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John Dinges clarification to New York Times

"Washington's knowledge about the Condor system and its
activities during this period has been cautiously and carefully
documented in John Dinges's book The Condor Years, especially
chapters 7-10, and in chapter 6 of Kornbluh's Pinochet File."

--From Kenneth Maxwell's suppressed commentary to Foreign Affairs

John Dinges
4208 45th St. NW
Washington, DC 20016

June 5, 2004

Diana Schemo
New York Times
schemo@nytimes.com

Dear Diana,

I read your fine story this morning. It's an important issue and I'm glad you took the time to explore it.

I'm writing because my book, which was not mentioned, was at the heart of the controversy, along with Peter Kornbluh's. ...

The facts are that Maxwell reviewed both my book and Peter's, and wrote a long analytical piece on the debate over US involvement in the coup. The issue about which Maxwell was refused the chance to respond, however, was not the coup involvement but Roger's raising of the "complicity" issue involving the Letelier assassination. Maxwell specifically cites three chapters in my book as the source of the meticulous research that led to his statements on US foreknowledge of Condor. The letter written by Maxwell that was suppressed by Foreign Affairs reads in part: "Washington's knowledge about the Condor system and its activities during this period has been cautiously and carefully documented in John Dinges's book The Condor Years, especially chapters 7-10, and in chapter 6 of Kornbluh's Pinochet File." ...

... I have spent many years researching Condor, and my major findings were available to Peter, including in my agreement to co-write the Washington Post piece with him and include exclusive material from my forthcoming book.

I don't expect you to take into account the private arrangements of two writers, but I did expect that my work would receive credit and attention as the definitive investigation of Condor. Maxwell clearly put the emphasis where it was due in his review of my book and in his unpublished response to Rogers. ...[In addition, Maxwell in his Foreign Affairs article "Fleeing the Chilean Coup," he refers to facts and analysis that are only covered in my book: to wit, George Bush's warning to Ed Koch that he was a target, and the indictment of Kissinger's "Manichaean world view".]

Here are some of the things I would have been able to give you if we had talked --some background explanation that might have been helpful and an additional example of a previous effort by Rogers to distort the cable record in defense of Kissinger.

At the heart of the issue raised by Rogers is historical accuracy, not opinion or surmise (as Rogers and perhaps [Foreign Affairs editor James] Hoge would have it). By leaving stand Rogers statements attempting to dismiss the evidence of U.S. foreknowledge and failure to act in advance of the Letelier assassination, Foreign Affairs has allowed a distorted and inaccurate picture of the actual documentary record on this issue to go unchallenged.

No one who knows the facts, certainly not I, accuses Rogers or Kissinger of being "complicitous" in the Letelier assassination. Just as in the case of the warnings about Al Qaeda prior to 9/11/01, however, the CIA and State Department received major pieces of intelligence indicating that assassinations were being planned by Condor outside Latin America and even that missions were underway or being discussed against targets in the U.S. (the Paraguay passports mission and the threat against Ed Koch). Kissinger's people first issued instructions to warn off Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, then canceled those instructions just before Letelier was killed. In my interviews with Rogers, I laid out all of this evidences. So there can be no question he knows in precise detail what the cable record contains. Yet he eschews any factual grappling with the questions raised by the cable record, and prefers instead to give the impression that the charges are "myth" and "a canard" invented by the left.

As the debate ended in Foreign Affairs, we are left with the impression that there is no factual historical evidence on which to base the idea that the US had foreknowledge and that the assassination might have been prevented if the US had carried out the instructions originally approved by Kissinger. In fact there is abundant evidence, which I lay out in three carefully written chapters.

The second item I could have passed on to you is that Rogers did something similar on behalf of Kissinger in 1987. Martin Andersen wrote a piece in The Nation (October 31, 1987) saying the US ambassador to Argentina Robert Hill felt that Kissinger had undercut him on human rights in a secret meeting with the Argentine foreign minister. He said the minister, Admiral Guzzetti, met with Kissinger in 1976, during the height of the repression, and Kissinger told him not to worry about getting US human rights criticism as long as Argentina got the repression over with as soon as possible--by the end of 1976. This was a green light to the massive killing underway, Andersen wrote. The Ambassador was furious and told his story later to another State Department officer, who gave Andersen a memo of the conversation. (Hill died in 1980).

Rogers wrote to The Nation on behalf of Kissinger, denying any such thing had happened. He claimed the ambassador never wrote to Kissinger complaining about the Guzzetti meeting, and that he would have seen the cables if they existed. "Hill never told us during the last six months of 1976, while he was working the human rights issue so energetically, that you [Kissinger] had misled Guzzetti, or that the junta was under a dangerously misguided impression about your attitude." That was a strong rebuttal of Andersen's article, since Andersen had no cables and only a memorandum of conversation from almost a year later between the ambassador and the other State Department officer.

Rogers' letter was seriously misleading, not to say outright false. Andersen's piece was accurate and solid. The cables did exist, and I now have them and write about the whole incident in Chapter 12 of my book and in a long note on p. 291-292. There were two meetings between Kissinger and Guzzetti, and a series of cables from Ambassador Hill complaining bitterly about them.

I have Rogers letter, which is now shown as a clear factual distortion of the cable record that existed in State Department files, and which he had every reason to know existed. The parallels to the Maxwell flap are obvious. Rogers is a highly respected and credible former State Department official (with a reputation as a liberal going back to the 80s when I first got to know him) who has taken on the role of Henry Kissinger's spin doctor.

In both of these examples, Rogers' rebuttal of Maxwell and of Andersen, it is appalling to me that Rogers' defense of Kissinger extends to the distortion of the historical record as reflected in now declassified cables. That is an editorial comment of the kind I try to avoid making but is appropriate in this case.

I hope you will consider these observations as my attempt to be helpful.

Best regards,

John Dinges


 

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