Congressional Record: July 1, 1999 (Extensions)
NEW REVELATIONS ON GENERAL PINOCHET AND THE UNITED STATES ______ HON. GEORGE MILLER of california in the house of representatives Thursday, July 1, 1999 Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues will recall, I have worked for several years now, along with Mr. Conyers of Michigan and others here, to have the United States declassify documents concerning Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 1973 military coup in Chile and its aftermath and what the United States knew about Pinochet's connection to human rights violations and acts of terrorism both in Chile and abroad. A Spanish court is trying to extradite General Pinochet to stand trial in Spain for international human rights violations. The documents held by the United States are expected to shed important light on Pinochet's activities that will help clarify his personal role in this bloody period of history. Yesterday, the first significant release of documents took place. I commend to my colleagues the articles below, from the New York Times and the Washington Post concerning the 5,800 documents released at the National Archives. As you will note from the articles below, it is suspected that there are still many more relevant documents that have not been released, particularly from the Central Intelligence Agency, which only contributed 490 documents to yesterday's release. I applaud the Administration for releasing yesterday's documents but I strongly urge them to continue to release documents on a timely basis from all branches of the Administration, including the CIA. The search for the truth is important not only for the historic case against General Pinochet, but for Americans too who wish to know what role their government may have played in a violent period of history and how we may avoid playing such a role in the future. The New York Times notes also that not only will the documents help Spain, but that Spain has already helped provide information to the United States that might help the Justice Department complete its still open case against those responsible for the assassination of Chilean exile Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronnie Karpen Moffitt in Washington, D.C. in 1976. It is widely believed, but has not yet been proven, that General Pinochet personally ordered Letelier's execution. The documents released yesterday further demonstrate that the United States was well aware of atrocities taking place during and after the coup and that despite this knowledge the Nixon Administration sought to maintain close ties to General Pinochet. "U.S. Releases Files on Abuses in Pinochet Era," The New York Times, July 1, 1999, Page A11. "Documents Show U.S. Knew Pinochet Planned Crackdown in '73," The Washington Post, July 1, 1999, Page A23. [From the New York Times, July 1, 1999] U.S. Releases Files on Abuses in Pinochet Era (By Philip Shenon) Washington, June 30--The C.I.A. and other Government agencies had detailed reports of widespread human rights abuses by the Chilean military, including the killings and torture of leftist dissidents, almost immediately after a 1973 right-wing coup that the United States supported, according to once-secret Government documents released today. The 5,800 documents which the Clinton Administration decided last year to declassify and make public could provide evidence to support the prosecution of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who seized power in the coup and was arrested in Britain last October. Spain is seeking his extradition, charging that his junta had kidnapped, tortured and killed Spanish citizens. The documents were released as Clinton Administration officials confirmed that the Justice Department has been conferring with Spanish authorities, in part to exchange information about General Pinochet, including his possible involvement in the 1976 car-bomb assassination in Washington of the Chilean Ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, and a colleague, Ronni Moffitt, of the Institute for Policy Studies. Because the Justice Department considers the Letelier investigation to be ongoing, the Government withheld documents related to the murders, officials said today. Historians and human rights advocates, who were busily trying to sort through the nearly 20,000 pages released today by the National Archives, agreed that the documents did not offer startling revelations about American ties to the Chilean junta under General Pinochet. Instead, they said, the documents provide rich new detail to support the long-held view that the United States knew during and after the coup about the Chilean military's murderous crackdown on leftists. On Sept. 21, 1973, 10 days after the coup, one C.I.A. report said: "The prevailing mood among the Chilean military is to use the current opportunity to stamp out all vestiges of Communism in Chile for good. Severe repression is planned. The military is rounding up large numbers of people, including students and leftists of all descriptions, and interning them." The report noted that "300 students were killed in the technical university when they refused to surrender" in Santiago, the capital, and that the military was considering a plan to kill "50 leftists" for every leftist sniper still operating. In a summary of the situation in Chile a month after the coup, a C.I.A. report dated Oct. 12 found that "security considerations still have first priority with the junta." "The line between people killed during attacks on security forces and those captured and executed immediately has become increasingly blurred," the report continued. It said the junta "has launched a campaign to improve its international image; the regime shows no sign of relenting in its determination to deal swiftly and decisively with dissidents, however, and the bloodshed goes on." However, a C.I.A. report dated March 21, 1974, insisted that "the junta has not been bloodthirsty." "The Government has been the target of numerous charges related to alleged violations of human rights," it said. "Many of the accusations are merely politically inspired falsehoods or gross exaggerations." An estimated 5,000 people were killed in the coup, including Chile's democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, whose body was recovered from the bombed remains of the Presidential Palace, which had been attacked by military jets. Thousands more died or were tortured at the hands of the military during General Pinochet's 17-year rule. Last week, the Chilean College of Medicine reported that at least 200,000 people had been tortured by Government forces at the time. Under the Nixon Administration, the Central Intelligence Agency mounted a full-tilt covert operation to keep Dr. Allende from taking office and, when that failed, undertook subtler efforts to undermine him. The C.I.A.'s director of operations at the time, Thomas Karamessines, later told Senate investigators that those efforts "never really ended." The C.I.A. has never provided a full explanation of what it knew about human rights abuses carried out by the Chilean military during and after the coup. But internal Government documents released since have shown that the agency's knowledge of the violence was extensive. The Clinton Administration announced last December that, as a result of the arrest of General Pinochet, it would declassify some of the documents. The Administration described the move as an attempt at Government accountability, and it was the first sign that the United States intended to cooperate in the criminal case being built against General Pinochet. The vast majority of the documents released today--5,000 of the 5,800--came from the files of the State Department. The C.I.A. released 490 documents, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 100, and the Pentagon, 60. Human rights groups said they were surprised by the paucity of documents declassified by the C.I.A. "The C.I.A. has the most to offer but also the most to hide," said Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive, a public-interest clearing-house for declassified documents. The documents that were released [[Page E1473]] today, he said, "show that the C.I.A. was well-apprised of the vicious nature of the Chilean regime." The public affairs office at the C.I.A. did not respond to phone calls early this evening. The documents released today date from 1973 to 1978, "the period of the most flagrant human rights abuses in Chile," said James Foley, a State Department spokesman. The White House said in a statement that "a limited number of documents have not been released at this time, primarily because they relate to an ongoing Justice Department investigation" of the murder of Mr. Letelier and Ms. Moffitt. Administration officials, speaking on condition that they not be identified, said that the inquiry was active, in part as a result of information available to the United States from Spanish prosecutors seeking to try General Pinochet. In April, they said, a senior criminal prosecutor from the Justice Department, Mark Richard, traveled to Spain to meet with Spanish authorities to discuss whether Washington and Madrid could swap information in their investigations. Prosecutors here have long been interested in whether there is evidence that General Pinochet or his deputies ordered the murders in Washington because Mr. Letelier was an opponent of the Pinochet regime. The killings here are believed to have been part of an orchestrated campaign of violence known within the Pinochet Government as Operation Condor, in which opponents of the junta were targeted for assassination in and out of Chile. A State Department document dated Aug. 18, 1976, only a month before Mr. Letelier's murder, shows that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and other senior department officials were warned of "rumors" that Operation Condor might "include plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain Southern Cone countries and abroad." Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, who unearthed the document, said it "shows the United States was very aware of the terrorist activities that General Pinochet and his colleagues were engaging in there, as well as abroad." ____ [From the Washington Post, July 1, 1999] Documents Show U.S. Knew Pinochet Planned Crackdown in '73 (By Karen DeYoung and Vernon Loeb) Days after the bloody 1973 coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende, the CIA mission in Chile reported to Washington that the new government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet planned "severe repression" against its opponents. A month later, the agency noted that "the line between people killed during attacks on security forces and those captured and executed immediately has become increasingly blurred." The CIA cables are among nearly 6,000 newly declassified government documents released yesterday related to human rights and political violence in Chile during the first five years of Pinochet's rule. In addition to indications that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy in Santiago had detailed information on the extent of repression and rights abuses there soon after the coup, the documents provide new insights into disagreements within President Richard M. Nixon's administration over policy toward Pinochet's Chile. The Clinton administration agreed to review and release selected documents from the State and Defense departments, the CIA and the FBI after Pinochet was arrested last October in London in response to a Spanish extradition request on charges of alleged human rights violations committed during his 17-year rule. The extradition trial is scheduled for September. The redacted documents made public yesterday cover the years of the worst excesses of the Chilean military government, from 1973 to 1978, when at least 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" at the hands of government forces. Additional documents--including some from 1968 to 1973 covering the election of Allende, a Marxist, as president and the events leading up to the coup and his death--are scheduled for later release. The documents are primarily status overviews and intelligence reports on the situation inside Chile, and add little of substance to scholarly and congressional reviews of the period, as well as investigations conducted by the democratically elected Chilean governments that followed Pinochet. Nor are the documents likely to be useful in the Pinochet extradition case. For example, information concerning the 1976 car bomb assassination in Washington of former Chilean diplomat and Pinochet opponent Orlando Letelier and his assistant Ronni Karpen Moffitt were left out, the State Department said, because aspects of the case are still being investigated by the Justice Department. Human rights organizations commended the Clinton administration for the release but expressed disappointment at its selective nature. Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archives, who is compiling information for a book about Pinochet, said of the released documents: "The CIA has much to offer here, and much to hide. They clearly are continuing to hide this history." Embassy reporting from Santiago reflected the Nixon administration's support of the 1973 coup, although the administration consistently denied helping to plan or carry it out. In late September that year, the embassy reported, the new Pinochet government appealed for American advisers to help to set up detention camps for the thousands of Chileans it had arrested. Worried about the "obvious political problems" such assistance might cause, the embassy suggested in a cable to the State Department that it instead "may wish to consider feasibility of material assistance in form of tents, blankets, etc. which need not be publicly and specifically earmarked for prisoners." Ambassador David H. Popper wrote the State Department in early 1974 that in conversations with the new government "I have invariably taken the line that the U.S. government is in sympathy with, and supports, the Government of Chile, but that our ability to be helpful . . . is hampered by [U.S] Congressional and media concerns . . . with respect to alleged violations of human rights here." In a December 1974 secret cable, the agency reported on information it had received concerning a briefing in which Chile's interior minister and the head of the Directorate of National Intelligence noted that the junta had detained 30,568 people, of whom more than 8,000 still were being held. The two also agreed that an unspecified number of people were being secretly held because "they are part of sensitive, ongoing security investigations." The Pinochet government never publicly acknowledged secret detentions. According to Chilean government reports in 1991 and 1996, a total of 2,095 extrajudicial executions and death under torture took place during the military regime, and 1,102 people disappeared at the hands of government forces and are presumed dead. By July 1977, U.S. policy under the new Carter administration had turned sharply against Pinochet. Yet the embassy expressed irritation over being asked to write "still another human rights report" on Chile and noted the "strong and varied views" inside the mission. In its own report, the embassy military group complained: "We [the United States] do not appear to be visionary enough to see the total picture; we focus only upon the relatively few violation cases which occur and continue to hound the government about past events while shrugging off demonstrated improvements."