What the CIA Thought about Mehmet Ali Agca.

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One of the interesting revelations of Paul Kengor’s book The Pope and the President is that William J. Casey, Ronald Reagan’s head of the CIA, had to fight against the institutional Central Intelligence Agency to push the narrative that Soviet intelligence was involved in the assassination attempt on John Paul II. Furthermore, Kengor himself was rebuffed by CIA men when he proposed the theory, and as Kengor reveals, the CIA even went out of its way to attack Claire Sterling, the journalist who first proposed the Soviet connection in Reader’s Digest.

Of course, there is evidence of collaboration between elements of American and Soviet governmental bodies during the Cold War. Was there collusion in the attempt on John Paul II’s life? Or was it just a rock the CIA did not want to turn over?

This dismissal of Agca by the Central Intelligence Agency leaves us with some interesting questions.

  1. Why is the narrative of Soviet involvement in the attempt so important to Catholic neocons?
  2. Why would the CIA so vehemently deny the involvement of the KGB or any other intelligence agency in the attempt?
  3. Was Agca working for someone else outside the main channels of Soviet or American intelligence?

Mehmet Ali Agca and the JPII Assassination Attempt Revisited

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Dear Reader,

I am in the midst of Paul Kengor’s book A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.  This book is very curious, for it tries to seize the message of Fatima and craft a purely 20th century narrative from it, i.e., the real message of Fatima is the struggle between the United States and her allies and the Soviet Union and there is no future chastisement to come. The book also seeks not only to canonize Ronald Reagan but even members of the Reagan family who were known for their irreligiousness.

There is much to say, but I want to focus on Kengor’s curious attempt to prove (once again) that the attempted assassin of John Paul II, Mehmet Ali Agca was working for Soviet intelligence and DEFINITELY NOT WESTERN INTELLIGENCE.

Kengor admits that (without saying so overtly) that Agca had all of the characteristics of a CIA operative, including:

  1. Unstable family life / and loner genius personality.
  2. Ties to fascism.
  3. Ties mafia in a NATO country.
  4. A mysterious jail break.
  5. Experience murdering.

However, Kengor explicitly ridicules the idea of the Central Intelligence Agency using a mafia linked criminal from a NATO country to perform an assassination: “It did not take long before both the Bulgarians and Soviets were contending that the CIA had tried to kill the pope. Yes, the CIA. Truly, nothing was beyond the communist propagandists.”  This is the typical post-Cold War neocon (and even neoliberal narrative): The Soviets believed that Agca was a right wing assassin because he sure looked like one, but, of course, the Soviets were a bunch of crazy, stupid liars who lost the Cold War, so everything they said was a lie.

Reader, let me leave you with some rhetorical questions.

  1.  Did the CIA ever employ a fascist mafia hitman from a NATO country to perform any criminal activity?
  2. Is it true that the Soviet intelligence and press were composed of the cartoonish bungling Keystone cops that neocons depict them as being?
  3. Is it is more likely that the attempted assassinations of John Paul and Ronald Reagan (by a friend of  the Bush family) have a CIA not a KGB link?
  4. Why does every neocon biographer of John Paul II go out of the way to try to prove the KGB assassination theory?
  5. Why doesn’t Kengor mention the ties between John Hinckley, the attempted assassin of president Reagan, and the Bush Family?