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Monday, March 06, 2006

Memory holes

Recently deceased Pope John Paul II suspected that the 1981 attempt on his life was not the solitary act of the Turkish hit-man convicted of the crime.
"Someone else planned and commissioned it," the Pope said, enigmatically.
Now, an Italian legislative commission has seemingly confirmed the Pope's suspicions. It says that the Soviet Union was behind the assassination attempt. From the BBC:
An Italian parliamentary commission has concluded that the former Soviet Union was behind the 1981 assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II.

The head of the commission, Paolo Guzzanti, said it was sure beyond "reasonable doubt" that Soviet leaders ordered the shooting....

"This commission believes, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the USSR took the initiative to eliminate Pope Karol Wojtyla," the report said.

Soviet leaders "communicated this decision to the military secret service in order that it carry out the necessary operations", it continued.
Moscow feared the Polish Pope's support for Lech Walesa and Solidarity.

Fairly recently, a Polish priest who worked inside the Vatican was revealed as a spy for the communist government in Warsaw.

The latest disclosures are now being revealed thanks in part to the defection of Vasili Mitrokhin, a KGB archivist who fled to the United Kingdom in 1992.

Perhaps one day American historians will know more about America's behavior during these latter stages of the cold war. However, as was widely reported in late February, the US government is currently going through the National Archives and removing documents that have long been available -- even though many have previously been searched and copied by scholars!

I think Winston Smith is at work:
As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.
Party like it's 1984!

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