Le Cercle (formerly Pinay Group, also Pinay Circle or the Cercle Pinay) is a deep state milieu which is about as old as the Bilderberg, but considerably smaller and much more secretive. Members from around 15 countries meet yearly in both Washington DC and Europe. Leaked documents suggest that the group's activities include political subversion - especially using Gladio-style "terrorism" and assassination - and the clandestine arrangement of business transactions, especially arms deals and fraud.
- 1 Official narrative
- 2 Origins
- 3 Leadership
- 4 Meetings
- 5 Exposure
- 6 Activities
- 7 Funding
- 8 Events carried out
- 9 Related Documents
- 10 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."
David Teacher, by contrast, 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."
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 an 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 is currently unidentified) so unqualified references to "The Chairman" will very 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. Only two US chairmen are known: Ted Shackley and his successor, Richard T. McCormack.
- 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' and anti-communist. Many have been closely involved in establishing a range of institutions to promote first "anti-communism" and later "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, gleaned from the private 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.
The first known print reference to Le Cercle was probably in Time Out magazine's 1975 leaked documents from the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which referenced the "Pinay Committee". No American commercially-controlled media sources are known to have mentioned the group. Le Cercle was mentioned in 1980 in Der Spiegel (which also published the first article on the Bilderberg group) as a result of the controversy surrounding Franz Josef Strauss, a regular attendant. In the late 1990s, Le Cercle received more attention after a scandal broke out involving Jonathan Aitken, who was then European chairman. Members who were contacted by newspapers refused to answer any questions about the group.
The Cercle has had minimal attntion from the commercially-controlled media. The most comprehensive study online was carried out by ISGP researcher, Joël van der Reijden, who has been writing about the Cercle since 2005. Van der Reijden's work prompted David Teacher to pursue his study of the group and republish an updated edition of his work on the group Rogue Agents. A couple of researchers have published Ph.D. theses on the group which deserve wider publication. As of June 2017, neither Spartacus nor History Commons had a page on this group. A research proposal by Adrian Hänni noted that "the Cercle is virtually nonexistent in academic research to this day... There are, as of yet, very few studies of the Cercle that are based on primary sources and meet basic academic standards."
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 which prepared a coup against Labour government of Harold Wilson.
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. Joël van der Reijden infers that Le Cercle may be connected to the Strategy of Tension. Noting the presence of Baron Benoit de Bonvoisin in the group, he 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.
Lacking documents or testimony from Cercle members, inferences about Cercle activities remain unconfirmed. 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, John E Lewis author of The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups and Alan Clark, whose claims as much in his diaries.
Events carried out
|1975 Australian coup||15 October 1975 - 11 November 1975||Canberra|
|Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism||2 July 1979 - 5 July 1979||Jerusalem|
|Circle of Power||article||1999||David Guyatt|
|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|
|The Pinay Circle||article||1989||David Teacher|
- Document:The Pinay Circle
- A 2003 obituary in the Observer established this equivalence
- Most notably, the Langemann Papers
- Adrian Hänni's Ph.D.
- Document:Transnational History of the Cercle Pinay - Research Plan
- http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/McCORMACK,%20Richard%20T.toc.pdf p.112
- Aitken dropped by the Right's secret club
- Note, for example the connections to the 1979 JCIT; at least 3 Cercle members gave presentations and many started groups focusing on "terrorism research".
- 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?';
- Teacher, David (2008-01-06). Rogue Agents: The Cercle Pinay complex 1951-1991. p. 233.