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Document Creation Date: 
December 21, 2016
Document Release Date: 
June 13, 2008
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Publication Date: 
December 27, 1982
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PDF icon CIA-RDP91B00135R000701270051-0.pdf110.96 KB
At!TxCL~s' Approved For Release 2008/06/13: CIA-RDP9~1 BOO135ROOO7O127OO51-0 WASHINGTON - On Nov. 9, the day before Leonid Brezhnev died, Ital- ian Interior Minister Virginio Rognoni received a visit from the C.I.A.'s vice chief of station in Rome and a staffer from the U.S. ' Senate Intelligence Committee. The Americans wanted to . ' know about the Bulgarian connection to the shooting of the Pope. Mr. Rognoni explained that Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman, had been - informed a few months before that Italy could not afford the cost of keep. i 'ring him in solitary confinement much".*.. longer. To Ivor. Agca, that meant he would be transferred to an ordinary prison and would promptly be mur- ESSAY `you Have IVo . Proof By William Safire this story? Why are we setting our- selves standards of proof that the Soviet bloc will make impossible to meet? One reason is humanly institution- al: most spooks, after the C.I.A.'s flat t rock was flipped over in the post- Watergate era, don't want anybody to think that assassination is part of any . nation's "dirty tricks," and so they come to the defense of the K.G.B. is grand le Carr& fashion, hinting that the evidence is part of an anti-Andro- pay plot. (An exception is former Di- rector of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, who was pointing a finger at . this "classic intelligence operation" from the start) Another reason has to do with the workings of the 'American press: where does a story of such magnitude'- come off being broken in the Readers' -' Digest, and. developed in detail by NBC, a mere television network? Such a story needs establishment Le- gitimacy; only.a major newspaper can properly provide that. Then there is the boggiement fac- tor: the story. of the spymaster who gave the order to kill the 'Pops and thereby saved Poland from Solidarity and rose to the top in the Kremlin - that's a large lump of information to digest. Evil so audacious is unbeliev- able. The central reason for the shameful reluctance to urge. the Italians on is political: we have to deal with this man Andropo'r, say our doves, and it the chain of circumstance is dram too tight we might not be able to trust the Soviets on arms control. : That not being able to bring back detente motivates most of those who wish this awful trail of circam stance world vanish. We ]mow enough; they do not want to know any more. . That is why, -after facts are pre..: sented which compel common sense. to lay the crime at the Kremlin door, we will bear the faceless. officials complain,"you nave no proof." dered. That induced him to talk about the Bulgarian Government'othcials could be garnered on a covert' opera- WbDhired him to ]all the Pope. don. Nobody would come forward --What proof do you have?" asked with a fingerprint of Yuri Andropov on the C.IA man. the gun, but it was certain that no such The man in charge of Italy's inter-. mission could be undertaken without nal security.laid out the facts: that the.; the permission of the! K.G.B., then gunman was a cold-blooded killer for beaded by Mr. Andropov. hire, and not a fanatic or ideologue; According to one report of the meet- that he was able to pass into Bulgaria ing, the C.I.A. representative contin- easily on an Indian passport-and take - ued to -view with distaste the conclu. up residence in a first-class hotel, sions being reached by the Italian in- which requires secret service knowl- vestigators. Meanwhile, in other capi- edge; that he entered penniless and tals - and in Washington -.middle- came out with $50,000 from what is level C.I.A, men with journalistic con- hardly. a land of opportunity; that he tacts have been pooh-poohing the was able to describe accurately the. story. In Rome, U.S. foreign service liv rg quarters of the Bulgarian offi- officers have been telling Italian dip- dais who g'ere his controls and con- lomats that the investigation is an in. ,.acts; and that a flurry of electronic .. ternational embarrassment. . . communication came out of the But- Thus, the Italian Government found garian Embassy ' just before the. at. ? itself pursuing a case that caused it to tack on the Pope similar to the an? strain relations with a Communist tivity that took place before an Amen- neighbor and profoundly cffend the can general was abducted. ? :.- new Soviet leader without the.moral The C.I__ man waved that. all .:.. support of the government of the ?side. "You have no proof," he said, United States. The lackadaisical atti- and did his best to convey to the Ital- tude of. most of the U.S. press on this fan Government a high degree of skep. subject thrmIghOut the early winter- ticism from. the American Govern- especially after the man wno had to meat have at least guilty knowledge of the "What proof do you want?" asked plot was elevated to the top post in the - Mr. Rog=a- The circumstantial evi- Kremlin - was _ seen by Italians as -. deuce already presented, along with further evidence that the U.S. wanted some more that the gunman was ea-.. the investigation shut down. peeted to reveal, was the best that . Wby do we require Imp to touch ~~ Approved For Release 2008/06/13: CIA-RDP91 BOO 135ROO0701270051-0