Celtic Communism wrote:Sworn statements filed in Federal Court also allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a "crusade" to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
According to journalist Jeremy Scahill's book Blackwater, Joseph Schmitz, a former executive at the company who also served as inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense, boasted of his membership in the Knights [of Malta] in his official biography. The defense contractor now known as Xe's chief executive, Erik Prince, reportedly espoused Christian supremacist beliefs, and its contractors in Iraq used codes and insignia based on the order's medieval compatriots, the Knights of the Templar.
Knights of Malta:
Knights of Malta, a legendary Vatican order dating back to the Crusades, when the "warrior monks" served as the military arm of the Catholic church. The knights, in their latter-day incarnation as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), are a historical anomaly. Although the order has no land mass other than a small headquarters in Rome, this unique papal entity holds the status of nation-state. It mints coins, prints stamps, has its own constitution and issues license plates and passports to an accredited diplomatic corps. The grand master of the order, Fra Angelo de Moj ana di Cologna, holds a rank in the church equal to a cardinal and is recognized as a sovereign chief of state by 41 nations with which the SMOM exchanges ambassadors.
But the real power of the order lies with the lay members, who are active on five continents. Nobility forms the backbone of the SMOM; more than 40 percent of its 10,000 constituents are related to Europe's oldest and most powerful Catholic families. Wealth is a de facto prerequisite for a knightly candidate, and each must pass through a rigorous screening. Protestants, Jews, Muslims and divorced or separated Catholics are ineligible.
"The eight-pointed white cross stands out everywhere as a symbol of charity toward mankind and as a comfort and consolation to the sick and the poor," says Cyril Toumanoff, official historian of the SMOM. In recent years its members have carried on the Hospitaler tradition of the original knights by supporting international health care and relief efforts. They proudly offer aid to the needy regardless of race, creed or religious affiliation.
But the needy aided by certain SMOM members in the late '40s were some of the 50,000 Nazi war criminals who, with the assistance of the International Red Cross, were furnished fake Vatican passports and, in some cases, clerical robes, and were smuggled on Bishop Alois Hudal's "underground railroad" to South America. Among those was Klaus Barbie, the "butcher of Lyons."
In 1948, the SMOM gave one of its highest awards of honor, the Gran Croci al Merito con Placca, to General Reinhard Gehlen, Adolf Hitler's chief anti-Soviet spy. (Only three other people received this award.) Gehlen, who was not a Catholic, was touted as a formidable ally in the holy crusade against godless Marxism. After the war he and his well-developed spy apparatus—staffed largely by ex-Nazis—joined the fledgling CIA. Eventually, hundreds more Nazis ended up on the U.S. government's payroll. Among them was Klaus Barbie.
"The CIA very early on made a decision that Nazis were more valuable as allies and agents than as war criminals," says Victor Marchetti, an ex-CIA officer who was raised a Catholic. Marchetti is disturbed by the role of the CIA and his church in perpetuating the Nazi outrage. "It gets a little crazy," he said, "when you let one thing [anticommunism] take over to the extent that you forgive everything else."
The SMOM had given a different prestigious award in 1946 to another high-level CIA operative, James Jesus Angleton. "It had to do with counterintelligence," Angleton told Mother Jones, when asked why he was chosen for such a distinction. During World War II, Angleton was head of the Rome station of the OSS. Later, on his return to Washington, he ran what was tantamount to the "Vatican desk" for the CIA. According to Angleton, the agency does not have a Vatican desk. Nor does it have an Israel desk, for that matter, yet Angleton also covered that area. The extreme sensitivity associated with Israel and the Vatican required that work relating to them be buried among Angleton's counterintelligence staff, which was well-suited for such assignments.
During the early years of the Cold War, Angleton organized an elaborate spy network that enabled the CIA to obtain intelligence reports sent to the Vatican by papal nuncios stationed behind the Iron Curtain and in other "denied" areas. This was, at the time, one of the few means available to the CIA of penetrating the Eastern Bloc.
According to previously classified State Department memoranda, Angleton recommended that the CIA fund Catholic Action, an Italian lay organization headed by Luigi Gedda, a prominent right-wing ideologue who had also been honored by the knights. Gedda was a key operative in an effort undertaken by the CIA and the Vatican to "barricade the Reds" in the 1948 Italian elections. Only weeks before the election, it appeared the Italian Communist party would prevail. The CIA and the Vatican both feared the Communists might win unless drastic measures were taken.
At the behest of Pope Pius XII, Gedda mobilized a huge propaganda machine. More than 18,000 "civic committees" were formed to get out the anti-Communist vote. The Christian Democrats scored a decisive victory. Catholic Action is credited with turning the tables.
Catholic Action continued to be a dominant factor in Italian politics throughout the Cold War. It had great influence on trade unions and youth groups in Italy-groups that were heavily subsidized by the CIA, then under the leadership of Alien Dulles. Christian Democratic politicians and church figures were also among the beneficiaries of the CIA.'s largess, which exceeded $20 million per year in the 1950s. The agency provided "project money" to numerous priests and bishops, usually in the form of contributions to their favorite charities. Often, these prelates were unaware of the true source of these funds. "We would consider people of this sort as our allies," recalls Victor Marchetti, "even though they may not consider themselves in any way allied with us."
The American section of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has about 1,000 members—including 300 "dames." They represent the vanguard of American Catholicism, the point at which the Vatican and the U.S. ruling elite intersect. "The Knights of Malta comprise what is perhaps the most exclusive club on earth," Stephen Birmingharn, the social historian, has written. "They are more than the Catholic aristocracy...[they] can pick up a telephone and chat with the pope."
And who are the American Knights? Mother Jones managed to obtain part of the secret membership list. On it we found some familiar names: Lee lacocca of Chrysler; Spyros Skouras, the shipping magnate; Robert Abplanalp, the aerosol tycoon and Nixon confidant; Barren Hilton of the hotel chain; John Volpe, former U.S. ambassador to Italy; and William Simon, who served as both treasury secretary and energy czar in the 1970s. At least one former envoy to the Vatican, Robert Wagner (the ex-mayor of New York), and the current emissary to the Vatican, William Wilson, are also members of the Knights of Malta. But there is one institution that stands out as the center of the SMOM in the United States—W.R. Grace & Company. J. Peter Grace, the company chairman, is also president of the American section of SMOM. No less than eight knights, including the chancellor of the order, John D.J. Moore (who was ambassador to Ireland under Nixon and Ford), are directors of W.R. Grace.
J. Peter Grace has a long history of involvement with CIA-linked enterprises, such as Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, which was the brainchild of General Reinhard Gehlen. He is also the board chairman of the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), which has collaborated with multinational corporations and their client dictatorships in Latin America to squelch independent trade unions. Up to $100 million a year of CIA funds were pumped into "trustworthy" labor organizations such as AIFLD, whose graduates, according to AIFLD executive director William Doherty, were active in covert operations that led to the military coup in Brazil in 1964. During the early 1970s, Francis D. Flanagan, the Grace representative in Washington, D. C., was a member of ITT's "Ad Hoc Committee on Chile," which was instrumental in planning the overthrow of Salvador Allende. AIFLD's National Workers' Confederation subsequently served as the chief labor mouthpiece for the Pinochet junta.
There are many other knights with CIA connections. Clare Boothe Luce, for example, the grande dame of American diplomacy, served as a U.S. ambassador to Italy in the 1950s and is now a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which oversees covert operations.