In the Press



Kissinger and Tell? U.S. Role In 1970s Human Rights Abuses Confirmed
by Tom Burgis, Santiago Times (editor@santiagotimes.cl)
November 9, 2004

A book published this week provides the most exhaustive study to date of
the murky world of international espionage in the Southern Cone of the 1970s.
John Dinges' "Operación Cóndor," launched at Santiago's Fería del Libro on
Sunday, reveals hitherto unknown details of the intelligence network used
by South America's repressive regimes in the 1970s and 1980s to hunt down
and kill their opponents on three continents.

The book comes at a critical time in the judicial investigation into
Operation Condor, which is headed in Chile by Judge Juan Guzmán. Guzmán is
seeking to prosecute former dictator Augusto Pinochet for his alleged
involvement in the deaths of 19 dissidents resulting from Operation
Condor. While there is mounting evidence to support a prosecution, the former
dictator's mental health - he has suspected subcortical dementia - has
thus far precluded him facing a court. Guzmán is currently weighing medical
reports by the three psychiatrists who examined the 88-year-old Pinochet
last month and will soon decide whether to press charges (ST, Oct. 25).

Dinges, once the Washington Post's Santiago correspondent, begins his book
with an account of a meeting of intelligence and military officials from
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil on Nov. 26, 1975.
More than 200 people gathered for the weeklong meeting in Santiago, held at
the former Academy of War on Alameda. "Pinochet was the host," writes
Dinges, "and he took care of all the expenses for the meeting."

After introductory pleasantries, Pinochet handed over to Miguel Contreras,
the head of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), who outlined a
plan to control subversion and combat international communism. Contreras
went on to advocate that leftists captured in any of the cooperating
countries be repatriated for interrogation, and that a multilateral effort
be made to eliminate dissidents who had fled the continent. Uruguayan Col.
José Fons told Dinges that "Chile had the means and the will for the

The name "Condor" was unanimously agreed upon "in homage to the host

Apart from his wealth of sources, Dinges had access to recently
declassified documents in the United States, where his book is ruffling feathers,
particularly those of Henry Kissinger and his associates. Kissinger was
Secretary of State at the time of Operation Condor and has since amassed a
fortune as a top influence peddler for international businesses and
foreign governments seeking special perks in Washington, D.C.

Dinges' revelations add to the groundswell of evidence that the United
States helped sponsor the 1973 coup that swept aside the democratic
government of Salvador Allende, and was aware of, but decided to ignore,
Operation Condor. Dinges writes that Kissinger had been tipped off about
the plot to assassinate Orlando Letelier, the Chilean former Foreign
Secretary and Pinochet's most vocal critic in the United States, but
declined to warn Letelier, who was killed by a car bomb in Washington in

Contreras has since served a seven-year jail term for Letelier's murder,
and faces a number of additional lawsuits for human rights violations. The
Third Bench of the Santiago Court of Appeals ruled Monday in favor of granting
Contreras provisional release in another case in which he stands accused,
that of the 1974 kidnapping of Álvaro Barrios Duque.

Still, Contreras is not yet at liberty, owing to two further orders for
his detention issued by judges investigating the murders of a leftist activist
in 1974, and there remain a number of outstanding indictments against him
for abuses carried out by DINA agents.

John Dinges, "The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought
Terrorism to Three Continents" (2004) is published by the New Press. The
edition in Spanish, "Operación Cóndor: Una Década de Terrorismo
Internacional en el Cono Sur" (2004) is published this week by Ediciones





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