92. Letter From the Director of the Office of Western European Affairs (Meloy) to the Deputy Chief of Mission in Italy (Williamson)1
Washington, January 24, 1964.
The general question of our future covert support activities in Italy has come up again, this time in connection with the Civic Action project. EUR has agreed to continue support for Civic Action this fiscal year, but with the understanding that it will not be asked to approve further extension of this support before we have reviewed the entire program.
As the new government takes hold I hope you can give us the benefit of your thoughts on the suitability of existing programs in the new situation and what might be changed usefully.2
113. Memorandum for the Record1
Washington, June 28, 1965.
Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 25 June 1965PRESENT
Mr. Bundy, Ambassador Thompson, Mr. Helms, Mr. Vance[Here follows discussion of items 1-6 covering other national programs.]
Mr. Glenn Fields was present for Item 1.
Mr. Desmond FitzGerald was present for Items 3, 4, 5, 6.
Mr. Frank Friberg was present for Item 7.
Mr. Cord Meyer was present for Item 8.
7. Italy—Covert Action Program in Italy for FY 19662
The Italian proposal was generally viewed as a "necessary evil" and approved with the following proviso: Mr. Bundy, deploring the chronic failure of the Italian democratic political parties to utilize their own bootstraps, used the term "annual shame" and stated that he felt obliged to advise higher authority of this continuing subsidy. Until such time as the attitude of higher authority is known, final approval remains pending.
[Here follows a discussion of item 8.]
1 Source: Department of State, INR Historical Files, 303 Committee Files. Secret; Eyes Only.
2 According to the proposed agenda for the meeting "[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposed spending [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for its covert action program in Italy in FY 1966. Its purpose is to strengthen the center left government. While the program has some new emphasis on 'flanking organizations' it is in general a continuation of policies that have been successful in Italy." (Ibid.)
According to the [text not declassified] proposal to the 303 Committee, June 11:
"The basic political problem to which the FY 1966 program is addressed is that Italy's four-party, center-left coalition Government, which was formed in December 1963 is faced with a profusion of problems which makes it a fragile working partnership. The Italian Communist Party has skillfully exploited the Government's vulnerabilities and has steadily increased its electoral appeal during this period when the vote of the two major coalition partners, the Christian Democrats (CD) and the Socialists (PSI), has declined. A basic premise of the FY 1966 program is that if the strength and unity of the Government coalition can be increased, thus permitting implementation of its program of basic social, economic and administrative reforms, the democratic parties' appeal in the next national election should increase and that of the Communist Party should dedine." (National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files: Italy)
116. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1
Washington, August 4, 1965, 5:15 p.m.
Italian covert political assistanceSome weeks ago you asked me to review this problem and bring you up to date on it more specifically. I have now done so, and the situation is as follows:
Over the years the US has assisted the democratic Italian political parties and trade unions at a very high rate. Over the period 1955-1965, the total amount of assistance is just under [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. In recent years we have been cutting this assistance back, primarily because the professionals closely related to the operation have concluded that we have not been getting our full money's worth and what the Italian political parties need is not so much U.S. money as energetic administrative leadership. President Kennedy had a personal feeling that political subsidies at this level were excessive, and they were scaled down.
In the last two or three years, assistance has been running at a rate of about [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], except in the election year of 1963. The recommendation for next year runs to a total of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The interdepartmental review committee for covert operations--Vance, Thompson, Raborn and myself--has approved this recommendation subject to your concurrence.
Meanwhile, by separate and somewhat unusual channels, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] have let us know that they would like a lot more money. They have given no practical justification, and indeed have been at pains to suggest that our orthodox channels are stuffy and uncooperative. I have had a long interview with the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] man most familiar with this subject (he was in Rome for 8 years), and he persuades me that this end run is as unjustified in fact as it appears to be on the surface. Having begun with a sympathetic view that money might beat the Communists, I have been entirely converted by his detailed account of the efforts we have made to get the Italian parties to do better with the money we have already given them.
In this situation, I believe that we should approve the recommended budget for this year and go back to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] by appropriate quiet channels to say that we cannot do more unless and until there is evidence that additional money is what is really needed, and that such money can be used really effectively. This would put the responsibility with them, where it belongs, while leaving us free to do more if and when a really good opportunity presents itself. It remains true that the anti-Communist battle in Italy is one of politics and resources; but simple hand-outs and intelligently applied resources are two entirely different things.
McG. B.Go ahead as you suggest
Speak to me2
125. Memorandum From the Ambassador to Italy (Reinhardt) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1
Washington, September 12, 1966.
303 Committee Consideration of the Italian Covert Action ProgramI want to elaborate further on our discussion on Tuesday about the Italian covert program.2 The coming months may represent a critical period for political stability in Italy. Decisive steps to reunify the Socialist and Social Democratic parties are anticipated this fall. This prospect, in conjunction with the strong rivalries within the Christian Democratic party, could put new strains on Moro's center-left coalition. An additional unsettling factor is the approaching general elections. They must take place not later than April 1968.
Since my assignment to Rome I have consistently recommended the gradual reduction of covert activities in Italy. The record in fact shows sharp year-to-year cuts in expenditures. The level of funds has dropped from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in FY 1964 to a recommended [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in FY 1967. The latter figure represents a cut of 35% from FY 1966. It is also significant that in recent years we have progressively discontinued direct subsidies to political parties—the last was the small program in FY 1966 for [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. All other support to political parties has been contingent on approved action programs in support of U.S. policy objectives, in the absence of which no funds have been made available. The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is now on notice that any support for FY 1967 would be on such a basis. Accordingly the proposed program contains no unstructured contributions to any political party's finances.
In the circumstances, I recommend that the program proposed for FY 1967 be approved. An abrupt discontinuance of the program at this time would be interpreted by some of our friends, on whom we must depend for achievement of our policy objectives in Italy, as a change in our long-standing support for them and for what they are attempting to achieve. I am particularly concerned that we avoid any action which might disturb the Moro-Nenni-Saragat leadership, which is relatively strong by post-war Italian standards and which seems to offer the best chance of strengthening political stability and democracy in Italy. At the same time, I feel that we should continue the gradual reduction of the covert program in Italy with the general objective of a final phase-out in connection with the 1968 elections.
133. Memorandum for the Record1
Washington, August 22, 1967
Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 22 August 1967PRESENT
Mr. Rostow, Ambassador Kohler, Mr. Nitze, and Mr. Helms[Here follows discussion of agenda item 1, concerning programs for the Soviet Union.]
Admiral R. L. Taylor was present for all items.
Mr. David Murphy was present for Item 1.
Mr. Rolfe Kingsley was present for Item 2.
Mr. Jacob Esterline was present for Item 3.
Mr. Archibald Roosevelt was present for Item 4.
Mr. Joseph Smith was present for Item 5.
2. Italy—Covert Action Program for FY-1968
The wind-down of covert political support to Italian parties ahead of schedule was enthusiastically welcomed by the committee. The paper was approved as submitted.2
[Here follows discussion of the remaining agenda items on programs for Latin America and Africa.]
1 Source: Department of State, INR Historical Files, 303 Committee Files. Secret; Eyes Only.
2 The [text not declassified] paper for the 303 Committee, August 4, stated the following regarding the wind-down of covert political support:
"The point has been approaching rapidly in recent years where the continuation of a large-scale covert action program in Italy would no longer have pertinence. Currently, socialist unification has been achieved and the Christian Democratic Party (DC), [1 line of source text not declassified] despite continuing financial problems, is at least for the time being well united behind its incumbent political secretary. Domestic funds are available if [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] political groups make sufficient efforts to tap them. In addition, the amount of covert assistance the United States is prepared to offer in light of other more pressing commitments no longer equates with the amounts needed to have other than peripheral impact on the Italian political scene." (National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files: Italy)