Some legal experts are speculating about the possibility that people who participated in the January 6 Capitol melee could be charged with murdering Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, even though they did not participate in his killing. The felony-murder rule holds that if a person is involved in the commission of a felony in a conspiracy with others, he can be charged with murder even though others in the conspiracy did the killing.
When I read that, I immediately thought about the kidnapping and murder of Chilean General Rene Schneider, who was killed in 1970. In fact, it’s interesting that while the members of Congress and the mainstream press express shock and outrage over recent events in the Capitol, they have long been non-plussed by the shocking and outrageous violence that U.S. government officials instigated and in which they participated in 1970.
Schneider was the overall commander of Chile’s armed forces. He was a man of deep integrity, had a family, and believed that it was duty of the military to support and defend the constitution of the country.
In the 1970 presidential election, the Chilean people delivered a plurality of votes to a man named Salvador Allende, who U.S. officials reviled because he was a socialist. Like President Kennedy ten years before, Allende was interested in establishing friendly relations with the communist world, including the Soviet Union and Cuba, two official Cold War enemies of the U.S. national-security establishment. Keep in mind that in 1970, the Cold War was still continuing and that the communists were defeating U.S. military and CIA forces in the Vietnam War.
U.S. officials determined that Allende posed a grave threat to “national security” — not only the “national security” of the United States but also the “national security” of Chile. They decided to prevent his accession to the presidency, either through bribes to the Chilean congress or through a U.S.-supported coup that would install a right-wing military dictatorship in the country.
There was one big obstacle to a coup: Gen. Rene Schneider.
The Chilean constitution provided for only two ways to remove a duly elected president from office: by impeachment (and conviction) or through the next election. The Chilean constitution did not provide for a coup as a third way to remove a president from office.
The Chilean congress had been unable to secure enough votes to remove Allende from office through impeachment. That left the next election, which would have meant that Allende would stay in office for the next 6 years.
Schneider’s position was very simple: Since the Constitution did not provide for a coup to remove the president, the military could not act to remove him.
The U.S. national-security establishment’s position was different: While it too favored supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution, it held that there was an implicit exception to the rule, which was: Whenever a country’s president is determined to be a grave threat to the “national security” of his own country, it becomes the the moral duty of the national-security establishment to protect “national security” by removing the president from office. (As I point out in an upcoming article in FFF’s monthly journal Future of Freedom, this mindset has clear ramifications in the Kennedy assassination, which occurred ten years prior to Allende’s election.)
In order to achieve the coup, it was necessary to remove Schneider as an obstacle. Thus, U.S. officials within the CIA and other parts of the U.S. government entered into a conspiracy to kidnap Schneider.
Now, before I go further, I know what some of you are thinking: “Conspiracy theory, Jacob! Conspiracy theory! There is no way that officials of the U.S. government would ever conspire to violently kidnap an innocent man! It’s outrageous that you would even suggest such a thing about our government!”
But the fact is that that this conspiracy did in fact occur, notwithstanding the fervent mindset that some might have to deny its existence. The CIA secretly hired the kidnappers, paid them money, including hush money after the fact, and even smuggled high-powered weapons into the country, which they gave to their Chilean co-conspirators.
When the kidnappers attempted to kidnap Schneider on the streets of Santiago, he was armed and fought back. The kidnappers shot him and Schneider died three days later from his wounds.
The CIA claimed that it never intended to murder Schneider. It said that it just wanted to kidnap him. However, that claim has the world “lie” written all over it. After all, what could they have done with him after kidnapping him? They couldn’t return him, given that would have restored him as the obstacle to the coup. Moreover, if they returned him, he might have been able to lead law-enforcement personnel to the kidnappers and ultimately to the CIA. Thus, it is a virtual certainty that Schneider would have been killed by one of the kidnappers and that the CIA would have dutifully expressed shock.
Nonetheless, enter the felony-murder rule. Kidnapping is a felony. So is conspiracy to kidnap. Under the felony-murder rule, the U.S. conspirators were as responsible for Schneider’s murders as the actually killers.
The CIA and other U.S. officials who participated in the conspiracy tried desperately to keep their involvement in the conspiracy secret. People who suspected their complicity in the plot were undoubtedly labeled “conspiracy theorists.” But investigators in the private sector kept pushing and ultimately the truth came out: The CIA and other U.S. officials had participated in a felony, with the conspiracy taking place in both Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Nonetheless, the Justice Department has never charged any of the conspirators with kidnapping or murder or conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder. Keep in mind that there is no statute of limitations for murder. But even if a federal grand jury were to return a criminal indictment, it is a virtual certainty that the federal judiciary would immediately dismiss it on grounds of “national security.”
It’s probably worth mentioning that when the family of Rene Schneider sued in federal district court for Schneider’s wrongful death, the federal courts threw them out on their ears, without even permitting them to take depositions that could have determined the full extent of the conspiracy. When it comes to extraordinary measures to protect “national security,” including kidnapping and assassination, secrecy in a national-security state is always paramount.
But that’s the nature of any national-security state: omnipotent power to inflict violence on innocent people with immunity and impunity, even while decrying violence committed by others.