CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet’s Repression
After 27 years of withholding details about covert activities following the 1973 military coup in Chile, the CIA released a report acknowledging its close relations with General Augusto Pinochet’s violent regime.
After twenty-seven years of withholding details about covert activities following the 1973 military coup in Chile, the CIA released a report yesterday acknowledging its close relations with General Augusto Pinochet’s violent regime. The report, CIA Activities in Chile, revealed for the first time that the head of the Chile’s feared secret police, DINA, was a paid CIA asset in 1975, and that CIA contacts continued with him long after he dispatched his agents to Washington D.C. to assassinate former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his 25-year old American associate, Ronni Karpen Moffitt.
'CIA actively supported the military Junta after the overthrow of Allende,' the report states. 'Many of Pinochet’s officers were involved in systematic and widespread human rights abuses... Some of these were contacts or agents of the CIA or US military.'
Among the report’s other major revelations:
Within a year of the coup, the CIA was aware of bilateral arrangements between the Pinochet regime and other Southern Cone intelligence services to track and kill opponents—arrangements that developed into Operation Condor.
The CIA made Gen. Manuel Contreras, head of DINA, a paid asset only several months after concluding that he 'was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta.' After the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., the CIA continued to work with Contreras even as 'his possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue.'
The CIA made a payment of $35,000 to a group of coup plotters in Chile after that group had murdered the Chilean commander-in-chief, Gen. Rene Schneider in October 1970—a fact that was apparently withheld in 1975 from the special Senate Committee investigating CIA involvement in assassinations. The report says the payment was made 'in an effort to keep the prior contact secret, maintain the good will of the group, and for humanitarian reasons.'
The CIA has an October 25, 1973 intelligence report on Gen. Arellano Stark, Pinochet’s right-hand man after the coup, showing that Stark ordered the murders of 21 political prisoners during the now infamous 'Caravan of Death.' This document is likely to be relevant to the ongoing prosecution of General Pinochet, who is facing trial for the disappearances of 14 prisoners at the hands of Gen. Stark’s military death squad.
According to Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive’s Chile Documentation Project, the CIA report 'represents a major step toward ending the 27-year cover-up of Washington’s covert ties to Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship.' Kornbluh called on the CIA 'to take the next step by declassifying all the documents used in the report, including the full declassification of the CIA’s first intelligence report on the Letelier assassination, dated October 6, 1976.'
The CIA’s Directorate of Operations is currently blocking the release of hundreds of secret records covering the history of US covert intervention in Chile between 1962 and 1975. The CIA issued 'CIA Activities in Chile' pursuant to the Hinchey amendment in the 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act - a clause inserted in last year’s legislation by New York Representative Maurice Hinchey calling on the CIA to provide Congress with a full report on its covert action in Chile at the time of the coup, and its relations to General Pinochet’s regime.
The National Security Archive applauded Hinchey’s effort to press for the disclosure of this history and commended the CIA for a substantive response to the law. 'This is a sordid and shameful story,' Kornbluh said, 'but a story that must be told.'