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The Bank of Crooks

By Dr George Venturini

Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.

In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”

The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.

Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Eight. Here is the link to Part Seven; Operation Condor.


Three years after destroying democracy by instigating the military coup against Allende in Chile in 1973, Kissinger was in Santiago for a meeting of the Organisation of American States. There he met the Argentine Junta’s foreign minister. Kissinger’s main concern, as reported by the U.S. Ambassador in Buenos Aires, was “how long it would take … to clean up the [terrorist] problem.” Kissinger wanted Argentina to finish its terrorist plan before year end. He gave the Argentines the ‘green light’.

The largest cache of information on Operation Condor thus far was found, as already noted, by sheer accident on 22 December 1992 in Paraguay: the ‘terror archives’.

Material declassified in 2004 showed that Secretary Kissinger was briefed on Condor and its ‘murder operations’ on 5 August 1976, in a 14-page report from Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Harry Shlaudeman. “Internationally, the Latin generals look like our guys.” Shlaudeman noted. And he warned: “We are especially identified with Chile. It cannot do us any good.” The connection was clear, and one of Shlaudeman’s deputy later acknowledged that the State Department was ‘remiss’ in its handling of the case. “We knew fairly early on that the governments of the Southern Cone countries were planning, or at least talking about, some assassinations abroad in the summer of 1976. … Whether if we had gone in, we might have prevented this, I do not know.” he stated in reference to the Letelier/Moffitt bombing. “But we did not.”

A C.I.A. document called Condor “a counter-terrorism organization”, and noted that the Condor countries had a specialised telecommunications system named ‘CondorTel.’ A 1978 cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, Robert White, to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, was published on 6 March 2001 by The New York Times. Ambassador White feared that the U.S. connection to Condor might be publicly revealed at a time when the assassination in the U.S.A. of Chilean former minister Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronni Moffitt was being investigated. White cabled that “it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in US interest.”

Some of the exchange of information included up-date on torture techniques – waterboarding, for example, which was to be made infamous by the Bush Junior Administration, and playing recordings of victims who were being tortured to their families. The existence of such an exchange is another element of evidence suggesting that U.S. military and ‘intelligence’ officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.

The document which had so much worried Ambassador White was found among 16,000 on the Pinochet regime and its collaboration with the American Administration released on 13 November 2000 by the White House, the Department of State, the C.I.A., the Defense and Justice Departments. The release, which remained selective and still incomplete, was the fourth and final ‘tranche’ of records released under the Clinton Administration’s special Chile Declassification Project.

An article in the Washington Post of 23 March 2000, titled ‘U.S. probe of Pinochet reopened’, returned to the matter of the Letelier assassination.

In May of 1978 the C.I.A.’s National Foreign Assessment Center had issued what purported to be a comprehensive analysis of the Pinochet regime’s responses to being identified as responsible for the most significant act of international terrorism ever committed in the United States – the 21 September 1976 car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C. This eight-page assessment, classified secret/sensitive, addressed the impact inside the regime if “proof of Pinochet’s complicity in the Letelier slaying” came to light. At the time, the F.B.I. had identified Pinochet’s secret police, D.I.N.A, as responsible for the crime.

The C.I.A. assessment noted that Pinochet would have a difficult time disassociating himself from D.I.N.A., and its chieftain, Colonel Manuel Contreras. “The former secret police chief is known to have reported directly to the President [Pinochet], who had exclusive responsibility for the organization’s activities.” The report stated that Contreras’ guilt “would be almost certain to implicate Pinochet. … None of the government’s critics and few of its supporters would be willing to swallow claims that Contreras acted without presidential concurrence.”

Under United States pressure, in 1995 Contreras was tried and convicted in Chile. In an affidavit sent to the Chilean Supreme Court in December 1997, he stated that no major D.I.N.A. missions were undertaken without Pinochet’s authorisation.

On 1 February 1999 President Clinton ordered the United States national security agencies to “retrieve and review for declassification documents that shed light on human rights abuses, terrorism, and other acts of political violence in Chile” from 1968-1990. Until then, some 7,500 documents, mostly from the State Department, had been released as part of the Administration’s special ‘Chile Declassification Project.’

In June 1999 the U.S. State Department released thousands of declassified documents showing for the first time that the C.I.A. and the State and Defense Departments were intimately aware of Condor. One Defence Department ‘intelligence’ report, dated 1 October 1976, noted that Latin American military officers boasted about it to their U.S. counterparts. The same report approvingly described Condor’s “joint counterinsurgency operations” which aimed “to eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.”

On 30 June 1999 the National Security Archive, the Center for National Security Studies and Human Rights Watch hailed the release of more than 20,000 pages of U.S. documents on Chile. The records, estimated to total more than 5,300 in number, were declassified pursuant to the 1 February 1999 White House directive.

The Administration’s decision to undertake such a declassification review came in the aftermath of Pinochet’s arrest on 16 October 1998 in London and was prompted by international pressure, requests from Congress, and calls by the families of some of Pinochet’s most famous victims – including those of Charles Horman, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt.

The 30 June’s release of documents was the first ‘tranche’ covering 1973 through 1978, the Pinochet regime’s bloodiest years of repression. Thousands of other records were expected to be released before the end of 1999.

Representatives of the ‘Center’ and of the ‘Watch’, however, expressed serious concern that the C.I.A. had declassified only a fraction of its secret holdings on operations in Chile. The C.I.A., of course, had the most to offer but also the most to hide, commented the director of the Archive. He pointed to the dearth of documentation on the C.I.A.’s known ‘intelligence’ support for D.I.N.A. and on Operation Condor.

On 8 October 1999 the U.S. Government released additional 1,100 documents on Chile. Among them was a declassified State Department report on the case of Charles Horman, the American citizen who was killed by the Chilean military in the days following the coup. This document was released once before in 1980, pursuant to a lawsuit filed by the Horman family. At that time, significant portions were blacked-out. The version released on that day revealed what was censored: the State Department’s conclusions that the C.I.A. may have had “an unfortunate part” in Horman’s death.

On 30 June 2000 the U.S. Government released hundreds of formerly secret C.I.A., Defense, State, and Justice Departments, and National Security Council records relating to the deaths of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. The murders of Horman and Teruggi were later dramatised in the 1982 Costa-Gravas film Missing. Documents on another American, Boris Weisfiler, who disappeared in Chile in 1985, were also released.

The United States provided material support to the military regime after the coup, although criticising it in public. A document released by the C.I.A. on 19 September 2000, titled ‘CIA activities in Chile’, revealed that the C.I.A. actively supported the military Junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the C.I.A. or U.S. military, even though some were known to be involved in human rights abuses. D.I.N.A. Chief Manuel Contreras was a paid asset from 1975 to 1977. The C.I.A.’s official documents state that, at one time, some members of the ‘intelligence’ community recommended making Contreras into a paid contact because of his closeness to Pinochet; the plan was rejected on Contreras’ poor human rights record, but the single payment was made due to ‘miscommunication’. C.I.A. contacts continued with him long after he dispatched his agents to Washington D.C. to assassinate former Letelier and his 25-year old American assistant, Ronni Moffitt.

The National Security Archive called on the U.S. ‘intelligence’ organisations – National Security Agency, C.I.A., Defense Intelligence Agency and other Defense Department bureaux at the U.S. Southern Command – to divulge in full their files on communications assistance to the military regimes in the Southern Cone. The Archive is still waiting, but C.I.A. censors continue to dictate what Chileans and Americans alike should know about this shameful history.

Kissinger remains a very much sought after person: as will be seen further on, French Judge Roger Le Loire attempted to question him in May 2001 as a witness for alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor and for possible U.S. knowledge in connection to the ‘disappearance’ of five French citizens in Chile during the Pinochet regime. In July 2001 Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán obtained the right to question him in connection with the assassination of American journalist Charles Horman. The judge’s questions were relayed to Kissinger through diplomatic routes but were not answered. The request prompted a heated reaction from the Bush Junior’s Administration. An official condemned the Chilean Supreme Court decision to send questions to Kissinger, saying the move increased unease about the then proposed International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Administration source said: “It is unjust and ridiculous that a distinguished servant of this country should be harassed by foreign courts in this way. The danger of the ICC is that, one day, US citizens might face arrest abroad and prosecution as a result of such politically motivated antics.” In August 2001 Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba sent a rogatory letter to the U.S. State Department, requesting a deposition by Kissinger to aid the judge’s investigation of Operation Condor; in September 2001 the family of murdered General Schneider filed a civil suit in Washington, D.C. On 11 September 2001, on the anniversary of the Pinochet coup Chilean human rights filed a criminal case against Kissinger, Pinochet, the Argentine dictator Videla and the former Paraguayan dictator Stroessner; late in 2001 the Brazilian Government cancelled an invitation for Kissinger to speak in São Paulo because it could not guarantee his immunity from judicial action. In 2002 Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional sought to interview Kissinger over what the United States Government knew about Operation Condor. In February 2007 a request for the extradition of Kissinger was filed in the Supreme Court of Uruguay on behalf of Bernardo Arnone, a political activist who was kidnapped, tortured and ‘disappeared’ by the dictatorship as supported by Condor and Kissinger.

Hardly any request has been successful because of the protection afforded by all United States presidents and their administrations to Kissinger.

In addition to the work with his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., Kissinger acts as some kind of ‘private National Security Adviser and Secretary of State’ to some thirty transnational corporations around the world, such as American Express, ASEA Brown Boveri, Atlantic Richfield, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro – the Rome bank which made illegal loans to Saddam Hussein through the now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

The ‘Bank of Crooks and Criminals International’ – as it was nicknamed – because it was not squeamish in dealing with disreputable clients and funding to criminals and dictators, frequently handled money for U.S.-supported dictators such as Manuel Noriega and Samuel Doe. Other account holders included the Medellin drug Cartel and Abu Nidal. If ‘legal’ funds were hard to come by, the fraudulent B.C.C.I. was ready; illegal sources served, including so-called ‘Arab’ money siphoned through the courtesy of links between Bush Senior, the Saudi royal family and the Bin Laden family.

The C.I.A. held numerous accounts at B.C.C.I. These bank accounts were used for a variety of illegal covert operations, including transfers of money and weapons related to the Iran Contra scandal. During the Reagan Administration the C.I.A. also worked with B.C.C.I. in arming and financing the Afghan mujahideen for the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the days when Osama Bin Laden was a U.S. hero, using B.C.C.I. to launder proceeds from trafficking heroin grown in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands, boosting the flow of narcotics to European and U.S. markets. At least two former C.I.A. directors, Richard Helms and William Casey were involved in B.C.C.I. before it folded following revelations that it laundered money for the Medellin drugs Cartel.

For the past thirty years other private benefactors of Kissinger have been Chase Manhattan Bank, Coca-Cola, Fiat, Fluor, Freeport-McMoRan Minerals, Heinz, Hunt Oil, Merck & Co., Shearson Lehman Hutton, Union Carbide, Volvo and Warburg.

In a 1 February 2011 interview Henry Kissinger Nobel Peace Prize 1973 was anxious to praise 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Barack Obama for his foreign policy. He had already said, long before the inauguration of President Obama in January 2009, that Obama’s coming into office could give new impetus to United States foreign policy, partly because “the reception of him is so extraordinary around the world.” Kissinger spoke like an oracle when he said that “[President Obama’s] task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when really a New World Order can be created. It’s a great opportunity … ” and “[the President] can help usher in the New World Order.” But what kind of New World Order ? Friendly Fascism ? Or of the kind which organised Operation Menu – a Nixon-Kissinger innocuous name for the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia in early 1970, and the ‘not so secret’ invasion of Laos in 1969-1973?

Among the thousands upon thousands who fell victims of Condor and of the Pinochet regime were not only Chileans – prominent among them Victor Olea Alegria, a Socialist ‘disappeared’ by Manuel Contreras; William Beausire, a Chilean/British businessman abducted at the Buenos Aires Airport and brought to ‘Villa Grimaldi’ a notorious torture centre in Santiago and then ‘disappeared’; the already mentioned Orlando Letelier murdered in Washington with his assistant Ronnie Moffitt; and General Carlos Prats – but also citizens of other South American countries.

Martín Almadá, a Paraguayan educator, was imprisoned in 1974, nearly tortured to death, and kept in prison for about three and a half years. His wife was killed; Sheila Cassidy a British born but Australian educated physician was tortured but survived to tell the story: Sheila Cassidy, Audacity to believe (Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, London 2011); two Cuban diplomats in Argentina, Crecencio Galañega Hernández and Jesús Cejas Arias transited through ‘Orletti’ detention and torture centre in Buenos Aires, were questioned by D.I.N.A. and S.I.D.E., with the knowledge of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. and subsequently ‘disappeared’; Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, former Uruguayan deputies, were assassinated in Buenos Aires; Juan José Torres, former Bolivian president was assassinated in Buenos Aires; Jorge Zaffaroni and Maria Emilia Islas de Zaffaroni ‘disappeared’ in Buenos Aires.

Attempts were made on the life of Andrés Pascal Allende, nephew of Salvador Allende, in Costa Rica; of Carlos Altamirano a Chilean Socialist leader, and of Volodia Teitelboim, a Chilean Communist, in Mexico; and on the life of Emilio Aragonés, the Cuban Ambassador in Buenos Aires.

Former U.S. Congressman Edward Koch became aware in 2001 of relations between 1970s threats on his life and Operation Condor. Christian-Democrat and former President of Chile from 1964 to 1970 Eduardo Frei might have been poisoned in the early 1980s.

Ingrid Dagmar Hagelin, an Argentine/Swedish, was only 17 when she was abducted by a military command former naval officer and then ‘disappeared’. The event generated international outrage which almost led to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Argentina.

Four French citizens fell victim of Pinochet. They were:

– Alfonso Chanfreau, a member of the Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria – Revolutionary Left-wing Movement, M.I.R. On 30 July 1974 he was arrested by the D.I.N.A. His wife Erika was also arrested the next morning “so that her husband would talk.” Imprisoned for 15 days at a torture centre in the middle of Santiago, the couple were brutally tortured. Erika was transferred to other detention centres and then expelled to France with their daughter Natalia. Alfonso Chanfreau was transferred on 13 August 1974 to the ‘Villa Grimaldi’ where his legs were crushed with a vehicle, before being taken back to the previous torture centre. He ‘disappeared’ afterwards.

– Jean-Yves Claudet was a member of M.I.R. in charge of international relations. Arrested on two occasions in 1973, he remained in detention for one year. On his release he was taken to the French Embassy and put on a flight to France. From France, Claudet helped to set up a M.I.R. cell in Argentina. He went to Buenos Aires on 30 October 1975. He was arrested on 1 November 1975 by agents of the Argentine secret police S.I.D.E., in the framework of Operation Condor. A D.I.N.A. representative in Buenos Aires, in a memorandum addressed to his superiors, subsequently informed them that Jean-Yves Claudet “Ya no existe” – no longer exists.

– George Klein was an advisor to President Allende. He was by the side of Allende when La Moneda was bombed. On 13 September he was taken away with twenty other persons in a dumper lorry and ‘disappeared’. Evidence collected during the investigation of the case relates that he might have been taken to the Peldehue grounds, where he was killed by machine gun fire.

– Étienne Pesle was in charge of land reform at the Institute for the Development of Agriculture and Fishing in Temuco. He was arrested there on 12 September, released and rearrested on 19 September 1973. He ‘disappeared’ from that day; it was reported that he had been killed and then dumped into the sea.

Argentine poet Juan Gelman was tortured but his son and daughter were ‘disappeared’. Gelman survived to seek redress from Spanish justice.

Bernardo Leighton, a Chilean Christian Democrat was targeted by Operation Condor. According to C.I.A. documents released by the National Security Archive, in 1975 in Madrid, Italian terrorist connected with ‘Gladio’ Stefano Delle Chiaie met with D.I.N.A. agent Michael Townley and Cuban Virgilio Paz Romero to prepare, with the help of Franco’s secret police, the murder of Leighton. He and his wife were later severely injured by gunshots while in exile in Rome.

Carmelo Soria, a Spanish born Chilean diplomat and a member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1970s, was assassinated by D.I.N.A. agents as a part of Operation Condor. Pinochet will be personally indicted in this case.

The international prosecutions of human rights crimes of the military governments of the Southern Cone began in 1976, with cases brought in Spain, Argentina, Italy, and Chile against the leaders of Operation Condor. The foremost example is the Spanish case against Pinochet starting in 1996. Spain charged that the leaders of Chile and Argentina had committed human rights crimes as part of a criminal syndicate which financed their terrorist activities with the national budget, and whose victims included many Spaniards and also tens of thousands of citizens of other countries, who were kidnapped, detained, assassinated or ‘disappeared’ in actions committed in many states of America and Europe. In Argentina the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, formed in 1983, began investigating Condor-related human rights abuses.

Next installment Wednesday: Pinochet: the dictator of death.

Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at



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  1. strobedriver

    Dr Henry Kissinger should be tried as a war criminal (he’s already unable to visit many (cosmopolitan-aware) European countries due to being arrested and tried as an international criminal. And so it should be. This is a great article and should be sent to numerous US website et al.

  2. Mark Needham

    Amazing, that the bleeding obvious scamming that goes on, wherein the main Scammers are at large, and remain so. Seemingly rewarded also.

    Selective blindness….?
    Who goes there,
    Mark Needham

  3. amethyst3009

    This confirmed what I had always suspected. I am so dismayed by the behaviour of so many in the US State Dept. Apparently they park their morals and scruples at the door. The hypocrisy in high places in the Us is amazing. While preaching Liberty and Democracy and using their military and sub-military (secret/spy services) to overthrow any regime that doesn’t quite fit the mould.

    And, Australia, as the Deputy Sheriff to the US, keeps jumping up and down ‘we’ll do it’, ‘yes, we’re in’. Every time the US has become involved in a conflict (invaded a country), Australian politicians have committed Australia to the same eg Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Syria….

    Was the Whitlam dismissal a CIA plot? It certainly seemed that way then and nothing has changed this impression over the years. Whitlam was ‘too socialist’ for the USA to approve, so they interfered with their secret agent Kerr.

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