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The Murder of Frank Teruggi


Those who are familiar with my articles know that for many years I have written lots of articles about the role of the U.S. government in the 1973 regime-change operation in Chile. The most recent of my articles, entitled “The 40th Anniversary of Chile’s 9/11” was published just a few days ago.

After the Chilean people had democratically elected a man named Salvador Allende to the presidency, U.S. President Richard Nixon decided that the election would not be permitted to stand.

The reason? “National security.”

You see, Allende was a socialist-communist, and that scared the dickens out of Nixon and the U.S. national-security establishment. Nixon ordered the CIA and the Pentagon into action. On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military, with the support of the U.S. national security state, ousted Allende in a violent coup and assumed power under the leadership of army General Augusto Pinochet.

Not surprisingly, Pinochet’s regime turned into an orgy of brutality, violence, torture, rape, and murder.

The victims?

Tens of thousands of peaceful Chilean citizens.

Their crime?

Their belief in socialism, along with their support of the Allende administration.

But there were also two young Americans who were murdered by Pinochet’s goons: Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi.

Over the years, it was Horman’s case that has received most of the attention. It was the subject of the great movie “Missing” that starred Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek.

A few days ago, Mother Jones published a very moving article by Frank Teruggi’s sister entitled “Did US Intelligence Help Pinochet’s Junta Kill My Brother?” The article is really worth reading.

The circumstantial evidence points in the direction “yes” to Janis Teruggi Page’s question. Teruggi, a leftist, had been writing on U.S. involvement in Chilean political matters. There is evidence indicating that U.S. officials were monitoring his mail that he was sending his family back in the states, which of course certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone. This was during the Cold War, when surveillance of Americans suspected of being communists was par for the course. In fact, as Page’s article points out, the FBI was keeping a file on Teruggi, in which he had been labeled a “subversive.” As Page points out, somehow Chilean officials learned Teruggi’s address. The likely source was the U.S. government.

When Teruggi’s father tried to discover the fate of his son, he was met with a brick wall of indifference by U.S. officials. They were more concerned with protecting the credibility of the Pinochet regime than with the welfare of an American citizen, possibly because they knew that an investigation might turn up evidence indicating that CIA and Pentagon officials had given the green light to their Chilean counterparts to kill two American “communists”–Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi.

After all, what more perfect way to commit murder than that? Certainly the Chilean courts weren’t going to do anything about it, given the deference they showed to the military.

And certainly the Justice Department and federal courts here in the United States weren’t going to do anything about it. In fact, when Horman’s wife sued in U.S. District Court, they threw her case out of court, saying that she lacked evidence. When she asked to depose U.S. officials, the court essentially responded: “Oh no, that would adversely affect ‘national security.’ We can’t let you do that.”

Isn’t it amazing that we live in a country where Joyce Horman and Janis Teruggi Page are still not permitted to know the precise role that the Pentagon and the CIA played in the murders of their husband and brother? What would be wrong if Congress were to schedule hearings to determine exactly how these murders went down? What would be wrong with subpoenaing all the CIA and military personnel who were involved in these two crimes? What would be wrong with subpoenaing all the records relating to these two murders? Surely, “national security” would no longer be in danger if Horman and Page and the American people were to learn the truth as to the role that U.S. national-security state played in the murders of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi.

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.