Ion Mihai Pacepa

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Ion Mihai Pacepa
Allegiance  Romania (defected)
 United States
Service Securitate
Active 1951-1978 (defected)
Rank RO-Army-OF8.png Lieutenant General[1]

Born (1928-10-28) October 28, 1928 (age 87)
Bucharest, Romania
Nationality Romanian

Ion Mihai Pacepa (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈon miˈhaj paˈt͡ʃepa]; born 28 October 1928 in Bucharest, Romania) is a former three-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of Communist Romania, who defected to the United States in July 1978 following President Jimmy Carter's approval of his request for political asylum. 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.

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".[2]

Activity in the Romanian Intelligence[edit]

Ion Mihai Pacepa's father (born in 1893) grew up in Alba Iulia, the capital of the principality of Transylvania, which at that time was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, where he worked in his own father's small factory producing pots and cutlery for the kitchen. On December 1, 1918, Transylvania was united with Romania, and in 1920 Pacepa's father moved to Bucharest, where he spent all his working life at the Romanian representative of the American car company General Motors.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, studied industrial chemistry at the Politehnica University of Bucharest between 1947 and 1951, but just months before graduation he was drafted by the Securitate,[3] and got his engineering degree only four years later.He was assigned to the Directorate of Counter-sabotage of the Securitate.[4] In 1955 he was transferred to the Directorate of Foreign Intelligence.[5]

In 1957, Ion Mihai Pacepa 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 head of Romania's brand new industrial espionage department, called S&T from the Romanian stiinta si technologie (science and technology) of Directorate I, being the head of Romanian industrial espionage, which he managed until his defection in 1978.[5] He was involved with the establishment of Romania's automobile industry,[6] and with the development of its microelectronic, polymer, and antibiotic industries.

Between 1972 and 1978, Ion Mihai Pacepa was also President Nicolae Ceauşescu's adviser for industrial and technological development and the deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence service.


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." Noel Bernard died in 1981 of cancer, after being allegedly irradiated by the Securitate.[citation needed]

Gen. Pacepa's defection 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 Romanian 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 dollars for his death. Yasser Arafat and Muammar al-Gaddafi set one more million dollars reward each.[7] During the 1980s, Romania’s political police enlisted Carlos the Jackal to assassinate Pacepa in America in exchange for one million dollars.[8] 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 cancelled Pacepa’s death sentences and ordered that his properties, confiscated by Ceauşescu's orders, be returned to him. Romania's government refused to comply. In December 2004, the new government of Romania restored Pacepa’s rank of general.

Writings and political views[edit]

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[edit]

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.)[9]

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.[10]

Alleged assassinations by the KGB[edit]

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.[9]

Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination[edit]

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.[9][11]

In 2007, Ivan R. Dee published Pacepa's book Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination in which he asserts that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the assassination of Kennedy, then changed his mind but was unable to stop Oswald.[12] The work was said to rely heavily on the work of the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and Edward Jay Epstein.[12]

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."[13]

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."[14]

Publishers Weekly stated "those inclined to suspect a conspiracy was behind JFK's murder will likely remain unpersuaded by Pacepa's circumstantial, speculative case" and that Programmed to Kill offered "no convincing Soviet motive for the assassination."[12]

According to author Joseph Goulden in The Washington Times, Pacepa's belated account "rests rather flimsily on circumstantial evidence and supposition."[15]

Alleged Soviet role in supporting terrorism in the Middle East[edit]

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 Soviet Union's alleged role in propagating and funding terrorist groups in the Middle East.[16]

Alleged Soviet campaign against the Vatican[edit]

Main article: Seat 12

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."[17]

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.”[18][19][20]

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. (


In 2013, Lt. Gen. Pacepa published Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism co-authored with law professor Ronald Rychlak, a prominent expert in the history of religion. "This remarkable book will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press, and much else besides," wrote R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence. "General Pacepa and his distinguished coauthor, Prof. Ronald Rychlak, ... have not only helped us understand history and many of the current dezinformatsiya operations that we continue to see—especially from Russia and countries in the Mid¬east—but also have given us a good start in learning how to defeat them. In short, they open a world that many of us didn’t know existed."[citation needed]

The book deals with some of the most consequential yet largely unknown disinformation campaigns of our lifetime. Among them: how destroying the reputation of good leaders has been developed into a high art and science; how Pope Pius XII, who personally saved countless Jews from Hitler's Holocaust, was transformed into a Nazi sympathizer; how Christianity and Judaism have been targeted for constant denigration and defamation; how the Soviet bloc disinformation machinery seeded anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and generated today's international terrorism. The book also documents how supposedly respectable institutions like the World Council of Churches have been controlled by Russian intelligence, and how much of the world came to believe that the U.S. government itself masterminded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Several chapters of the book document how post-Soviet Russia was transformed into the first intelligence dictatorship in history, and how disinformation is now infecting the United States of America.[citation needed]

The book Disinformation was published together with a feature-length documentary film, "Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West," produced by Emmy-winning filmmaker Stan Moore. The two-disc DVD focuses on several major Soviet/Russian disinformation campaigns that still generate anti-Americanism, ignite anti-Semitism, demonize Christianity and fan the flames of Islamic jihad. This documentary features interviews with James Woolsey and many other experts on disinformation. Among them: Richard Perle, assistant secretary of defense; Jed Babbin, deputy undersecretary of defense; Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence; Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, terrorism expert, director of American Center for Democracy; Nina Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev; Vladimir Tismaneanu, director, Center for the University of Maryland's Study of Post-Communist Societies.[citation needed]

In April 2014, this documentary film won the 35th Annual Telly Award, honoring the very best films and video productions.[citation needed]

Iraq & WMD[edit]

Ion Mihai Pacepa supported the 2003 invasion of 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[22]

According to revelations made by Lt. Gen. James Clapper to the New York Times (October 29, 2003), spy satellites belonging to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) photographed military vehicles moving from Iraq to Syria with Russian assistance just before the war in Iraq started. In Gen. Clapper's view, illicit weapons material unquestionably had been moved out of Iraq. At that time, Lt. Gen Clapper was head of NIMA. Now he is the United States Director of National Intelligence.

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[edit]

  • 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
  • Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, 2013. ISBN 978-1-93648-860-5

Selected articles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Red Horizons: the 2nd Book. The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu's Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption, 1990. ISBN 0-89526-746-2
  2. ^ "Red past in Romania's present", by Arnaud de Borchgrave , The Washington Times, January 14, 2004
  3. ^ Deletant, p.322
  4. ^ Deletant, p.322-323
  5. ^ a b Deletant, p.323
  6. ^ "What I Learned as a Car Czar". The Wall Street Journal. June 2, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Book Inspired Counter-Revolution" by Alfred S. Regnery, published in Human Events, October 22, 2001
  8. ^ "The Securitate Arsenal for Carlos," Ziua, Bucharest, 2004
  9. ^ a b c "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 (see the help page).
  10. ^ "Romania’s Rebirth", National Review Online, July 27, 2006
  11. ^ Programmed to Kill, FrontPage Magazine October 03, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c Publishers Weekly (June 25, 2007). "Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 20, 2015.  External link in |work= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ The art of conspiracy theory The Washington Times November 11, 2007.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Moscow's Assault on the Vatican", National Review Online, January 25, 2007
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Spontaneous anti-American demonstrations? Think again National Review Online March 18, 2003
  22. ^ a b Ex-spy fingers Russians on WMD at the Wayback Machine (archived April 4, 2005), The Washington Times, October 2, 2003


External links[edit]