“If the American people ever find out what we have done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us”
George H.W. Bush, 1992
In early fall of 1976, after a Chilean government assassin had killed a Chilean dissident and an American woman with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., George H.W. Bush’s CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile’s military dictatorship and pointing the FBI in the wrong direction.
The bogus CIA assessment, spread through Newsweek magazine and other U.S. media outlets, was planted despite CIA’s now admitted awareness at the time that Chile was participating in Operation Condor, a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and the CIA’s own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind the terrorist bombing in Washington.
In a 21-page report to Congress on Sept. 18, 2000, the CIA officially acknowledged for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, was a paid asset of the CIA.
The CIA report was issued almost 24 years to the day after the murders of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, who died on Sept. 21, 1976, when a remote-controlled bomb ripped apart Letelier’s car as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue, a stately section of Washington known as Embassy Row.
In the report, the CIA also acknowledged publicly for the first time that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination. The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the murders and included that suspicion in an internal cable the same month.
“CIA’s first intelligence report containing this allegation was dated 6 October 1976,” a little more than two weeks after the bombing, the CIA disclosed.
Nevertheless, the CIA – then under CIA Director George H.W. Bush – leaked for public consumption an assessment clearing the Chilean government’s feared intelligence service, DINA, which was then run by Contreras.
Relying on the word of Bush’s CIA, Newsweek reported that “the Chilean secret police were not involved” in the Letelier assassination. “The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile’s rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime.” [Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1976]
Bush, who later became the 41st president of the United States (and is the father of the 43rd president), has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed.
As a Newsweek correspondent in 1988, a dozen years after the Letelier bombing, when the elder Bush was running for president, I prepared a detailed story about Bush’s handling of the Letelier case.
The draft story included the first account from U.S. intelligence sources that Contreras was a CIA asset in the mid-1970s. I also learned that the CIA had consulted Contreras about the Letelier assassination, information that the CIA then would not confirm.
The sources told me that the CIA sent its Santiago station chief, Wiley Gilstrap, to talk with Contreras after the bombing. Gilstrap then cabled back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Contreras’s assurances that the Chilean government was not involved. Contreras told Gilstrap that the most likely killers were communists who wanted to make a martyr out of Letelier.
My story draft also described how Bush’s CIA had been forewarned in 1976 about DINA’s secret plans to send agents, including the assassin Michael Townley, into the United States on false passports.
Upon learning of this strange mission, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, George Landau, cabled Bush about Chile’s claim that Townley and another agent were traveling to CIA headquarters for a meeting with Bush’s deputy, Vernon Walters. Landau also forwarded copies of the false passports to the CIA.
Walters cabled back that he was unaware of any scheduled appointment with these Chilean agents. Landau immediately canceled the visas, but Townley simply altered his plans and continued on his way to the United States. After arriving, he enlisted some right-wing Cuban-Americans in the Letelier plot and went to Washington to plant the bomb under Letelier’s car.
The CIA has never explained what action it took, if any, after receiving Landau’s warning. A natural follow-up would have been to contact DINA and ask what was afoot or whether a message about the trip had been misdirected. The CIA report in 2000 made no mention of these aspects of the case.
After the assassination, Bush promised the CIA’s full cooperation in tracking down the Letelier-Moffitt killers. But instead the CIA took contrary actions, such as planting the false exoneration and withholding evidence that would have implicated the Chilean junta.
“Nothing the agency gave us helped us to break this case,” said federal prosecutor Eugene Propper in a 1988 interview for the story I was drafting for Newsweek. The CIA never volunteered Ambassador Landau’s cable about the suspicious DINA mission nor copies of the fake passports that included a photo of Townley, the chief assassin. Nor did Bush’s CIA divulge its knowledge of the existence of Operation Condor.
FBI agents in Washington and Latin America broke the case two years later. They discovered Operation Condor on their own and tracked the assassination back to Townley and his accomplices in the United States.
In 1988, as then-Vice President Bush was citing his CIA work as an important part of his government experience, I submitted questions to him asking about his actions in the days before and after the Letelier bombing. Bush’s chief of staff, Craig Fuller, wrote back, saying Bush “will have no comment on the specific issues raised in your letter.”
As it turned out, the Bush campaign had little to fear from my discoveries. When I submitted my story draft – with its exclusive account of Contreras’s role as a CIA asset – Newsweek’s editors refused to run the story. Washington bureau chief Evan Thomas told me that Editor Maynard Parker even had accused me of being “out to get Bush.”
The CIA’s Admission
Twenty-four years after the Letelier assassination and 12 years after Newsweek killed the first account of the Contreras-CIA relationship, the CIA admitted that it had paid Contreras as an intelligence asset and consulted with him about the Letelier assassination.
Still, in the sketchy report in 2000, the spy agency sought to portray itself as more victim than accomplice. According to the report, the CIA was internally critical of Contreras’s human rights abuses and skeptical about his credibility. The CIA said its skepticism predates the spy agency’s contact with him about the Letelier-Moffitt murders.
“The relationship, while correct, was not cordial and smooth, particularly as evidence of Contreras’ role in human rights abuses emerged,” the CIA reported. “In December 1974, the CIA concluded that Contreras was not going to improve his human rights performance. …
“By April 1975, intelligence reporting showed that Contreras was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta, but an interagency committee [within the Ford administration] directed the CIA to continue its relationship with Contreras.”
The CIA report added that “a one-time payment was given to Contreras” in 1975, a time frame when the CIA was first hearing about Operation Condor, a cross-border program run by South America’s military dictatorships to hunt down dissidents living in other countries.
“CIA sought from Contreras information regarding evidence that emerged in 1975 of a formal Southern Cone cooperative intelligence effort – ‘Operation Condor’ – building on informal cooperation in tracking and, in at least a few cases, killing political opponents. By October 1976, there was sufficient information that the CIA decided to approach Contreras on the matter. Contreras confirmed Condor’s existence as an intelligence-sharing network but denied that it had a role in extra-judicial killings.”
Also, in October 1976, the CIA said it “worked out” how it would assist the FBI in its investigation of the Letelier assassination, which had occurred the previous month. The spy agency’s report offered no details of what it did, however. The report added only that Contreras was already a murder suspect by fall 1976.
“At that time, Contreras’ possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue,” the CIA’s report said. “By the end of 1976, contacts with Contreras were very infrequent.”
Even though the CIA came to recognize the likelihood that DINA was behind the Letelier assassination, there never was any indication that Bush’s CIA sought to correct the false impression created by its leaks to the news media asserting DINA’s innocence.
After Bush left the CIA with Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977, the spy agency distanced itself from Contreras, the new report said. “During 1977, CIA met with Contreras about half a dozen times; three of those contacts were to request information on the Letelier assassination,” the CIA report said.
“On 3 November 1977, Contreras was transferred to a function unrelated to intelligence so the CIA severed all contact with him,” the report added. “After a short struggle to retain power, Contreras resigned from the Army in 1978. In the interim, CIA gathered specific, detailed intelligence reporting concerning Contreras’ involvement in ordering the Letelier assassination.”
Though the CIA report in 2000 contained the first official admission of a relationship with Contreras, it shed no light on the actions of Bush and his deputy, Walters, in the days before and after the Letelier assassination. It also offered no explanation why Bush’s CIA planted false information in the American press clearing Chile’s military dictatorship.
While providing the 21-page summary on its relationship with Chile’s military dictatorship, the CIA refused to release documents from a quarter century earlier on the grounds that the disclosures might jeopardize the CIA’s “sources and methods.” The refusal came in the face of President Bill Clinton’s specific order to release as much information as possible.
Perhaps the CIA was playing for time. With CIA headquarters officially named the George Bush Center for Intelligence and with veterans of the Reagan-Bush years still dominating the CIA’s hierarchy, the spy agency might have hoped that the election of Texas Gov. George W. Bush would free it from demands to open up records to the American people.
For his part, former President George H.W. Bush declared his intent to take a more active role in campaigning for his son’s election. In Florida on Sept. 22, 2000, Bush said he was “absolutely convinced” that if his son is elected president, “we will restore the respect, honor and decency that the White House deserves.”
Originally published on 2018-12-01
About the author: The late investigative reporter Robert Parry, the founding editor of Consortium News, broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. His last book, America’s Stolen Narrative, can be obtained in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Source: Consortium News
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed yet again how public broadcaster Croatian Radio-Television, HRT, continues to offer a platform to obscure historical revisionists.
Last week, while presenting the Festival of Patriotic Film dedicated to Goran Lederer, a Croatian journalist killed by the Yugoslav People’s Army in 1991, the organisers of the festival were given time to present highly controversial films on HRT’s widely-viewed morning show ‘Good Morning Croatia’.
Besides the fact that the main organiser of the festival is a war veterans’ association whose president and founder was Croatian war criminal Tomislav Mercep, their selection of films is symbolically even worse.
To clarify the importance of the January 23rd coup attempt in Venezuela we remember that ever since WWII the customary motivation for violations of the Convention on Genocide has been to gain a region’s natural resources. For example Iraq, Libya, Syria, Haiti, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Guatemala, and others. The people of resource-rich areas are forced into flight, exile, refuge elsewhere, or are attacked by disease, or starvation, or directly murdered by military programs, or divided internally into civil wars assuring the death of multitudes.Damages are inter-generational with the effects of depleted uranium weaponry or ...
In Kukavica village near Rogatica (nowadays Bosnia and Herzegovina), today was marked 27 years since crimes against Serbian civilians committed by Bosnian Muslims, members of the so-called Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 27, 1992.In an attack on a column of Serbian civilians, involving about 1,000 elderly people, women and children on tractors and passenger vehicles, Bosnian Muslim extremists killed 26 and injured 80 Serbs.Rogatica Mayor Milorad Jagodic called this a monstrous crime as among the victims are a child of 11 and 82 years old man.“This was a column of innocent people who were looking for refuge and ...
Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.
The organizations censored by Facebook include The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.
In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were ...
World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering.
The Violent American Century addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized ...
On Mar. 24, US president Barack Obama announced that all 9,800 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan will remain until the end of 2015. This generated a fair amount of criticism: it was, after all, Obama’s promise that the last American troop would leave the country in 2014.
How have Obama’s plans for pulling out of Afghanistan fared so far?
Those expecting the US to leave Afghanistan, however, should take a minute to consider this: the US still hasn’t left Germany. In fact, there are quite a few places the US hasn’t left, and while certainly most of them don’t pose a threat to American soldiers, ...
The United States of America has sunk to a new low in diplomacy and civilized relations between nation states with its demand that Russia close its consular missions in San Francisco, Washington and New York, quickly followed by its order that the consular staff leave the premises while the FBI conducted a search of the premises and staffers personal apartments. To order the closure of a mission, or to order the withdrawal of a member of diplomatic staff, is within its right but a search of consular property is not. It is a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on ...
This is a long story which extends over fifteen years. NATO first attempted to silence those citizens who were trying to discover the truth about the attacks of 11 September 2001. Then it turned on those who contested the oficial version of the «Arab Springs» and the war against Syria. One thing leading to another, it then attacked those who denounced the coup d’état in Ukraine. Now NATO is behind the accusations by a pseudo-NGO that the people who campaigned for Donald Trump are Russian agents.
The attacks of 11 September 2001 were followed by a permanent state of emergency and ...
The following text is a point by point thematic summary of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky‘s presentation at the Science for Peace Conference, Academy of Sciences, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, 15-16 August 2016.
Historically, science has supported the development of the weapons industry and the war economy. “Science for Peace” indelibly requires reversing the logic whereby commissioned scientific endeavors are directed towards supporting what President Eisenhower called “The Military Industrial Complex”.
What is consequently required is a massive redirection of science and technology towards the pursuit of broad societal objectives. In turn, this requires a major shift in what is euphemistically called “US Foreign Policy”, namely ...
GR Editor’s Note
The following article by professor Eric Waddell was first published twelve years ago by Global Research in December 2003 in the immediate wake of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by US and British forces, with a postscript added in 2007. The article provides an incisive historical perspective on America’s “long war” against humanity, which is being carried out under a fake humanitarian mandate.
Let us be under no illusions as to the intent of the US and its allies.
We are dealing with World Conquest under the disguise of a “Global War on Terrorism”.
Michel Chossudovsky, December 24, ...
Despite claims made during NATO Summit Warsaw 2016, that “NATO remains a fundamental source of security for our people, and stability for the wider world,” it is clear that the threats and challenges NATO poses as existing to confront are in fact threats of its own, intentional creation and continued perpetuation.
From the ongoing refugee crisis triggered by NATO’s own global-spanning and ongoing military interventions, invasions, and occupations, to its continued expansion along Russia’s borders – violating every convention and “norm” that existed during the Cold War to keep it “cold,” NATO has proven that it is to the populations it poses as protector over, ...
Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives.
But most of the top American military officials at the time said otherwise.
The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all ...
There has long been speculation about a Turkish good-bye to NATO.The U.S. and its military proxy organization in Europe are doing their best to further such a move:The image of Atatürk was displayed as a target during the drill at NATO’s Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway held between Nov. 8 and Nov. 17, while a NATO soldier posted defamatory words about Erdoğan on the social media.Atatürk is the founder of the secular Turkey. He was designated as "target" during a desk-top drill. NATO's Joint Warfare Center is not a low level school but an elite officer training institution led ...
On 4th of April 2019 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “celebrated” the 70th Anniversary of its murderous existence. This horror organization was born sort of as a “Rosemary’s Baby”, signed into life in Washington DC, as the North Atlantic Treaty. Its creation was absolutely unethical but also absolutely “legal” – meaning what we, the west, have made the law, a man-made law for war, was applied by the Washington-Pentagon driven NATO. Estimates have it, that NATO and its ‘allies’, cronies, proxies and mercenaries killed more than 20 million people since NATO’s existence, basically since the end of WWII. Compare this with ...
The NATO occupation was seen by Arab/Muslim countries as an opportunity to transform Kosovo-Metohija into a Muslim state. Terry Boyd in the Stars and Stripes article “In Kosovo, Islamic groups work to rebuild country, attract followers,” September 21, 2001, examined how Muslim countries were seeking the Islamization of Kosovo. The US State Department listed Kosovo as having active cells of al-Qaeda, Ossama bin Laden’s terrorist network. Al-Qaeda and Ossama bin Laden were aiding the UCK jihad in Kosovo. Iran was also active in Kosovo and Bosnia. Boyd reported that an Iranian Islamic group offered 120-300 German marks a month for ...
I won’t ever forget hearing the news – working in Pittsburgh as a marketing analyst, returning from lunch with colleagues when we it was announced.
November 22, 1963 was a Friday. The working day ended once the news broke, everyone in my department stunned, unable to focus on anything else.
It was too early to know what evidence later revealed. Lee Harvey Oswald was a convenient patsy, uninvolved in what happened, a state-sponsored assassination, CIA and secret service dirty hands likely responsible.
Killing him mattered. Things might have been different had he lived, at least for a time. November 22, 1963 remains a ...
Transcript of presentation by the author at the Conference of Independent Journalists’ Association for Peace, Vienna, Austria, May 2015.
This year the twentieth anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica is being observed. On July 11 a huge spectacle will take place at the Srebrenica Memorial center specially constructed for that purpose. It will feature the presence of most of the rather insignificant individuals purporting to be political leaders in the region and the Western-dominated world. Their speeches, which never vary substantially, will be infused with the predictable platitudes.
I propose to deal with some aspects of the Srebrenica narrative from the standpoint ...
The Albanian nationhood as understood in the 19th century was part of a romanticist notion of nationality, i.e., the Albanians were the Balkan people whose mother tongue was Albanian regardless of any confessional division of Albanian people into three denominations (Moslem, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox). Within the north Albanian tribes, especially among the Miriditi, the Roman Catholic Church was very influential. The Roman Catholic Church became the main protector of the Albanian language and cultural heritage and the main protagonist of the national identity of the Albanians in the Northern Albania. The expression of common notions of the Albanian ...
My refusal to believe ongoing Western media reports of “Russian aggression” makes me a “Kremlin troll”. My punishment for not towing the “party line” – simple, effective “shunning” by Western media – has not, however, diminished my ongoing commitment to seeing the other side.
Having previously investigated the Crimean reunification with Russia, this May I turned my attention to the birth of two new government formations in Eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR). Americans only hear either what Kiev “reports”, or the US propaganda machine puts out – these are puppet regimes born of ...
According to news reports and to this appeal by Kristoferis Voishka, the pro-American government installed in Lithuania is persecuting Lithuanians who dissent from the anti-Russian propaganda that is driving Washington’s NATO puppets to war with Russia. Unlike their puppet government, Lithuanians understand that war with Russia means that Lithuania on the front line will be utterly destroyed, a result that would not bother Washington in the least, just as Washington is undisturbed when its forces obliterate weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games.
What is Lithuania? To Washington it is a nothing.
Kristoferis Voiska runs an alternative Internet news site in LIthuania. Not ...
Why does Croatian Media Give Revisionists a Platform?
A Note on the Crime Against Venezuela
27 Years since the Massacre of Serbian Civilians in Bosnia
Pages Purged by Facebook Were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II
These are all the Countries where the US has a Military Presence (in 2015)
International Law? The Americans don’t give a Damn
The NATO Campaign Against Freedom of Expression
America’s “Humanitarian War” against the World
World Conquest: The United States’ Global Military Crusade (1945- )
NATO: Lying All the Way to Barbarossa
The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons against Japan
NATO adds to Turkey’s Chagrin
NATO – 70th Anniversary of the Most Murderous – and Legal – Organization on our Planet
Persecuted Serbian Orthodox Church: The Islamization of Kosovo
November 22, 1963: Remembering JFK’s State-Sponsored Assassination
The Srebrenica Massacre as Paradigmatic Media Spin
Understanding Albanian Nationality and Regional Political-Security Consequences
Donetsk People’s Republic – Story Untold by Western Media
Lithuanians under Police State Attack and the World under Washington’s Attack