FW: A Day That Will Live in Infamy in the US and Chile

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Sat Sep 15 17:24:42 MDT 2001

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From: portsideMod [mailto:portsidemod at yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2001 9:52 PM
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Subject: A Day That Will Live in Infamy in the US and Chile

September 11:
A Day That Will Live in Infamy in the US and Chile

By Roger Burbach

*Roger Burbach is director of Global Alternatives of
CENSA (Center for Emerging National Security Affairs),
and author of Globalization and Postmodern Politics:
The Zapatistas and High Tech Robber Barons, Pluto
Press, 2001. He is currently working on a book on
Pinochet's terrorist activities and on the global
human rights movement that opposed his regime.

It is an uncanny historic coincidence that the attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred
exactly twenty-eight years after General Augusto
Pinochet toppled the elected government of Socialist
President Salvador Allende in Chile. The bloody coup
in Santiago on September 11, 1973, which I lived
through, is widely believed to have had the backing of
the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

It marked the advent of a regime that systematically
employed terror at home and abroad to remain in power
for almost seventeen years. Prior to the attack on the
Pentagon, the most sensational foreign-lead terrorist
action in the capitol had been carried out by a team
of operatives sent by the Pinochet regime. On
September 21, 1976, agents of the Chilean secret
police organization, DINA, detonated a car bomb just
blocks from the White House, killing a leading
opponent of Pinochet's, Orlando Letelier, and his
assistant Ronni Moffitt. Letelier, who I spoke to at
the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.
before his death, was a man deeply committed to
democracy and a more humane world who had served at
the highest levels of the Allende government.

These assassinations were linked to the first
international terrorist network in the Western
Hemisphere, known as Operation Condor. Begun in 1974
at the instigation of the Chilean secret police,
Operation Condor was a sinister cabal comprised of the
intelligence services of at least six South American
countries that collaborated in tracking, kidnapping
and assassinating political opponents. Based on
documents recently divulged under the Chile
Declassification Project of the Clinton
administration, it is now recognized that the CIA knew
about these international terrorist activities and may
have even abetted them.

The Chilean secret police, often with the assistance
of other Condor partners, carried out a number of
international terrorist operations. On September 30,
1974, retired General Carlos Pratts, who Pinochet
replaced as head of the Chilean military shortly
before the 1973 coup, was killed by a car bomb while
living in exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Rome in
1975, DINA operatives attacked and seriously maimed
Chilean Christian Democratic politician Bernardo
Leighton and his wife.

Papers found in Paraguayan archives in the 1990s
reveal that Operation Condor was also linked to the
assassination of a Brazilian general and two Uruguayan
parliamentarians, as well as to scores of lesser-known
political activists. After the murders of Letelier-
Moffitt in Washington D.C., the CIA appears to have
concluded that Condor was a rogue operation and may
have tried to contain its activities. However, the
network of Southern Cone military and intelligence
operations continued to act throughout Latin America
at least until the early 1980s. Chilean and Argentine
military units assisted the dictator Anastasio Somoza
in Nicaragua and helped set up death squads in El
Salvador. Argentine units also aided and supervised
Honduran military death squads that began operating in
the early 1980s with the direct assistance and
collaboration the CIA.

All these terrorist operations of course need to be
placed in the context of the Cold War. It is no secret
that the US government in its conflict with the Soviet
bloc countries often engaged in unsavory operations,
particularly in the third world. But many of these
activities have come back to haunt the US. In another
ironic historic twist, on the day before the attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the family
of assassinated General Rene Schneider announced that
they intend to press charges in the Chilean courts
against Henry Kissinger. Their charges are based on
declassified US government documents discussed earlier
this month on CBS' Sixty Minutes that were provided by
the National Security Archive, an independent research
and documentation center based in Washington D.C.
These documents indicate that after the election of
Salvador Allende in September 1970 Kissinger approved
a CIA plot to prevent Allende from being inaugurated.
This conspiracy lead to the assassination of Schneider
over a month later, who as commander in chief of the
Chilean army insisted on upholding the will of Chilean
voters and the country's constitution.

There are many parallels between the emergence of the
terrorist network in Latin America and events in the
Middle East and Asia. Osama bin Laden of Saudi Arabia,
who is widely believed to be directing the attacks on
the United States, first became involved in militant
Islamic activities when he went to Afghanistan in the
1980s to fight with the Mujahidin against the Soviet-
backed regime that had taken power in the country.
According to the CIA 2000 Fact Book, the Mujahidin
were "supplied and trained by the US, Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan, and others." Even in the 1980s it was widely
recognized that many of those fighting against the
Soviets and the Afghan government were religious
fanatics who had no loyalty to their U.S. sponsors,
let alone to "American values" like democracy,
religious tolerance and gender equality.

As we now know the most radical and fundamentalist
sector of the Mujahidin, the Talibun, gained control
of most of the country by the late 1990s. Some Taliban
leaders openly acknowledge that they allow Osama bin
Laden to operate in their country because they are
indebted to a man who supported and assisted their
rise to power.

What is now disconcerting is that in the aftermath of
the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
former US government officials and conservative
pundits are arguing that bin Laden's international
terrorist network has flourished because earlier U.S.
collaboration with terrorists were constrained or
curtailed. Henry Kissinger who was in Germany on
September 11, told the TV networks that the controls
imposed on US intelligence operations over the years
have facilitated the rise of international terrorism.
He alluded to the hearings of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee in 1975 headed by Senator Frank
Church, which strongly criticized the covert
operations approved by Kissinger when he headed up the
National Security Council. The Church hearings lead to
the first legal restrictions on CIA activities,
including the prohibition of US assassinations of
foreign leaders.

Other Republicans, including George Bush Sr. who was
director of the CIA when the agency worked with many
of these terrorist networks, are pointing the finger
at the Clinton administration for allegedly
undermining foreign intelligence operations. They
argue vehemently against the 1995 presidential order
prohibiting the CIA from paying and retaining foreign
operatives involved in torture and death squads. These
foreign policy hawks are standing historic reality on
its head. What happened in New York and Washington is
a massive human tragedy. But unless we acknowledge
that the U.S. government has been intricately involved
in the creation of international terrorist networks
and abandon that practice once and for all, the cycle
of violence and terrorism will only deepen in the
months and years to come. The events of September 11
demonstrate that our borders are no longer impregnable
in a globalized world. We must behave more
responsibly, ending our own role in the globalization
of terror, or there will be many more Septembers as
history continues to repeat itself.

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