George H.W. Bush, the CIA and a Case of State-Sponsored Terrorism

Hits: 87

“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.

Dodging Disclosure

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.”

Remaining Mysteries

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.

READ MORE!
Fomenting Illegal “Independence” and “Revolutions” in Kosovo and Panama
US President Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch imperialist and expansionist, engineered the illegal dismemberment of Colombia in 1903.The illegal US dismemberment and annexation of Serbian territory, the detachment, and dismemberment of Kosovo in 2008, parallels what occurred when the US illegally dismembered Columbia in 1903 in order to construct the Panama Canal.Outrage, shock, and uproar followed Roosevelt’s illegal detachment of Panama from Columbia in 1903. Many American leaders were outraged at the illegality, cynicism, and immorality of the dismemberment of Columbia.In the March 2, 1912 New York Times article “Hit at Roosevelt in Panama Inquiry; Senate Calls on Taft for All Records ...
READ MORE
Greece and Slavo-Macedonians (1913-1993)
After the division of Macedonia in 1913 (according to the Bucharest Peace Treaty) neither Serbia, Bulgaria nor Greece recognized the existence of a Macedonian ethnolinguistic nation and, therefore, an assimilation policy of Macedonia’s Slavs was carried out by the state’s authorities of all those three countries. Greece referred to Aegean Slavo-Macedonians as Slavophone Greeks or Macedoslavs (the region was and is today officially called as “North Greece”), Serbia referred to Vardar Slavo-Macedonians as Serbs from “South Serbia” while for Bulgaria Pirin Slavo-Macedonians were Bulgarians. When the WWI started in 1914, Bulgaria sided with Central Powers and in the fall of 1915 ...
READ MORE
US Foreign Policy is as Bellicose as Ever
It only took a few months under Donald Trump’s presidency for the US to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, impose new sanctions on Russia, reverse the normalisation of diplomatic relations with Cuba, announce its intention to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, warn Pakistan, threaten Venezuela with military intervention, and declare a readiness to strike North Korea with ‘fire and fury … the likes of which this world has never seen before.’ The Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Israel are the only countries on better terms with the US since Trump’s arrival in the White House on 20 January.Trump is ...
READ MORE
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
The following text by Michel Chossudovsky was presented in Seoul, South Korea in the context of the Korea Armistice Day Commemoration, 27 July 2013 A Message for Peace. Towards a Peace Agreement and the Withdrawal of US Troops from Korea Introduction Armistice Day, 27 July 1953 is day of Remembrance for the People of Korea. It is a landmark date in the historical struggle for national reunification and sovereignty. I am privileged to have this opportunity of participating in the 60th anniversary commemoration of Armistice Day on July 27, 2013. I am much indebted to the “Anti-War, Peace Actualized, People Action” movement for this opportunity ...
READ MORE
9 of the World’s 10 Least Peaceful Nations were all Targeted by U.S. Intervention
The 2017 Global Peace Index has declared Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan to be among the “least peaceful” countries in the world. Incidentally, all four have been targets of U.S.-led destabilization efforts that were used to pursue economic interests that suit the U.S. MINNEAPOLIS– The annual Global Peace Index, recently released for June 2017, has found that while the world is more peaceful now than last year, violence has increased significantly overall in the past decade. Although the situation has improved in many countries, the ten lowest-ranking nations – known as the world’s “least peaceful” countries – have shown little change ...
READ MORE
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities (a list up to 1993)
The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: ...
READ MORE
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
The United States is indisputably the world’s most frequent and extensive wager of aggressive war, largest occupier of foreign lands, and biggest weapons dealer to the world. But when the United States peeps out from under the blankets where it lies shivering with fear, it sees itself as an innocent victim. It has no holiday to keep any victorious battle in everyone’s mind. It has a holiday to remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — and now also one, perhaps holier still, to recall, not the “shock and awe” destruction of Baghdad, but the crimes of September 11, 2001, ...
READ MORE
Independence and Self-Determination: Weapons for Empire Building or National Liberation?
Since World War II most of the world’s conflicts have revolved around struggles for independence against Western and Japanese colonial/imperial regimes. Following formal independence, a new type of imperial domination was imposed – neo-colonial regimes, in which the US and its European allies imposed vassal rulers acting as proxies for economic exploitation. With the rise of US unipolar global domination, following the demise of the USSR (1990), the West established hegemony over the East European states.  Some were subject to fragmentation and sub-divided into new NATO dominated statelets. The quest for a unipolar empire set in motion a series of wars and ...
READ MORE
Breaking the Constitution: Lithuania Seeks the Permanent Presence of the U.S. Troops on its Territory
As it appears Lithuania expects major changes in the near future. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius was on an official visit to the United States of America from the 20 to the 24 of February 2017. During a visit he said that Lithuania seeks the permanent presence of United States troops in its territory. "We have requested stationing of military forces in our country on a more permanent basis - not only rotational but also more permanent," the minister told BNS in the telephone interview from Washington D.C. Linas Linkevicius' call for the permanent presence of United States troops in Lithuania territory ...
READ MORE
Washington Leads the World to War
What must the world think watching the US presidential campaign? Over time US political campaigns have become more unreal and less related to voters’ concerns, but the current one is so unreal as to be absurd. The offshoring of American jobs by global corporations and the deregulation of the US financial system have resulted in American economic failure. One might think that this would be an issue in a presidential campaign. The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony is driving the US and its vassals into conflict with Russia and China. The risks of nuclear war are higher than at any previous ...
READ MORE
The West vs Russia: Towards the End of a Pax Americana?
A peaceful dissolution of the USSR according to the agreement between Mikhail Gorbachew and Ronald Reagan in 1988 in Reykjavik brought a new dimension of a global geopolitics in which up to 2008 Russia, as a legal successor state of the USSR, was playing an inferior role in global politics when an American Neocon concept of Pax Americana became the fundamental framework in international relations. Therefore, for instance, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia capitulated in 1995 to the American design regarding a final outcome of the USA/EU policy of the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in November 1995 (the Dayton Agreement) followed by even ...
READ MORE
A Government of Morons and War Criminals
It has become embarrassing to be an American. Our country has had four war criminal presidents in succession. Clinton twice launched military attacks on Serbia, ordering NATO to bomb the former Yugoslavia twice, both in 1995 and in 1999, so that gives Bill two war crimes. George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and attacked provinces of Pakistan and Yemen from the air. That comes to four war crimes for Bush. Obama used NATO to destroy Libya and sent mercenaries to destroy Syria, thereby committing two war crimes. Trump attacked Syria with US forces, thereby becoming a war criminal early ...
READ MORE
The Fall of the Unipower
Dear Readers and Friends: The distinguished and knowledgeable international commentator William Engdahl, in a superb statement, has expressed the view I gave you that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on September 28 at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations changed the balance of power in the world. Until Putin’s speech the world was intimidated by the Washington Bully. Resistance to Washington brought swift retribution. In the Middle East and Africa it brought economic sanctions and military invasions that destroyed entire countries. In France and other US vassal states it brought multi-billion dollar confiscations of bank net worth as the price ...
READ MORE
The Saudi Butchery in Yemen and the World’s Apathy
The cold-blooded killing of the journalist Khashoggi, however gruesome, pales compared to the brutality and gross human rights violations Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen. The Saudis are deliberately preventing food and medicine from reaching areas where children are dying from starvation or disease. Their indiscriminate bombings are killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children, leaving whole communities in ruin. The saddest part of this unfolding tragedy is that the US and other Western powers are supplying the Saudis with the weapons they need to massacre the Yemenites, who are trapped in this proxy war between Saudi Arabia and ...
READ MORE
The Ambiguity: The Case of Democracy
The Great Financial Crisis, the Occupy Wall Street rising, Wikileaks and Snowden exposure, imperialist interventions in Iraq-Libya-Syria, the economic-political developments in Greece, and the on-going string of revelations in the US politics take away all ambiguities related to democracy, development and state. With broad and fundamental connections and character the incidents and processes – parts of democracy and development – being witnessed by the contemporary world are significant with far-reaching implications, and helpful to comprehend issues of democracy, development and state. No ambiguity: Ambiguous and confusing narratives of democracy and development are vigorously sold in markets despite the reality of repeated ...
READ MORE
NATO’s Illegal War Against Serbia
Facts And Truth @ YouTube: “Remember why NATO spent 78-days bombing Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999? There was the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities. The refugees chased out of Kosovo by the Serb army. The mass graves. The heaps of bodies tossed into vats of sulphuric acid at the Trepca mines. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said there were 100,000 Kosovo Albanian Muslims unaccounted for. Problem is, none of it happened.” Forensic report throws doubt on US/NATO claims of Racak “massacre” By Richard Tyler wsws.org, 12 February 2001 A forthcoming article by three Finnish pathologists throws further doubts upon official descriptions of a “massacre” in ...
READ MORE
Western Policy Doing the Bidding of Islam in Kosovo: Destroying Orthodox Christianity
Islamic forces entered Europe from Asia and North Africa in order to enslave, convert, persecute and either completely destroy Christianity or to enforce dhimmitude. Before this process began you had the complete annihilation of Christianity in many parts of North Africa and in various parts of the Middle East it was one long sojourn into dhimmitude, pogroms and massacres. Christianity survived in some areas, for example in Egypt, however, numbers succumbed after Arab colonial and Islamic discrimination took route. Therefore, a complete Islamic inquisition took root in Arabia (modern day Saudi Arabia) and just like the Sunni Islamic inquisition against Buddhism ...
READ MORE
Embracing the US-NATO War Criminals Who Destroyed Our Country
Seventeen years have passed and many people have already forgotten that the U. S. and a number of other NATO countries collectively waged one of the most destructive wars on the European continent since the end of World War II–the modern aerial bombing campaign against the Serbian people. In the tradition of the New World Order, this “intervention” wasn’t called “war.” It was argued by various Western politicians and the corporate media that the bombing campaign was directed against the late Serbian President Milošević and his “propaganda machine.”[i] In fact, the NATO bombs loaded with depleted uranium[ii] were falling on ...
READ MORE
NATO’s War of Aggression Against Yugoslavia in 1999
Eighteen years ago in the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. “The operation was code-named “Allied Force ” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker” according to Nebosja Malic. This article was first written in May 1999 at the height of the bombing of Yugoslavia. The causes and consequences of this war have been the object of a vast media disinformation campaign, which has sought to camouflage NATO and US war crimes. It is important to note that a large segment of the “Progressive Left” in Western Europe and  North America were part of this disinformation campaign, presenting ...
READ MORE
The 2001 War on Afghanistan is a Profit Driven “Resource War”
Author’s Note US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation. The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001.  The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan. The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an ...
READ MORE
Fomenting Illegal “Independence” and “Revolutions” in Kosovo and Panama
Greece and Slavo-Macedonians (1913-1993)
US Foreign Policy is as Bellicose as Ever
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
9 of the World’s 10 Least Peaceful Nations were all Targeted by U.S. Intervention
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities (a list up to 1993)
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
Independence and Self-Determination: Weapons for Empire Building or National Liberation?
Breaking the Constitution: Lithuania Seeks the Permanent Presence of the U.S. Troops on its Territory
Washington Leads the World to War
The West vs Russia: Towards the End of a Pax Americana?
A Government of Morons and War Criminals
The Fall of the Unipower
The Saudi Butchery in Yemen and the World’s Apathy
The Ambiguity: The Case of Democracy
NATO’s Illegal War Against Serbia
Western Policy Doing the Bidding of Islam in Kosovo: Destroying Orthodox Christianity
Embracing the US-NATO War Criminals Who Destroyed Our Country
NATO’s War of Aggression Against Yugoslavia in 1999
The 2001 War on Afghanistan is a Profit Driven “Resource War”
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu