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 Six. Here is the link to Part Five; Madman Diplomacy.
Henry Kissinger, adviser to the Rockefellers since 1954, supporter of Democrat candidate Hubert H. Humphrey early in 1968, promptly switched to Republican candidate Richard Milhous Nixon, whose National Security Advisor he became on 20 January 1969, remaining in that position – after Nixon’s resignation – to President Ford until 3 November 1975. Kissinger was Secretary of State between 22 September 1973 and 20 January 1977.
This period – January 1969 to January 1977 – covers three ‘adventures’: Chile, East Timor (now Timor-Leste), and Argentina. Somewhere in between those dates is the Royal Ambush of the Whitlam Government in November 1975. This should be dealt with in a separate work for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that a case which will decide whether the correspondence between the Governor-General of Australia and Queen Elizabeth II is of a private nature, or should be regarded as subtracted from public eyes. The dispute is still, by initiative of professor Jenny Hocking and friends before the Federal Court of Australia.
Incidentally, the correspondence may reveal what might have been the connection between the Governor-General – a well-known ‘Intelligence services’ asset and a special ‘Task Force 157’, a secret U.S. Navy ops team, directed by Theodore George ‘Ted’ Shackley, Jr., which is suspected of being involved in the Ambush through persons of the Liberal and National parties.
Shackley, an American C.I.A. officer was involved in many important and controversial CIA operations during the 1960s and 1970s. In the early 1960s Shackley was ‘station chief’ in Miami, during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as of the Cuban Project – also known as Operation Mongoose, that he directed. He became the director of the ‘Phoenix Program’ during the Vietnam war – responsible for the assassination of some 40,000 ‘suspected Communists’. He was also the ‘station chief’ in Laos between 1966–1968, and ‘station chief’ in Saigon from 1968 through February 1972. In 1976 he was appointed Associate Deputy Director for Operations, in charge of the C.I.A.’s worldwide covert operations, the so-called ‘black ops’.
There are plentiful indicia that Task Force 157 was almost a personal tool of Kissinger’s power.
The first 9/11 occurred in 1973 in Santiago, Chile and places nearby. President Richard Milhous Nixon and Dr. Henry Alfred Kissinger were the instigators, General Augusto Pinochet simply the executioner.
The United States has been interfering with Chile since the arrival of Joel Roberts Poinsett as ‘special agent’ in 1811. The story of the first 9/11 began, most likely, on 15 September 1970 when Nixon and his consiglieri: Richard Helms, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Kissinger, National Security Adviser were discussing a possible C.I.A. covert operation in Chile.
Media sources confirmed that Nixon had been nearly beside himself with rage at the thought that ‘Marxist’ Salvador Allende might win the 1970 presidential election in Chile. The very name of Allende was anathema to Nixon. He had been personally beholden to the president of Pepsi Cola from the moment he had received that corporation’s account while a young lawyer with John Mitchell’s firm in New York. In time Mitchell would share with Nixon the fate of Watergate and other crimes. But, after the ‘Watergate’ affairs, only Mitchell ended up in gaol for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.
Pepsi Cola, along with Chase Manhattan Bank, International Telephone & Telegraph and many other corporations, but above all Anaconda Copper Mining Co. and Kennecott Copper Co., had huge investments in Chile. It is estimated that in the early seventies those two major mining corporations alone controlled between seven and twenty per cent of Chile’s Gross Domestic Product.
In 1970 Allende, who had failed in the presidential elections of 1964, ran again. On 4 September 1970 he obtained 36.2 per cent of votes, followed by former President Alessandri with 34.9 per cent, with 27.8 per cent going to Tomic, the third candidate.
According to the Chilean Constitution then in force, if no presidential candidate obtained a majority of the popular vote, Congress would choose one of the two candidates with the highest number of votes as the winner. Negotiations were actively being conducted during the following month and only on 24 October was Allende confirmed by Congress. He assumed the presidency on 3 November 1970.
A series of eight cables, dated between 5 and 22 September 1970 declassified in the late 1990s and now available at the National Security Archive, located within the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., written by the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, records the reaction and activities of the Embassy after the election of Allende’s Popular Unity coalition. Known as ‘Korrygrams,’ the reports contain some of the most candid, and at times undiplomatic, opinions and observations ever offered by a U.S. Ambassador, until WikiLeaks arrived on the world’s scene. With titles such as ‘No Hope for Chile’ and ‘Some Hope for Chile’, Korry provides extensive details about political efforts to block Allende’s ratification by the Chilean Congress. The cables report on the activities of Chile’s political institutions in response to Allende’s election and provide Ambassador Korry’s explicit assessments of the character of key Chilean leaders, particularly the outgoing President, Eduardo Frei.
On 5 November 1970, as it appears in another declassified cable, Richard Helms, the C.I.A. Director provided a briefing for the 6 November 1970 National Security Council on the situation in Chile, telling Nixon exactly what he wanted to hear: “Mr. President, Salvador Allende, the Chilean Marxist, has now taken office as President in that country with virtually no significant opposition to hold him in check, and with a cabinet dominated by the Communists and his own even more extreme Socialist Party.” Apart from the obvious – the name, not a word of that was true.
The briefing contains details on a failed coup attempt on 22 October – but does not acknowledge a C.I.A. role in the assassination of General René Schneider. Helms also assessed Allende’s “tenacious” character and Soviet policy towards Chile. Despite the presence of Communists in cabinet, ‘Intelligence’ suggested that Chile’s Socialists – as he informed Council members – “will exercise restraint in promoting closer ties with Russia.”
Nixon had ordered the C.I.A. to prevent Allende’s election at all cost. He had explicitly told Richard Helms “to get rid of him”, referring to Allende.
At the time, the United States was still embroiled in Vietnam. The ‘parallel government’ of the C.I.A. was running a plan denominated Phoenix – a covert action programme which had been established in 1967 and would continued until 1971, at least. The C.I.A., the U.S. Army and the Saigon police, as well as various other ‘intelligence’ organisations were seeking to identify and destroy Viet Cong leadership cadres in the south of Vietnam. Phoenix’ activities included ‘intelligence’ collection, paramilitary operations, and psychological warfare. Phoenix became infamous for the capture or killing of nearly 40,000 suspected Communists. The programme was run by William Colby, who would ultimately succeed Helms, but at the time had the cover role as Director of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support for the Agency for International Development.
Nixon’s policy for the whole of Latin America was one early ‘war on terror’. At the time ‘war on terror’ was just another pretext for the pillage of Latin America by the U.S. Government and its favoured multinational corporations with the assistance of the American Administration. The obsession then was “to prevent another Cuba.” Nixon simply could not tolerate – as he said – “that bastard Allende.” Such animosity was probably displayed for the benefit of clients-at-large. Chile had the largest copper reserves in the world and it was suspected that Allende was about to nationalise the industry.
When preventing Allende’s election failed, the C.I.A. was instructed to destabilise the government.
A meeting of 15 September 1970, ten days after the narrow election of Allende, was to become crucial. Probably determinant to Nixon’s order to Helms to mount a full-scale operation against Allende’s prospective new government – including, as Helms’s notes of the meeting reflect, “to make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him” – was the advice given by Kissinger in his famous expression of contempt for the democratic play: “I do not see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
That was no isolated expression of Kissinger’s Realpolitik. The minutes of a secret 1975 meeting of the National Security Council attended by President Ford reveal Kissinger grumbling: “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.”
A total lack of any moral judgment remains the mark of such cynical Realpolitik. The New York Times reported on 16 December 2010 that, according to recently released tapes of Nixon at the White House, Kissinger was heard telling Nixon in 1973 that helping Soviet Jews emigrate and thus escape oppression by a totalitarian regime – a huge issue at the time – was “not an objective of American foreign policy.” “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union,” he added, “it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” Genocide was “not an American concern,” he said, but “maybe a humanitarian concern.”
As National Security Adviser and/or Secretary of State, or Assistant to the President, or simply as consigliere, Kissinger’s opinion would be sought by successive presidents: Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior, Obama – perhaps even Trump.
Of course, at that meeting of 15 September 1970, Kissinger knew full well that Chile had not ‘gone Communist’. Probably so did Nixon; it certainly was within Helms’ knowledge.
Allende was a cultivated man, by all definitions a ‘bourgeois’ even though he was known as the charismatic founder of the Socialist Party. Allende in fact was a moderate, who wanted to develop “a peaceful Chilean way towards socialism.” He had been elected by workers, peasants and the marginalised, urban lower classes. Educated urban youth celebrated the “socialism of red wine and empanadas” – stuffed pastry.
But, in the debased language which had taken place with Nixon in the White House and in the ordinary jargon which would most assuredly reach a gangster such as Nixon, Kissinger did not hesitate to use such language. It was the advice of the consigliere to the capo-mafia. The advice was reflected in the handwritten notes taken by Helms and preserved in those declassified cables. Taken in the presence of Attorney General John Mitchell and Kissinger, the notes read: “l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile!; worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,000 available, more if necessary; full-time job – best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action.” [Emphasis added]
Minutes of 16 September 1970 record the first meeting between Director Helms and several high agency officials on covert operations – code-named ‘Fubelt’ – against Allende. A special task force under the supervision of C.I.A. Deputy Director of Plans, Thomas Karamessines, was established, headed by veteran agent David Atlee Phillips. The memorandum noted that the C.I.A. must prepare an action plan for National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger within 48 hours.
A ‘memorandum of conversation’ of a 15 October 1970 meeting, held at the White House between Kissinger, Karamessines and Alexander Haig, Deputy National Security Adviser and later President Reagan’s Secretary of State, records a discussion on promoting a coup in Chile known as ‘Track 2’ of covert operations to block Allende. The three conspirators discussed the possibility that the plot of one Chilean retired General, Roberto Viaux, might fail “with unfortunate repercussions for U.S. objectives.” Kissinger ordered the C.I.A. “to continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight.”
The day after such meeting, 16 October 1970, Karamessines passed Kissinger’s order on to the C.I.A. station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher. The secret cable said, at the very opening: “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup.” [Emphasis added]. The “operating guidance” makes it clear that these operations were to be conducted so as to hide the ‘American hand’, and that the C.I.A. was to ignore any orders to the contrary from Ambassador Korry who had not been informed of ‘Track 2’ operations.
Dated 3 November 1970 is the notice of a meeting for which Kissinger had a comprehensive secret/sensitive options paper (NSSM 97) prepared. The paper was to be submitted to the offices of the Vice President, of the Secretaries of State and Defense, and of the Director of Emergency Preparedness. It was also sent in copy to the Attorney General, the Under Secretary of State, the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence. Precisely on the day of Allende’s inauguration, it laid out U.S. objectives, interests and potential policy towards Chile. U.S. interests were defined as preventing Chile from falling under Communist control and preventing the rest of Latin America from following Chile “as a model.” Option C – maintaining an “outwardly cool posture” while working behind the scenes to undermine the Allende Government through economic pressures and diplomatic isolation – had been chosen by Nixon. C.I.A. operations and options were not included in the document.
Three cables dated 18 October 1970 passed between the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, VA., and the C.I.A. Station in Santiago. They dealt with the secret shipment of weapons and ammunition for use in a plot to kidnap the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army, General René Schneider. “Neutralizing” Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup; he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende’s constitutional election. The C.I.A. supplied a group of Chilean officers led by General Camilo Valenzuela with ‘sterile’ – that is untraceable – weapons for the operation which was to be blamed on Allende supporters and thus prompt a military takeover.
Between the presidential elections and Congress confirmation of Allende two events took place in Chile. One was the kidnapping and assassination on 22-25 October of General Schneider. Schneider was a defender of the ‘constitutionalist’ doctrine that the Army’s role is exclusively professional, its mission being to protect the country’s sovereignty and not to interfere in politics. He was shot resisting the violence by another group led by General Roberto Viaux, at the head of a crypto-Nazi gang of generals and admirals, who had been paid US$ 50,000 each. Once hospitalised, Schneider died of his wounds on 25 October. Viaux’s kidnapping plan had been supported by the C.I.A., although Kissinger later claimed to have ordered the plans postponed at the last moment.
Correctly Christopher Hitchens, in the book by the provocative title The trial of Henry Kissinger, written in incendiary – studiedly defamatory – words, summed up the substance of the combined reading of those cables, and particularly of the ‘memorandum of conversation’ 15 October 1970: “Here one must pause for a recapitulation. An unelected official in the United States is meeting with others, without the knowledge or authorization of Congress, to plan the kidnapping of a constitution-minded senior officer in a democratic country with which the United States is not at war, and with which it maintains cordial diplomatic relations. The minutes of the meetings may have an official look to them (though they were hidden from the light of day for long enough) but what we are reviewing is a “hit” – a bit of state-supported terrorism.” (C. Hitchens, The trial of Henry Kissinger (Text, Melbourne 2001, at 57).
The other event was the appointment by the outgoing President Frei of General Carlos Prats as Commander-in-Chief of the Army to replace General Schneider.
Instead of a coup, the military and the country rallied behind Allende’s ratification by Chile’s Congress on 24 October.
The United States determination to destroy opposition to its domination in Latin America became part of a much broader plan which took the name of Operación Cóndor – Operation Condor, also known as Plan Cóndor.
The murder of General Schneider was just one of the crimes of Operation Condor; by then the Plan was well on its way.
In 1975 Bush Senior – formerly Nixon’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and Ford’s Chief Liaison Officer to China – was about to become C.I.A. Director. In that capacity he further developed Operation Condor. By 1975 Bush Senior was head of the C.I.A. and working together with Kissinger and Vernon Walters, later a key adviser to Reagan, to develop Plan Condor.
Operación Cóndor was a campaign of political repression involving ‘intelligence’ operations and assassination which started in 1968 and was officially implemented in 1975 by the Right-wing dictatorships of the ‘Southern Cone’ of South America. The programme aimed to eradicate alleged Socialist and Communist influence and ideas and to control active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments’ neoliberal economic policies, which sought to reverse the economic policies of the previous era.
There being no dead bodies, the conspirators could deny everything. Due to its clandestine nature, the precise number of murders directly attributable to Operation Condor is highly disputed. It is estimated that a minimum of 60,000 murders can be attributed to Condor, possibly more. Victims included dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, students and teachers, intellectuals and suspected guerillas – even some priests and nuns. Condor’s key members were the governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The United States government provided technical support and supplied military aid to the participants during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations. Such support was frequently routed through the Central Intelligence Agency. Ecuador and Peru later joined the operation in more peripheral roles. (Luiz Cláudio Cunha. Operação Condor. O seqüestro dos uruguaios. Uma reportagem dos tempos da ditadura – Operation Condor. The kidnapping of the Uruguayans. A story of the days of the dictatorship, L&PM, Editores, Porto Alegre 2008; John Dinges, The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents (The New Press, New York 2004) and Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (The New Press, New York 2013). In plain language, Condor was a high-level international criminal organisation in a campaign of political repression involving ‘intelligence’ operations and consequent assassination. In a 1999 book, titled Los años del lobo: Operación Cóndor – The years of the wolf: Operation Condor – Stella Calloni, an Argentine investigative journalist spoke of anticipated revelations which pointed to the implication of Condor’s agents in the deaths of presidents Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldós of Ecuador in 1981, who were “considered bothersome to the empire and dictatorships in secret documents that were investigated,” and possibly in the death of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986. (Stella Calloni, Los años del lobo: Operación Cóndor – The years of the wolf: Operation Condor, Editorial Ciencias Sociales, La Habana 1999, 2006).
The Grand Master, leader and adviser of such a syndicate was none other than Dr. Henry Kissinger.
On 25 November 1975 leaders of the ‘military intelligence’ services of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay met with Manuel Contreras, chief of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional – National Intelligence Directorate, D.I.N.A., which was Pinochet’s secret police. They officially set up the Plan Condor. However, cooperation between various security services, in the aim of “eliminating Marxist subversion”, previously existed informally before that meeting and certainly before the Pinochet’s coup d’état. For example, during the Tenth Conference of American Armies held in Caracas on 3 September 1973, Brazilian General Breno Borges Fortes, head of the Brazilian Army, proposed to “extend the exchange of information” between various services in order to “struggle against subversion.” Not long after the Pinochet coup, in March 1974, representatives of the police forces of Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay met with Alberto Villar, deputy chief of the Argentine Federal Police and co-founder of the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina – Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, commonly known as Triple A, which was in fact a death squad, to implement cooperation guidelines in order to destroy the ‘subversive’ threat represented by the presence of thousands of political exiles in Argentina. In August 1974 the corpses of the first victims of Condor, Bolivian refugees, were found in rubbish dumps in Buenos Aires. The D.I.N.A. entered into contact even with Croatian terrorists, Italian neo-Fascists and the Shah’s Savak to locate and assassinate dissidents.
As far as the United States is concerned, and despite the fact that Operation Condor was promoted and formalised in 1975, there is no doubt as to the commitment of several American Administrations ‘to stop Chile from going like Cuba’. The United States provided key organisational, financial and technical assistance to the Operation. The commitment was total and the purpose quite clear from the beginning: according to a 1976 F.B.I. cable sent from Buenos Aires, Condor’s ‘operatives’ were “to travel anywhere in the world … to assassinate so-called [Leftists, Communists, subversives and Marxists].”
By sheer accident, in December 1992, a human-rights activist and a judge who were looking for files on a former prisoner at a police station in Asunción, Paraguay, would come upon archives describing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay – Operation Condor. The soon to be known as ‘Archivos del terror – terror archives’ listed 50,000 people murdered, 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ and 400,000 people imprisoned. In the archives there were official requests to track suspects to and from the U.S. Embassy, the C.I.A., and the F.B.I. The C.I.A. provided lists of suspects and other intelligence information to the military states. The F.B.I. also searched for individuals wanted by D.I.N.A. in the United States in 1975.
Next installment Wednesday: Operation Condor
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.
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