Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Douglas G. Hartley
HARTLEY: I think you're absolutely right. I think that the type of people we had in Rome, some of the officers there were so familiar with Italian politics that the staff meetings there were like sort of a delicately structured ballet. They had a lot of officers, and each one had his own party, so it was his bread and butter. If he could bring his party out and focus on that, or the other guy would have his party. Somebody would follow the Socialists—like Charlie Stout. I'll never forget Charlie. He could go on and on about it, God bless his soul, about the Socialist Party. I remember when I did go down there, I came down there to give a political briefing. I did some political work in Milan as well when the political officers were away. I had been to Rome and given them a briefing and talked about local politics with some rising political stars there, including a new very prominent leader, Piero bassetti, and I don't think they paid any attention to me at all. And I, in turn, didn't know half of what they were talking about because I had no real idea of these little currents that were going on within these parties. I agree with you; in the big picture, all of this is very nitty and basically trivial. But you know what reporting was like in those days, because we had so many people. We just delivered a deluge of long reports in those days of despatches and telegrams and bloated staffing.
Q: And Italy, I found, was sort of interesting. I had never run across this before. It was a terribly ingrown place. Many of the people were on their third or fourth tour in Italy, which was unlike most other places, and caught up in a country that was friendly to us, really wasn't a challenge to us, and mainly needed some hand-holding and care-taking. And that was about it in the Big Picture. Then you had these people who were exquisitely tuned to the permutations in this party system.
HARTLEY: That's right. The ambassador's staff meetings had to be seen to be believed. Did you ever attend one of those things?
Q: Yes, once in a while.
HARTLEY: They had an enormous room. And they had a huge table with about 50 people. I never did find out what some of these people were doing there and what their responsibilities were. I think it was a sort of heyday of the oversupply. There were too many Foreign Service people and there were too many people overseas. MAAG [Military Assistance Advisory Group] was there. MAaG was enormous. Nobody could ever figure out what they were doing. I know Freddy Reinhardt could never figure out what they were all doing there. MAG. It was overkill. The whole embassy was overkill.
Q: Did you ever have any feel for the CIA's operation there?