Rogue Agents - Introduction

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Rogue Agents: The Cercle and the 6I in the Private Cold War 1951 - 1991 is a book by David Teacher. It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

Introduction (1993)

One of the paradoxes of modern political journalism is its inherent cultural isolation. Whilst no-one would deny that the major political developments in a given country may owe much to international forces, the investigation of political processes has remained overwhelmingly confined within national boundaries. This is partly due to the linguistic problems, specialist knowledge and additional burden involved in researching foreign politics; however, this cultural isolation is also compounded by a vague and usually unexpressed opinion that the connections of a foreign Conservative MP cannot be of great import to a better understanding of the murkier side of politics at home in one's own country. Yet it is clear that no country is an island. This is nowhere more true than in the field of parapolitics, the networks of unofficial power that, usually via serving or retired friends in the world's major intelligence and security services, exert greater influence than is generally realised on national political life. Both the private networks of influence and the intelligence services work internationally; more often than not, they work hand in hand in a shadow world that brings together top politicians and veterans of covert action, counter-subversion and media manipulation. An investigation to delineate such networks of covert transnational cooperation must, to succeed, tackle the complexities of the unseen political world in many countries.

This study is an attempt at a preliminary transnational investigation of the Paneuropean Right and particularly of the covert forum, the Cercle Pinay and its complex of groups. Amongst Cercle intelligence contacts are former operatives from the American CIA, DIA and INR, Britain's MI5, MI6 and IRD, France's SDECE, Germany's BND, BfV and MAD, Holland's BVD, Belgium's Sûreté de l’Etat, SDRA and PIO, apartheid South Africa's BOSS, and the Swiss and Saudi intelligence services. Politically, the Cercle complex has interlocked with the whole panoply of international right-wing groups: the Paneuropean Union, the European Movement, CEDI, the Bilderberg Group, WACL, Opus Dei, the Moonies, Western Goals and the Heritage Foundation. Amongst the prominent politicians associated with the Cercle Pinay were Antoine Pinay, Konrad Adenauer, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, Franz Josef Strauß, Giulio Andreotti, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Paul Vanden Boeynants, John Vorster, General Antonio de Spínola, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Despite a wealth of covert operations centring on media campaigns to promote or denigrate election candidates, the international impact of the Cercle complex has not yet [1993] been the main focus for an investigation in any language. The information contained in this study was compiled from a sheaf of internal documents from the Cercle Pinay and its partners, the Belgian AESP, the British ISC and the Swiss ISP, as well as over one hundred books and numerous Press reports in English, French, German and Spanish (all translations by this author).

The insight afforded is only partial; as Brian Crozier wrote in his memoirs about this author's previous research on the Cercle complex: "There are pitfalls in writing about confidential matters from the outside, and drawing on similarly handicapped material".[1] However, the publication in 1993 of Crozier's memoirs, Free Agent - The Unseen War 1941-1991, served to confirm the main thrust of this investigation and filled in some but by no means all of the loopholes; in turn, this investigation has uncovered some of what Crozier preferred to conceal. Once the fragmented information is pieced together, the network that emerges cannot be overlooked: the Cercle complex can be seen to be an international coalition of rightwing intelligence veterans, working internationally to promote top conservative politicians who would shape the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

To take the British example, much of the destabilisation of British democracy in the 1970s can only be fully understood by analysing the international support given to groups like the Anglo-American "deniable propaganda" outlet, the Institute for the Study of Conflict. The Cercle Pinay was a major source of support for the ISC virtually from its inception on; the Cercle Pinay and the ISC also tied in with another key British group, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, heavily funded by BOSS, apartheid South Africa's secret service. BOSS's other incursions into domestic politics in Britain, notably their smear operations against leading Liberals such as Jeremy Thorpe and Peter Hain, were a significant factor in the hijacking of British democracy in the 1970s. Three Cercle members on the FARI Board assisted FARI's actions from 1976 through to the early 1980s. FARI in many ways was the British successor to a previous Cercle operation to support South Africa; the Cercle and the ISC had been active partners in setting up a Paris-based propaganda outlet in 1974 as part of South Africa's covert media campaign later exposed in the "Muldergate" scandal.

German intelligence reports on the Cercle Pinay written in late 1979 and early 1980 which were published in Der Spiegel in 1982 also shed new light on a "Thatcher faction" within MI6 in the lead-up to the Conservatives' 1979 election victory. Whilst receiving wide publicity in France and Germany, these reports have never been covered by the British Press. This serious omission is astounding in the light of the undeniable authenticity of the reports and the startling allegations they contain: one of the German intelligence reports dated November 1979 quotes a planning paper by Crozier about a Cercle complex operation "to affect a change of government in the United Kingdom (accomplished)". The report goes on to describe a working meeting held at Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence, just after the Conservatives' election victory which brought together Prime Minister Thatcher, serving MI6 Chief Sir Arthur Franks, and two Cercle complex members - Brian Crozier and former MI6 Division Head Nicholas Elliott. Crozier's planning paper quoted by the German report also specifically mentioned international Cercle campaigns "aiming to discredit hostile personalities and/or events".

This is no isolated example; throughout the 1970s the Cercle Pinay complex was active in similar ways in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium. In the latter three countries, the Cercle complex also had close links to those waging a strategy of tension to support a right-wing coup, the latest example of which was the strategy of tension which killed 28 people in Belgium from 1982 to 1985. The Cercle complex's other covert campaigns to promote right-wing candidates concentrated in two key periods: the mid-1970s and 1979-80, both central to the electoral defeat of the Left throughout Europe generally.

The Cercle Pinay itself is an informal but confidential strategic talking-shop consisting of a core of "regulars" who invite occasional guests to Cercle meetings and who are assisted by a range of associates in many nationally-based groups. In order to make the complexities of the Right in several European countries understandable to readers, I have focused on the personnel links within and between the national groups forming part of the Cercle Pinay complex. As one of the tendencies of such groups is for their members to "play musical chairs", changing place frequently on the raft of names sponsoring an organisation, a personnel-based research approach can give rise to the danger of over-estimating the ties that link some characters or organisations. Sharing a Board membership with someone does not necessarily imply intimate knowledge of the other's various activities.

The fragmentary nature of the information available does not allow us to draw definite conclusions about to what extent a particular group or person was aware of Cercle operations, particularly of those run by several of the Cercle "regulars" with intelligence experience who would later form a private covert intelligence service, the 6I, within the Cercle complex. Crozier himself makes the point that many of the prominent politicians invited to sit in on Cercle strategic sessions had no knowledge of their hosts’ more clandestine operational activities – if only because of the "need to know" principle.

Nonetheless, a stalwart multi-functionary on the Boards of several groups linked to the Cercle can be presumed to have some deeper involvement beyond just lending his name to the cause. This study can only be a beginning; a closer look at some of those involved at national level could shed more light on the significance of the Cercle complex. The only point of certainty beyond the information given here is that the Cercle merits further investigation.

Finally, this book is dedicated to the small community of unpaid parapolitics researchers who have done much to uncover the truth that lies behind the history of the 20th century. Two in particular deserve thanks for the help and encouragement they have given me in compiling the information given here: Robin Ramsay of the Lobster and Jeffrey M. Bale of the University of Berkeley, California.

Many journalists have already covered fragments of the Cercle Pinay complex: Péan, the Spiegel, Roth and Ender, Ramsay and Dorril of the Lobster, Dumont, Mungo, the Arbeitskreis Nicaragua who produced IGfM, the Young European Federalists, Herman and O'Sullivan, Gijsels, and Brewaeys and Deliège were all important sources.

David Teacher


  1. Note 1. Crozier, pg 191.