CIRCLE OF POWER

Perhaps more sinister, and certainly more shadowy than the Bilderbergers, the "Pinay Cercle" is an "Atlanticist" right-wing organisation of serving and retired intelligence operatives, military officers and politicians that conspired to "affect" changes in government. Amongst other things they claim credit for engineering the election of Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. and may have been behind the ousting of Australia’s Gough Whitlam.

 By David Guyatt


Now almost forgotten, the decade of the "Seventies" was a time of immense political upheaval, dirty tricks and incessant rumours of right-wing military Coup d’etats in leading western democracies. Amongst the long list of resulting casualties of this "decade of tension" were Britain’s Prime Ministers: Harold Wilson and Ted Heath, Australia’s Gough Whitlam, Sweden’s Olaf Palme, America’s Jimmy Carter and France’s Francois Mitterand. The more southern flanks of Nato’s European axis: Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Greece converted rumour into chilling fact via the steel-blue glaze of gun-barrels. Italy, home of Pizza, the Pope, and Propaganda Due (P2) came in for its own brand of political fixit, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s very own CIA.

As the decade of the "eighties" slowly slipped above the now less than pink eastern horizon, right-wing beneficiaries of a co-ordinated international destabilisation programme gave their heart-felt thanks. Among them were Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher - Madonna of the Armaments industry - and America’s less brittle, and considerably less acute, Ronald Reagan - humble originator of the mega-tax-buck-swallowing SDI "Star Wars" programme and also, thus, a valued friend of the boys at Guns R Us International.

These two decades saw a proliferation of right-wing, quasi official and secretive groups that co-ordinated intelligence, propaganda and undertook covert black-operations around the globe. One of the most shadowy of all is the "Pinay Cercle", named after its founder Antoine Pinay, Premier of France in 1951. Known more simply as "Le Cercle" it is recognised as a more clandestine sister organisation to the already very secretive Bilderberg Group1 - a "behind-the-scenes ‘invisible’ influence" network. 2 Both groups share a familiar membership which includes Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockerfeller. Each of these three luminaries of the international power network are, in addition to the foregoing, influential members of The Trilateral Commission and the Council for Foreign Relations as well as being regular attendees at Britain’s "Chatham House" - The Royal Institute of International Studies - shadowy twin to America’s CFR.

Antoine Pinay was extremely influential in Europe and the United States, where he had forged links with President Nixon. Pinay attended the Bilderberg inaugural meeting in Oosterbeek, Holland during May 1952. By 1969, Pinay together with Jean Violet, a Lawyer working for the French Intelligence Service SDECE, and Archduke Otto von Habsburg, heir to the Austrian throne, formed Le Cercle, and secretly began recruiting men of influence as members.3 The intention was to shift the political climate of Europe to the far right via a secretly financed campaign of propaganda, and to establish a private intelligence service that would work, unofficially, with the existing security apparatus of the west. Author Stephen Dorrill also believes there are serpentine inter-connections between Le Cercle and the Gladio network, a "stay-behind anti communist" 4 military guerrilla force set up by Nato’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) during the "fifties", that was largely composed of ex Nazi’s.

Le Cercle has a different flavour to Bilderberg, however. The latter is an important link to the overt "influence" organisations cited above and almost certainly focuses its efforts on the broader political issues, being careful to keep well-away from "direct actions". Le Cercle has a much more "hands on" role. Interestingly, its membership is more heavily composed of serving or former members of various Intelligence Services, senior military officers as well as politicians, bankers and VIP’s with right wing connections. The "Cercle" was unknown until 1500 internal documents of the rightist (and Le Cercle funded) Institute for the Study of Conflict, were leaked to Time Out Magazine in 1975. Subsequently the documents have gone missing. At the time ISC was headed by CIA agent and "Cercle" Chairman, Brian Crozier who was heavily involved in another covert action group known simply as "The 61." 5

Unknown to Crozier, Hans von Machtenburg (a pseudonym) a senior intelligence official of Germany’s Intelligence service, BND, (and a member of Crozier’s "61") had been exchanging full reports on Crozier’s secret get-together’s with Hans Langemann, formerly a senior ranking officer of Germany’s Intelligence Service, the BND and latterly Head of Bavarian State Security. In a fit of depression, Langemann blew the whistle on a number of alarming and sinister conspiracies to the left wing German glossy magazine Kronket. Soon the story was picked up by Der Spiegel who featured it. One of Langemann’s more sensational reports, dated 1979, stated:

Specific aims within this framework are to affect a change of government

(a) in the United Kingdom - accomplished
(b) in West Germany - to defend freedom of trade and of movement and to oppose all forms of subversion including terrorism.6

In another secret memorandum dated 8th November 1979 and addressed "Personal for the state minister only", Langemann notes that "Crozier worked with the CIA for years." He concludes, therefore "that they are fully aware of his activities" and goes on to observe that Crozier "has extensive connections with members, or more accurately, with former members, of the most important western security and intelligence services." Further on he advises that Crozier, together with "Dickie Franks, Director of Britain’s SIS, and Nicholas Elliot, a senior department head in MI6 "were recently invited to Chequers (the country home of the incumbent Prime Minister, in this case Margaret Thatcher) for a working meeting." Langemann continues: "It must therefore be concluded that MI6 is fully aware of, if not indeed one of the main sponsors of" Crozier’s "diverse circle of friends in international politics..."

Additional subjects covered in the Langemann papers include the "involvement of the main intelligence and security agencies both as information sources and as recipients for information in these institutions" as well as "undercover financial transactions for political aims" that would be utilised by conducting "international campaigns aiming to discredit hostile personalities or events," the "creation of a (private) intelligence service specialising according to a selective point of view" and the "establishment of offices under suitable cover each run by a corordinator from the central office. Current plans cover London, Wasgington, Paris, Munich and Madrid." The plans also called for "provision of contributions by certain well-known journalists in Britain, the US and other countries" and the organisation of "public demonstrations in particular areas on themes to be decided and selected." 7 The Cercle and their Chairman, Crozier, clearly had lined-up a whole strategy of political "actions" that were not only known about, but approved by the western intelligence community, in additional to leading political figures including Prime Minister Thatcher and Presidential candidate Reagan. In his autobiography Crozier regales us with his repeat visits to the White House to meet senior administration figures. In 1980 he flew to California to meet Reagan and "brief him" on his network and to offer his services when he became President. Crozier stayed in close touch during the election with William Casey, Reagan’s campaign chief, later appointed DCI of the Central Intelligence Agency. After Reagan’s election victory he appointed Californian friend, William A. Wilson, to act as a his liaison with the Cercle and the related 61 group.8

The Cercle has intimate connections with a host of inter-locking right wing outfits including WACL, Heritage Foundation, Western Goals, ISC, Freedom Association, Interdoc, Bilderbergers, Propaganda Due (P2), Opus Dei, the Moonies and the Jonathan Institute. Many of these are funded fully or in part by the American Central Intelligence Agency. Members have included Nicholas Elliott (British SIS/MI6 Dept. Head), the CIA’s Director of Central Intelligence William Colby, Colonel Botta, (Swiss Military Intelligence), Franz Josef Strauss (German Defence Minister, Head of CSU party and Bavarian Premier), Alfredo Sanchez Bella (head of European operations for Spain’s Secret Service and closely connected to Opus Dei), Giulio Andreotti (former Italian Prime Minister, P2 member and Mafia confidant), General Antonio de Spinola (head of the Portugese putschists), Silva Munoz (former Franco minister and senior Opus Dei member), Monsignore Brunello (Vatican prelate and BNG agent) and Stefano della Chiaie, leading member of P2 and Italy’s Secret Service, SID.9. This list is by no means complete.

Another major aim of Le Cercle was to influence West German elections to ensure that Franz Joseph Strauss, the ultra right wing leader of the Christian Social Union Party, became Chancellor of Germany. In the event Strauss was defeated, due, it is believe to effective counter-measures taken by Germany’s security and intelligence apparatus, the BND and BfV, who’s "operational chiefs do not follow his political lines." 10 However, despite this set-back, other projects were more successful. During the "Cercle’s" meeting held on 28-29th June 1980 in Zurich, Switzerland, discussions were focused around "a series of appropriate measures to promote the electoral campaign of presidential candidate Reagan against Carter." Elliott reported that in this context positive contact had been made with George Bush as well. 11

Journalist, David Teacher, a keen investigator of Cercle activities observes: "It is becoming more and more apparent that the treatment reserved for Harold Wilson at the hands of the intelligence services was only the U.K end of an international phenomenon. Around 1975 a surprising number of government were targeted by their own (or others’) intelligence agencies because of their radical policies."12 He goes on to list a number of known "destabilisation" programmes that the Cercle are known, or believed, to have been involved:

 Additional Cercle targets may have been Olaf Palme, Sweden’s Prime Minister. In 1987 the leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter carried a sensational story that the 03 section of the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, were heavily involved in Palme’s assassination, following their fury at his policy of détente towards the Soviet Union, and possibly fearful that he may discover the extent of their implication in arms sales to Iran. Other "direct actions" possibly include a Coup d’etat in Belgium during 1973. "planned by gendarmerie officers and extreme right-wing groups." By no means least were the allegations by France’s leading daily, Le Monde, which in 1978 revealed the activities of Circle member and head of the intelligence service SDECE, Alexandre de Marenches. Le Monde claimed that de Marenches led a domestic campaign of terrorism and disinformation.14 It is fairly apparent that these activities were, "designedly", to keep Francois Mitterand from office during the 1974 elections. However, with the exception of the Langemann papers, and an ISC memo published in Lobster 17, there are no other Cercle documents available to confirm these allegations.

Despite a strong focus on European issues, the Cercle were not unaware of the significance of establishing psyops "action centres" in North America. In 1975 the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict (WISC) was launched under the chairmanship of George Ball. Characteristically, Ball, one time Senior Managing Director of the enormous Wall Street international investment bank, Lehman Brothers, and Under Secretary of State (1961-66) was a member of the Trilateral Commission; on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group and a member of the Council for Foreign Relations. His association with the WISC mark him as a close friend of the Cercle. Others members of the WISC committee were Zgigniew Brzezinski and Kermit … Roosevelt of the CIA. Four years later, in 1979, Maurice Tugwell, former head of Information Policy, a black propaganda unit set-up by British military intelligence in Northern Ireland, formed the Canadian Centre for Conflict Studies. CCS largely operates on contract work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Dept. of National Defence plus others.15 We have seen that one aim of the Cercle was to aid in the election of President Reagan. Presumably they can also cite this aim as being "accomplished"? Their close connection to George Bush may have extended to helping in his drive to election victory also. Canada also veered sharply to the right during the eighties.

We may never know the true extent to which the Cercle, and its black psyops "fronts" the ISC, WISC, CCS and others had in "affecting" a wholesale change in government in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Clearly the decade of the eighties witnessed a marked shift to the political right in the western democratic arena. It would be stretching credulity to suggest that this rapid swing in political ideology took place accidentally. It is also abundantly obvious that the Cercle’s primary influence resided in its top level connections to the shadowy intelligence apparatus of the west. At the same time it possessed serious clout inside the sinews of transatlantic power that repose in the Council for Foreign Relations, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group.

The foregoing outline - slim as it is - serves not only to underscore the inherent and potential weaknesses that reside in the institution of representative democracy, but also demonstrates the "will o’ the wisp" nature of covert activities that hide comfortably behind the public face of government. That a small handful of influential men across the planet may be able to manipulate "free" elections to suit their personal and ideological advantage, is not a new concept. Generally, utterances of this sort are met by the blanket rejection: "conspiracist theory" and discarded out of hand. Such rebuffs rarely take into account the underlying evidence, fragmentary as it is. Perhaps they are not meant to?

Despite the wholesale collapse of the Soviet bloc, the Cercle has not packed up its victorious bags nor have its members disbanded. Attendees at the 1990 Cercle meeting at the sumptuous Al Bustan hotel, Muscat, in Oman, included Jonathan Aitken, (Minister of Defence procurement) Alan Clarke (Minister of State for Defence), Lord Julian Amery (joint Chairman), Sheikh Qaboos (Ruler of Oman), General Norman Schwarzkopf (the bear-like Commander of the Allied forces in the Gulf), Paul Channon (former secretary of State at the Dept. of Trade & Industry), the Head of the Dutch Secret Service, an unnamed French Naval Admiral plus other serving or former intelligence operatives and VIP’s..16 Aitken, Clarke and Channon have all been heavily implicated in the arms to Iraq affair examined by Lord Justice Richard Scott. Significantly, Alan Clarke revealed in his hugely successful "Diaries" that the Cercle was funded by the Central Intelligence Agency.17

With its apparent "raison d’être" (anti communist psyops) clearly in tatters, one can only suppose that there is, or, perhaps, always was an additional hidden agenda lurking behind Cercle activities. To understand what this may be one must look further ahead. An increasing international focus are the calls for "minimalist" government. This has always been a central plank of laissez faire economics. Deregulation and the freeing of government imposed constraints on international business to engage in activities as it sees fit, is a long-term and obvious objective. If history is any judge, the attainment of this singular goal may usher in a new dark age of unrestrained capitalism, co-ordinated by the gargantuan trans national corporations - all of whom are heavily represented on the membership rolls of the CRF, the Trilats, RIIA, Bilderbergers etc.

In the meantime a new millennium awaits.


ENDS

  1. Stephen Dorrill’s LOBSTER NO: 26.
  2. Robert Eringer’s "the Global Manipulators" (Pentacle Books 1980)
  3. Brian Crozier in his book "Free Agent" (HarperCollins 1994) confirms that he was an erstwhile "Chairman" between 1971 and 1985 but disputes that there was a membership in the "formal sense". In his words it was an "informal group of broadly like-minded people". Make of this what you will. The word "insignificant" immediately jumps to my mind.
  4. During telephone conversation with this writer. Stephen Dorrill "The Silent Conspiracy" (Mandarin 1993) p 438
  5. See Brian Crozier’s "Free Agent" (HarperCollins 1994)
  6. LOBSTER No: 17
  7. LOBSTER No: 17
  8. Brian Crozier "Free Agent" (HarperCollins 1994) pp 178-186
  9. LOBSTER NO: 18
  10. LOBSTER NO: 17
  11. LOBSTER NO: 18
  12. ibid.
  13. BOSS = South Africa’s "Bureau of State Security". Jeremy Thorpe was the leader of the British Liberal Party until forced in to reisignation. See Stephen Dorrill’s and Robin Ramsay’s "Smear!" (Fourth Estate Ltd 1991) for a full account of the British campaign of destabilisation.
  14. LOBSTER NO: 18
  15. Stephen Dorrill’s LOBSTER NO: 26
  16. Alan Clark "Diaries" (Phoenix 1994)
  17. ibid. pp 369-374

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