Tag Archive: Dominique Fonvielle

The Strategy Behind the 1989 Romanian Revolution: What Can We Learn?

Revolutions are often a game of chess.

Revolutions are often a game of chess.

Edited and updated with transcripts, March 18, 2014, (Updated again: August 02, 2014)

‘Freedom’ and so-called ‘democracy’ never come without bloodshed. It is an indefatigable truth about revolutions. It is as true for the people in Ukraine now as it was for the Romanian people who ‘spontaneously’ rose up to overthrow an ‘evil’ dictator who had led them into poverty and terror with his absolute totalitarianism.

Or was it a ‘spontaneous’ uprising?

Over a thousand people died in Romania in December 1989. In Checkmate: Strategy of a Revolution, filmmaker Susanne Brandstätter shows how the Romanian revolution was strictly a managed operation, controlled from the outside – just as it was in the overthrow of democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. The strategies used ranged from anti-Ceaucescu propaganda to the organized training of civilians as armed revolutionaries. While Mossadegh was overthrown because he nationalised Iranian oil and sent the British packing, Ceaucescu was eliminated because he thwarted the unity of Europe and the definitive collapse of communism. By understanding what happened in Romania, the same strategy can easily be seen in Ukraine as well.

Checkmate  reconstructs the events leading up to the revolution, Ceaucescu’s downfall, and execution. It shows the cruel geo-political game that had little to do with the well-being of the Romanian people and opens with a young man who is killed by a sniper’s bullet as he arrives home. What for? The coup has already successfully taken place and his parents struggle to solve the puzzle.

In the same way that the Americans supported Saddam Hussein when it suited their interests to do so (Reagan and Bush Senior covertly provided Saddam with millions of dollars in aid for Iraq’s war against Iran), Romania’s dictator was celebrated in the West as the only Warsaw Pact country leader to oppose the Soviet invasion of Prague. Aid flowed into the country. Then, when Ceaucescu stood in the way of the unification of Europe, the United States declared that he was a cruel dictator, and organised a revolution to free the Romanian people from his oppression.

Dominique Fonvielle, former secret agent with the French secret service, the DGSE (La Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure) spoke candidly in the documentary about the role of Western intelligence operatives in destabilizing the Romanian population. After the CIA-led overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, which was a first for them, they developed a blueprint to topple other governments. The events that took place in Romania in 1989 and in Ukraine recently, have all the markings of this CIA blueprint.

Checkmate: Strategy of a Revolution can be viewed below in six parts. Following this is a transcript of what Dominique Fonvielle revealed about how to start a revolution. This is followed by a transcript of the English subtitles used in Checkmate, part-by-part.

What Dominique Fonvielle revealed in Checkmate about how to start a revolution.

 

Dominique Fonvielle: How do you set up a revolution? I believe the first step would be to locate the enemy forces in a given country. It is sufficient to have highly effective intelligence service to determine which people are credible enough and have enough influence at their hands, to destabilize the population, to the disadvantage of the ruling regime.

Second point: One has to initiate an effective propaganda action from abroad, which tries to prove that this regime is in fact, hated by everyone, that it stands at the edge of the nations, that it has no right to call itself a liberal state and one has to show that the opposition movements that would come into existence, are legitimate.

The third point would be to prepare the future head of state, as one would have to replace the leader of the former regime. You have to prepare him. He must assume office in a natural way, which means that he must be one of the leaders of an opposition movement or he must be generally accepted by these movements. It also has to be someone who’s dissatisfied, having lived in exile for twenty years, who then arrives with foreign trucks or with an aircraft of special forces that carry out the first steps of destabilization. He must be convincing, otherwise he can hardly make an appearance, or even build up a credible government.

The circumstances need to be prepared and eventually coordinated to spark a revolution. Therefore, these circumstances can be very different. The intelligence agency will work with information which would make a scenario seem credible, even though the information as such may be simply fabricated. In the case of Romania, I wouldn’t say that the first demonstration of Timisoara was staged. But there were happenings, in which the way things progressed were completely staged.

There were the people who just provoked, but what about the special forces?

Oh, you’re very well informed… It is interesting that the right information always reach the public in the end. Yes, there were operations that were carried out by special forces, but I don’t think the majority of the people in these camps were trained this way. I think the most important part of their training was showing them how to influence other people and to prepare plans for the attack.

Robert Baer: For the covert operations you can train people. The special forces can train foreigners. The CIA can train them to use weapons as it was done in Cuba or in other places. All this paramilitary stuff is just a training.

Was this possible back then in Romania?

Dominique Fonvielle: Yes. It was carried out by the countries bordering Romania, from Hungary. We’ve mentioned the training camps in Hungary and Germany, sure, but at the time of the action, the people must be planted on site and you probably realise that you can’t smuggle in hundreds of people, but maybe a dozen.

One will force the current regime to react in a brutal manner so that the opposition would show itself and the masses start moving, and in this very moment the neighbouring country comes to assist them on humanitarian or political grounds. Then these allies make sure to restore the stability. They guarantee security and then finally allow the new government to take over the power with a head of state who is respected and regarded by the opposition as fit for the task.

Transcript of English Subtitles for Checkmate…

Part One

In the overthrow of the Romanian dictator Ceaucescu in 1989 by a popular uprising, everything seemed to happen by itself. The people were fed up with his absolute totalitarianism, and were plagued by poverty and terror.

A sniper kills a young man as he arrives at his front door on Christmas day as shooting begins in the streets. The 23 year old Gyuri Keleman of Timisoara died on the same day as Ceaucescu, shot by a sniper, a victim in a strategic game…

Jozef Keleman: He decorated the Christmas tree the day before. We’ve repaired his bike that evening. I had a day off just then. And as I got up around nine and went to the balcony, I could hear the shooting going on and immediately asked where my kids were. In that very moment when he came in, as he opened the door, it must have been prepared.

Ilona Keleman (daughter): He was hit in his left temple with a precision rifle. Shot with a rifle. The question is: Who had such a sniper rifle? It couldn’t have been a soldier that just started shooting around or someone who just got his hands on a rifle. But the one who used this rifle could handle it, and could handle it professionally.

Ilona and her father took him to the hospital, but it was too late.

“And this question is still hanging in the air: Why?”

Narrator: Why did 1104 people die in December 1989? The other countries of the Eastern Bloc likewise suffered from these oppressive regimes but witnessed the turn of events without bloodshed. What is so different about Romania? Nicoli Ceaucescu.

Since his rise to power in 1965, Ceaucescu pushes for a non-aligned route in his country. He reinforces Romania’s independence from Moscow, and establishes a nationally formed communist government. Skilfully he appeals to the people’s national pride and gains more and more popularity.

In 1969 Ceaucescu is the only leader of a country from the Warsaw pact who is opposed to the Soviet invasion of Prague and is celebrated because he had the courage to defy the Kremlin. The West rewards him with credits. The 70s are a time of economic rise. But in the 80s everything changes. Being opposed to perestroika *, Ceaucescu rejects Gorbachev’s reforms, making his country an outsider. Isolated from East and West, he pushes the people of Romania towards and abyss of misery. Towards the world Ceaucescu plays the role of a mighty man and lets the people pay for his megalomania. Blinded by the surrounding cult of personality that he built up around himself and his wife Helena, he realises the danger of the situation too late as by that time he is a thorn in Moscow’s as well as Washington’s side. Europe’s unity is at stake, which is the basic requirement for Germany’s reunification within the NATO and America’s goal. At the end of the year 1989, Ceaucescu is an obstacle and there isn’t much time to act.

Miklós Németh: So that’s why it was important to clear the road of those such as Ceaucescu, who kept this process from taking place. So from the point of view of the two sides of Europe being united, the presence of voice of dictators like Ceaucescu would have made the process much more difficult and miserable. So from this point of view, the road was paved as soon as he was gone.

Robert Hutchings (National Security Council of U.S.A. 1989-1992 – Director for European Affairs) And there was the calculation, the estimation that a strong American role in Europe would be an advantage from all perspectives and that this role would be even more important than the reunification of Europe itself. Yes, even more important than the strengthening of Europe’s integration and by all means more important than the end of the Soviet threat. We considered that the reunification of Germany and the unification of Europe could be achieved in a way that would secure America’s leading role in Europe even though its role might decline in the future.

Overture

Dominique Fonvielle: How do you set up a revolution? I believe the first step would be to locate the enemy forces in a given country. It is sufficient to have highly effective intelligence service to determine which people are credible enough and have enough influence at their hands, to destabilize the population, to the disadvantage of the ruling regime.

Stelian Tanase: I’ve been dreaming of revolution all my life, and now I teach the theory and history of the revolution because I am completely fixated on this topic. I was very involved at the time in every single way. But I don’t want to gloat about myself or tell everyone how brave I used to be. When we talk about a spark that sets off a revolutionary process in Timisoara or Bucharest to push the masses out into the streets: It is possible! One can provoke incidents and events to happen! It is possible! I was in contact with the Oxford group, the American embassy, the British Council, the German ambassador in Bucharest…

Narrator: Opponents of the regime find intent listeners in the West. Secret agents, disguised as diplomats, locate, contact, and accompany dissidents such as the university professor, Doina Cornea.

Doina Cornea: I’ve been watched since ’82. Everyone who sent texts to radio Free Europe was being spied on. Not everything transcibed…

Part Two

Narrator: Romania and its neighbour Hungary have historically tense relations. The main controversial subjects are territorial claims of seven areas and the rights of the Hungarian minority in Romania. Western secret services made use of this conflict. They organised Ceausescu’s opponents in Hungary and Romania into a network. A Hungarian dissident, Enikö Bollobás, had close contacts with the so-called “diplomats” of the CIA.

Enikö Bollobás: These people made a point that it was not a nationalist organisation, that they wanted to unite everyone who was anti-Ceausescu and pro-democracy. They managed to recruit these prominent Romanian intellectuals. Writers, thinkers, philosophers and scientists. Those were the times, you know, when you would meet these diplomats under the bridges at midnight and come up with all sorts of cover stories. This little network in Romania managed to keep something cooking to prepare a climate, which would then, at least, give the context for the overthrowing of Ceausescu.

Narrator: The congregation of the Calvinist Pastor László Tökés is situated in the Romanian town Timisoara. Tökés is a representative of the Hungarian minority and is one of the first to raise his voice against Ceausescu. The proximity to Hungary and Yugoslavia made it easier for him to make his protests public.

László Tökés: We had a good possibility to get in touch with the West. As clergymen we always had visitors. My father was a professor of theology and a representative bishop. We found the only way, the sole possibility in such difficult times to make our problems known to clergymen, ambassadors, Hungarians, Canadians, the U.S.A and so on.

Narrator: Tökés gets more and more interesting to the secret services. As a pastor he can influence many people, so he was to become more well known in the West and in Romania to underline his credibility. In order to achieve this, the ARD correspondent at the time and an intelligence expert, Dagobert Lindlau, was supposed to interview Tökés.  Lindlau refuses to do so.

Dagobert Lindlau: A Western intelligence agency was very much interested in this and I had the strong suspicion, a founded suspicion, that then intelligence agency wanted to demonstrate to Romanian dissidents that they had sufficient control of the media to record and broadcast this.

It was important to choose a positive figure because of the public opinion. And in the eyes and minds of the ordinary people, a priest would be well fit for the role. And that’s why, you know, the people around him and those who started this process did a very thorough analysis of who this person might turn out to be. Someone, who would have the support of the people, or the bulk of society. So that was an absolutely good decision at the time.

Narrator: New York, headquarters of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation. Since the 70s, László Hamos is fighting for the rights of the Hungarian minorities. IN the 80s he coordinated a network in Romania and Hungary from here and informed the West of Ceausescu’s wrongdoings.

László Hamos: We had daily information that was unbeatable regarding their effects. This conspiratorial network kept functioning until the end of 1989. One of the chief participants was a young clergyman of Hungarian origin, László Tökés.

Narrator: Information smuggled out of the country turns out to be a powerful weapon against Ceausescu.  Broadcasted into Romania be external radio and TV stations, they generate discontent and trouble. László Hamos even finances the travel of a Canadian television team to Romania to record an interview with Pastor Tökés inside his church.

Tökés: In March 1989 I succeeded to give an interview. This interview was broadcast on Hungarian television in June, 1989 and it marked the beginning of the end.

Covert Assault

Dominique Fonvielle: Second point: One has to initiate and effective propaganda action from abroad, which tries to prove that this regime is in fact, hated by everyone, that it stands at the edge of the nations, that it has no right to call itself a liberal state and one has to show, that the opposition movements that would come into existence, are legitimate.

Charles Cogan, CIA Chief in Paris, 1989: If you’re going to lay the groundwork for action in a foreign country, you have to try and condition, train the population. Propaganda is very important for this. One can use “black” propaganda which seems to come from a national group of dissidents, but which is, in fact, fabricated abroad. One can broadcast programs that seem to be made by a group of dissidents, which strengthens the importance of this group in the eyes of the population.

Narrator: Western broadcast stations such as Radio Free Europe, BBC, Deutsche Welle replace the free press in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, including Romania. Radio Free Europe, financed by the US government, serves two purposes:

It is broadcast in Romanian and is supposed to make the opposition groups better known in the country. At the same time, Radio Free Europe broadcasts reports from Romania to the West. It was easy for the intelligence agencies to manipulate information and fabricate stories. To influence the masses, the dissidents who vent their anger at Ceausescu and want the public to know about are used. As soon as it became known that Ceausescu wants to demolish seven thousand Romanian villages, Doina Cornea was the first to raise her voice.

Doina Cornea: I wrote a very important text when Ceausescu wanted to destroy the villages. As a response, Radio Free Europe asked: Who wants to sign Cornea’s text? That was pure nonsense, they were living in the free world, but for us, such things were impossible!

Narrator: More and more people hear about the destruction plan. Now they say, fifteen thousand villages are to be razed, mostly those of the Hungarian and German minority. The protest from abroad increases, as expected….

Robert Lindlau: It wasn’t as the West portrayed it. The West wanted it to look as if the entire villages have fallen victim to a “bulldozer policy,” as it was called back then, but that was not the case. The village Gottlob was supposed to have been completely levelled. I went there and Gottlob was still there… All of these stories, first the exaggerations towards the good of a bad dictator and then the exaggeration towards the absolute devilish, such as a “second Hitler” and such, that was all the result of a policy, the likes of which I hardly ever witnessed.

Part Three

Narrator: In the West, Ceausescu’s image loses more and more of its glamour. Nevertheless, discontent in Romania spreads slowly even though the megalomaniac dictator is more exposed to critique from the West.  The village destruction propaganda is joined by reports about human rights violations, some truthful, others completely exaggerated. But in 1988, the people are still not ready for a revolt. The time still hasn’t come.

Ceausescu. Not long ago the United States considered him an ally inside the Eastern Bloc, and a welcome trade partner.

Stelian Tanase: They forgot to say that he was a dictator. But after ’85 they remembered it very well after they started to negotiate directly with Gorbachev. Suddenly they realised that Ceausescu was finished. They discovered how much blood he had on his hands. They realised that he was starting to destroy Romania.

Narrator: László Hamos strongly contributes to the actual shift in public opinion against Ceausescu.

László Hamos: When we started our activities, the alleged good in Central Europe used to be the outcast Ceausescu. And the supposed evil, as it was portrayed in many lead articles in the New York Times in the 70s was everything that threatened the territorial integrity of Romania, including the Hungarian minority. It was an unbelievably tedious process to completely reverse public opinion about him, so that the minority was regarded as the good, being persecuted by an aggressive terrorist-style government.

Narrator: László Hamos and others are simultaneously lobbying the congress. Ceausescu is only allowed to receive credits or financial aid if he is willing to undertake reforms. Nevertheless, the Romanian dictator does not allow himself to be pressured and starts paying off his foreign debts. By April 1989 the country is debt free and the people are broke.

Robert Hutchings: He was forced to choose between the pest and the cholera. He could still get credits from the West at the price of reforms that would have eventually led to the fall of his regime or repay the credits and thus worsen the economic situation in a manner that would also cause his regime to fall.

Christopher Smith (Ambassador? US Congress): Part of pulling the plug was reducing international and US support for debt reduction that was a sort of a lifeline for Ceausescu’s economy which accelerated his loss of power. You can’t continue to build castles of self-gratification and ruin people in the process, which is what happened in Romania without foreign currency. So the man that we, the US government, have built and backed up without a second thought was becoming an outlaw, a disaster for public relations. Everyone, even here on Capitol Hill, was beginning to say that Ceausescu was a monster. Many people had photos of him in their offices, of them shaking his had with a broad grin. Suddenly, these pictures were taken down and put into the “round filing cabinet,” the dustbin. This spoke louder than words. His days were numbered.

Combination

Dominique Fonvielle: The third point would be to prepare the future head of state as one would have to replace the leader of the former regime. You have to prepare him. He must assume office in a natural way, which means that he must be one of the leaders of an opposition movement or he must be generally accepted by these movements. It also has to be someone who’s dissatisfied, having lived in exile for twenty years, who then arrives with foreign trucks or with an aircraft of special forces that carry out the first steps of destabilization. He must be convincing, otherwise he can hardly make an appearance, or even build up a credible government.

Narrator: The presidential palace. Before, it used to be the summer residence of the dictator. Now, Ion Iliescu, the president of Romania, holds his office here. Once a high ranking member of the party with a steep career path until he criticised the dictator. Even before the fall of Ceausescu, Iliescu was known in Washington.

Enikö Bollobás:  Because he came from the internal opposition, and because they had dealings with him before as well, they knew him and how he would react to certain things, what his limits would be… He would be a predictable person for the Americans to have dealings with.

Stelian Tanase: I heard for the first time his name on Radio Free Europe as a possible successor of Ceausescu, a kind of Dubcek figure. A possible transformer of Romanian communism or something like this.

Part Four

Narrator: The national interests of Hungary and the U.S. were equal, especially as far as Romania was concerned. Ceausescu is an obstacle to the European reunification and therefore a threat to Hungary’s further process of reformation.

Miklós Németh, Minister prasident von Ungarn: Recognising your interest is always difficult, especially under very insecure circumstances. The beauty of politics and an alert mind is in recognising someone’s interests in time and also taking the right steps into the right direction. That’s the core of real politics and I’m really happy and proud of these days and years to be able to assess…analyse, assess and make those decisions.

Gheorghe Ratiu: The more Ceausescu spoke about reforms, about adjusting Marxism to reality, the more dogmatic he became. He was scared of these reforms. The regime became even more anachronistic, more repressive, and because of this, one must become more active.

Miklós Németh: We offered a lot of help to them, even weaponry and ammunition. We’ve tried to influence the key figures. In some departments and ministries, we were able to find good people, who very cleverly managed to support other people inside the Romanian regime. Some of these figures key positions spoke Hungarian fluently. Stanculescu was a general at the time. He was working in the central planning bureau, and afterwards in an important ministry, where his work dealt with the economy. In front of the delegation, he didn’t say a word in Hungarian, of course, but away from the wiretaps we communicated in a reasonable way.

Victor Atanase Stanculescu: It is very interesting that I didn’t have any connections to any groups that worked against Ceausescu, not to those who seemed to work for him, but conspired against. But I sympathised without having a direct connection. My position in the army didn’t allow for the latter.

Charles Cogan: It is the function of the CIA abroad to stay in contact with all the elements. This means, with the government as well as the opposition. Contact persons also come from the opposition. They seek to contact the CIA or American diplomats and say that they are dissatisfied with the government, since it does all sorts of bad things, and we’d like to change this situation. And depending on, theoretically that is, whether Washington or our allies approve of this, we keep on doing it, and support this dissident group through hidden channels.

Victor Atanase Stanculescu: The dissident group, of course, had contacts in the army and was able to carry out a military coup in that way.

Check

Dominique Fonvielle: The circumstances need to be prepared and eventually coordinated to spark a revolution. Therefore, these circumstances can be very different. The intelligence agency will work with information which would make a scenario seem credible, even though the information as such may be simply fabricated. In the case of Romania, I wouldn’t say that the first demonstration of Timisoara was staged. But there were happenings, in which the way things progressed that were completely staged.

Narrator: Danut Gavra hears of László Tökés’ protest through Radio Free Europe. He wants to show his support and goes out into the street on December 15 to join the protests.

Danut Gavra: Originally these protests were of a religious nature. But towards the evening, a young man, I even know his name and we became friends afterwards, started shouting, “Down with Communism! Down with Ceausescu!”

László Tökés: On the 15th December, as the protests commenced, two affiliates of the American Embassy wanted to visit me to investigate my situation. They were standing in front of our church and they we re not allowed to enter.

Narrator: With coordinated support, the spark finally sets off the masses. On December 17, thousands of people protest in the streets of Timisoara.

Danut Gavra: Here at the cathedral, to be more precise, behind the cathedral, we organised ourselves. Later on there was a gentleman with a white beard who told us what to do. We didn’t know who he was and he urged us on. After Mihai Viteazu Bridge, he took over the organisation. Then, our group, led by the white bearded man, went towards Pestalozzi Street. I was one of those who held him up while he was speaking, and he said the following: “Brothers, there are dead and wounded in the centre.” Half of us, to the left, were to go to the centre to aid our brothers. At the Decebel Bridge, I saw a group of soldiers waiting for us in fighting position. We started shouting, “No violence! No violence!” There was no warning. They fired straight into the crowd without firing a single warning shot. I flew some three metres though the air and lost consciousness. When I came around, I was surrounded by dead and wounded. The bloody price of Timisoara.

Narrator: There are supposed to be 4,000 victims, some of which are put on display. In reality, this is also a fraud, as old autopsy marks reveal.

Gheorghe Ratiu: In Romanian Brasov, there used to be a similar movement in November 1987, but since nobody died, the people calmed down again. And when repeating this, one must bear in mind, that if not enough people die, if not enough blood flows, the people will never stand up for themselves.

8:15 – These are not the victims of the revolution, these people here.  You can see, if you look at them, that the bodies have been cut open. Who has killed these people? Also the Securitate? Some replies: No, they just died!

Narrator: Radio Free Europe broadcasts hourly reports, underlined with the sounds of shots and screams. The crowds are also enraged by specially trained provocateurs.

Gheorghe Ratiu: The Securitate had information and purposely infiltrated these Western camps.

Unknown narrators: There was a camp in Germany, in Zirndorf, another one close to Vienna, one at Traiskirchen, one in Budapest, and another in Hungary, in Bicske, 40 kilometres towards Austria in the former barracks. Here people were trained in guerrilla tactics. The units had the sole purpose of creating unrest among the population and were trained in order to initiate the rebellion. Even though all these camps were in Germany, Austria or Hungary, the instructors were all Americans.

Miklós Németh: The Germans, the Americans, in Austria, in the south of Germany and a few other countries, also took part in training the right people. We were aware of that at the time and did our bit in the process.

Ion Iliescu: Radio Free Europe had reports about me. I was under heavy surveillance from the Securitate, and despite Ceausescu being my enemy or maybe even because of that, I became more popular than before. And for this reason, many people put their hopes in me. The entire population was dissatisfied with the deteriorating living conditions in the country and they were wondering: Who could influence the changes in the country?

Narrator: Friends in the CIA initiate a unique diplomat, Enikö Bollobás, in all kinds of interims, though not always in plain language.

Enikö Bollobás: CIA people don’t talk that way. They tell you certain parts of the story and you have to put the rest together on your own. I don’t think that these people would state the Iliescu was their choice and that they put him in charge but they implied that in many ways… That is what they implied to me…

Robert Baer: The CIA has many successes…but you don’t speak about successes. So you’ve only heard about failures.

Ion Iliescu: They knew nothing about me, not Bush, nor Gorbachev.

Charles Cogan: You have to have a substitute for government that will take power and this government must place its squads among the population to influence it. When you destroy the old infrastructure you have to have something to replace it.

Narrator: Washington’s goal is the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc regimes and bringing the cold war to an end to their own benefit. Already in May 1989, Bush and his advisors already see the opportunity and the events in Germany progress much faster than expected. That’s why Germany’s reunification has the higher priority and becomes the driving force for all other decisions. But Francois Mitterrand and Margaret Thatcher Are opposed. Their requirements: Germany can be unified only when Western and Eastern Europe are unified first. America is closer to its goal as the Berlin Wall collapses.

Several speakers: December 3rd in Malta. According to the intelligence, Bush and Gorbachev agree on Romania. It’s a strategically highly important summit. What was at stake was the future of Europe, nothing less. That is what drove us. After the Polish Round Table Agreement and after Hungarians had voiced their requirement for multi-partisan elections, it became cleat that something big was about to happen. But it was not yet clear whether this would be in appositive direction, towards a peaceful unification of Europe or towards a failure, to a forced repression or even to a bloodbath. This time probably not carried out by the Soviet leadership, although one can’t rule that our completely, but rather carried out by the failing regimes themselves. The brilliance of US foreign policy in my opinion began around November 9th as the Bush administration sized it up and said: “We must bring this to an end!”

Part Five

Question asked of Dominique Fonvielle: There were the people who just provoked, but what about the special forces?

Dominique Fonvielle: Oh, you’re very well informed… It is interesting that the right information always reach the public in the end. Yes, there were operations that were carried out by special forces, but I don’t think the majority of the people in these camps were trained this way. I think the most important part of their training was showing them how to influence other people and to prepare plans for the attack.

Robert Baer: For the covert operations you can train people. The special forces can train foreigners. The CIA can train them to use weapons as it was done in Cuba or in other places. All this paramilitary stuff is just a training.

Was this possible back then in Romania?

Dominique Fonvielle: Yes. It was carried out by the countries bordering Romania, from Hungary. We’ve mentioned the training camps in Hungary and Germany, sure, but at the time of the action, the people must be planted on site and you probably realise that you can’t smuggle in hundreds of people, but maybe a dozen.

Milton Bearden (Chief of CIA for Eastern Europe in 1989): Yeah, but they’re saying these were CIA camps? You must make a clear difference, as many actions were supposed to have been carried out by the CIA but I don’t know what story you’ve heard. I don’t mean to say that this is all nonsense but I advise you to proceed with some caution on that. It could be that the CIA supervises these camps or trains the trainers.

Charles Cogan: The real life version is that you grab someone and say:

“Here’s an M16. This is how you insert the magazine. This is how you load it. This is how you shoot somebody” or “This is how you take the detonator and explosives and blow ‘em up.”

Checkmate – How the Game is Played.

Dominique Fonvielle: One will force the current regime to react in a brutal manner so that the opposition would show itself and the masses start moving, and in this very moment the neighbouring country comes to assist them on humanitarian or political grounds. Then these allies make sure to restore the stability. They guarantee security and then finally allow the new government to take over the power with a head of state who is respected and regarded by the opposition as fit for the task.

Narrator: December 20th Ceausescu summons the people of Bucharest to a rally. He considers foreign intelligence agencies responsible for the unrest in Timisoara. The next day, in a live broadcast, the population gets to see an insecure Ceausescu while the shouts from masses can be heard in the background.

Stelian Tanase: This figure of Ceausescu as a father of the country was completely gone after the Timisoara massacre. Everyone who saw him knew he was a dictator with blood on his hands. His image had changed drastically. He now had the image of a murderer, an assassin. When he had started killing his own people, he met his end. He was really badly advised to hold this rally. Or maybe it was the work of the intelligence… Someone seems to have told him, “Let’s gather the people to show you that you’re still popular!” And he agreed.

Miklós Németh: More or less after a week following the initiative of the Hungarian pastor, revolts took place in Bucharest and other large cities. And this was not a coincidence. Definitely not.

Robert Hutchings: There was a revolution at the palace as well as a semi-spontaneous revolution in the streets.

Narrator: On 22nd the protest increases. Shortly after 12 o’clock, Ceausescu flees. When Colonel Ratiu phones the palace from the central committee, it’s already Iliescu who picks up the phone.

Gheorghe Ratiu: Iliescu speaks to me as if we have known each other well and asked: Ratiu, do you know General Stanculescu? Yes… Go to the Ministry of Defence, to the Cabinet of Ministers. I’ll also be there. We’ll hold a conference about establishing an organisational structure to restore order in the country. Interestingly, Iliescu never mentioned that he’s ever had this conversation and that around twelve o’clock he was in the Central Committee.

Narrator: After Ceausescu’s getaway, the masses storm the central committee building, a significant event necessary for the success of the revolution.

Victor Stanculescu: I convinced him to go outside, to leave his base and I got him out of there in a helicopter. When he ordered me to use armed troops to drive the people away, I ordered the army to retreat. These moments of delay are worth lives but after this point in time, the people started shouting: “The army is with us!”

Stelian Tanase: At noon the building was full with the people of the streets. At five o’clock, half an hour before Iliescu’s big speech, the building was full of soldiers and the Securitate. In just a few hours we, the people in the streets, have lost the revolution to the internal opposition and the battle along with it.

Narrator: A provisional government is formed, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu.

Victor Stanculescu: When Iliescu phoned me at the Ministry of Defence and called me over to the TV station I had no idea that he was actually meant to bring down and replace Ceausescu, to take over the leadership. It wasn’t until later that I heard about it. My decision was therefore independent.

Iliescu: The diversionary actions of terrorists, criminals who want to stand in the way of the new government and to destabilize our society, are the last twitches of a dying, monstrous dictatorship, aimed against the people.

Narrator: It was said that there were sixty thousand dead to deepen the fear of the so-called terrorists. Romanian people are called to protect the revolution against the troops loyal to Ceausescu. After the revolution, military attorney Dan Voinea starts an investigation of the events.

Dan Voinea: We have found out something very astounding in this process. After the 22nd December, 1989, there was a large diversionary manoeuvre. They made up the so-called “terrorists,” which allegedly attacked the population. In reality, according to our research, these terrorists never existed.

Gheorghe Ratiu: In Bucharest, at the beginning of these events, there was a great deal of confusion, as the army, I don’t know by whose orders, started giving out weapons to the civilians. There was the order to occupy the small hills and everyone considered each other terrorists. So they started shooting one another.

Dominique Fonvielle: As long as public safety during a revolution is not guaranteed, one can’t be sure of having a secure grasp on the population. These snipers will keep up the terror, as this keeps the population in a condition where they believe the dictator is still trying to attack them. Because of this, the population will try to bring about the revolution even faster in order to achieve absolute freedom and to eliminate the dictator completely. You have to keep up a certain air of insecurity until the new government is established.

Part Six

Dan Voinea: He called the courts. He planned and carried out the arrest and execution of the dictators.

Narrator: Targoviste, December 1989. Military attorney, Voinea, was also a chief prosecutor in the Ceausescu case.

Film clip shows Ceausescu and his wife Helena having their hands tied behind their backs. They are both shouting in protest.

Robert Hutchings: You can find different perspectives of the story depending on whom you speak to. But if I put myself back in the situation of December ’89, to be frank about it, the successful breakthrough in Romania was one of the few topics on our minds. German reunification was on our minds. The continuation of positive developments in Central Europe was on our minds. The fate of the Soviet administration and Gorbachev, whom many things still depended on, was on our minds.

Dominique Fonvielle: There was a marriage of convenience between the KGB and the CIA. It is hard to believe, when you look at these two intelligence agencies which are usually sworn enemies and find themselves on opposing sides.

Robert Hutchings: I know that there were a lot of talks about Romania also with the Soviet leaders. We didn’t see our interests in it very differently.

Dominique Fonvielle: They’ll work together simultaneously using the population, the dissidents and Romanian intelligence agencies, manipulating them, to bring down a dictator, who is usually the last bastion of the Soviet Union and communism, exactly at the moment of its failure.

Robert Hutchings: I won’t talk about any covert operations. I will only tell you that the driving force behind the U.S. policy were of a strategic nature which we have discussed before.

Dominique Fonvielle: So this is how one can understand that the Soviet Union and America had equal interest in the fact that Ceausescu is wiped out.

Dan Voinea: (After having their hands tied) After this process, they were led through this corridor, through this door on the right side. What is an assassination?

Robert Baer: The US government can bring down any government they want. The CIA can do it. The Office of Foreign Affairs can do it. There’s no law against it. What the CIA can’t do is carry out an assassination, put a name on the bullet. But the definition is very fluid.

Dan Voinea: They were brought out into the courtyard and shot against this wall by the firing squad.

But is an allied organisation does it, and kills a person, is that allowed?

Robert Baer: Yes.

Film clip shows their death.

News Reader: On December 25, 1989 Nicolai Ceausescu and Helena Ceausescu were sentenced to death by a special military court and executed.

Milton Bearden: That revolution in South East Europe made it easier for us. And, of course, Romania was always an outcast, even in the Warsaw Pact. But Germany was going to be reunited. It was the decision of George Bush and Helmut Kohl and it also became that of Mikhail Gorbachev, although he never quite understood it.

Charles Cogan, CIA Chief in Paris, 1989: There was fear during the Cold War that West Germany would sacrifice its connections to the West and secretly agree with Russia on the reunification with East Germany.

Catherine Durandin (French Historian): The United States, the administration, the CIA, they knew very well that Gorbachev was very weak internally, that they would have very little time with him as a negotiator, and that they must do everything they can in a very short time to scare him away.

Robert Baer: If the people would spend a bit more time thinking about this, they’d realise that the CIA did its job. Its task was to protect the rest of the world from a Soviet invasion which was a real possibility.

Narrator: As far as Romania is concerned, the U.S. followed a long term strategy. Their goal:

Catherine Durandin: Stabilize Southwest Europe and at the same time, direct relations between Hungary and Romania by admitting both of them into NATO. Second point: Bring the area under their control, which used to be under Soviet administration, and where today, Americans are in power. What one has to regard nowadays are the oil trades in the Caspian area, and the redistribution of pipelines in Central Asia and the Balkans. The most interesting areas for America are Romania and Bulgaria.

Post Mortem

Narrator: Gyuri Kelleman was a victim of a sniper like hundreds of others after Ceausescu was already moved from office. What for?

Miklós Németh: The meaning of any event cannot be read through the eyes of an individual, but must be regarded with the course of history in mind. And for instance, democracy, more or less in each country requires a lot of tragedies.

Dominique Fonvielle: There have to be victims, as without them, a revolution is never credible.

Ilona Kelemen: The goal is nice and justified. But to find out afterwards that you were used as a means to achieve something, that is just disgraceful… Human rights are founded upon the thought that the human is the focal point and therefore one can’t just use humans as tools. Not as a tool to achieve some goal.

Joszef Keleman: It might be fate, but at the same time, his death was not in vain. It has contributed to something. Even though, all the manipulations utilized to reach these goals were ethically and morally wrong and hard to accept.

Dominique Fonvielle: It was an event that led to freedom, a waypoint on the way to the liberation of the Romanian people.

Catherine Durandin: It was the end of the Bloc and the reunification of Germany. Not a neutral Germany, which Gorbachev would have approved of, but a Germany within the Atlantic structures. And this meant the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Robert Hutchings: It’s easy to look back at this period and sort of assume that it would have ended peacefully anyway. But things seemed quite differently at the time. We couldn’t have been sure of Gorbachev’s intentions, although we were fairly confident as far as he was concerned. But had the events gone wrong, it was possible that some Soviet Marshalls could remove him from power and the history since 1989 would’ve been quite different. All these things happened simultaneously and the course of play on one board naturally influenced the course of play on other boards.

Dominique Fonvielle: The Americans didn’t play poker. They played chess with the Russians. And right from the beginning, they had the white pieces. In the end, they won.

Dedicated to the brave people of Romania who took to the streets in December 1989.

Victor Atanase Stanculescu: Mona Lisa. My book will also bear the title Mona Lisa. Why? Because she has this secretive little smile. And I’m always told that I’m a secretive man.

Dan Voinea: His role? He had the leading role as far as the planning of the court procedure was concerned.

End

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