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.

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape: The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989 (Part VII: Conclusion. Those Who Told Us the Truth) by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 28, 2010

for Part I see PART I: His Name Was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias

for Part II see Part II: A Revolution, A Coup d\’etat, AND a Counter-Revolution

for Part III see Part III: Lost…during Investigation

for Part IV see Part IV: The Good Sergeant Schultz or They Know Nothing

for Part V see Part V: Seeing is Believing Videos One and Two

for Part VI see Part VI: Seeing is Believing, Videos 3 and 4

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape:

The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989

by Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Standard 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.  [Submitted 19 November 2009; PRB approved 15 December 2009]

I am an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.  I have been a CIA analyst since 2000.  Prior to that time, I had no association with CIA outside of the application process.

Those Who Have Told Us the Truth [1]

As opposed to the aforementioned Vladimir Belis, Pavel Corut, and Dan Voinea, all of whom who have strenuously and repeatedly denied the existence and use in December 1989 of atypical munitions of dum-dum bullets and vidia bullets, there exist those who have told us of the existence and use of these in December 1989.[2] They are essentially, for lack of a better term, former Securitate whistleblowers, who have admitted the Securitate’s role in providing the “terrorists” who caused so much destruction, mayhem, and loss of life in those days.

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989.  What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding [dum-dum] bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions” [emphasis added]—in other words, exploding or dum-dum bullets.[3]

The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89.  In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched.  Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition.  In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances.  I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets.  In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox.  We had been drugged.  We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us.  Don’t publish my name.  I fear for me and my parents.  When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’  The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize.  I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’.[4] [emphases added]

As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention:  the former Securitate.  That is not accidental.[5]

Those discussed as alternatively “commandos” or “professionals” appear to have been members of the so-called USLAC—Special Unit for Anti-terrorist and Commando Warfare.  In 1991, Dan Badea summarized former USLA Captain Marian Romanescu’s description of the USLAC as follows:

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, 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.

Traversing the [Securitate’s] Fifth Directorate and the USLA, the USLAC commandos were made up of individuals who ‘worked’ undercover at different posts.  Many were foreign students, doctoral students 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.  For training these had at their disposal several underground centers of instruction:  one was in an area near Brasov, while another—it appears—was right under the former headquarters of the PCR CC [communist party central committee building], a shooting range that was—discovered by accident by several revolutionaries during the events of December .”[6]

We also know from Romanescu and a second source that USLA commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu (Bula Moise) addressed his troops as follows:

“On 25 December at around 8 pm, after the execution of the dictators, Colonel Ardeleanu gathered the unit’s members into an improvised room and said to them:

‘The Dictatorship has fallen!  The Unit’s members are in the service of the people.  The Romanian Communist Party [PCR] is not disbanding!  It is necessary for us to regroup in the democratic circles of the PCR—the inheritor of the noble ideas of the people of which we are a part!…Corpses were found, individuals with USLAC (Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare) identity cards and identifications with the 0620 stamp of the USLA, identity cards that they had no right to be in possession of when they were found…’  He instructed that the identity cards [of members of the unit] had to be turned in within 24 hours, at which time all of them would receive new ones with Defense Ministry markings.” [7] [8]

In other words, a cover-up of a now failed attempt at counter-revolution—having been cut short by the execution of the Ceausescus, the object of their struggle—had begun.  In the days and weeks that were to follow, the Securitate, including people such as the seemingly ubiquitous Colonel Ghircoias discussed in the opening of this article would go about recovering those “terrorists” who were unlucky enough to be captured, injured, or killed.  By 24 January 1990, the “terrorists” of the Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989, no longer existed, so-to-speak, and the chances for justice and truth about what had happened in December 1989 would never recover.[9]

THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED. THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION WAS VIDEOTAPED.

Poet, essayist, and NPR contributor Andrei Codrescu memorably turned Gil Scott Heron’s famous social commentary—“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”—on  its head, saying that contrary to what Heron’s song had led them to expect …in Romania, the revolution was televised!  But if you read on or listen to Codrescu closely, it would be more accurate to say that he, like many Romanians and Romanianists, believes that what happened in December 1989 was a coup d’etat—he talks about the“staging of the revolution” and how the coup plotters “seized the means of projection”—and thus what he really seems to intend to say is that “the coup d’etat was televised.”[10]

On the other hand, Vladimir Tismaneanu is quoted as once having memorably said:  ”The VCR killed Ceausescu even before his execution…It was the most important factor in terms of creating a mass consciousness.”[11] It is an important and insightful observation about the power of technology and the challenges it poses to centralized control, especially of the totalitarian state.

Ceausescu’s image and control was damaged by the video-player—to say nothing of, by live television, with the infamous “mirror-shattering” moment of 21 December 1989.  However, as this paper has demonstrated, it is the video-recorder that has undone his final and unfortunately (ever)lasting “Christmas gift” to his Romanian subjects, and that has undone the lies of those—including certain past military prosecutors with roots in the communist era—bent on covering this up.

[1] This section borrows heavily from Hall 2008 and Hall 2006.

[2] In addition to these videos, I have thus far accumulated 45 mentions/claims of use of dum-dum and/or vidia bullets in December 1989.  These include the testimonies of doctors who treated the wounded, but also military officers—not just recruits—who are familiar with ballistics.  Separately, I also have accumulated 36 mentions/claims of people who were either killed or wounded by such atypical munitions during the events.  Significantly, these include people killed or wounded prior to 22 December 1989 as well as after, and they are from multiple cities and a variety of locations for both periods—suggesting not accident, but a well-executed plan by the repressive forces of the Ceausescu regime, the Securitate and their foreign mercenary allies.  See Hall 2008 for some of these.

[3] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara:  Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[4] “Dezvaluiri despre implicarea USLA in evenimentele din decembrie ’89,” Romania Libera, 28 December 1994, p.3.

[5] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html .

[6] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[7] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[8] What evidence do we have that the “USLAC”—a reference attributed to Ardeleanu, discussed by Romanescu, 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].

Sergiu Tanasescu, interview by Ion K. Ion, “Dinca si Postelnicu au fost prinsi de pantera roz!” Cuvintul, no. 8-9, 28 March 1990, 15.  From Hall, 2006.

[9] For some of the discussion of how the problem was made to “go away,” see Hall 2006 and the section “Foreign Involvement.”

[10] Andrei Codrescu, The Hole in the Flag (Morrow and Company, 1991).  For a discussion of this Codrescu’s sources and arguments, including his allegations of a Yalta-Malta conspiracy, see Hall 2005.

[11] Quoted in Alexander Stille, “Cameras Shoot Where Uzis Can’t,” New York Times, 20 September 20 2003, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/20/arts/cameras-shoot-where-uzis-can-t.html.

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