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Carl Bildt's User-Friendly Memory

Sweden's MFA remembers everything except of course when it's not a good idea.


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Sweden's current minister for foreign affairs Carl Bildt has an impeccable memory. At least most of the time: it fails only when it needs to. The following interview from March 2013 shows there can be times when Carl Bildt can't make up his mind if he should remember or not. From Aftonbladet.

International Visitors

Carl Bildt's collaboration with the US began when he was 23 years old. He was recruited to help in the 'fight against communism' and to support NATO in the so-called 'International Visitors programme'.

Bildt was selected by a committee populated by representatives of the CIA. They describe Bildt as a 'smart realist, a true thinker'. They predicted a promising future.

The IV programme gave grantee Bildt and a few others the equivalent of $15,000 and an exclusive trip to the US.

'The programme has been very controversial - it's very much like a CIA programme - but it's actually far more subtle than that: the CIA are very careful about their image. The CIA stay in the background, helping in the recruitment selection', says professor Giles Scott-Smith at the Roosevelt Academy in the Netherlands.

Requests Contacts, Granted Action Request

Bildt approached the US embassy several times in the years after, first asking them to help build his contact network with US politicians, but in September 1975 the ambassador reports that Bildt wants to meet CIA officers for Soviet Union intel.

The cables contain a so-called 'action request' where the ambassador asks the CIA to supply Bildt with additional contacts, and once his meetings are organised, the ambassador appoints Paul Canney as Bildt's contact - Canney is in charge of secret intel at the embassy.

And it's through Canney that Bildt one year later can send on the intel on Sweden's secret closed door governmental sessions through Ronald E Woods.

Up Against the Wall - 'This is as innocent as can be'

Aftonbladet confronted Carl Bildt with this information. Can Carl Bildt remember? Can he make up his mind?

Q: What contacts did you have with the US in the 1970s?
A: I've had contacts with them all along, all the time.

Q: But what contacts did you have when you were Gösta Bohman's assistant?
A: I have no idea. Back then I was a young student.

Q: Did you give information about closed door deliberations to US diplomats?
A: No. But I might have given them my opinion on various matters.

Q: Did you tell them anything about closed door sessions?
A: I have no idea.

Q: We have documents here that say you met people from the US embassy and told them about those sessions.
A: Oh. OK.

Q: Is it appropriate for a political secretary to have such conversations with foreign powers?
A: Yes, absolutely!

Q: When even the Swedish people don't know anything about them?
A: But those things were in all the papers back then.

Q: There was nothing at all about them in the papers back then.
A: OK.

Q: And it says here that you spoke in confidence with Ronald E Woods at the US embassy.
A: It says here... This is as innocent as can be.

Q: It also says the information was sent on to the CIA.
A: Yes, that's possible, I have no idea myself. This is as innocent as can be.

Q: But it was interesting enough that it was sent on to the CIA.
A: Yes, that's possible, but this is as innocent as can be.

Q: But back then you'd not stood for election, much less been elected. To anything.
A: What's that got to do with anything?

Q: Did you have permission to speak with the US embassy?
A: No permission at all. It was completely innocent, you could read all about it in the papers.

Q: They were closed door sessions.
A: No they weren't. They weren't closed door sessions.

Q: It says here they were.
A: Yes it's possible it says they were.

Q: It says here the party leaders had deliberated in closed door sessions.
A: Yes OK. Absolutely. And we were in agreement to build a government.

Q: But did you have permission to do that?
A: You got anything else to come at me with?

Q: Do you remember the first time you met representatives for the CIA?
A: No idea.

Q: But you can't say that!
A: I can say whatever want. I can answer your questions.

Q: Did you meet with the CIA before you were elected to office?
A: That's got nothing to do with being elected.

Q: But have you had contact with the CIA?
A: Oh stop it. Let me see if those documents say anything about that.

Q: So you think it's OK if your colleagues tell others about your confidential activities?
A: Stop. Stop, just stop. Calm down and we'll see if there's anything of interest in these documents. Is this all you've got? You don't have anything more? No idea. Obviously I don't. This is nothing.

Q: So you think it's OK if your colleagues go to the US embassy and tell them about your activities?
A: Sure. We have continual contact. My colleagues are in touch with the US embassy on a daily basis and tell them everything.

Q: Even if the information can be forwarded on to the CIA?
A: No idea, but this is as innocent as can be.

This says more about the individual Carl Bildt than anything else. It's not OK to break agreements in my world. It's unbelievably embarrassing that he goes around yapping like that.
 - Peter Eriksson, chairman, Swedish Constitutional Committee
Closed door sessions where the participants are in agreement to not leak any information: of course one doesn't speak to others.
 - Urban Ahlin, social democrat MP
If one agrees that all we do is to be kept confidential, then it's to be kept confidential. And that holds for everyone.
 - Torbjörn Fälldin, Swedish prime minister 1976-1978, leader of the closed door sessions
Every word was kept secret. Not just secret from foreign interests but secret even from our own party colleagues. We were very diligent to see that nothing at all leaked out.
 - Per Ahlmark, Liberal Party leader 1976-1978, participant in the closed door sessions

See Also
Carl Bildt's in Carter's Cables
Carl Bildt: The Seeds of Betrayal
'Bildt Treats Us with Scorn and Arrogance'

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