PRESIDENT REAGAN INFORMED THAT PINOCHET’s ROLE WAS “a blatant example of a chief of state’s direct involvement in an act of state terrorism”
National Security Archive Seeks Declassification of CIA Assessment in the Letelier-Moffitt Assassinations
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 532
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
Posted – October 9, 2015
Washington D.C., October 8, 2015 – The CIA concluded that there was “convincing evidence” that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet “personally ordered his intelligence chief to carry out the murder” of exiled critic Orlando Letelier in Washington D.C., according to a SECRET memo prepared for President Ronald Reagan in 1987. “Pinochet decided to stonewall on the US investigation to hide his involvement,” the CIA review also noted, and as part of the cover-up considered “even the elimination of his former intelligence chief,” DINA director Manuel Contreras, who had overseen the assassination plot.
The CIA intelligence review remains classified. But it was quoted in a dramatic report to President Reagan, dated on October 6, 1987, from his Secretary of State, George Shultz, as part of his efforts to convince the president to cut U.S. ties to Pinochet and press for the return of democracy in Chile. “The CIA has never before drawn and presented its conclusion that such strong evidence exists of his [Pinochet’s] leadership role in this act of terrorism,” the Secretary of State informed the President.
Letelier, a former minister in the Allende government, and his 25-year old colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, were killed by a car-bomb planted by agents of the Chilean secret police on September 21, 1976, as they drove to work down Massachusetts avenue in Washington D.C. Moffitt’s husband, Michael, was the sole survivor of the bombing.
The Shultz memorandum was among 282 newly declassified documents on the Letelier case that were personally provided to Chilean president Michelle Bachelet by Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to Santiago this week. Among the over 1000 pages of documentation were transcripts of depositions from retired DINA officials and aides to Pinochet made by FBI agents working with Chilean detectives during a unique investigation undertaken in 1999/2000 by the Clinton Justice Department into General Pinochet’s personal role in ordering and covering up an act of international terrorism in Washington D.C. on September 21, 1976.
Kornbluh, who is author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier of Atrocity and Accountability (New York: New Press, 2003, 2013), described the State Department’s release of the documents as “a triumph for declassified diplomacy.” He characterized the Shultz-Reagan memo as “fundamental evidence for the verdict of history on Pinochet and his regime.”
Along with the Shultz memo to Reagan, the Archive also posted the January 22, 1987, cable summarizing intelligence on Pinochet and DINA’s role in the assassination which quotes Contreras as telling a confidant “he authorized the assassination of Letelier on orders from Pinochet.”
Read the Documents :
1. DOS, “Pinochet and the Letelier-Moffitt Murders: Implications for US Policy,” SECRET, Memorandum for the President, October 6, 1987.
2. DOS, “Letelier Case,” SECRET/ROGER CHANNEL, drafted by INR officer Frank McNeil, January 22, 1987.