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Ford & Bush Protected DC Assassins


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Exclusive: President Barack Obama vows to punish Iran for a dubious assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador, but an actual murder of a diplomat in Washington in 1976 – carried out by right-wing allies in Chile – was followed by three decades of obstruction, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

http://consortiumnew...sination-plots/

With Official Washington abuzz over a bizarre U.S. accusation that Iran's Quds spy agency plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, it might be worth recalling how American authorities responded to an actual terror bombing in Washington 35 years ago that killed a former Chilean foreign minister and an American co-worker.

Because that 1976 assassination was carried out by an allied intelligence agency,Chile's DINA, against a perceived "leftist," Orlando Letelier, the CIA – then run by George H.W. Bush – hid evidence of Chile's guilt and circulated false cover stories of Chile's innocence that were picked up by the major U.S. news media.

Shortly after Letelier and a female co-worker, Ronni Moffitt, were killed by a bomb planted under his car, Bush's CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile's military dictatorship, misinformation that was spread through Newsweek magazine, the New York Times and other U.S. news outlets.

The CIA disseminated the exonerating report despite later admissions that the CIA was aware in 1976 that Chile was participating in Operation Condor,a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and despite the CIA's own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind Letelier's murder, the first terrorist bombing of its type in Washington D.C.'s history.

In areport to Congress in September 2000, the CIA officially admitted for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief ManuelContreras, was a paid asset of the CIA. The CIA also acknowledged publicly that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination.

The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the Letelier-Moffitt murders at the time and included that suspicion in an internal cable. "CIA's first intelligence report containing this allegation was dated 6 October 1976," a little more than two weeks after the bombing on Sept. 21, 1976, the CIA disclosed.

Nevertheless the CIA – then under CIA Director George H.W. Bush – leaked for public consumption an assessment clearing DINA, which was then run by Contreras.

Relying on the word of Bush's CIA, Newsweek reported that "the Chilean secret police were not involved" in the Letelier assassination. "The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile's rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime." [Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1976]

Bush, who became vice president in 1981 and president in 1989, has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed.

A Newsweek Story

As a Newsweek correspondent in 1988, when Bush was running for president, I prepared a detailed story about Bush's handling of the Letelier assassination. The draft story included the first account from U.S. intelligence sources that Contreras was a CIA asset in the mid-1970s. I also learned that the CIA had consulted Contreras about the Letelier assassination, information that the CIA then would not confirm.

The sources told me that the CIA sent its Santiago station chief, Wiley Gilstrap, to talk with Contreras after the bombing. Gilstrap then cabled back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Contreras's self-serving assurances that the Chilean government was not involved.

Contreras told Gilstrap that the most likely killers were communists who wanted to make amartyr out of Letelier, a deception that Bush's CIA and right-wing media allies used to muddy the investigative waters in fall 1976.

In1988, my story draft also described how Bush's CIA had been forewarned in 1976 about DINA's secret plans to send agents, including DINA's assassin Michael Townley,into the United States on false passports.

Upon learning of this strange mission at the time, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, George Landau, cabled Bush about Chile's claim that Townley and another agent were traveling to CIA headquarters for a meeting with Bush's deputy, Vernon Walters. Landau also forwarded copies of the false passports to the CIA.

Walters cabled back that he was unaware of any scheduled appointment with these Chilean agents. Landau immediately canceled the visas, but Townley simply altered his plans and continued on his way to the United States.

The CIA has never explained what action it took, if any, after receiving Landau's warning. A natural follow-up would have been to contact DINA and ask what was a foot or whether a message about the trip had been misdirected.

"Itis quite beyond belief that the CIA is so lax in its counterespionage functions that it would simply have ignored a clandestine operation by a foreign intelligence service in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere in the United States," wrote John Dinges and Saul Landau intheir 1980 book, Assassinationon Embassy Row. "It is equally implausible that Bush, Walters, Landau and other officials were unaware of the chain of international assassinations that had been attributed to DINA."

THE ARTICLE IS MUCH LONGER AND CAN BE FOUND AT:

http://consortiumnew...sination-plots/

By Robert Parry

Also see: § Spartacus.schoolnet

Michael Vernon Townleywas born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1942. His father,Vernon Townley, was appointed head of the Ford Motor Company in Chile. As a result, the familymoved to Santiago. Vernon Townley, whohad developed links with the CIA while working in the Philippines, becameinvolved in politics and helped fund the 1958 presidential campaign ofconservative candidate, Jorge Alessandri who narrowly managed to defeatSalvador Allende in the election.

Michael Townley went towork for InvestorsOverseas Services, the company owned by Bernard Cornfeld and Robert Vesco. In 1961Townley married MarianaCallejas. Although active in the Socialist Party ofChile, she was actually working as an informer for Chilean militaryintelligence. Soon afterwards Townley began working for the CIA. He becameassociated with a Cuban group called the Chicago Junta. This group included Frank Sturgis, Orlando Bosch, Antonio Veciana and AldoVera Serafin. According to Peter Dale Scott,this operational hit team was disbanded on 21st November, 1963, the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

In 1967 Townley moved toMiami. According to Donald Freed (Deathin Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier) Towney was now beingsponsored by Frank Sturgis and the Secret Army Organization (SAO). "Townley beganan intensive study of electronics and explosives under the tutelage of severalformer CIA men who were in the process of taking over anelectronics operation in the Fort Lauderdale area." One ofTownley's tasks was to plant bombs under the cars of people living in Miami.

In 1969 the CIA arranged for Townley tobe sent to Chile under the alias of Kenneth W. Enyart. He wasaccompanied by Aldo Vera Serafin of the SAO. Townley now came under the control of David AtleePhillipswhohad been asked to lead a special task force assigned to prevent the election of Salvador Allende as President of Chile.This campaign was unsuccessful and Allende gained power in 1970. Hethereforebecame the first Marxist to gain power in a free democratic election.....

§ Spartacus.schoolnet

§ National Security Archives - CIA declassified documents

Edited by William Kelly
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Exclusive: President Barack Obama vows to punish Iran for a dubious assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador, but an actual murder of a diplomat in Washington in 1976 – carried out by right-wing allies in Chile – was followed by three decades of obstruction, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

http://consortiumnew...sination-plots/

With Official Washington abuzz over a bizarre U.S. accusation that Iran's Quds spy agency plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, it might be worth recalling how American authorities responded to an actual terror bombing in Washington 35 years ago that killed a former Chilean foreign minister and an American co-worker.

Because that 1976 assassination was carried out by an allied intelligence agency,Chile's DINA, against a perceived "leftist," Orlando Letelier, the CIA – then run by George H.W. Bush – hid evidence of Chile's guilt and circulated false cover stories of Chile's innocence that were picked up by the major U.S. news media.

Shortly after Letelier and a female co-worker, Ronni Moffitt, were killed by a bomb planted under his car, Bush's CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile's military dictatorship, misinformation that was spread through Newsweek magazine, the New York Times and other U.S. news outlets.

The CIA disseminated the exonerating report despite later admissions that the CIA was aware in 1976 that Chile was participating in Operation Condor,a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and despite the CIA's own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind Letelier's murder, the first terrorist bombing of its type in Washington D.C.'s history.

In areport to Congress in September 2000, the CIA officially admitted for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief ManuelContreras, was a paid asset of the CIA. The CIA also acknowledged publicly that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination.

The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the Letelier-Moffitt murders at the time and included that suspicion in an internal cable. "CIA's first intelligence report containing this allegation was dated 6 October 1976," a little more than two weeks after the bombing on Sept. 21, 1976, the CIA disclosed.

Nevertheless the CIA – then under CIA Director George H.W. Bush – leaked for public consumption an assessment clearing DINA, which was then run by Contreras.

Relying on the word of Bush's CIA, Newsweek reported that "the Chilean secret police were not involved" in the Letelier assassination. "The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile's rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime." [Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1976]

Bush, who became vice president in 1981 and president in 1989, has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed.

A Newsweek Story

As a Newsweek correspondent in 1988, when Bush was running for president, I prepared a detailed story about Bush's handling of the Letelier assassination. The draft story included the first account from U.S. intelligence sources that Contreras was a CIA asset in the mid-1970s. I also learned that the CIA had consulted Contreras about the Letelier assassination, information that the CIA then would not confirm.

The sources told me that the CIA sent its Santiago station chief, Wiley Gilstrap, to talk with Contreras after the bombing. Gilstrap then cabled back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Contreras's self-serving assurances that the Chilean government was not involved.

Contreras told Gilstrap that the most likely killers were communists who wanted to make amartyr out of Letelier, a deception that Bush's CIA and right-wing media allies used to muddy the investigative waters in fall 1976.

In1988, my story draft also described how Bush's CIA had been forewarned in 1976 about DINA's secret plans to send agents, including DINA's assassin Michael Townley,into the United States on false passports.

Upon learning of this strange mission at the time, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, George Landau, cabled Bush about Chile's claim that Townley and another agent were traveling to CIA headquarters for a meeting with Bush's deputy, Vernon Walters. Landau also forwarded copies of the false passports to the CIA.

Walters cabled back that he was unaware of any scheduled appointment with these Chilean agents. Landau immediately canceled the visas, but Townley simply altered his plans and continued on his way to the United States.

The CIA has never explained what action it took, if any, after receiving Landau's warning. A natural follow-up would have been to contact DINA and ask what was a foot or whether a message about the trip had been misdirected.

"Itis quite beyond belief that the CIA is so lax in its counterespionage functions that it would simply have ignored a clandestine operation by a foreign intelligence service in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere in the United States," wrote John Dinges and Saul Landau intheir 1980 book, Assassinationon Embassy Row. "It is equally implausible that Bush, Walters, Landau and other officials were unaware of the chain of international assassinations that had been attributed to DINA."

THE ARTICLE IS MUCH LONGER AND CAN BE FOUND AT:

http://consortiumnew...sination-plots/

By Robert Parry

Also see: § Spartacus.schoolnet

Michael Vernon Townleywas born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1942. His father,Vernon Townley, was appointed head of the Ford Motor Company in Chile. As a result, the familymoved to Santiago. Vernon Townley, whohad developed links with the CIA while working in the Philippines, becameinvolved in politics and helped fund the 1958 presidential campaign ofconservative candidate, Jorge Alessandri who narrowly managed to defeatSalvador Allende in the election.

Michael Townley went towork for InvestorsOverseas Services, the company owned by Bernard Cornfeld and Robert Vesco. In 1961Townley married MarianaCallejas. Although active in the Socialist Party ofChile, she was actually working as an informer for Chilean militaryintelligence. Soon afterwards Townley began working for the CIA. He becameassociated with a Cuban group called the Chicago Junta. This group included Frank Sturgis, Orlando Bosch, Antonio Veciana and AldoVera Serafin. According to Peter Dale Scott,this operational hit team was disbanded on 21st November, 1963, the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

In 1967 Townley moved toMiami. According to Donald Freed (Deathin Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier) Towney was now beingsponsored by Frank Sturgis and the Secret Army Organization (SAO). "Townley beganan intensive study of electronics and explosives under the tutelage of severalformer CIA men who were in the process of taking over anelectronics operation in the Fort Lauderdale area." One ofTownley's tasks was to plant bombs under the cars of people living in Miami.

In 1969 the CIA arranged for Townley tobe sent to Chile under the alias of Kenneth W. Enyart. He wasaccompanied by Aldo Vera Serafin of the SAO. Townley now came under the control of David AtleePhillipswhohad been asked to lead a special task force assigned to prevent the election of Salvador Allende as President of Chile.This campaign was unsuccessful and Allende gained power in 1970. Hethereforebecame the first Marxist to gain power in a free democratic election.....

§ Spartacus.schoolnet

§ National Security Archives - CIA declassified documents

Townley is now living in Calafornia and is no longer on the witness protection program, he is my next stop after I visit Miami once more. I have a lot of information about Townley, Sturgis, Masferrer and my father.

Edited by Scott Kaiser
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