"When I arrived, I didn't have much left to dissolve. There only remained a few remnants, of which I learned the existence with some surprise because everyone had forgotten about them."
Italian Prime Minister Giulo Andreotti, however, wasn't pleased by how Mitterrand dismissed France's involvement, saying that far from being shut down, France's secret army participated in a secret October 24, 1990 ACC meeting in Brussels. Mitterrand refused to comment.
Germany's Secret Armies
In 1990, when learning about Germany's secret army, socialist parliamentarian Hermann Scheer called for an investigation at the highest levels saying:
"....the existence of an armed military secret organization outside all governmental or parliamentary control is incompatible with the constitutional legality, and therefore must be prosecuted (under) criminal law."
Later he stepped back after learning that socialists knew and suppressed it. At the same time, press reports claimed right-wing extremists, including former Nazis, were part of a secret army called Organisation Gehlen (ORG, later changed to BND), named for WW II General Reinhard Gehlen, head of Eastern Front intelligence. He was later recruited by America to establish an anti-Soviet spy ring, and by West Germany to head its intelligence.
According to a former NATO intelligence official, "Gehlen was the spiritual father of Stay Behind in Germany....his role known to the West German leader Konrad Adenauer from the outset."
On September 9, 1952, former SS officer Hans Otto told Frankfort police that he "belong(ed) to a political resistance group, the task of which was to carry out sabotage activities and blow up bridges in case of a Soviet invasion," adding that while "neo-fascist tendencies were not required, most members" had them. In addition, financing was "provided by an American citizen (named) Sterling Garwood."
Otto said the initiative was code-named Technischer Dienst des Bundes Deutscher Jugend (TD BDJ), commanded by Erhard Peters, and financed by the CIA. It had a blacklist of leftists to be assassinated in case of an emergency, perhaps manufactured ones to do it anyway.
Though officials like August Zinn, Hessen state Prime Minister, were outraged and wanted members investigated, the highest Karlsruhe court, Bundesgerichshof (BGH), ordered all TD BDJ members released, Zinn believing "The only legal (reason was that) they acted (in response to) America('s) direction."
Austria's Secret Armies
In 1947, Austria's first secret army became known when a right-wing stay-behind network was discovered. The so-called Soucek-Rossner conspiracy resulted in a number of arrests, Soucek and Rossner testifying that they had recruited and trained right-wing partisans to prepare for a Soviet invasion, insisting Washington and Britain had full knowledge and approved. Nonetheless, both men were convicted and sentenced to death in 1949, yet were mysteriously pardoned by Chancellor Theodor Korner, perhaps following CIA orders.
Thereafter, senior Austrian officials approved of a stay-behind army and began cooperating with the CIA and MI6. Franz Olah set one up, code-named Osterreichischer Wander-Sport-und Geselligkeitsverein (OWSGV), later saying "special units were trained in the use of weapons and plastic explosives." His prime motive was to prevent a leftist takeover, explaining:
"It wasn't our intention to fight communism in the Soviet Union but to fight against" internal leftist elements. "We took weapons. We also had modern plastic explosives that were easy to handle. I had a small arsenal of weapons in my office. There must have been a couple of thousand people working for us....Only very, very highly positioned politicians and some members of the union knew about it."
In 1996, the Boston Globe revealed the existence of secret CIA arms caches in Austria, President Thomas Klestil and Chancellor Franz Vranistzky insisting they knew nothing about it or the existence of a secret army.
Clinton's State Department spokesman, Nicholas Burns, called their aim "noble," admitting that similar networks operated in other European countries. In August 2001, GW Bush appointed Burns US Permanent Representative to NATO, where he headed the combined State-Defense Department US Mission and coordinated NATO's response to the 9/11 attacks.