Disinformation - Ion Mihai Pacepa -

Disinformation - Ion Mihai Pacepa -

(Parte 6 de 6)

Now I, too, collapsed into bed. Not that I hoped to close my eyes. God knows, that night I was more worked up than words could tell. My thoughts turned back to what must soon be going on in Bucharest. I remembered what had occurred a couple of months earlier, when I had reported to Ceauşescu that General Nicolae Militaru, the commander of the Bucharest Military Garrison, was at that moment in the process of being recruited by Soviet intelligence. Hearing that, Ceauşescu ripped off his shirt. He closeted himself with his wife at their summer residence in Neptun, surrounded the place with a cordon of armored vehicles and security troops, and then vented his rage on his minister of interior and me.

My own positions in the Romanian government were infinitely higher than General Militaru’s, and I suddenly felt a mischievous smile creeping onto my lips. Thank God, I thought. At least I won’t be there having to cope with Ceauşescu’s hysterics again.

It was a glorious, sunny day outside when the CIA plane landed at the presidential airport inside Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, and that only magnified the fireworks popping off inside of me. For many, many years I had learned to hide my personal feelings, for that was the way of life in a society where the government had its informants everywhere and where microphones covered you everyplace you went. But on that unforgettable day, I had an overwhelming desire to dance around in a jig all by myself.

I was a free man! I knew it would not be easy to start my life over from scratch with only the clothes on my back, but I was eager to try my hand at it. I was a well-educated engineer and America was, after all, the land of opportunity, wasn’t it?

To the right of our plane were a Boeing 707 and a 727 painted with the

American flag and presidential seal, and that also contributed to my feeling of having arrived in a familiar place. Those Boeings were old friends of mine. I had been involved in the visits of Presidents Nixon and Ford to Romania, and I had traveled on an Air Force One provided by President Carter to Ceauşescu to tour the United States. “Welcome home,” read a large banner behind them intended for President Carter, but it gave me the feeling that I, too, had come home.

A string of cars and a bunch of people were waiting for me. One man was standing in front of the red carpet. “Welcome to the United States, General,” he said, shaking my hand. “You are a free man!” Many years after that memorable day, I became friends with a Holo- caust survivor whose eyes always misted up whenever he told about how one of the American soldiers who liberated his concentration camp had said to him: “You’re a free man!” So do my eyes, whenever I remember those solemn words.

My first dinner as a free man, a candlelight feast that ended long after midnight, remains vivid in my memory, down to the last detail. I was feted as the only head of a Soviet bloc espionage service who had ever asked for political asylum. When I finally took myself upstairs, the new day was beginning to break. I was overwhelmed. The joy of finally becoming part of this magnanimous land of liberty, where nothing was impossible, was surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive. I was exactly three months short of the round age of fifty on that unforgettable day of July 28, 1978, and I more than ever regretted that I had kept postponing the fateful step for so many years.

When I finally reached my bedroom, I carefully locked the door from inside. Then I took a little stone out of my pocket and fervently kissed it. It was one I had picked up off the ground at Andrews. In 1973 I had started the habit of secretly kissing the American soil every time I set foot in the United States. I would always find an unobtrusive way to pick up a small stone from someplace around the airport and to bury it inside my pocket until I could bring it out and devoutly give it a kiss later that night, in the darkness and surety of my room.

I kissed my little stone once more, then opened a window and threw it outside, back where it belonged. Falling to my knees, I prayed out loud for the first time in more than a quarter century. It took me a while, as it was not easy for me to find the right words to express my great joy and thanks to the good Lord. Forgiveness for my past, freedom for my daughter and strength for my new life were all I asked for at the end.

It was already day when I finished writing a letter to my beloved daughter, Dana. Here is the passage in which I explained why I had left her an orphan:

For twenty years I had the misfortune of being involved in stealing
assassinationsIn 1978 I got the order to organize the killing of Noel

from the West its technological data, which, together with democracy and freedom, are its greatest source of respect and pride. I was involved in stealing, but I always maneuvered things so as not to be involved in Bernard, the director of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian program who had infuriated Ceauşescu with his commentaries. It was late July when I got this order and when I ultimately had to decide between being a good father and being a political criminal. Knowing you, Dana, I was firmly convinced that you would prefer no father to one who was an assassin.

That letter was repeatedly broadcast by Radio Free Europe and published inLe Monde. Unfortunately, Noel Bernard was indeed killed by Ceauşescu’s political police, the Securitate, in 1981. During that same year, a twenty-pound plastic bomb exploded at the headquarters of Radio Free Europe in Munich. The bomb was planted by “Carlos the Jackal” (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez), who, according to Securitate documents recently released, had been supplied by the Romanians with four hundred pounds of plastic explosive, seven submachine guns and $1 million to assassinate me in the United States and to blow up Radio Free Europe headquarters.1 Fortunately, Carlos was not able to find me. Eight employees at RFE headquarters in Munich were, however, badly injured by the explosion. Five Romanian diplomats assigned to West Germany were expelled for their involvement in that bloody operation.2

(Parte 6 de 6)