The first part in this series, covering Richard Perle, can be found here.In the second installment of The Usual Suspects series, I will explore the role of Michael Ledeen, aka Kayser Soze, in American and international affairs. Michael Ledeen has been called the driving philosophical force behind the neoconservative movement. Amongst his more infamous quotes are
Change–above all violent change–is the essence of human history.
The only way to achieve peace is through total war.
The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people.
Meet Michael Ledeen
Michael Ledeen, like many of The Usual Suspects, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he holds the Freedom Chair. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), of which he was a founding member. Other key figures connected to JINSA include Stephen Bryen, who was investigated for giving classified secrets to Israel, Richard Perle and Dick Cheney. Ledeen is also a contributing editor for the National Review. He has been described as an expert on Machiavelli. He is a former director of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC was recently involved in a spy scandal involving Larry Franklin and the Office of Special Plans, where many of The Usual Suspects operated in the buildup to the Iraq War. In 2001, Ledeen was hired by Feith to work on contract for the Office of Special Plans.Ledeen does not consider himself a conservative, but rather a “democratic revolutionary”,
According to a Washington Post interview with Washington University’s history department faculty, Ledeen was denied tenure in 1972 because of questions about whether he’d “used the work of somebody else without proper credit”.
In 1972 Ledeen published as his doctoral dissertation the book Universal Fascism, which explored Mussolini’s efforts to create a Fascist International in the ’20’s and ’30’s. Ledeen argued that fascism was not reactionary but was instead both right wing and revolutionary. Ledeen
further argued that it was a mistake to explain fascisms popularity
solely because they had been hypnotized by the rhetoric of gifted orators and manipulated by skilful propagandists. It seems more plausible to attempt to explain their enthusiasm by treating them as believers in the rightness of the fascist cause, which had a coherent ideological appeal to a great many people. While `fascism-movement’ was overcome and eventually suppressed by `fascism-regime’, fascism nevertheless constituted a political revolution in Italy. For the first time, there was an attempt to mobilize the masses and to involve them in the political life of the country.
Ledeen felt fascism was “the Revolution of the 20th century.” He contended that people had determined
the old ruling class had to be swept away so that newer, more dynamic elements – capable of effecting fundamental changes – could come to power.
Ledeen would later write in 1996 that
The people yearn for the real thing-revolution.
Ledeen would more recently write in the National Review that
Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically… it is time once again to export the democratic revolution.
In 1974 Ledeen studied Italian fascism in Rome.
In the late 70’s, while working as an consultant to Italian Intelligence, Ledeen was allegedly tied to the Italian P2, a fascist organization that did most of its dirty work at that time.
Sometime around 1980 the CIA allegedly listed Ledeen as an agent of influence for Israel.
In 1980 he collaborated with Francesco Pazienza of SISMI and P-2 in the “BillyGate” affair. This is the same Pazienze who was recently found out to belong to the parallel intelligence agency in Italy. In 1985 Pazienza was found guilty of political manipulation, forgery, and the protection of terrorists. Ledeen is identified in court documents as an agent of SISMI.
Italian police official Umberto d’Amato claimed, “there was an interregnum (during the Reagan transition) during which relations between Italy and the United States were carried on in the persons of the duo Pazienza-Ledeen” By 1984 the new head of SISMI labelled Ledeen an intriguer and unwelcome in Italy.
Pazienza, a forger and felon who was kicked out of SISMI but had found new employment at Propaganda Due, the shadow intelligence agency in Italy, was acquainted with Rocco Martini, the man who produced the Niger Uranium forgeries. Pazienza has to be considered the primary suspect behind those forgeries.
As I discussed in The Usual Suspects Pt 1: Richard Perle, Prince of Darkness, it was Richard Perle who, in 1983 recommended that Michael Ledeen be hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. During this same period he was hired as special advisor by Wolfowitz in his role as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.
Ledeens immediate supervisor was the Principle Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Noel Koch. Koch noticed early on that Ledeen had a habit of stopping by Koch’s outer office to read classified materials.
Koch soon learned from the CIA that Ledeen was carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel. Afterwards, Ledeen approached Koch for help in obtaining two highly classified CIA reports which he said were held by the FBI. He gave Koch a hand written piece of paper which contained identifying “alpha numeric designators”. These identifiers were as highly classified as the reports themselves, which raised in Koch’s mind the question of who had provided them to Ledeen if he did not have the clearances to obtain them himself. Koch ordered his executive assistant that Ledeen was to have no further access to classified materials in the office. Shortly afterwards Ledeen ceased coming to work.
Koch went on to warn the FBI about Ledeens record of spying for Israel, without being accused, despite the fact that the Justice Department was already engaged in several on-going, concurrent investigations of Israeli espionage and theft of American military technology.
Secretary of State George Shultz decreased Ledeen’s security authorization, in order to ban him from seeing top secret documents. Even Oliver North recommended that Ledeen be made to take periodic lie detector exams.
Ledeen was a major actor in the Iran/Contra affair. As Robert McFarlane’s security advisor, Ledeen vouched for Manucher Ghorbanifar, a suspected forger and a man who will get his own installment of The Usual Suspects at a later date. Ledeen met personally with the Israelis to arrange meetings with the Iranian officials that would cement the weapons for hostages deal.
In early May of 1985, Michael Ledeen, a part-time consultant to the NSC, obtained National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane’s approval to meet in Israel with Prime Minister Shimon Peres to explore whether Israel
would share information on Iran with the United States.On July 13, 1985, Ledeen told McFarlane that Adolf “Al” Schwimmer, an adviser to Prime Minister Peres, said that Peres wanted McFarlane to know that Israel’s principal Iranian contact had told Kimche and Schwimmer that he
was in touch with a group of Iranians who wished to improve relations with the West and who could demonstrate good faith by arranging the release of the American hostages. In return, these Iranians needed to have 100 American-made TOW anti-tank missiles.
Schwimmer told Ledeen that the Iranian was Manucher Ghorbanifar. Ghorbanifar was an Iranian businessman who was well known to the American intelligence community as a prevaricator. The CIA had concluded, after past interaction with Ghorbanifar, that he could not be trusted to act in anyone’s interest but his own. So strong were the CIA’s views on Ghorbanifar that the Agency issued a “burn notice” in July 1984, effectively recommending that no U.S. agency have any dealings with him. Nevertheless, Ghorbanifar was to play a major role over the next year as the initial intermediary (the “First Channel”) between Iran, the United States and Israel.
McFarlane authorized Ledeen to meet with Ghorbanifar. Ledeen did so in late July 1985…
…The Israelis tried to move things forward by convening a meeting in Paris on September 4 and 5. McFarlane sent Ledeen. As Ledeen put it, the “usual suspects” attended: Israelis Kimche, Schwimmer and Nimrodi, along with Ghorbanifar. During discussions that often were heated, Ghorbanifar explained that more TOWs would have to be sent — 400 more — in order to gain the release of a single hostage.
And now you know why I’ve nicknamed Ledeen as Kayser Soze, because it was he who originally gathered together “the usual suspects”.
The Pentagon downgraded Ledeen’s security clearances from Top Secret-SCI to Secret in the mid-1980s, after the FBI began a probe of Ledeen for passing classified materials to a foreign country, believed to be Israel.
Along with Stephen Bryen, Ledeen became a member of the China Commission during the George W. Bush administration. As I pointed out in the Richard Perle installment of this series, Stephen Bryen had been under investigation for giving classified secrets to Israel in the early 80’s. In a future installment of this series, we will explore how Stephen Bryen was involved in “state of the art” U.S. fighter plane electronics, missiles and aircraft winding up in the possession of China via Israel.
As I pointed out in Niger Yellowcake and the Man Who Forged Too Much it was Ledeen who organized the meeting between Harold Rhodes, Larry Franklin and Manucher Ghorbanifar on Dec. 1, 2001 in Rome. Ghorbanifar, an alleged MOSSAD double agent, is Ledeen’s Iranian connection. He is to Iran what Chalabi has been to Iraq. According to former Iranian President Bani Sadr, it was either Ghorbanifar, Parvis Sabati, or both, who attended the alleged Paris meetings in which the infamous “October Surprise” was set into motion in 1980, which toppled Carter and vaulted Reagan and the Usual Suspects into power.
Meanwhile, at the Tehran airport, television footage shows Iranian officials guarding the hostages listening on portable radios to inauguration ceremonies. Exactly 15 minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, the hostages were released and put on an airplane to fly home. Clearly, it was a signal. At the time, however, no one except perhaps some newly appointed Reagan officials, and some of their Israeli equivalents, knew what it meant.
Arms Follow Hostages
The hostages came home from 444 days of captivity and a very few weeks later in March 1981, Israel signed an agreement to ship arms to Iran. One planeload left immediately. The Washington Post says the shipment was authorized by then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig and was worth $10 to $15 million. Haig denies this, but adds, “I have a sneaking suspicion that someone in the White House winked. ”
Then-Israeli Ambassador to the US Moshe Arens told the Boston Globe in October 1982 that Israel’s arms shipments to Iran were coordinated with the US government “at almost the highest of levels.”
In 1981 Ledeen became anti-terrorism advisor to Secretary of State Haig.
The article goes on to say that, because of the October Surprise,
The Reagan administration apparently was vulnerable to highly damaging Israeli blackmail, and at least some top officials of both governments knew it. It also explains how and why the Reagan administration so easily fell into the catastrophic series of arms-for-hostages blunders, clearly instigated as well as carried out by Israel, that became known as Irangate, or the Iran-Contra scandal. The renewed arms shipments in 1985 and 1986 were initiated by reopening exactly the same channels used in 1980 and 1981 by some of the same principals on both, sides.
Those “same principles” being Michael Ledeen and the Usual Suspects.In the `90’s, Ledeen began preaching his “total war” ideology. In 1996 he published “Freedom Betrayed; How the United States Led a Global Democratic Revolution, Won the Cold War, and Walked Away”, in which he claimed that democratic institutions should be sprouting up in the vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Union. Ledeen felt that Iran, Syria and Iraq should be the main targets of American democratization.
“Total War”, the concept first proposed by the 19th century Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz in his book “On War”, is the method America should employ according to Ledeen, to acheive these ends. In his book, “The War Against the Terror Masters”, he states that:
We wage total war because we fight in the name of an idea, and ideas either triumph or fail … totally.
The parallels between that worldview and both Hitler and Goebbels in Nazi Germany are compelling. In his most famous speech in 1943 Goebbels announced that “Total war is the demand of the hour.” He even referred to Hitlers quote that “in the end there will be no winners or losers, only the living and the dead.” Hitler, of course, demanded that Germany win utterly or be utterly destroyed, going even so far, in the end, as to issue the Nero Decree.This is the ideology that Ledeen incessantly whispers in the welcoming ears of The Usual Suspects. This is the ideology that influences our administrations every decision. This is, my friends, “The Course” Bush would have us stay. This is madness.
In March, 2003, Ledeen told a forum that
the level of casualties in Iraq is secondary (because) we are a warlike people…we love war.
In 2005, when Vincent Cannistrano, former CIA head of counterterrorism operations, was asked if Michael Ledeen was the source of the forged Niger Uranium documents, he answered, “You’d be very close.”
Philip Girardi said in July of that year thatthe forgeries were produced by:
a couple of former CIA officers who are familiar with that part of the world who are associated with a certain well-known neoconservative who has close connections with Italy
He then went on to confirm the neocon in question was Michael Ledeen.
In 2006 Ledeen reasserted his stance on Iran by insisting once again that he doesn’t favor sanctions nor military force, but feels that Iran can be toppled from within through an internal revolution.
Ledeen was Karl Roves only regular full-time international affairs consultant when Rove served as Bush’s policy analyst. But is Ledeen sane? Check out this article by Emptywheel and you tell me. Channeling James Jesus Angleton? And THIS was Roves primary consultant on international affairs?
Now Ledeen, much like Perle, is trying to distance himself from the failure in Iraq. In 2002 Ledeen wrote
Blessedly, President Bush knows by now that the Palestinian question can only be addressed effectively once the war against Saddam and his ilk has been won…One can only hope that we turn the region into a
cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists.
And now, like Perle, he’s singing a different tune. In response to the November Vanity Fair article Ledeen tried to distance himself from the White House when he wrote for the National Review:
I do not feel “remorseful,” since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated–as I still do–support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters.
As William Beeman said in 2003:
Most Americans have never heard of Michael Ledeen, but if the United States ends up in an extended shooting war throughout the Middle East, it will be largely due to his inspiration.