The Spectacle Blog

Re: Newsflash: Soviets Tried to Kill JPII

By on 3.2.06 | 2:57PM

Dave: You probably weren't even alive when Mehmet Ali Agca shot John Paul on May 13, 1981. Ever since that date the mainstream press has done all it can to play down if not ignore entirely any Kremlin-KGB links to the near-assassination. For you it may now be a no-brainer that the Soviets were behind the effort, but I wouldn't be so quick to scoff at news of the Italian commission's latest findings. There's probably greater acceptance of Alger Hiss's communist ties among the mainstream media than serious agreement that the Soviets tried to murder the Polish pope.

Consider what was included -- i.e. not included -- in MSM obituaries of JPII last April. First, the New York Times on April 3, 2005:

Investigators searching Mr. Agca's past learned that he was a murderer who had escaped from a Turkish prison in 1979 and had ties to a neo-Nazi group, the Gray Wolves. But no evidence of a conspiracy to kill the pope was found. Mr. Agca was tried by the Italian authorities and sentenced to life in prison.

The assailant later said the shooting was a Soviet-inspired plot involving Bulgarian and Turkish agents, and investigators uncovered tantalizing details that seemed to support some of his assertions. But an Italian court in 1986 found the evidence ambiguous and acquitted three Bulgarians and three Turks of conspiracy in the case. A link between the attack and the Bulgarian government was often asserted, but never proved.

That's it: "asserted, but never proved."

The Washington Post of April 3, 2005, was similarly vague and not even willing to raise the possibility of Soviet involvement:

In July 1981, Agca was sentenced to life in prison. Later, he sought to implicate others in the attack, and in 1984 three Bulgarians and five Turks went on trial in Rome. Although a second trial in 1986 yielded no conspiracy convictions, questions persisted about whether Agca acted alone. On Dec. 27, 1983, John Paul visited Agca in his prison cell to forgive him in person, and the two sat face-to-face for 20 minutes. After 19 years in jail in Italy, Agca was pardoned in 2000 and returned to Turkey, where he is serving a sentence for the murder of a journalist.

Meanwhile, Newsweek in its April 11, 2005 issue didn't even bother to discuss the shooting, let alone any conspiracy. It simply referred to a famous photo of the "magnanimous pope, forgiving the deranged Turk who shot him, Mehmet Ali Agca." Of course, its use of "deranged" is a giveaway, implying that JPII was shot by a nut acting alone in his insanity.

Interestingly, only Time magazine, in its April 11, 2005 issue, raised the larger conspiracy question -- merely to knock it down with characteristic wishy-washiness:

Agca's motives remain shrouded. Italian police believed he was working at the behest of a Bulgarian government trying to satisfy a Soviet wish to be rid of Solidarity's patron. Italian journalists recently claimed to have seen East German files on Soviet involvement in a plot to kill the Pope.

In any case, there can be no doubt as to the attempt's spectacular failure.

Trust me, Dave. It's going to take many, many more Italian-like commission reports before the matter of Soviet involvement in the near murder of a great pope is widely understood and accepted.

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