138. Research Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to Secretary of State Rusk 1
- The Imbroglio of the Italian Military Intelligence Service
The world press has recently focussed its attention on the “scandals” that have surfaced in the Italian Military Intelligence Service. This paper attempts to place the imbroglio in the proper perspective.
Since the spring of 1967, the Italian Armed Forces Intelligence Service (SIFAR) and its former chief, General Giovanni De Lorenzo, have been publicly accused of having engaged in illegal activities ranging from the unauthorized compilation and pilfering of confidential personnel files to the plotting of a coup d’etat in mid-1964, during a government crisis. The first charge was proven correct by a government-appointed investigative committee and cost General De Lorenzo his job as Army Chief of Staff in April 1967. The authenticity of the second and much more serious charge of an attempted coup attributed to De Lorenzo by the Italian weekly magazine L’Espresso is presently being investigated by another government-appointed committee. It is also being debated in court, where De Lorenzo’s libel suit against L’Espresso is now being tried. This situation gained new attention early in 1968 when De Lorenzo, or someone in his behalf, leaked so-called “documentary evidence” to various rightwing scandal sheets purporting to show that some key Socialists in Premier Moro’s present center-left coalition took payoffs from the intelligence service in the early 1960’s.
The furor over these charges and countercharges has added substantial acceleration to the normally turbulent pre-electoral atmosphere in Italy (national elections are to be held this spring). It has hardly improved harmony within Premier Moro’s coalition government and some politicians and journalists have been predicting that a government crisis would result from the imbroglio. We do not believe that the revelations that have surfaced thus far are sufficiently damaging to cause a government crisis. If De Lorenzo were to publish the mass of confidential information (real or fabricated) that he has accumulated [Page 289] on practically every leading Italian personality, he could certainly destroy the reputations, if not the careers, of a number of politicians. It is unlikely that the government would survive such revelations. But in so doing De Lorenzo would also be exposing himself to prosecution. He will almost certainly not take this chance.
[Here follows a 4-page discussion of the issues outlined in the abstract.]
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 6 IT. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem.↩