There is little doubt that there was a more shadowy group of plotters behind Borghese and Delle Chiaie, a group which includes important factions within the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties, the military and, ultimately, NATO and the Americans. The influential Rome weekly L’Espresso (circulation over 300,000) noted that the head of CIA counterintelligence, the rabid rightwinger James Jesus Angleton, the American agent who saved Prince Borghese’s life in 1945 by providing him with a US military uniform and escorting him to Rome, arrived for a private visit to Italy a few weeks before the attempted coup and returned shortly after it had been aborted.
The Milan weekly Panorama (6 November 1975) reported: “To further the implementation of the coup, Borghese’s “National Front” had long since established liaisons with the USA in the person of President Nixon, as well as with members of NATO units stationed at Malta. Before the coup proceeded, a telephone call was made from Rome; it was to have reached the American President in the USA by way of Naples and Malta. For reasons as yet unclear the call got no further than Malta. Off that island, four NATO ships of the US Sixth Fleet were standing by, ready to weigh anchor at the first command in order to carry out a mission of approach and possible support of the putschists action-manoeuvres very similar to those carried out by the US navy off Santiago, Chile on 11 September 1971. According to the later claims of Remo Orlandini, a key figure in the conspiracy, President Nixon had followed all the preparations leading up to the coup through two CIA agents involved in the plot a man named Fenwich, an American engineer with the Selenia company, and an Italo-American by the name of Talenti. Orlandini claims to have heard several telephone conversations in which Fenwich personally briefed the White House on the conspirators plans. These claims are confirmed in an SID memorandum sent to judge Filipo Fiore and public prosecutor Claudio Vitalone.
Neither Fenwich nor Talenti ever answered the magistrate’s summons and it has been impossible to pinpoint their identities. However, during the 1968 US election campaign an Italian American called Pier Talenti, resident in the US since the war, had been one of Nixon’s press attachés. In 1972 the same Talenti established an Italian Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) which had the job of raising funds among Italian industrialists (in contravention of US legislation).
According to the January 1976 report of the Pike Committee of the US House of Representatives on the CIA and the FBI, one of the primary functions of the CIA from its inception was to disrupt democracy in allied or subject countries. From 1948 to 1968 the CIA and related organisations expended over 65 million dollars in Italy alone to ensure the failure of communist electoral efforts.
Italy is of immense strategic importance to NATO Southern Command. Even without Greek or Turkish bases the US Sixth Fleet and other NATO naval forces could still fulfil their function in the eastern Mediterranean. However, if Italy were to leave the alliance then it is highly probable that NATO Southern Command based in Naples on the Italian mainland and La Maddalena in Sardinia would have to withdraw from the Mediterranean altogether.
In June 1969 Enrico Berlinguer, then Deputy Secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), made a speech outlining his party's attitude to NATO:
“We are struggling so that Italy should not take part in any military or potential bloc, for its exit from NATO and the removal of NATO bases in Italy. We are fighting for a state of neutrality … and for the transformation of the Mediterranean into a sea of peace.”
The continuing weakness of the Italian economy and its governments, combined with a strong indigenous labour movement and the increasing likelihood of PCI involvement in government, provide both NATO and the Americans with a strong motive for neutralising any shift to the left in Italian politics. In the view of the NATO planners, the entry of the PCI into government as urged by Aldo Moro would have far-reaching repercussions and seriously upset the balance of “East-West” relations. For the right, the prospect of communist involvement in government would mean the end of NATO.
Noam Chomsky has written on the subject of US destabilisation at length and with some insight:
“These activities are not sporadic or ‘out of control’, but are systematic, relatively independent of political changes, and in general organised at the highest levels of state. According to the Pike Committee. ‘All evidence in hand suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control, has been utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.’ The ‘great majority’ of its covert action projects were proposed by parties outside the CIA, that is by the civilian agencies that used the CIA, in effect, as a secret army of the Presidency.
“These programmes formed a part of the successful US governmental effort, abetted by the US labour bureaucracy, to split and weaken the European labour movement and in general to restore European capitalism and ensure US dominance of most of the industrial world. The Pike Committee gives this quantitative estimate: ‘From 1965 to date, 32 per cent of Forty Committee approved covert action projects were for providing some form of financial election support to foreign parties and individuals.’ The Forty Committee is the ‘review and approval mechanism for covert action’ directly controlled by the President. These efforts to subvert democracy constitute the largest covert action category of the CIA and are directed primarily against the Third World.
… Indirectly, then, the Pike Committee report also leads to some interesting speculations with regard to US government policy. ... Some of the CIA activities are remarkable in their cynicism. To cite one case, the CIA supported the rebellion of the Kurds in Iran while the US acted to prevent a political settlement that might have prepared a degree of Kurdish autonomy. Kissinger, Nixon and the Shah also insisted on a no win policy so that the revolt would persist, undermining both Iran and the Kurdish movement. With a shift in international politics, the Kurds were sold out. The US then refused even humanitarian assistance to its former allies and they were crushed by force. The reason was explained to the Pike Committee Staff by a high government official: covert action should not be confused with missionary work.
(The Secret Terror Organisation of the US Government, in Noam Chomsky, Radical Priorities, Black Rose Books, Montreal, Canada, 1982.)
It would appear likely that Prince Borghese and his fellow plotters were being set, up as victims of a CIA/NATO stratagem similar to that employed against the Kurds and other manipulated minorities.