Chile: The Other, Almost Forgotten 9/11

1 May 2006

  Saul Landau

Chile: The Other, Almost Forgotten 9/11
Saul Landau
Progreso Weekly, 11 September 2003

"The true American goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy..."
John Quincy Adams, July 4, 1821

"I am ready to resist by whatever means, even at the cost of my life, so
that this may serve as a lesson to the ignominious history of those who
use force not reason".

Dr. Salvador Allende, in his last radio address
to the Chilean people, 8:30 a.m. - 9/11/73

What did Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s 1970-73 conspiracy to
overthrow the government of Chile have in common with the 2001 Osama bin
Laden and Al Qaeda plot to destroy the World Trade Center and Pentagon?
Answer: Both of these criminal intrigues reached their climax on 9/11.

Almost all Americans know that 9/11 now refers to the horrendous events
two years ago when almost 3,000 people died in terrorist attacks. Few
Americans, however, recall that 9/11 also refers to the day in 1973 on
which the Chilean armed forces, with US encouragement and help, launched
air and ground strikes against the presidential palace, the office of
Dr. Salvador Allende, the elected president. Allende died that morning.
A reign of terror followed the coup in which tens of thousands of
Chileans underwent torture, hundreds of thousands were forced or fled
into exile and the democratic institutions of the country were
systematically destroyed. The coup leader, General Augusto Pinochet,
remained military dictator of Chile for seventeen years four years
longer than Hitler.

"The terrorists hate our freedoms", the Chilean workers, peasants and
students could have echoed George W. Bush’s post 9/11/01 comments. They
would be explaining, however, what lay behind the US and Chilean
military plotters who helped make the coup possible, just as George W.
Bush simplistically explained the 2001 attack from the mostly Saudi
Arabian terrorists.

His Republican predecessor in 1970, Richard Nixon, committed US covert
power precisely to destroying the freedom of Chileans, who had selected
a president in a freer and fairer election than the 2000 US vote.
Indeed, Chileans watched their democracy go up in flames. Their military
with full support from Washington proceeded to wipe out their ancient
bicameral legislature, independent judiciary, elected local and regional
bodies, free trade unions and media and their broad-based civil

The US government has not yet admitted its actual role in the coup
itself. According to a national security source, the Chilean Navy had
coordinated with the US armada to hold maneuvers off the coast at
precisely the time planned for their putsch. US military spy ships
intercepted communiqués from Chilean military bases and forwarded them
to the treasonous coup-makers. The mutinous general and admirals would
then be able to send sufficient force to repress those units whose
messages indicated loyalty to the elected government, and thus avoid
civil war.

Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted in April of this year that "it
is not a part of American history that we're proud of". Powell
attributed the US role in the destabilization of Chile from 1970-73
(some of which is documented in Volume 7 of the 1975 Church Senate
Select Committee report on US Intelligence) to the Cold War. This refers
to Allende’s political "sin" of allowing the Chilean Communist Party as
one of the five political groupings inside his Popular Unity coalition.

In fact, for over a century, US policy makers have consistently plotted
to overthrow "disobedient" regimes like Allende’s socialist coalition in
Chile. US forces occupied Nicaragua and Haiti for some 20 years each in
the early 20th Century after tossing out governments in those countries
that refused insufficient obeisance to Washington. Similarly, in Cuba
under the terms of the US-imposed Platt Amendment, American forces
occupied that island on several occasions (1906-9, 1912 and 1917-22).

Between 1900-10, US troops went into Colombia, Honduras, the Dominican
Republic and Panama, mainly to put down revolutionary movements. These
troop landings refer only to military actions in this hemisphere. During
the same decade, Presidents deployed US troops in China (1900), Syria
(1903), Korea (1904-5) and Morocco (1904).

In the 1910-20 period, US troops made numerous incursions into Mexico
during its revolutionary era and landed expeditionary forces in
Guatemala and Costa Rica as well. Outside the hemisphere, US troops
landed again China (1911, 1912 and 1920), Turkey (1912) and the Soviet
Union (1918-22) in addition to US participation in World War I.

So, when Powell gives as an excuse the "Cold War" he ignores significant
interventionist antecedents in 20th Century US foreign policy. True,
during the Cold War the CIA acted in flagrant violation of a host of new
treaties signed by the United States that eschewed intervention in the
internal affairs of other nations. But the UN and OAS Charters, the NATO
and the Rio Treaty be damned, said President Eisenhower in 1953 as he
signaled the CIA to overthrow the democratically elected government of
Iran. In 1954, the Agency toppled the government of Guatemala. In 1964,
Lyndon Johnson backed a coup in Brazil and, in the words of former
Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, himself a victim of CIA
destabilization in 1976 and 1980, "mashed up the good order of society"
in several countries. Former CIA official Phillip Agee documented
routine CIA interference in the politics of Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico.

But the 1973 Chile coup took the proverbial cake for blatant imperial
illegality. Just days after Allende’s September 1970 electoral victory,
Secretary of State Kissinger and President Nixon conspired in the Oval
Office to "correct" the destiny of Chileans who had foolishly elected
the wrong man as president. For three years following Allende’s
electoral triumph, the CIA plotted violence, economic sabotage and
psychological warfare against his government because it did not fall
into line behind Washington dictates: not allow Communists to enter a
government; not expropriate, even with compensation, US property; follow
free market economics; eschew all relations with Castro’s Cuba and never
vote against the United States in any international forum.

As then CIA Director Richard Helms testified to the Church Committee,
Nixon "wanted a major effort to prevent Allende’s accession to power".
Nixon also ordered, as Helms’ notes indicate, that Chile’s "economy
should be squeezed until it screamed".

The CIA failed to stop Allende’s inauguration, although in October 1970
it hired thugs to murder Chile’s Army Chief General Rene Schneider since
he opposed a military coup.

Nixon and Kissinger intended to "save Chile", as they told Helms,
meaning that they saw the elected socialist and quintessential
Parliamentarian, Allende, as no different from the Soviet Communists.
Although Moscow gave no significant aid to Allende, the Nixon-Kissinger
ideological dogma nevertheless proved sufficient to motivate the CIA in
its course of coup-fomenting or outright terrorism.

Did a memory lapse lead George W. Bush to nominate the terrorist
Kissinger who withdrew his name some days later - to investigate the
9/11/01 terrorism, or did some White House savant think that "since
Kissinger was a real-life practicing terrorist, he would have the kind
of knowledge and experience to lead a probe in the subject"?

Indeed, refer again to CIA Chief Helms’ notes taken from his September
1970 conversation in the Oval Office with Nixon and Kissinger where he
received his orders to overthrow the government of Chile. "Not concerned
risks involved", Helms had written. "$10,000,000 available, more if
necessary". A similar conversation could have taken place somewhere in
Saudi Arabia two years before 9/11/01, with Osama bin Laden talking with
his fiends about risks and costs involved for hijacking jumbo jets and
flying them into the twin towers and Pentagon.

Suppose, I ask myself, I had lost my father or brother in the Moneda
Palace in 1973! You can’t sue Kissinger or even pursue justice abroad.
US military and political officials, Bush insists, must retain immunity
from prosecution outside the United States, thus protecting the
terrorists in his Administration and those violent ghosts from regimes

In this very born-again nation, with people making pilgrimages to the
recently removed Ten Commandments monument in Alabama and piety dripping
from the fundamentalist lips of the political leaders, it seems odd that
few can remember the words that follow the opening phrase of the
Christian adage: "Do unto others".

Copyright 2003


About the authors

Saul Landau

TNI Senior Fellow and former Director of TNI (1976), Landau was an award-winning filmmaker, journalist and author. Landau wrote on US politics and foreign policy and produced more than forty films on social, political and historical issues, and worldwide human rights. He died from cancer at age 77 on September 9 2013.

Landau wrote fourteen books and received an Edgar Allen Poe Award for Assassination on Embassy Row, a report on the 1976 murders of Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his colleague, Ronni Moffitt.

Gore Vidal said, "Saul Landau is a man I love to steal ideas from"

Saul received the Bernardo O'Higgins award from the Chilen government in 2010.

In 2011, he produced 'Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up' with Danny Glover and Fidel Castro, a film about 50+ years of US-Cuba relations.