Pacepa, Ion Mihai 1928-

views updated

Pacepa, Ion Mihai 1928-


Born 1928; defected from Romania to the United States, 1978; married; children: Dana.


Politician and author. Director of Romania's foreign-intelligence service in the 1970s. Military service: Became lieutenant general in Romanian Army.


Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, Regnery Gateway (Washington, DC), 1987.

Cartea Neagrà a Securitàtii, Editura Omega SRL (Bucharest, Romania), 1999.

Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2007.


Ion Mihai Pacepa is a politician. Originally a lieutenant general in Romania's secret service agency, Pacepa defected to the United States in 1978; his was the highest-ranking defection of a Soviet agent to the United States. Since then, Pacepa has turned to writing novels and books highlighting his experience as a secret service agent.

Pacepa discusses the Soviet Union's involvement in Iraq, Palestine, and terrorism in the 1960s, as well as the present-day issues and concerns that remain, in an interview in Front Page with Jamie Glazov. In discussing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, Pacepa stated: "Contemporary political memory seems to be conveniently afflicted with some kind of Alzheimer's disease. Not long ago, every Western leader, starting with President Clinton, fumed against Saddam's WMD. Now almost no one remembers that after General Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, defected to Jordan in 1995, he helped us find ‘more than one hundred metal trunks and boxes’ containing documentation ‘dealing with all categories of weapons, including nuclear.’ He also aided UNSCOM to fish out of the Tigris River high-grade missile components prohibited to Iraq. That was exactly what my old Soviet-made ‘Sãrindar’ plan stated he should do in case of emergency: destroy the weapons, hide the equipment, and preserve the documentation. No wonder Saddam hastened to lure Kamel back to Iraq, where three days later he was killed together with over forty of his relatives in what the Baghdad official press described as a ‘spontaneous administration of tribal justice.’ Once that was done, Saddam slammed the door shut to any UNSCOM inspection."

Pacepa also discussed Soviet relations with former Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat in the same review. He said that "my former boss was able to persuade Arafat into tricking President Carter only by resorting to dialectical materialism, for both were fanatical Stalinists who knew their Marxism by heart. Ceausescu sympathetically agreed that ‘a war of terror is your only realistic weapon,’ but he also told his guest that, if he would transform the PLO into a government-in-exile and would pretend to break with terrorism, the West would shower him with money and glory. ‘But you have to keep on pretending, over and over,’ my boss emphasized."

When Glazov proposed that the KGB is making a return to power in Russia, Pacepa agreed, adding that "in the last dozen years, Russia has been transformed for the better in unprecedented ways. Nevertheless, that country has a long way to go until it will tear down the legacy of Soviet Communism. As of June 2003, some 6,000 former KGB officers were reportedly holding important positions in Russia's central and regional governments. Three months later, nearly half of the top governmental positions were also held by former KGB. It is like putting the old, supposedly defeated Gestapo in charge of rebuilding Germany."

Pacepa published his first book, Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, in 1987. The book reveals a number of Soviet bloc secrets, put into the form of a novel, from Pacepa's own experience. Juliana Geran Pilon, writing in the National Review, commented that "if this book were fiction, it would have to reside in the category of ‘horror, Gothic.’" Pilon also noted that "Pacepa keeps himself in the background of this book, but from certain scenes, a portrait does emerge, of a man who during many of his years in this infernal organization prayed secretly, daily, to the God Who would some day save him."

In 2007, Pacepa published Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination. The book suggests that both the United States and the Soviet Union had many secrets that they would prefer to keep hidden regarding the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. A contributor to the Midwest Book Review remarked that this book offers "insights into questions left unanswered by the Warren Commission" as well as other published accounts of the events. A contributor to Publishers Weekly thought that most readers will "remain unpersuaded" after reading the author's "circumstantial, speculative case" proposing that the Soviet Union gave the assassination orders to Lee Harvey Oswald. The same contributor appended that "this book offers no convincing Soviet motive for the assassination." A contributor to Reference & Research Book News observed that Pacepa "juxtaposes his knowledge of the KGB's secret involvement with Oswald against the irrefutable evidence" collected by the FBI and other U.S. agencies and investigations on the likelihood that Oswald was recruited and trained to assassinate Kennedy.



Front Page, March 1, 2004, Jamie Glazov, author interview.

Midwest Book Review, December, 2007, review of Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.

National Review, April 1, 1988, Juliana Geran Pilon, review of Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, p. 58.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007, review of Programmed to Kill, p. 46.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2007, review of Programmed to Kill.

Slavonic and East European Review, April, 1990, Dennis Deletant, review of Red Horizons, p. 387.

U.S. News & World Report, January 8, 1990, James Wallace, "Fear and Loathing in Bucharest," p. 38.

Washington Post Book World, January 10, 1990, Judith Weinraub, "The Long Decade of the Defector," p. 1.

About this article

Pacepa, Ion Mihai 1928-

Updated About content Print Article