May 07, 2003

Michael Ledeen

Dimitri brought up an article by Michael Ledeen in the comments section, asking for my opinion.

This article is the kind of commentary coming from a certain wing of this current administration that has their own ominous agenda. Unfortunately, some questionable characters within the Iranian community also echo their sentiments.

But if you want to know what the idea behind that story is, the best way is to get to know the author who wrote it. I think learning who Michael Ledeen is will answer your question. (continued, click below)


Who is Michael Ledeen?

Excerpt, taken from Edward Herman / Gerry O'Sullivan, The "Terrorism"
Industry (Pantheon, 1989), p. 161 ff.

Michael Ledeen has long been associated with CSIS [Center for
Strategic and International Studies] and was one of the founding
organizers of JINSA [The Jewish Institute for National Security
Affairs]. 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
"MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour," 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 Il 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

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 "counter-terrorism" measure [8]. In
"K.G.B. Connection," 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," Regardie's, April 1987.

[2] Fred Landis, "Robert Moss, Arnaud de Borchgrave, and Right-Wing
Disinformation," CovertAction Information Bulletin, 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," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 8, 1985.

[5] Quoted in Sandro Acciari and Pietro Calderoni, "C'ero io, c'era
Pazienza," L'Espresso, Nov. 11, 1984.

[6] Marizio 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 constant 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.

Posted by Pedram at May 7, 2003 11:50 PM


the good thing is that except for a few marginalized iranians living abroad with their brethern back home, the vast majority of iranians seem to have dropped the letter 'r' in the word 'revolution' for a long time.

the bad thing is that i was a regular reader of the globe and mail specially its comment section. i was under impression that globe and mail would publish different opinions like today a pro-israeli and tomorrow a pro-palestinian. but that was before the war. since the war they have published mono-views from the right-wing people. michael ledeen's commnet topped them all. i am really appaled. i have been waiting for a view coutering that of ledeen. so far nothing.
to me it seems since the war there has been a coup d'etat from some people with certain agenda in the canadian press and media. i will write something about it as soon as i get a chance. but before that i have to send an email to the chief editor of the revered paper to vent some steam.

Posted by: hooman at May 8, 2003 06:02 AM

i hate the Jews.. I dont care if you just got here.. I hate YOU ALL... YOU FUCKING JEW LOVERS

Posted by: ZSDD at August 19, 2003 10:09 AM

I read an interplay with you where Ledeen very politely and in an ameliorating tone replied to you. He displayed class and the type of tone that said, "hey we have very similar goals and what can I do to help in those goals, even if we differ about a few things"

I don't regularly read you weblog but caught this article today. I am pretty dissappointed at your full frontal attack on him, it only serves to make you look bad.

As far as your commenter above, if that's even a small part of what the blog is about that its pretty sad.


Posted by: Joseph at August 19, 2003 11:50 AM

WRH readers, you are being deceived.

Posted by: Andrew Sarnarsko at August 19, 2003 12:04 PM


You are commenting on a message that was posted way before Michael Ledeen and myself had our brief exchange. This is not a new post.

Posted by: Pedram M. at August 19, 2003 10:35 PM

This weekend, I finally got a chance to give the new Missy Elliot album a couple of good listens. Though my first listen last week really didn't impress me much, I now see where I went wrong: I was expecting another ... So Addictive (an album that ranks as one of the best single-artist dance albums ever ). That was a very bad move on my part, because it made me react to the lack of clubby sounds and 4/4 beats on this album in an artificially negative way. Freed from those assumptions,

Posted by: at June 8, 2004 07:46 AM