Fears that kidnaped former Premier Aldo Moro may disclose politically sensitive information to his captors have given new urgency to efforts by the government to reach agreement on how to free him.
Few government officials, military specialists or Western diplomats here appear concerned that Moro, sezied by Red Brigades guerrillas in a bloody shootout 19 days ago, might reveal important state secrets.
Although Moro was premier of Italy five different times, Italian premiers, according to military strategy experts here, would have only general knowledge about security matters until a major crisis arises in which they might be called on to make a strategic decision.
What really worries some of Italy's top political leaders is that Moro might disclose secrets about many scandals in which his Christian Democratic Party has been involved during its uninterrupted 33 years in power in postwar Italy.
"If Moro knows anything," one Christian Democratic member of Parliament said, "it is the background of some very embarrassing moments in our party's history."
It is precisely this type of information that the Red Brigades could make use of. Their proclaimed attack "against the heart of the state" is motivated by a conviction that the Christian Democrats have subjected Italy to a corrupt, anti-worker "regime."
Moro, in a letter released by his captors last week, told Interior Minister Francesco Cossiga that he might be "induced to speak in a manner that could be unpleasant and dangerous in certain circumstances." He warned that "certain and immeasurable damage" might be done to state if he were not freed.
Court action on the Lockheed bribery scandal, which broke when Moro was premier and took place when he was a Cabinet minister, is still pending. The complete details of other major postwar affairs have never been made public. These include abortive rightwing plots in 1964 and 1970 and a bloody 1969 bank bombing in which the Italian secret services may be involved.
Some politicians fear that under the psychological stress of imprisonment and interrogation during the "people trial" the Red Brigages say they are conducting against him. Moro might disclose damaging political secrets.
This would enable the Red Brigades to continue their attempt to discredit the government and the powerful Christian Democratic Party.