The Mafia, The CIA, and George Bush
Like a non-descript intelligence operative in a LeCarre novel,
the CIA is a quiet presence in the background of the Mafia
corruption trial of former Italian Prime Minister Giulio
Andreotti. A fixture of post-war Italy, the 76-year-old
Andreotti worked closely with the CIA in thwarting Communist
influence in the important European nation.
Now, the seven-time prime minister says he might call as friendly
character witnesses, retired Gen. Vernon Walters and former
President George Bush. In 1976, Walters was deputy CIA director
and Bush ran the spy agency. The work of other legendary CIA
men, including the late counterintelligence chief James Jesus
Angleton, also have included important stints in Italy.
If the former CIA officials are called in Andreotti's defense,
the move could give Italian prosecutors an opening to explore the
close ties between Andreotti's Christian Democrats and the CIA,
as well as the CIA's long-standing relations with the Mafia.
Those ties even predate the CIA, when its World War II
forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services, collaborated with
Lucky Luciano and other Mafia dons to undercut Italy's Fascist
Those connections continued into the Cold War as the Mafia
battled militant Communists in Italy and even handled dirty
assignments, such as attacks on Fidel Castro, in the Western
Hemisphere. In another strange twist, Andreotti even has
speculated that the charges against him are somehow a fabrication
of U.S. intelligence circles that have turned against him.
But for now, the Andreotti trial is focused on whether Andreotti
granted political favors to the Mafia in exchange for them
delivering votes to the Christian Democrats and eliminating
political enemies such as anti-Mafia crusader Carlo Alberto Dalla
Chiesa. The allegations have come primarily from Mafia informer
Tommaso Buscetta. Andreotti has denied the allegations.
But the trial, which is expected to last more than a year, might
eventually shed new light on the CIA's own unsavory
alliances in the harsh early days of the Cold War.
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