Washington, D.C. February 7, 2017 – CIA covert aid to Italy continued well after the agency’s involvement in the 1948 elections – into the early 1960s – averaging around $5 million a year, according to a draft Defense Department historical study published today for the first time by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University.
The study, declassified in 2016, focuses on the role of Clare Boothe Luce as ambassador to Italy, 1953-1957. In addition to overseeing a program of covert financial support to centrist Italian governments, she used the awarding of contracts under the Department of Defense Offshore Procurement Program to weaken the Italian Communist Party's hold on labor unions. The author concludes that the Eisenhower administration, faced with the possibility of civil war in Italy or the Communist Party coming to power legally, was "willing to intervene militarily only if the Communists seized power forcibly and then only in concert with other European nations."
Today's posted document was written by Dr. Ronald D. Landa, formerly with the State Department's Office of the Historian and the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It is one of three drafts he prepared for the latter office that were intended as chapters in a monograph on United States policy toward Europe during the Eisenhower administration. Landa finished the drafts in 2011 and early 2012. Declassification review took another 3-4 years. Budgetary limitations prevented completion and publication of the book.
This posting and two subsequent ones--on United States policy leading to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and on its policy during the Hungarian Revolution--focus on issues with a military dimension not covered by volumes in the official series, History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. They are of added interest given the author's access to classified U.S. records, although readers will notice that certain information has been redacted by U.S. Government reviewers. Dr. Landa also researched a variety of open materials, including the Central Intelligence Agency’s CREST database, the Declassified Documents Reference System, the Digital National Security Archive, and British records at The National Archives in London.