Rescinded Orders to Warn Military Regmies
Days before Letelier Bombing in Washington, D.C.
Overruled Aides who Wanted to "Head Off" a "Series of International Murders"
Only five days before a car-bomb planted by agents of the Pinochet regime rocked downtown Washington D.C. on September 21, 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger rescinded instructions sent to, but never implemented by, U.S. ambassadors in the Southern Cone to warn military leaders there against orchestrating "a series of international murders," declassified documents obtained and posted by the National Security Archive revealed today.
The Secretary "has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter," stated a September 16, 1976, cable sent from Lusaka (where Kissinger was traveling) to his assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, Harry Shlaudeman. The instructions effectively ended efforts by senior State Department officials to deliver a diplomatic demarche, approved by Kissinger only three weeks earlier, to express "our deep concern" over "plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians, and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain Southern Cone countries and abroad." Aimed at the heads of state of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, the demarche was never delivered.
"The September 16th cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger's role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots," according to Peter Kornbluh, the Archive's senior analyst on Chile and author of the book, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability. "We know now what happened: The State Department initiated a timely effort to thwart a 'Murder Inc' in the Southern Cone, and Kissinger, without explanation, aborted it," Kornbluh said. "The Kissinger cancellation on warning the Condor nations prevented the delivery of a diplomatic protest that conceivably could have deterred an act of terrorism in Washington D.C."
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