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Augusto Pinochet and the CIA

John Simkin

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New heights of free market Stalinism were reached today by the NYT.

They wrote a very, very, very long article about Pinochet. It must have approached 4,000 words.

There was not a single sentence in the US role in the Coup d'etat. There was a dependent clause: in reference to the coup, they typed"which the US governemnt supported"

That was it.

This about a coup that simply would never have happened without the CIA. Then they mentioned a "period of instability" between 1970-73, while failing to mention that this was caused by a series of CIA destabalizing operations, including a national truckers' strike and the assassintion of general Schneider.

The Times has always censored the Chile story, but today the airbrush was blasting away as I have never ever seen it before. I have read almost virtually every article the Times has printed concerning Latin America since 1986.

What is to be done? If the US media is not deserving of credibility, what are you doing to lower it in the minds of your fellow citizens?

What is more, the New York Times paid Google so that its page came first in a search for "Augusto Pinochet".

The unpaid number one is Wikipedia. My Spartacus page is at number six. I have given it a link from Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia entry also failed to mention the CIA involvement in the overthrow of Allende. I have therefore edited the Wikipedia page to say the following:

In 1970 Salvador Allende, the leader of the Chilean Socialist Party, was elected president. He therefore became the first Marxist in the world to gain power in a free democratic election. He attempted to build a socialist society but was opposed by business interests.

Allende's decide to take action to redistribute wealth and land in Chile. Wage increases of around 40 per cent were introduced. At the same time companies were not allowed to increase prices. The copper industry was nationalized. So also were the banks. Allende also restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, China and the German Democratic Republic.

The CIA arranged for Michael V. Townley to be sent to Chile under the alias of Kenneth W. Enyart. He was accompanied by Aldo Vera Serafin of the Secret Army Organization (SAO). Townley now came under the control of David Atlee Phillips who had been asked to lead a special task force assigned to remove Allende.

The CIA attempted to persuade Chile's Chief of Staff General Rene Schneider, to overthrow Allende. He refused and on 22nd October, 1970, his car was ambushed. Schneider drew a gun to defend himself, and was shot point-blank several times. He was rushed to hospital, but he died three days later. Military courts in Chile found that Schneider's death was caused by two military groups, one led by Roberto Viaux and the other by Camilo Valenzuela. It was claimed that the CIA was providing support for both groups.

Allende's attempts to build a socialist society was opposed by business interests. Later, Henry Kissinger admitted that in September 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered him to organize a coup against Allende's government. A CIA document written just after Allende was elected said: "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup" and "it is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG (United States government) and American hand be well hidden."

David Atlee Phillips set Michael V. Townley the task of organizing two paramilitary action groups Orden y Libertad (Order and Freedom) and Protecion Comunal y Soberania (Common Protection and Sovereignty). Townley also established an arson squad that started several fires in Santiago. Townley also mounted a smear campaign against General Carlos Prats, the head of the Chilean Army. Prats resigned on 21st August, 1973.

I have also inserted the following at a later stage in the Wikipedia biography:

The CIA gave Michael V. Townley the task was to deal with those dissents who had fled Chile after General Augusto Pinochet gained power. This included General Carlos Prats who was writing his memoirs in Argentina. Donald Freed argues in Death in Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier that: "On September 30, 1974, shortly after the first anniversary of the violent overthrow of the Allende government, Townley and a team of assassins murdered Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires. Their auto was exploded by a bomb."

Promoted to the rank of major by General Juan Manuel Contreras Townley made regular visits to the United States in 1975 to meet with Rolando Otero and other members of the White Hand group. In September 1975, Townley's death squad struck again. Former Chilean vice-president Bernardo Leighton and his wife were gunned down in Rome by local fascists working with DINA.

On 18th September, 1976, Orlando Letelier, who served as foreign minister under Salvador Allende, was traveling to work at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington when a bomb was ignited under his car. Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, a 25 year old woman who was campaigning for democracy in Chile, both died of their injuries.

The director of the CIA, George H. W. Bush, was quickly told that DINA and several of his contract agents were involved in the assassination. However, he leaked a story to members of Operation Mockingbird that attempted to cover-up the role that the CIA and DINA had played in the killings. Jeremiah O'Leary in the Washington Star (8th October, 1976) wrote: "The right-wing Chilean junta had nothing to gain and everything to lose by the assassination of a peaceful and popular socialist leader." Newsweek added: "The CIA has concluded that the Chilean secret police was not involved." (11th October).

William F. Buckley also took part in this disinformation campaign and on 25th October wrote: "U.S. investigators think it unlikely that Chile would risk with an action of this kind the respect it has won with great difficulty during the past year in many Western countries, which before were hostile to its policies." According to Donald Freed Buckley had been providing disinformation for the Pinochet government since October 1974. He also unearthed information that William Buckley's brother, James Buckley, met with Michael V. Townley and Guillermo Novo in New York City just a week before Orlando Letelier was assassinated.

The FBI eventually became convinced that Michael V. Townley was organized the assassination of Orlando Letelier. In 1978 Chile agreed to extradite him to the United States. Townley confessed he had hired five anti-Castro Cubans exiles to booby-trap Letelier's car. Guillermo Novo, Ignacio Novo, Virgilio Paz Romero, Dionisio Suárez, and Alvin Ross Díaz were eventually indicted for the crime.

Townley agreed to provide evidence against these men in exchange for a deal that involved him pleading guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit murder and being given a ten-year sentence. His wife, Mariana Callejas also agreed to testify, in exchange for not being prosecuted.

On the 9th January, 1979, the trial of Guillermo Novo, Ignacio Novo and Alvin Ross Díaz began in Washington. General Pinochet refused to allow Virgilio Paz Romero and Dionisio Suárez, two DINA officers, to be extradited. All three were found guilty of murder. Guillermo Novo and Alvin Ross were sentenced to life imprisonment. Ignacio Novo received eighty years. Soon after the trial Michael Townley was freed under the Witness Protection Program.

It will be interesting to see how long it stays there.



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There was one interesting reference to Pinochet and the CIA in the Boston Globe (12th December, 2006):

In America, the danger is not that too much is remembered of the Pinochet era but that too much of the American role in helping to foment those old horrors may be forgotten.

There is a deceptively comforting story line that sequesters the present from the past, disguising any continuity between the regime change produced in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, and other American experiments of that nature. In that reassuring historical narrative, Pinochet was perhaps guilty of trampling on democratic niceties and of kidnapping, torturing, and killing socialists and Marxists , but he represented, after all, the lesser of two evils. The alternative evil was commonly depicted as Soviet influence, left-wing radicalism, the expropriation of private property, and falling pro-American dominoes across Latin America.

The former US ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who passed away three days before Pinochet, once propounded a theory to justify American backing for military dictatorships in Latin America. Her rationale rested upon a distinction between totalitarian states like those in the communist world and mere authoritarian regimes. The latter were supposed to be more tolerable because, in contrast to the communist states, they left open the possibility of eventually permitting a return to democracy. It was a theory that failed the test of time, as demonstrated by the nearly bloodless implosion of communism and the flowering of democracy in Poland, Hungary, and the former Czechoslovakia.

Reflecting the spirit of such Cold War notions, a CIA document from the month after Allende was elected president on Sept. 11, 1970, says, "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup" and "it is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG" - US government - "and American hand be well hidden." Whatever the details of US complicity in Pinochet's eventual seizure of power, Americans must not forget that their own democratic leaders share complicity in the disappearances, torture, and killings perpetrated after 1973 by their man in Chile.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

Friday December 22, 2006

The Guardian

Some secrets, it turns out, are too old or too big to keep - even for the Bush administration, which has made a crusade of rooting out leaks and clamping down on information on the inner workings of government.

In the new year, the CIA, FBI, state department and more than 80 other government agencies that handle state secrets will declassify hundreds of millions of pages of documents under a new policy that institutes an automatic release of material after 25 years.

Within those documents lie the most turbulent episodes of the 20th century: the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Vietnam war, the CIA's unauthorised experiments with LSD and its internal thinking on a raft of investigations into coups and assassinations overseas, and the FBI's hunt for communist sympathisers on US soil.

The release, awaited by scholars and journalists, goes against the grain for the president, George Bush, and the vice-president, Dick Cheney, who has argued that the disclosure of information from the White House erodes presidential power.

The decision to release documents after 25 years was made in 1995 under President Bill Clinton, although the Bush administration managed to delay it. "I was pleasantly surprised," said Steven Aftergood, who runs a project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists. "I could have easily imagined this administration saying: 'Oh, no we can't possibly adopt an automatic declassification policy. That will only assist the terrorists'."

Until now, material could remain secret indefinitely unless researchers lodged a specific request under freedom of information regulations. But declassification does not guarantee documents will be made public. Government agencies can withhold them on privacy grounds, to protect an intelligence source, or to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation.

The FBI has been notoriously stringent about exercising that prerogative, refusing to release documents on the assassination in Washington of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier by agents of the Pinochet regime on the grounds that investigators were still pursuing leads.

However, advocates of greater government accountability say an automatic release of documents remains an important step forward.

I see Bush is still protecting his daddy over the Orlando Letelier case.

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Don’t get me wrong I agree that the US’s fundamental role in the ’73 is just one of many unconscionable crimes (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, Iraq etc etc) carried out by the government of my homeland. But I was wondering if Peter actually had any evidence to back this claim.

I'd just add that some of the troops that broke into the Casa Moneda to capture and then kill Allende were US Special Forces in Chilean uniforms.
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