the Vatican, by portraying Pope Pius XII as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer."[14]

In 2012, Pacepa revealed he was writing a book called Disinformation that gives details of the Seat 12 plot and the Soviet "science" of framing. It is co-authored by Pius XII expert and professor of law at the University of Mississippi, Ronald J. Rychlak. In an interview, Pacepa claimed that the original idea to blacken the Pontiff's reputation came from Joseph Stalin in 1945, who wanted the Church out of the Ukraine. On June 3, 1945, his Radio Moscow proclaimed that Pius XII had been “Hitler’s Pope.” But the insinuation fell flat as it came the day after Pius XII had condemned the “satanic spectre of Nazism” on Vatican Radio. Moreover, Pius was being lauded for his wartime efforts to protect religious minorities by, among others, President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill (who described him as “the greatest man of our time”), and Albert Einstein. Stalin’s disinformation efforts were rejected by that contemporary generation “that had lived through the real history and knew who Pope Pius XII really was,” Gen. Pacepa explained. He said the KGB tried again, promoting Rolf Hochhuth's 1963 play The Deputy. As that generation "had not lived through that history and did not know better, [this] time it worked.”[15][16][17]

The whole September 2012 issue of the U.S. magazine Whistleblower was dedicated to Gen. Pacepa's book Disinformation, to be released by WND Books in early 2013. "This remarkable book will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press, and much else besides," wrote former CIA director James Woolsey in the Whistleblower. "Here is a work that many of us have been waiting for; a book that—dare I say—history has been waiting for," wrote Cold War historian and best seller writer, Prof. Paul Kengor (

Iraq & WMD

Ion Mihai Pacepa has supported United States military action to disarm Iraq. In opposition, large anti-war demonstrations were held in cities across the world. Pacepa contends that these protests were contrived and anti-American, which Russia assisted.[18] Pacepa wrote during October 2003 that it was "perfectly obvious to me" that the Russian GRU agency helped Saddam Hussein to destroy, hide, or transfer his chemical weapons prior to the American invasion of Iraq during 2003.[19] To this end, he claims that an operation for the removal of chemical weapons ("Operation Sarindar") was prepared by the Soviet Union for Libya, and that such a plan existed and was implemented in Iraq.[19] Subsequently, the Iraq Survey Group did not find any significant holdings of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that were present in the country decades earlier. It issued its findings in the Duelfer report during September 2004.

Published books

  • Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, 1987. ISBN 0-89526-570-2
  • Red Horizons: the 2nd Book. The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu's Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption, 1990. ISBN 0-89526-746-2
  • The Kremlin Legacy, 1993
  • Cartea neagră a Securităţii, Editura Omega, Bucharest, 1999. ISBN 973-98745-4-1
  • Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, 2007. ISBN 978-1-56663-761-9

Selected articles

See also


  1. "Red past in Romania's present", by Arnaud de Borchgrave , The Washington Times, January 14, 2004
  2. 2.0 2.1 Deletant, p.322
  3. Deletant, p.322-323
  4. 4.0 4.1 Deletant, p.323
  5. "What I Learned as a Car Czar". The Wall Street Journal. June 2, 2009. 
  6. "Book Inspired Counter-Revolution" by Alfred S. Regnery, published in Human Events, October 22, 2001
  7. "The Securitate Arsenal for Carlos," Ziua, Bucharest, 2004
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Kremlin's Killing Ways", by Ion Mihai Pacepa, National Review Online, November 28, 2006 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "PacepaNR02" defined multiple times with different content
  9. "Romania’s Rebirth", National Review Online, July 27, 2006
  10. Programmed to Kill, FrontPage Magazine October 03, 2007.
  12. The art of conspiracy theory The Washington Times November 11, 2007.
  14. "Moscow's Assault on the Vatican", National Review Online, January 25, 2007
  18. Spontaneous anti-American demonstrations? Think again National Review Online March 18, 2003
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ex-spy fingers Russians on WMD, The Washington Times, October 2, 2003


External links

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