Le Cercle (formerly the Pinay Group, also called the Pinay Circle or the Cercle Pinay) is a deep state milieu of a comparable age to the Bilderberg, but smaller and much more secretive. Originally entirely European, since 1968 members from around 15 countries have typically met yearly in both Washington DC and Europe. Leaked documents indicate that their activities include political subversion and the arrangement arms deals and fraud. Group members evinced great interest in "terrorism" back in the 1970s (at least 4 members spoke at the 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism and several set up "terrorism" research groups).
“Formed in the Fifties, Cercle was intended to cement Franco-German relations, as a buffer to Soviet aggression during the Cold War. Down the years, however, it has become much more, advocating right-wing causes round the world and growing into a confidential talking shop for about 70 politicians, businessmen, polemicists and personnel from the diplomatic and security services. Members are invited to attend its meetings; they cannot ask to be admitted, and as a condition of attending they agree to keep all sessions secret. It meets twice a year, once in Washington DC in the autumn and once in the early part of the year in an "overseas" venue.”
Chris Blackhurst (28 June 1997) 
- 1 Official narrative
- 2 Origins
- 3 Leadership
- 4 Meetings
- 5 Exposure
- 6 Activities
- 7 Funding
- 8 Related Quotations
- 9 Events Planned
- 10 Related Documents
- 11 References
In 2000, a single webpage at www.atlanticcircle.com described Le Cercle as "an informal group of European and American professionals - politicians, retired Ambassadors, former Generals, lawyers, bankers and active participants in banking, oil, shipping, publishing and trading companies - who are interested in preserving a positive Atlantic dialogue." To the UK House of Lords, this group has been described as an "informal group meeting to discuss world affairs." William Hague described it as "a political group which organises conferences." In 2007 the Washington Post termed it a "foreign policy think tank established during the Cold War that reportedly included senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence agents worldwide." Inviting the banker Jean-Maxime Leveque in 1983, Monique Garnier-Lançon wrote that at The Cercle "The leaders of the free world can now examine the very grave problems which we face in order to determine together possible solutions and then to try to implement them, each in their respective sphere."
Although named after Antoine Pinay (French prime minister in 1952) the group is believed to have been organised by Jean Violet, a close associate of his since 1951. The group arose from a Franco-German alliance (possibly in connection with [[Operation Gladio) and originally its anti-communism had a catholic Christian flavour. In the 1970s, it assumed a transatlantic secular flavour, especially with the involvement of Ted Shackley, under whose influence meetings were held on alternate sides of the Atlantic, with Shackley chairing the US meetings.
The group has had separate US and European chairs for some years - one for the Autumn meeting in the USA, one for the Spring meeting in Europe. The US chairman is less publicised (and currently unknown) so mention of "The Chairman" will probably be references to the European chairman. European chairs include Brian Crozier (1980-1985), Julian Amery (1985 - early 1990s), Christian Schwarz-Schilling (1 year), Jonathan Aitken (1993-1996), Norman Lamont (over 10 years) and most recently, Michael Ancram. The only two US chairmen identified are Ted Shackley and his successor, Richard T. McCormack. Geoffrey Tantum was named by The Telegraph as the Cercle's UK secretary.
- Full article: Le Cercle/Meetings
- Full article: Le Cercle/Meetings
The group currently meets biannually, in Washington DC every Autumn and in Spring across the Atlantic, usually in Europe, although David Rockefeller's autobiography states that it used to meet "thrice yearly". Meetings last (3-)4 days and nowadays there are "about 70" guests, although meetings used to be smaller, perhaps just 35 participants. Guests are almost all male, and sometimes bring their wives, though it is unknown to what extent (if any) they are involved in the meetings. Membership is much less fluid than a milieu such as the Bilderberg.
Most Cercle attendees have a hawkish orientation, which could be summarised as 'extreme right wing'. Many have been closely involved in establishing institutions to promote first "anti-communism" and later "counter-terrorism". These have been used to promote cold war paranoia and lay the ideological groundwork for a "global war on terror".
The identity of attendees was largely a matter of conjecture until 2011 when ISGP researcher, Joël van der Reijden obtained and published 5 guest lists for Le Cercle meetings from the papers of French Cercle visitor Monique Garnier-Lançon at Stanford University, which led him to create a list which inspired the list on the right.
These lists detail deep politicians - i.e. politicians, spooks, bankers, diplomats, deep political actors, military officers, oil experts, editors and publishers who may or may not have retired from their official functions. The participants come almost exclusively from western or western-oriented countries. Many important members tend to be affiliated with the aristocratic circles in London or obscure elements within the Vatican, and accusations of links to fascism and synarchism are anything but uncommon in this milieu.
- Full article: Le Cercle/Exposure
- Full article: Le Cercle/Exposure
As of 2019, Le Cercle remains far less exposed that the Bilderberg. It has featured very occasionally in commercially-controlled media, but most of what is publicly available about the group is from independent researchers. Preeminent among leaks were the Langemann Papers, which exposed the group as an agent of political subversion. Joël van der Reijden has been publishing about the group online since 2005 and put primary documents online in 2011.
- Full article: Rogue Agents
- Full article: Rogue Agents
David Teacher credits van der Reijden with encouraging him to update his study of Le Cercle from 1951-1991, Rogue Agents, a 578 page study of the group, which is downloadable from this site and which Peter Dale Scott termed "mind-boggling research".
Fresh documents related to Le Cercle emerged from Pretoria an elsewhere in 2017. In November 2017 Graham Vanbergen published Meet Le Cercle – Making Bilderberg Look Like Amateurs in TruePublica, which was picked up by several independent websites.
From 1972 onwards, one of the major concerns for the Cercle Pinay complex was to ensure European distribution, and particularly French-language publication, of the ISC's output.
The 1982 Langemann Papers were the first significant exposure of Le Cercle's activities, confirming that the group was actively involved in influencing Western European elections. Evidence of their involvement in other matters such weapons dealing and covert military action remains circumstantial.
Support for Conservative Politicians
David Teacher reports that "throughout the 1970s the Cercle Pinay complex was active [influencing elections in the UK,] France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium." He writes that "the Cercle complex can be seen to be an international coalition of right-wing intelligence veterans, working internationally to promote top conservative politicians who would shape the world in the 1970s and 1980s."
The Langemann Papers (November 1979) quote a planning paper by Brian Crozier about a Cercle complex operation "to affect a change of government in the United Kingdom (accomplished)". This may be a reference to the success of the "Shield" group which Crozier set up in 1976, probably with the express purpose of getting Margaret Thatcher elected, a year after she was invited to the Bilderberg meeting by Labour's Dennis Healey.
Disruption of Left Wing Governments
Le Cercle has also been accused of actively destabilizing governments which opposed a conservative economic agenda, such as Gough Whitlam's Australian government. Cercle member Robert Gascoyne-Cecil chaired the conservative Monday Club to oppose the decolonisation policies of Harold Wilson It prepared a coup against his Labour government.
Promotion of European Integration
Le Cercle (like the Bilderberg Group, to which it is often compared) is strongly focused on European integration, going back to the efforts of its early members to bring about a Franco-German rapprochement. The significant presence of Paneuropa-affiliated Opus Dei members and Knights of Malta, together with statements of the Vatican and Otto von Habsburg, suggest an agenda of creating a new "Holy Roman Empire" with borders from the Atlantic to the Black Sea and from the Baltic Sea to North Africa. Interestingly, the latest generation of British Cercle members, whose predecessors were keen on joining the European Union, now seem to want to keep Britain out of the emerging European superstate, perhaps having lost faith they can become a significant force within Europe. Their American associates, however, would like for them to continue the effort of breaking into the Franco-German alliance and possibly to establish a new Anglo-German alliance.
"War on Terror"
- Full article: “War on Terror”
- Full article: “War on Terror”
The group's interest in "counter-terrorism" and arms dealing suggests that it may have been important in devising the "War on Terror" narrative, as does the fact that at least four members of this group (Brian Crozier, Robert Moss, Gerhard Lowenthal, Alun Gwynne Jones) gave presentations at the seminal 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism. Some of the other speakers were connected to known members and may themselves have attended meetings of Le Cercle. Many members set up "terrorism research" organisations, which sheds new light on the "anti-communist" think tanks they also set up, such as Interdoc. Noting the presence of Baron Benoit de Bonvoisin in the group, Joël van der Reijden remarks that "That's major news, because Baron de Bonvoisin, besides a key Belgian figure in the Strategy of Tension, is the most key name in the Belgian X-Dossiers."
Covert Military Intervention
Following a Nasserite coup in Yemen in September 1962, Julian Amery (later Cercle chairman) met with King Hussein of Jordan and agreed to send Cercle attendee Neil McLean to report on the situation after which Amery met with McLean, David Stirling, Col Brian Franks and UK Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home to organise an unofficial mercenary operation.
Cercle visitor John Carbaugh worked for GeoMiliTech Consultants Corporation, an arms dealing group directly involved in Iran-Contra. Others such as Margaret Carlisle were aides to Iran-Contra insiders. Cercle members Paul Channon and Alan Clark are connected through their involvement in the Arms-to-Iraq affair, also to the later chairman Jonathan Aitken, who himself was involved in the Al-Yamamah arms deal as well, as was another later chairman, Norman Lamont. Nadhmi Auchi is widely reported as having made a lot of money from arms deals to Saddam Hussein, amongst others.
Ted Shackley was involved in oil deals after he left the CIA in 1979, facilitated by his close friend and fellow Cercle member, Conrad Gerber and oil smuggler John Deuss. Joël van der Reijden has suggested that Le Cercle was important in the organization of the 9/11 attacks.
The group states simply that it is "privately funded". Funding for the group has changed over the years. Multinational companies including Philips and Standard Elektrik Lorenz have given the group money. In 1971, Shell contributed a lump sum of £30,000. The Ford Foundation also donated £20,000 over three years[When?]. In the 1980s, the South African government was a major source of funds.
In 1997, the Independent suggested that the group is CIA funded. Robin Ramsay, editor of Lobster Magazine and John E. Lewis author of The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups and Alan Clark, whose claims as much in his diaries.
|Hans Langemann||“the Circle consists of a loose gathering of various conservative and anti-Communist politicians, publicists, bankers and VIPs that meets some twice a year in various parts of the world. Its origins stem from the former French Prime Minister Antoine Pinay. The Circle, which still exists today, also invites guest speakers... One recent development is the establishment within the Circle of a command staff or of an inner circle which then works out particularly suitable means for action on current political questions.”||Hans Langemann||1980|
|Le Cercle/Exposure||“For instance, in the late 1970s Le Cercle supported NATO's decision to station new medium-range nuclear weapons — Cruise and Pershing II missiles — in Britain, Germany, Belgium and Holland targeted against the USSR. Le Cercle helped to discredit the European peace protest movement which emerged against the backdrop of the nuclearization of Europe through aggressive counter-intelligence, provocations and disinformation.”||Ekaterina Blinova||8 August 2015|
|Australia/1975 coup d'état||15 October 1975 - 11 November 1975||Canberra|
|A CIA/MI6-backed covert "constitutional coup" to remove Gough Whitlam whom they saw as a loose cannon.|
|Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism||2 July 1979 - 5 July 1979||Jerusalem|
|The birthplace of the "War on Terror" doctrine.|
|Document:Circle of Power||article||1999||David Guyatt|
|Document:The Pinay Circle||article||1989||David Teacher|
|Document:The Secret Society That Rules The World||Article||7 November 2018||Bas Spliet||In his 1999 campaign autobiography, President George W. Bush mentioned his membership in passing: "My senior year I joined Skull and Bones, a secret society, so secret I can’t say anything more."|
|File:Rogue Agents (3rd edition, 2011, full).pdf||book||2011||David Teacher||A book about the activities of the covert European groupings responsible for the realisation of the European Union between the end of World War II and the mid 1990's.|
|File:Rogue Agents (4th edition, 2015, full).pdf||book||2014||David Teacher||A book about the activities of the covert European groupings responsible for the realisation of the European Union between the end of World War II and the mid 1990's|
|File:Rogue Agents - the Cercle and the 6I in the Private Cold War 1951 - 1991 by David Teacher (5th edn, 2017).pdf||book||2017||David Teacher||A book about the activities of the covert European groupings responsible for the realisation of the European Union between the end of World War II and the mid 1990's.|
- Document:The Pinay Circle
- A 2003 obituary in the Observer established this equivalence
- David Teacher wrote that the group “can be seen to be an international coalition of right-wing intelligence veterans, propaganda assets and top politicians who would shape the 1970s and 1980s.” The Langemann Papers
- https://www.independent.co.uk/news/aitken-dropped-by-the-rights-secret-club-1258522.html The Independent
- Adrian Hänni's Ph.D.
- http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/McCORMACK,%20Richard%20T.toc.pdf p.112
- Note, for example the connections to the 1979 JCIT; at least 4 Cercle members gave presentations and many started groups focusing on "terrorism research".
- File:Rogue Agents - the Cercle and the 6I in the Private Cold War 1951 - 1991 by David Teacher (5th edn, 2017).pdf
- Document:The Pinay Circle
- Stephen Dorril, MI6, Touchstone 2002, p.679.
- Stephen Dorril, MI6, Touchstone 2002, p.684.
- April 6, 2003, The Observer, 'So, Norman, any regrets this time?';
- Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; no text was provided for refs named
- Teacher, David (2008-01-06). Rogue Agents: The Cercle Pinay complex 1951-1991. p. 233.
<ref>tag with name "Rogue_Agents.2C_2008" defined in
<references>is not used in prior text.