Yuri Ivanovich







INT: Finally, Mr Wyatt, just personally, are you proud of your own contribution to keeping Italy out of the Communist camp?

MW: I assure you that I'm very proud of that particular thing. I have a lovely piece of silver out there that was given to me by the Italian Government, my connection with intelligence was known to them but not to the general public. You cannot be completely secret about it. But I wondered, and many times... my children were all born abroad, they were born in Italy... we moved around the world, to the Far East, we mto other countries in Europe; I worried about their education; I worried about when they became 16 years and said, "Dad, what is it that you do? When you have a tiny office in this old back room of the Embassy or in the Military Aid Advisory Group, non-descript, whatever, and you do consular work and you do all these queer things... Yet the other night, the general with the big monocle, with eight carabinieri motorcycles came up to our house on told Appian Way, with their sirens screaming, and you came to dinner - who the hell are you? [Laughs] I mean, why were you selected to go up and meet Johnny Agnielli and Vittorio Valletta of Fiat and tell them what Lyndon Johnson said to them? Why did they select you to do that, Dad?" Then it's time to say, "Look, kids, [Laughs] I have to start at square one. You don't talk about what I do. You just say I have that crummy little office." I mean, I think in British intelligence and many other intelligence services, operatives in intelligence get rather distinguished titles. I understand why the State Department does not make us minister counsellors or ambassadors or whatever. Mr Helms became an ambassador, Mr Colby became an ambassador; others did, but that was well after they were well-known as... that's quite a different thing. But our operatives do work under rather difficult circumstances, given their families and their friends and their contacts and their parents and what have you. It can be a little bit dicey. But, boy, I'll tell you it's worth it. I'm very proud of that connection with Italy and the work that we did, and the fact that we feel it was very successful. It's an amazing country, a country of great freedom. But, you know, they've had 35 governments (Laughs) since that time, and are constantly changing. But I guess that's democracy. They're great, a great country.


INT: ... So I'd just like to ask you again, Mr Wyatt, about how sharp De Gasperi was in getting the Americans to spread the money, not just to the Christian Democrats but to other parties as well - as briefly as you can.

MW: Alcide De Gasperi brought the subject up very early in the contact between De Gasperi and the American officials, and I'm sure that he initiated the conversation that... he said how appreciative he was that the Americans, a great symbol of democracy, were concerned that Italy might suffer a defeat, that democracy would suffer a defeat in Italy, but that he wanted to make it very clear that his party was a clerical party and close to the Vatican, and that therefore he felt very strongly that Mr Saragat's party, the Social Democrats' equivalent more or less to the German Social Democratic Party, a bit to the left but democratic... and then he mentioned the two quite small parties, Randolfo Pacciardi's Republican Party - very noble but very small party - and then the Liberal Party, which had had a chequered background at one time but now was clearly anti-Communist. And as I recall, we were delighted that he brought that up, because I think the Americans were on the verge of saying, "We don't want to have clerical versus secular, because the Communists are going to jump on it." I think we were already aware of that, but it was he that said, "You must avoid that. The Communists are very clever at exploiting anything like that, because it will resound in many countries that are important, that have very small Catholic churches, you know, and it would be important."

INT: And how did you know which politicians to support?

MW: We had to depend upon men like De Gasperi. However, I would say that we've had good ambassadors in Italy long before... The only American intelligence organisation was the OSS, and the OSS was in and out of Rome a great deal. But... these embassies had good reporting officers, and we had a wealth of intelligence. One of the things that... I've praised the State Department, and I really mean it - they're a splendid organisation; I've worked with ambassadors who were outstanding, including some who are political ambassadors, who've gotten the job because they bought it, but they still were loyal Americans and did an outstanding job. But I will say one thing that I learned. I recall leaving Washington D.C. to go to my first assignment abroad, when this was a segregated city, the nation's capital: blacks could not go to big theatres and opera houses and what have you, and they could not go into any kind of a fashionable restaurant. But I arrived in Italy to learn that in a large staff there in the Villa Margarita, which was our beautiful embassy on Via Veneto, there was not one Italian-American. When I raised the question, I was astounded... because we had Italian-Americans in our little new CIA and working on Italian problems, we felt that it was very important to have them. The thing wasn't broken until about 1953 or '54, that the first young foreign service officer, a career diplomat of low grade, just having come in, was assigned to Rome. What a thing for him! Imagine: we've had relations with the Italian Government since the days of Cavour and Garibaldi, and we've never had an Italian-American. I mean, because the guy comes from lower Naples or Calabria or Sicily, he somehow is not distinguished enough to be a diplomat? I'm sorry - that's my view off the record. But it's been corrected. But I still say that we had a wealth of intelligence on Christian Democrats, Republicans, Liberals and Social Democrats, thanks to excellent political reporting from the American Embassy, because CIA was not in the business of reporting in those earlier days.

INT: And can you finally, then, just sum up for me in a few sentences again, Marshall's attitude towards the use of covert operations?

MW: General Marshall, I think, found himself against the wall. He knew that the situation in Italy was critical: the largest Communist Party in the world outside of the Soviet empire, actively... I mean, the evidence was there. And not having an organisation, and knowing that the State Department could not achieve the things that he knew had to be done, he personally said, "The Marshall Plan alone is a great thing, and I'm delighted that it's named for me. But we have to have something that is out of the realm of State Department activities, and it cannot be run from within the State Department. I cannot be in charge of it as Secretary of State. But I want to follow it, I want to know about it, because I've got to make a decision, and I'm going to push for the authority to be granted to the current head of our young intelligence organisation, Admiral Hillenkoetter - I'm going to push for him to have the authority, and that's what we're working on." And those were his feelings, and I thought that they were quite remarkable. What a contrast to Mr Henry Stimson, who said...

INT: Sorry...

MW: "Gentlemen..." I'm sorry.

INT: I'll stop you there. Again... to have the authority to do what?

MW: Oh, to develop a covert action programme. I'm sorry.

INT: Yeah. We've got right up to the...

(End of Roll)