The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.


Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 2, 2010




by Richard Andrew Hall

Disclaimer:  All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other U.S. Government agency.  Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views.  This material has been reviewed by CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

This paper MAY be cited when accompanied by a full, proper citation.  Thank you.

The USLAC:  The Missing Men of the Romanian Revolution

But what evidence do we have that the “USLAC”—a reference attributed to Ardeleanu, and alluded to by Vasilevici (“commandos,” he specified the involvement of Arabs in his book) and the anonymous recruit (the “professionals in black camouflage”)—in fact existed?  To me, the most convincing evidence comes from the comments of Dr. Sergiu Tanasescu, the medical trainer of the Rapid Bucharest soccer team, who was directly involved in the fighting at the Central Committee building.  One has to realize that until his comments in March 1990, the very acronym “USLAC” and its extension does not appear to have appeared in the Romanian media—and has very rarely appeared since.  Here is what he said:

Ion K. Ion (reporter at the weekly Cuvintul):  The idea that there were foreign terrorists has been circulating in the press.

Sergiu Tanasescu (trainer for the Bucharest Rapid soccer club):  I ask that you be so kind as to not ask me about the problem because it is a historical issue.  Are we in agreement?

I.I.:  O.K.

Tanasescu:  I caught a terrorist myself, with my own hands.  He was 26 years old and had two ID cards, one of a student in the fourth year of Law School, and another one of Directorate V-a U.S.L.A.C. Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare [emphasis added].  He was drugged.  I found on him a type of chocolate, “Pasuma” and “Gripha” brands.  It was an extraordinarily powerful drug that gave a state of euphoria encouraging aggression and destruction, and an ability to go without sleep for ten days.  He had a supersophisticated weapon, with nightsights [i.e. lunetisti], with a system for long-distance sound…

Ion K. Ion:  What happened to those terrorists who were caught?

S.T.:  We surrendered them to organs of the military prosecutor.  We caught many in the first days, their identity being confirmed by many, by Colonel Octavian Nae [Dir. V-a], Constantin Dinescu (Mircea’s uncle), [Army Chief of Staff, General] Guse, but especially by [Securitate Director] Vlad who shouted at those caught why they didn’t listen to his order to surrender, they would pretend to be innocent, but the gun barrels of their weapons were still warm from their exploits.  After they would undergo this summary interrogation, most of them were released.

I.I.:  Why?

S.T.:  Because that’s what Vlad ordered.  On 22 December we caught a Securitate major who was disarmed and let go, only to capture him again the next day, when we took his weapon and ammo and again Vlad vouched for him, only to capture him on the third day yet again.  We got annoyed and then arrested all of them, including Vlad and Colonel Nae, especially after a girl of ours on the first basement floor where the heating system is located found him transmitting I don’t know what on a walkie-talkie.

I.I.:  When and how were the bunkers discovered?

S.T.:  Pretty late in the game, in any case only after 24 December.  Some by accident, most thanks to two individuals [with a dog].[77]

Tanasescu’s comments are a “treasure trove” of insights on what happened.  To begin with, at a time when it appears the term USLAC had yet to appear in the press, he gave both the acronym’s extension and its relationship to the Fifth Directorate.  Second, the identity of those caught and suspected as “terrorists” is known by a high-ranking Fifth Directorate official and Securitate Director General Vlad.  Third, we see a problem that lay at the heart of madness:   with the Securitate having “sided” with the Revolution, the fox was in the hen-house, so-to-speak.  Finally, Tanasescu’s blunt effort to cut off discussion about foreign involvement during the Revolution suggests someone who knew just what a sensitive question this was.

The next time we appear to find any discussion of the term USLAC in the Romanian press is 1991—and past the republication of the 1991 comments, the term has essentially disappeared from the lexicon of the Revolution…and with it any questions that it might provoke.  Dan Badea summarized USLA Captain Marian Romanescu’s explanation of the USLAC.  Given all the details we have seen in the many quotes from participants in the events—the discussion of black jumpsuits and of Arabs—as well as the admissions of former Securitate officer Vasilievici and the former USLA recruit, much of this should sound remarkably familiar…


The USLAC Commandos:  Those who had and have knowledge about the existence and activities of the shock troops subordinated directly to Ceausescu remained quiet and continue to do so out of fear or out of calculation.  Much has been said about individuals in black jumpsuits (emphasis added), with tattoos on their left hand and chest, mercenary fanatics who acted at night, killing with precision and withdrawing when they were encircled to the underground tunnels of Bucharest.  Much was said, then nobody said anything, as if nothing had ever happened.  Overlapping the Fifth Directorate and the USLA, the USLAC commandos were made up of individuals who ‘worked’ undercover in different places. Many were foreign students, doctors and thugs committed with heart and soul to the dictator. Many were Arabs who knew with precision the nooks and crannies of Bucharest, Brasov and other towns in Romania.  (emphasis in original).”[78]

It is noteworthy in this context that in 1994, Army General Dan Ioan specified before the Senatorial Commission investigating the December events, that among those (some armed) civilian suspects arrested as terrorists, “verified more carefully, some of them had something to do with the M.I. [Interior Ministry, i.e. Securitate based on his earlier discussion].”[79]

The discussion of the USLAC as traversing Directorate V-a and the USLA—taken against the backdrop of what Tanasescu reported was the “Directorate V-a USLAC” identity card on the terrorist he arrested—sheds light on the often confusing admixture of Directorate V-a and the USLA in many descriptions.  Indeed, here we are reminded of some of the reporting from the time of the Revolution itself:  on 30 December 1989, for example, Blaine Harden of The Washington Post wrote about suspicions that the “terrorists” wearing “black jumpsuits”—“Securitate commandos” were members of the Fifth Directorate.[80] He may therefore have been describing the USLAC.

[77] Sergiu Tanasescu, interview by Ion K. Ion, “Dinca si Postelnicu au fost prinsi de pantera roz!” Cuvintul, no. 8-9, 28 March 1990, 15.

[78] Former USLA Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), p. 8.

[79] Dan Ioan cited in Urdareanu, 1989—Martor si Participant, 1996, p. 138.

[80] Blaine Harden, “Doors Unlocked on Romania’s Secret Police,” The Washington Post, 30 December 1989 p. A1; A14.


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