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Document: Kissinger halted Condor warning

April 11, 2010 at 8:05 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Henry Kissinger, while U.S. secretary of state, halted a plan to warn South American dictators against international political assassinations, a document shows.

The Los Angeles Times reports the newly declassified document reveals Kissinger halted the warning days before a bombing linked to Chile killed two people in Washington.

Peter Kornbluh, an analyst with the non-profit National Security Archive, which uncovered the document and made it public Saturday, said the document, cabled from Kissinger to his top Latin American deputy, halted U.S. diplomats' efforts to warn Chile, Uruguay and Argentina against involvement in the covert plan "Operation Condor." The South American dictators' secret program of planned international assassinations began in 1975 and targeted political opponents throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.

In the Sept. 16, 1976, cable, Kissinger rejected delivery of a proposed warning to the government of Uruguay about Condor operations and ordered "no further action be taken on this matter" by the U.S. State Department.

Five days later, Chilean exile Orlando Letelier and an American colleague were killed in a Washington car-bombing later linked to Chilean secret police working through the Condor network, the Times said.

"The document confirms that it's Kissinger's complete responsibility for having rescinded a cease-and-desist order to Condor killers," said Kornbluh, the author of a 2004 book on Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

In a statement, Kissinger charged Kornbluh "distorted" the cable's meaning and said it was meant to stop a specific approach for dealing with Uruguay and was not a cancellation of warnings to other nations involved in Operation Condor.

Former State Department officials who worked under Kissinger at the time said the cable disrupted the U.S. effort to curtail Operation Condor, not only with Uruguay but also with other countries in the region, the Times said.

Kissinger learned of Condor from the CIA in mid-1976 and at first ordered U.S. ambassadors in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and other countries involved in the operation to issue formal diplomatic warnings to leaders that "Condor activities would undermine relations with the United States."

In his statement, Kissinger said, "The instructions were never rescinded."

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