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Cryptonym: LARKSPUR

Definition:
LARKSPUR was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) cryptonym for Sergio Mainetto. LARKSPUR appeared to be connected to DEVISTA-1 in a series of documents during 1965.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
DEVISTA-1 was described as a "Italian leftist-known journalist" in an October 1963 cable. In addition, Sergio Mainetto also had the OSS cryptonym of DEVILFISH. Sergio Mainetto was an Italian paratrooper in World World Two. Documents stated that his father was killed by Red Partisans and his home was burned down in 1944.
Sources:

https://www.archives.gov/files/iwg/declassified-records/rg-263-cia-records/second-release-lexicon.pdf

CIA document: Research Aid: Cryptonyms and Terms in Declassified CIA Files Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Disclosure Acts: Page 37: ..."Term: LARKSPUR. Definition: OSS cryptonym for Sergio Mainetto..." - - - Page 24: ..."Term: DEVILFISH. Definition: OSS cryptonym for Sergio Mainetto..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/MAINETTO%2C%20SERGIO_0003.pdf

Undated: CIA document: "I. Project (REDACTION). II. Agent Pseudonym: LARKSPUR (JK 44). JK 44/1 is also engaged on the project. III. Biographical Facts: LARKSPUR: Subject was born 14 January 1912 at Milan. He attended the University of Turin and gained some attention as a champion boxer and Olympic swordsman. During the war he served as a paratrooper and saw action in the Greek, North Africa and Sardinian campaigns...In August 1944 subject was recruited by Captain Nickelli of OSS/Genoa, and has been employed there ever since. Since Red Partisans killed his father and burned his home in June 1944, subject is very anti-Communism..." These are similar documents: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/MAINETTO%2C%20SERGIO_0006.pdf : https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/MAINETTO%2C%20SERGIO_0015.pdf

104-10101-10021: CABLE: UNILATERAL ASSET SAILING FOR LATIN AMERICA REPORTING TOUR WITH EMPHASIS ON CUBA.

11/15/63: Cable from Director to Mexico City: "1. Please have DEVISTA-1 ask PCI for Communist contacts in Central American countries he plans to visit. Major interest to get contacts in El Salvador (SALV) due HQs lack recent info on CP SALV. 2. Station SALV has been asked to cable Rome names of SALV leading leftists which Station wishes DEVISTA-1 to contact. These contacts should be used unless he gets better contacts from PCI. 3. Requirements on SALV Communism: Names of leaders and key functionaries. Number of members, number of sympathizers, plans and activities, relationship between SALV CP and Frente Unido de Accion Revolucionario (FUAR a leftist group). Plans and activities of FUAR leaders. 4. OIRA 35588 suggests PACY contact Subject at Cristobal because it will be great psychological factor and morale builder knowing he supported all the way. PACY 1254 states PACY prefers no contact unless necessary. But HQs urges PACY contact if possible. Advise. 5. Suggest DEVISTA not enter Honduras, Nicaragua or Guatemala due to present political conditions. 6. MEXI: please debrief SUBJ on above requirements on arrival in MEXI, prior final Cuban briefings. WH/Comment: *DEVISTA-1, unilateral asset and (REDACTION) Communist journalist, sailing on (Unintelligible) Versi, 25 Nov. for Latin America reporting tour with emphasis on Cuban Rqms."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/AERODYNAMIC%20%20%20VOL.%2032%20%20%28OPERATIONS%29_0021.pdf

08/16/65: Cable from Director to Withheld (Orig: Withheld, Unit: SR/CA): Slugline LARKSPUR: "1. Primary objective is stir up dissension among western Communists. 2. DEVISTA/1 black letter seems suitable vehicle for adequate surfacing this letter since it genuine and already in hands several upper echelon PCI leaders. *Comment: Ref re distribution of black letter."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/AERODYNAMIC%20%20%20VOL.%2032%20%20%28OPERATIONS%29_0094.pdf

11/04/65: Dispatch from Chief, WE to Chief of Withheld: Subject: REDWOOD/AERODYNAMIC/LARKSPUR/DEVISTA Surfacing the Full Ukrainian Letter Text: "1. Headquarters has been mulling over the various follow-ups to use soon after extracts of the Ukrainian black letter appear in the DEVISTA black letter. Wide surfacing the whole text of the Ukrainian letter, if possible without the American hand showing to anyone, is what Headquarters has in mind. As the reference states, it is hoped that there will be some spontaneous coverage of the DEVISTA letter containing the Ukrainian (and Mao) item in the Italian non-Communist press, but no one should count on it. Headquarters agreed with (REDACTION) statement that the (REDACTION) does not have the ideal publication asset for issuing the whole Ukrainian letter, i.e. an asset which is not an anti-Communist warhorse who could logically be in the pay of local or foreign anti-Communist entities such as WSCARIOUS or KUBARK (CIA). Publishing the full text of the Ukrainian letter via assets of the (REDACTION) was briefly considered, but also discarded for much the same reasons. In (REDACTION), KUBARK's hand would show at least to the agent asked to place the item. We now have an alternate proposal which is not surefire but stands a good chance of attaining the publicity we desire without the American hand being visible to anyone. (We are mindful that DEPLUNGE and others have on occasion thought that documents we handed them for printing were forgeries). Basically, our present idea is the following: About a week or ten days after the next DEVISTA letter reaches the recipients, two or three envelopes are mailed in Rome to prominent ex-Communists (such as DEPLUVIOUS and DEPLUNGE) and to the editor of L'Espresso containing four items: the DEVISTA black letter with the Ukrainian item..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/AERODYNAMIC%20%20%20VOL.%2032%20%20%28OPERATIONS%29_0105.pdf

11/29/65: Dispatch from Chief of Withheld to Chief, WE (Attn: Chief, WE/4) (Info: Chief, SR): Subject: REDWOOD/AERODYNAMIC/LARKSPUR Surfacing of Full Ukrainian Letter Text: "1. After careful consideration by case officers concerned the (REDACTION) has concluded that the possible disadvantages of implementing the suggestion contained in reference greatly outweigh any possible benefits, and that it therefore does not intend to proceed further in the matter. Among the reasons for this decision are - A. It is unlikely that anyone receiving three anonymous items in the same packet/i.e., Ukrainian letter, DEVISTA/1 black letter, unsigned covering letter/will place any credence in any of them. B. Despite Headquarters' assurances that the Ukrainian letter is authentic, anyone receiving it is almost certain to consider it a phony/see para 2 below. To include the DEVISTA/1 black letter with it might, and probably would, lead to suspicions of its authenticity. This does not appear to have happened as yet and the (REDACTION) does not wish to risk having it happen. The mere mention of the Ukrainian letter in the October issue led DEDRONE/1 for the first time to brand the letter as a 'provocation'/see below. Headquarters will recall that DEPLUNGE refused to print the 'defense of Khrushchev' letter because he considered it a fake. He almost certainly would consider this one to be in the same category, and the (REDACTION) has no reason to believe that DEPLUVIOUS and the editor of L'Espresso would react differently. 2. Thus far, the (REDACTION) has received only one reaction from DEDRONE/1 - to the October DEVISTA/1 letter in which the Ukrainian letter is mentioned/the report is being pouched. DEDRONE/1 refers to it as the 'ridicola storiella' about Ukrainian Communists and has no doubts about it being a phony..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/AERODYNAMIC%20%20%20VOL.%2032%20%20%28OPERATIONS%29_0105.pdf

11/29/65: Dispatch from Chief of Withheld to Chief, WE (Attn: Chief, WE/4) (Info: Chief, SR): Subject: REDWOOD/AERODYNAMIC/LARKSPUR Surfacing of Full Ukrainian Letter Text: "3. It should be noted for the record that DEVISTA/1 protected strongly when (REDACTION) first asked him to use some quotes from the Ukrainian letter in the October issue. He claimed that it did not fit into the letter in light of past contents thereof, and indicated he considered it a KUBARK-manufactured document, despite (REDACTION) assurances to the contrary. He finally did use it, but only as a result of a flat order from (REDACTION) that he do so. (REDACTION)."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/AERODYNAMIC%20%20%20VOL.%2032%20%20%28OPERATIONS%29_0110.pdf

12/06/65: Dispatch from Chief of Withheld to Chief, SR (Info: Chief, WE) (Attn: Chief, WE/4): Subject: REDWOOD/AERODYNAMIC/DEVISTA Surfacing Full Ukrainian Letter Text: "1. (REDACTION) reports DEVISTA/1 has established working relationship, using alias, with Identity and is now in position to write article about Ukrainian letter for publication that paper. Article would probably be attributed to Identity's correspondent in other European city, for example, London or Paris, and likely to include only quotes, not full text. 2. Please advise HQs' interest in publicizing letter via this channel. (REDACTION)." - - - Page 3: "SEPARATE COVER IDEN: Il tempo."

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Gavin McDonald

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