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Let’s Not Forget CIA Victim Charles Horman


While we’re on the subject of criminal prosecutions and congressional investigations for the CIA’s kidnapping, torture, sex abuse, rendition, and disappearance program, is it too late to ask the same for the case of Charles Horman? He was the 31-year-old American journalist who was murdered in 1973 by Chilean military thugs with the support and complicity of the CIA.

What was the precise role that CIA officials played in Horman’s murder? We don’t know. And the reason we don’t know is that the Justice Department has never seen fit to initiate a criminal prosecution against the CIA agents who participated in Horman’s murder and Congress has never seen fit to subpoena the CIA agents who participated in the murder to testify about it in a congressional hearing. And needless to say, the CIA hasn’t volunteered the information.

In 1973, the Chilean military instituted a coup against Salvador Allende, a socialist who had been elected president of the country. Led by military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean military proceeded to inflict a reign of terror on the country, rounding up tens of thousands of suspected terrorists and traitors, torturing them, sexually abusing them, and executing them. It was all done, of course, in the name of national security. Among those executed was Charles Horman, with the complicity of the CIA.

Imagine that: The CIA participates in the murder of an American citizen, and we don’t know why or how because U.S. officials, both in the executive and legislative branches, decided not to look too closely into the matter.

Were CIA agents just “following orders” when they participated in Horman’s murder, the same claim they’re making in the torture scandal?

Alas, we just don’t know.

Who actually committed the murder? Was Horman tortured, sexually abused, or raped before his execution, as so many Chileans were?

Who knows?

Was Horman killed because as a Harvard graduate, he might have sympathized with the Allende regime?

Or was it because he had acquired too much information in interviews that he had conducted with U.S. military and intelligence officials while the coup was taking place?

We just don’t know.

What we do know is that for years U.S. officials lied about the CIA’s role in Horman’s murder and knowingly covered it up. In 1999, however — 26 years after the murder — U.S. officials released a document that revealed that the CIA had in fact played a role in Horman’s murder. While the document had been released to Horman’s family some 20 years earlier, U.S. officials had intentionally redacted that portion that reflected CIA complicity in the murder.

Was this revelation followed by criminal indictments for murder, lying, or covering up the CIA’s role in the murder? Were CIA agents subpoenaed to testify in a congressional investigation into the murder, the lying, or the cover-up?


Wouldn’t you think that there would be a bit of outrage over the murder of an American journalist in which CIA agents have participated, especially an American who was not alleged to have committed any criminal offense against Chile or the United States?

No indictments. No congressional subpoenas.

But of course, let’s not forget that we’re dealing with the CIA here. Who’s going to indict or investigate members of a super-secret, omnipotent federal agency that is at the core of the empire, one whose agents faithfully and loyally serve the empire through assassination, kidnapping, torture, rendition, and disappearances? What Justice Department lawyer or member of Congress is going to rock that boat?

Anyway, think about how indictments and subpoenas into the Horman murder would have demoralized this important federal agency. Much better and safer to simply “move on” and put the past behind us, even when that past includes the murder of a young American journalist.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.