Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Miceli, Vito (1916–1990)

Italian army officer and head of Italian military intelligence. Born in Trapani, Italy, on 6 January 1916, Vito Miceli joined the army in 1935 and served in Ethiopia, where he was wounded and captured by the British in World War II. Following his release after the war, he became active in the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI, Italian Social Movement).

Miceli continued in the army and was promoted rapidly. As a general he commanded armored divisions and served as military attaché in Paris and Bonn. In 1969 he became head of the Servizio Informazioni Operative e Situazione (SIOS, Italian Army Intelligence), and in 1970 he assumed the post of chief of the Servizio Informazioni Difesa (SID, Italian Defense Intelligence Service). He was soon involved in a number of anticonstitutional right-wing activities and met on several occasions with high-ranking members of Prince Junio Valerio Borghese's Fronte Nazionale (FN, National Front) organization. Miceli knew of Borghese's December 1970 coup attempt but failed to alert government authorities and later sought to protect FN militants from investigation by his own and other agencies. In 1972 Miceli received some $800,000 supplied by Graham Martin, U.S. ambassador to Italy, for dispersal to unspecified rightist groups, supposedly to fund anticommunist propaganda.

By 1974 it had become increasingly difficult for Miceli to conceal his activities. Information about the Borghese plotters leaked out, as did the news that right-wing terrorists had received SID funding. In October 1974 a Padua court accused Miceli of running a parallel SID organization known as the Rosa dei Venti (Compass Rose), the goal of which was to provoke by terrorist activities that would then bring about the excuse for an armed insurrection. Miceli refused to reveal what he termed were "state secrets," leading a Rome judge to charge him with abetting the Borghese conspiracy. Miceli's military career ended when he was tried and sentenced to a brief prison term.

Elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976, Miceli took advantage of his parliamentary immunity to inform authorities in the second FN trial about the parallel SID organization, although he later claimed that this was part of the Gladio stay-behind network in the event of a communist takeover in Italy. Miceli was later involved in the P2 Masonic Lodge scandal. He died in Rome on 1 December 1990.

Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Willan, Philip. Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy. London: Constable, 1991.
 

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