362. Memorandum Prepared for the 40 Committee1


  • Political Action in Italy

1. On 21 November 1975 the 40 Committee approved a proposal for covert action in Italy which would seek to prevent the Italian Communist Party from becoming the dominant party in Italy and to prevent this party from entering the Italian national cabinet. On 4 December President Ford found the operation to be important to the national [Typeset Page 1112] security of the United States and, in keeping with his responsibility pursuant to Section 662 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended, instructed the DCI to report this finding for him, supplementing it by oral briefings as necessary, to the appropriate committees of Congress. During the period 8–16 December, Mr. Colby briefed the six Congressional Committees involved.

2. In late December publicity concerning the covert action program began appearing in the press and other media. It was alleged that CIA had funneled at least $6 million in secret cash payments to individual anti-Communist political leaders since December 8. In a public statement on 8 January Mr. Colby denied that any funds were spent and, as a result, as of this date no money has been expended. Secretary Kissinger, on 16 January 1976, instructed Ambassador Volpe not to spend any special funds in support of the covert program until new instructions were issued. The overt “Democratic Alternative in Italy” program has continued without interruption. [less than 1 line not declassified] have continued developing contacts with Italian politicians and others who could make a contribution to the covert aspects of this effort.

3. A new political situation has developed in Italy. As a result of the withdrawal of Socialist Party support of the Italian government, the coalition headed by Premier Aldo Moro has resigned and an effort to form a new government is underway. Whatever the result, parliamentary elections by June or earlier are a distinct possibility. U.S. policy towards Italy has not changed. The “Democratic Alternative Program”, however, has received a setback by the Italian governmental crisis which has been further exacerbated by recent public disclosures concerning not only this program’s covert aspects but of a previous covert operation launched in Italy in 1971–1972 under the direction of Ambassador Graham Martin.

4. The fall of the Moro government has completely altered our three-stage covert action program. We have sent messages to Ambassador Volpe [less than 1 line not declassified] suggesting certain courses and asking for [less than 1 line not declassified] recommendations for actions to be taken in the short term to support U.S. policy objectives in Italy.

5. A status report on the “Democratic Alternative Program” will be submitted separately to the 40 Committee.

  1. Summary: The memorandum reported on the political action program in Italy.

    Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Intelligence Files, Italy—GRF 1974–1977. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. An attachment, [text not declassified], is attached but not published.