Friday, August 16, 2013

Gladio: NATO's shadow state (II)

I continue here synthesizing the most important historical data provided by Daniele Ganser at Voltaire Network in Spanish and French on NATO's secret army, popularly known by its Italian codename Gladio. 

As we saw in the previous entry, Andreotti's confessional discourse revealed that Gladio existed in all other NATO member states and that it was a NATO organization under US ultimate control. His discourse took place however on August 2nd 1990, the very same day in which Saddam Hussein's Army (baited by Washington, who winked to him implying that it was a well earned prize for its efforts against Iran) invaded Kuwait.

The non-free European media saw in that developing conflict the perfect excuse to ignore, as much as possible, the murky story of Gladio. However some investigations did took place, notably in Belgium. 

Most governments tried to avoid the matter altogether or at least minimize its relevance. The most notorious were the British, whose ministers declined again and again to make any comment "on security issues". The Parliament also avoided pushing any investigation.

France explicitly denied the existence of such network in its soil, claiming that it had been disbanded in the 1950s. Andreotti replied that France was present in the latest meeting of the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC), the command of the stay-behind network, in 1990, what forced the authorities to argue that it was just a preemptive force which played not active role.

Portuguese authorities also stepped in to deny that the local Gladio branch was used in defense of the Fascist regime of Salazar. However a retired general contradicted them. 

In Spain, Minister Oliart laughed at the questions by journalists as naive: "here the government itself was Gladio", he said, meaning the fascist government of Franco. However the incipient investigation on the continuity of the Spanish Gladio after 1978 were curtailed by simply firing the journalists researching the matter, as I recall clearly. 

In Denmark the minister in charge was contradictory, appealing to the confidentiality of the matter, while denying the existence of the secret state in the most vague terms. 

In Norway, the authorities acknowledged the existence of the local Gladio but rejected to discuss its details on the grounds of being top secret. 

Luxembourg also acknowledged the existence of the stay-behind network but denied that it had any other activity than being prepared for the event of a hypothetical Soviet invasion. 

In the Netherlands the Prime Minister assumed all the responsibility and denied that the network was under NATO command. 

Greece was the first state to be splashed by the Gladio scandal after Italy. The Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou claimed with his characteristic cold blood that, as soon as he discovered the existence of such secret army in 1984, he commanded its elimination. Some MPs demanded an investigation to find out the role played by the Greek Gladio in the fascist dictatorship but the government ignored them. 

In Germany there was some investigation on demand of the Green Party, while the media revealed that former members of the SS took part in the secret army. Not just in Germany: in other countries also extreme right activists had been recruited into Gladio.

Hans Klein, Speaker of Helmut Kohl's government appealed to military secrecy in order not to reveal any details. The opposition used the scandal for the upcoming elections, being a clear case of unconstitutional structure, which was even compared to the Ku Klux Klan.

A parliamentary commission was created. In it Burkhard Hirsch, on charge of the secret services in Kohl's government, recognized he was very unease with the matter, claiming that he had never heard of it before. He said with unusual sincerity for a spy chief:
If something can remain secret for so long, and you can trust my long experience, is because there is something rotten. 

As soon as the conservative government declared that the socialdemocrat ministers of past governments were also privy to those secrets, the SPD abandoned all belligerence. Therefore the commission met in secret in spite of the protests of Die Grünen. 

One wonders what role played this secret organization in the murder of Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian just a couple of years later. Back in the day it was rumored that they were in the course of investigating something big, possibly this very imperial secret army.

The biggest investigation took place in Belgium, where PM Wilfried Martens declared to ignore everything about it. He said with apparent worry:
I have been Prime Minister for the last eleven years but I have always ignored the existence of a network in our country. 
The investigation revealed that the actual commander of the Belgian Gladio was the secret service boss General Raymond Van Calster. Van Calster initially denied everything but later he admitted that it existed with a mere intelligence goal for the hypothetical event of a Soviet invasion. 

There was great worry because, as in Italy, indiscriminate terrorist attacks had been performed against the civilian population. In 1980, mysterious men dressed in black opened fire against supermarket customers in Brabant, killing many.

But maybe the most striking case with repercussions reaching to this very day was the Turkish one. Ankara admitted that Gladio existed in the country and pretended, as in other states, that it was a mere passive network in preparation of a Soviet invasion. 

However it soon became known by mouth of former PM Bülent Ecevit that the Turkish network, eventually known as Ergenekon, was deeply involved in tortures, terrorist attacks and murders.

In 1996 a car accident at Susurluk killed three not-so-unlikely buddies: a member of the anti-Kurdish terrorist groups, a top police officer and a member of Parliament. Thousands protested against the "deep state".

Two years later, PM Mesut Ylmaz had to acknowledge the existence of a death squad at the very heart of the state with full knowledge of the authorities. The Ergenekon case was only brought to trial recently, but it seems that only some of those involved have been prosecuted, those against whom Erdogan's Islamists wanted revenge. The bulk are probably still at large.

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