Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Columns About Pinochet And Kissinger

Ask Kissinger About Pinochet's regime
Thursday, December 14, 2006


As the world marked International Human Rights Day, one of the century's most notorious dictators, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, died under house arrest in Chile at the age of 91. His 17-year reign left a deep scar on Chilean society. Yet Pinochet's legacy includes an ironic upside: His regime and the U.S. support for it galvanized the modern-day international human rights movement.

On Sept. 11, 2001, as the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, on our daily broadcast of "Democracy Now!," we were looking at the connection between terrorism and Sept. 11, 1973. It was on that day that the democratically elected government of Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a violent coup, and the forces of Pinochet rose to power. The coup was supported by the U.S. government. Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and U.S. secretary of state, summed up the policy this way:

"I don't 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."

As Pinochet seized power, first among the dead was the president himself, Allende. Then there were the thousands rounded up. Among them was Victor Jara, the legendary Chilean folk singer. Jara was beaten, tortured, then executed. His body was dumped on a Santiago street and found by his wife in the morgue.

Charles Horman was a U.S. journalist working in Chile. He, too, disappeared in those days following the coup. His body was found buried in a cement wall. His story was immortalized in the Academy Award-winning Constantin Costa-Gavras film "Missing." His widow, Joyce Horman, sued not only Pinochet for the death of her husband but also Kissinger and others at the U.S. State Department.

Pinochet's reign of terrorism extended beyond Chile's borders. On Sept. 21, 1976, the former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and his American colleague, Ronni Moffit, died in a car bombing, not in Chile, but on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

Then there was Chile's current president, Michelle Bachelet. Her father was a general under Allende and opposed the coup. He was arrested and died of a heart attack in prison. She and her mother were detained and tortured at the notorious Villa Grimaldi, a secret torture site in Santiago. Bachelet and her mother survived and went into exile. Her return to Chile and eventual election as president on the Socialist ticket has brought Chilean politics and history full circle. In October 2006, she returned to Villa Grimaldi. In November, Pinochet was placed under house arrest and charged with the kidnap and murder of prisoners there.

This was not the first time Pinochet was arrested. In 1998, while on a medical visit in London, he was put under house arrest after Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon issued a warrant for his arrest for the torture and murder of Spanish nationals. After 18 months, Britain finally allowed Pinochet to return to Chile for health reasons, avoiding extradition to Spain.

Pinochet's death allows him to escape conviction. Kissinger, whose support for the Pinochet regime is increasingly well documented, is still alive and still of interest to those seeking justice. Kissinger has been sought for questioning by Judge Garzon and by French Judge Roger Le Loire, both investigating the death and disappearance of their citizens in Chile. While Kissinger is frequently questioned by the media in this country, he is almost never asked about his own record. Instead, he is treated like royalty.

Questions remain about the brutal regime of Pinochet. Kissinger likely holds many answers. If we are to have a uniform standard of justice, then answers need to be demanded of the genuine terrorism experts such as Henry Kissinger.

Amy Goodman hosts the radio news program "Democracy Now!"

Cool Justice
Kissinger, 9-11 And Charles Horman

Law Tribune Newspapers
December 23, 2002

Joyce Horman must know who put bullets in her husband's head and body. Ex-Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger could help. He won't.

The late Charles Horman, a journalist and filmmaker, was working in Chile as Kissinger supervised the CIA-sponsored coup that toppled the elected president, Salvador Allende, in 1973. As the coup plot unfolded, Charles Horman came upon information of widespread U.S. military and government involvement.

Over the years revelations of the coup plotting have made it into the public domain. Evidence about the U.S. government's role in the execution of one of its own citizens comes from our own State Department, in a memo made public during the Clinton Administration: "There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest U.S. intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death." Other documents indicate U.S. intelligence agents gave the Chilean military information about Horman.

"I want to know exactly why he was killed, and who said, 'Kill him,'" Joyce Horman told me during a telephone interview from her New York apartment where she administers the Charles Horman Truth Project. "Why would the Chileans kill a U.S. citizen when they needed to be recognized by the U.S? We feel there was at least a nod [of approval by the U.S.]." Along with hundreds of other opponents of the military junta, Charles Horman was taken by soldiers to a soccer stadium in Santiago, Chile nearly 30 years ago and executed. One of four shots was to the eye.

Kissinger was been dubbed The Answer Man by President Bush for the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, until the former secretary of state pulled himself out of the commission. Certainly Kissinger is an expert on state-sponsored terrorism, and he has the credentials to cover up government wrongdoing. Bush had resisted pleas by victims' families for a commission to investigate the government. His choice in Kissinger was illuminating. By that act alone, Bush showed he was building an impressive record of lies and deceit. Kissinger cannot travel to Europe without fear of being held for questioning in connection with legal actions about deaths of citizens from France, Spain, Argentina, Chile and other countries. He fled France last year after being served with a summons in connection with Operation Condor--a U.S.-sponsored Murder Incorporated that killed citizens opposed to military dictatorships in Central and South America.

As we fight a supposed war on terror, people don't want to know that the U.S. government routinely overthrew democracies and supported dictatorships at the behest of corporations including ITT and Pepsi. What better way to occupy the public mindset, with--instead of history or the economy--a war against Iraq? Joyce Horman is among those who will not let us forget history.

The selection of Kissinger to head this 9-11 commission, Joyce Horman told me, did "an enormous wrong to all the victims' families; Kissinger was the man who knew what was going on. He is a master at cover-ups." It was Kissinger who supervised the sending of machine guns and tear gas to coup plotters in Chile under diplomatic cover. Before killing the president of Chile, the coup organizers first had to kill a top general who respected civilian control of the military. His survivors have an active lawsuit against Kissinger and others in the U.S. Kissinger is also wanted for questioning in Chile - where Joyce Horman has filed a criminal complaint against members of the military junta. Kissinger's lawyers have denied any involvement by Kissinger in Horman's execution. Now, Kissinger will not be working on behalf of the families of 9-11 victims; he has other masters to serve. Good. The families deserve better than him.

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