Assassinations / Pope

Herman, Edward S. and Brodhead, Frank. The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection. New York: Sheridan Square Publications, 1986. 255 pages.

During the 1991 hearings for confirmation of Robert Gates as director of the CIA, it was revealed that for years following the 1981 shooting of the Pope, CIA analysts had been unable to find evidence of Soviet complicity. In 1985 William Casey told Gates to try harder, at which point the issue became more political than analytical and the waters got very muddy.

It may have always been political; professional propagandists were hard at work after the shooting to lay the blame on the USSR. One was Paul Henze, a long-time CIA officer, another was Michael Ledeen and his friends at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and then there was Claire Sterling, who wrote an article on the shooting for Reader's Digest in 1982. All appeared to be more interested in their crusade against "Soviet-sponsored terrorism" than with presenting hard facts to support their case.

This book argues that the hard facts never existed. The authors analyze the background of Mehmet Ali Agca and the evidence surrounding the shooting, and trace the history of the "Bulgarian connection" as an example of Western disinformation. Frank Brodhead is affiliated with Resist, a progressive funding agency, and Edward Herman is an editor of "Lies Of Our Times" and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Yallop, David A. In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I. New York: Bantam Books, 1985. 388 pages.

David Yallop, a British author with four previous crime investigations to his credit, came to the attention of "highly-placed, secret sources within the Vatican" who convinced him to look into the September 1978 death of John Paul I. During his 33 days as pope, Albino Luciani's leadership and incorruptibility threatened certain interests in the Vatican. These interests were connected with Licio Gelli's P2 network, Michele Sindona, Roberto Calvi and the emerging Banco Ambrosiano scandal, the Mafia, Italian intelligence, and Freemasonry. It was becoming clear to Luciani that a major housecleaning was in order.

Yallop believes there was a plot, but after three years of investigation his evidence is still circumstantial. Security was minimal, access to the pope or to his food or medicine would not have been difficult, and it was a good bet that there would be no autopsy. The cause of death was reported as acute myocardial infarction, but Luciani's medical history makes this difficult to accept. Death was so sudden that the pope didn't even have time to press the alarm button a few inches from his hand, which seems unlikely. When Karol Wojtyla was elected pope the Vatican returned to business as usual. With John Paul II in control, even the Italian government was unable to get the Vatican to come clean on its role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal.

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