Today marks the 41st anniversary of the military coup in Chile, a coup in which Chilean military personnel under the command of Army General Augusto Pinochet brutally raped or tortured some 40,000 innocent people and murdered more than 3,000 innocent people.
I use the term “innocent” in the sense that the victims had not committed any genuine crimes. Their only “crime”—and Pinochet and his henchmen believed it was a crime–was that the victims believed in communism or socialism or had supported the democratically elected regime of Salvador Allende, who himself was a believer in communism and socialism.
Did Pinochet accord any of these people judicial trials, in which they were formally accused of being communists, socialists, or supporters of the Allende administration?
No, he did not. He didn’t feel that trials were necessary. As far as Pinochet and his military were concerned, this wasn’t a criminal-justice problem. For them, this was a war against communism. People could trust the military to ferret out the communists and the socialists and deal with them accordingly.
After the Chilean coup, U.S. officials played the innocent, claiming that the U.S. government had played no role in the coup — that it was entirely carried out by the Chilean national-security establishment.
But as the circumstantial evidence has slowly leaked out over the decades, it has become increasingly clear that the U.S. government wasn’t innocent at all. Instead, the overwhelming weight of the circumstantial evidence is that the U.S. national-security state establishment was a full partner — in fact, even the leading partner — in bringing about regime change in Chile on September 11, 1973.
Why is that important?
It’s important because the world has always pointed only to Pinochet and his goons for being responsible for the kidnappings, rapes, torture, and murders of all those innocent people.
Not so. As a full partner in the escapade, the U.S. government is as legally and morally responsible for the rapes, torture, and murders as Pinochet and his military-intelligence henchmen.
That’s the way the law treats criminal partnerships. If a party enters into a partnership with another party to commit a crime, both partners are fully culpable for the acts committed by the other partner in the course of carrying out the crime.
The fact that the U.S. government might not have been directly involved in the coup itself on 9/11 is irrelevant. All that would mean is that in the division of labor, the coup itself would have been left to the Chilean military and intelligence agencies. What mattered was the overall scope of the partnership, which was to bring about regime change in Chile through the coup. There isn’t any reasonable doubt, based on the circumstantial evidence, that the U.S. government was a full-fledged partner in the overall scheme to bring regime change to Chile through a military coup.
What was the U.S. national-security state’s role in the partnership?
One role was to produce economic and political chaos that would make conditions right for a coup, which would then enable the Chilean military to step in with the coup to “save the country” from the crises.
To achieve that, U.S. officials did everything they could to cut off international credit, trade, and foreign aid to Chile and then fomented and financed crippling strikes within the country, all with the aim of producing conditions that would be favorable to a coup.
Even while cutting off all foreign aid to the Allende regime, U.S. officials continued to encourage, train, nurture, and fund the Chilean military. In that way, U.S. officials would be better able to persuade and manipulate Chilean officials into turning against their democratically elected president and commander-in-chief and violate their oaths to support and defend the Chilean constitution by initiating a coup that would remove him from office and install a military dictatorship in his stead.
The U.S. national-security state, specifically the CIA, also conspired with Chilean counterparts to kidnap the commander in chief of the Chilean army, Gen. Rene Schneider, with the aim of removing him from office. Why? Because Schneider continued to oppose a coup and instead insisted on supporting and defending the Chilean constitution, under which Allende had been fairly and legally elected by a plurality of Chilean voters. Schneider was ultimately murdered in the kidnapping attempt, and it was later learned that the CIA had paid a large amount of hush money to the malefactors.
There is also circumstantial evidence of U.S. complicity on the day of coup, at least in a consulting capacity. For one thing, there were U.S. warships off the coast of Chile. Moreover, U.S. military and intelligence officials were freely moving about the country at the height of the coup, owing to Chilean military identification cards that had been issued to them.
During the coup, U.S. officials displayed a remarkable degree of indifference to the round-ups, kidnappings, rapes, torture, and murder of those tens of thousands of innocent people—that is, people whose only “crime” was believing in communism or socialism or having supported their democratically elected president. That’s undoubtedly because U.S. officials favored the way that their Chilean counterparts were treating all these communists and socialists. Indeed, that’s why U.S. officials instigated the coup in the first place — to protect Chile and the United States from communists and communism.
Indeed, as reflected in the movie “Missing,” U.S. officials also displayed a remarkable degree of indifference to the fate of two Americans, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, who were murdered by Pinochet and his goons during the coup. In fact, as the circumstantial evidence has slowly leaked out over the years, it has become increasingly clear that U.S. military and intelligence officials actgually fingered both Horman and Teruggi, both of whom were leftists who opposed the Vietnam War, to be killed by their Chilean counterparts, undoubtedly for the same reason that those thousands of Chileans were being raped, tortured, and murdered — because Horman and Teruggi, owing to their leftist views, were considered to be communists or socialists.
Horman never had a chance. Not only was he opposed to the Vietnam War, as a journalist working for a small Chilean newspaper he also was investigating the CIA’s conspiracy to kidnap Schneider, which the CIA was (falsely) denying. Even worse for Horman, while visiting the Chilean coastal town of Vina del Mar when the coup broke out, he had personally discovered evidence of U.S. complicity in the coup.
After the coup, the U.S. government opened the foreign-aid spigots that had been cut off during the Allende administration and flooded the Pinochet dictatorship with millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, with full knowledge of the kidnappings, rapes, torture, and murder of all those tens of thousands of innocent people.
After the coup, the CIA later placed the head of Chile’s secret police, Gen. Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, on its payroll, with full knowledge of Contreras’ role in the human-rights abuses against those thousands of innocent Chileans. Contreras was later convicted of conspiring to assassinate Orlando Letelier on the streets of Washington, D.C., a crime that the CIA reported should not be attributed to Pinochet and his goons. In fact, the evidence establishes that the CIA also was a partner in Operation Condor, which was a secret domestic and international assassination program run by Pinochet and his goons after the coup.
To this day U.S. national-security state officials steadfastly refuse to disclose all their records relating to the Chilean coup to the American people. Their ground? Why, “national security,” of course. Apparently the United States will still fall into the ocean or fall to Chilean communists and socialists if the American people were to read everything the U.S. national-security state was doing as part of its partnership with Pinochet and his national-security henchmen.
Yes, the disquieting truth is that the U.S. national security state was a full-fledged partner in the Pinochet coup, which makes the U.S. government fully responsible, both legally and morally, for the kidnappings, rapes, tortures, and murders of the thousands of innocent people that were committed by Pinochet and his henchmen. That’s nothing to celebrate on 9/11.