Tuesday, August 29, 2006
El Archivo Secreto de Pinochet. Un dossier desclasificado sobre la atrocidad y responsabilidad del dictador chileno.
The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability
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NIXON ON CHILE INTERVENTION
KISSINGER SECRETLY LOBBIED PRESIDENT
DECLASSIFIED KISSINGER TRANSCRIPTS REVEAL
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 110
February 3 , 2004
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WASHINGTON D.C. - President Richard Nixon acknowledged that he had given instructions to "do anything short of a Dominican-type action" to keep the democratically elected president of Chile from assuming office, according to a White House audio tape posted by the National Security Archive today. A phone conversation captured by his secret Oval Office taping system reveals Nixon telling his press secretary, Ron Zeigler, that he had given such instructions to then U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry, "but he just failed, the son of a bitch…. He should have kept Allende from getting in."
A transcript of the president's comments on March 23, 1972, made after the leak of corporate papers revealing collaboration between ITT and the CIA to rollback the election of socialist leader Salvador Allende, was recently published in the National Security Archive book, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability by Peter Kornbluh; the tape marks the first time Nixon can be heard discussing his orders to undermine Chilean democracy. The conversation took place as Zeigler briefed the President on a State Department press conference to contain the growing ITT/CIA scandal which included one ITT document stating that Korry had been "given the green light to move in the name of President Nixon…to do all possible short of a Dominican Republic-type action to keep Allende from taking power." Other declassified records show that Nixon secretly ordered maximum CIA covert operations to "prevent Allende from coming to power or unseat him" in the fall of 1970 but that Ambassador Korry was deliberately not informed of covert efforts to instigate a military coup.
When the White House-ordered covert operations failed to prevent Allende's November 3, 1970, inauguration, Nixon's national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, lobbied vigorously for a hard-line U.S. policy "to prevent [Allende] from consolidating himself now when we know he is weaker than he will ever be and when he obviously fears our pressure and hostility," according to a previously unknown eight-page briefing paper prepared for the President on November 5, 1970. In the secret/sensitive "memorandum for the president" Kissinger claimed that Allende's election posed "one of the most serious challenges ever faced in the hemisphere" and that Nixon's "decision as to what to do about it may be the most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year." The memorandum reveals that Kissinger forcefully pressed the President to overrule the State Department's position that there was little Washington could do to oppose the legitimately elected president of Chile and that the risks for U.S. interests of intervening to oppose him were greater than coexisting with him. "If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, the result will be a steady drift toward the modus vivendi approach," Kissinger informed Nixon.
Kissinger personally requested an hour to brief Nixon on November 5 in preparation for a National Security Council meeting to discuss Chile strategy the next day. The briefing paper records his threat perception of an Allende government as a model for other countries. As Kissinger informed the president: "The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on-an even precedent value for-other parts of the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it." According to a transcript of the NSC meeting published in The Pinochet File, Nixon told his aides the next day that "our main concern is the prospect that [Allende] can consolidate himself and the picture projected to the world will be his success."
The Archive also posted today a series of declassified transcripts of Kissinger's staff meetings after he became Secretary of State. The transcripts, dated from the days following the coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power through the first several years of his regime's repression in Chile, record Kissinger's attitude toward human rights atrocities and mounting Congressional pressure to curtail U.S. economic and military assistance the military regime. They are quoted at length in Kornbluh's book, The Pinochet File, and recently cited in the New York Times Week in Review section (December 28, 2003).
According to the first transcript dated October 1, 1973, when Kissinger was informed by his assistant secretary of inter-American affairs of initial reports of massacres following the coup he told his staff that the U.S. should not defend what the regime was doing. However, he emphasized: "But I think we should understand our policy--that however unpleasant they act, the [military] government is better for us than Allende was."
As pressure from human rights advocates mounted for Washington to distance itself from the Pinochet regime, according to the transcripts, Kissinger argued that the Chilean military government was no worse than other Latin American nations and repeatedly voiced concern that the junta would collapse without U.S. support. "I think the consequences could be very serious, if we cut them off from military aid," Kissinger told his staff during a December 3, 1974, meeting.
The transcripts also capture Kissinger disparaging his own State Department staff for being soft on the human rights issue. In an exchange with Assistant Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers, on December 3, 1974, for example, Kissinger accuses his staff of "egging on" Senator Edward Kennedy who was the leading advocate of cutting assistance to the Pinochet regime on human rights grounds. "How many of our people are really egging Kennedy on," Kissinger demands to know. At the beginning of a September 1975 meeting with Pinochet' foreign minister, Adm. Patricio Carvajal, according to another transcript, Kissinger told him:
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l) White House Audio Tape, President Richard M. Nixon and White House press secretary Ron Zeigler, March 23, 1972