CIA Continues to Cover Up Its Involvement in Chile's 1973 Coup
Allende during his last moments in La Moneda presidential palace, 1973 | Photo: Reuters
CIA continues to withhold information on its involvement in the Sept.
11, 1973 coup that led to the death of President Salvador Allende in
Chile, followed by a deadly dictatorship, according to documents posted
Friday by the National Security Archive. Though intelligence documents from the coup period have been declassified since 1999, the CIA continues to censor them.
the list of published documents, the section regarding Chile is
censored. The President’s Daily Briefs, the intelligence reports given
daily to the U.S. president, in particular former President Richard
Nixon days before Allende’s death, were among those censored.
to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Archive’s Chile Documentation
Project, censorship on this issue makes no sense since the intelligence
agency has officially acknowledged its ties to those who plotted the
coup from inside the Chilean military, and declassified several
intelligence reports since.
“The CIA is trying—but failing—to
hold history hostage,” Kornbluh said. “The CIA is attempting to cover up
what Nixon knew about coup plotting in Chile and when he knew it, as
well as hiding the CIA’s own contacts and connections to the coup
According to the documents, three days before the
coup—and on the day of the coup—the CIA gave Nixon an intelligence
report on the progress of the efforts inside the Chilean military to
overthrow Allende, a socialist.
In one document, a CIA operative
in Santiago named Jack Devine identifies the new date of the planned
coup for the next day, September 11, and confirms all three branches of
the Chilean armed forces along with the police “are involved in this
same sources told the CIA that General Augusto Pinochet, who would
later become a dictator with the support of the U.S., was in
communication with Air Force General Gustavo Leigh about the planned
coup. The Air Force would later bomb La Moneda presidential palace,
where Allende and his closest allies were on Sept. 11.
told the White House that a “key officer” in the coup attempt requested
U.S. assistance in case the Chilean military encountered any resistance,
according to the documents.
Kornbluh said his institution would press for the release of the censored information.
documents provided to Richard Nixon on Chile can and should be released
for the sanctity of the historical record. The public has a right to
know what the President knew, and when he knew it,” he said.
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