The National Security Archive Calls for Full Disclosure of Covert History as Countdown to 50th Anniversary of Military Coup Begins
Washington D.C., September 12, 2022 – One day after the violent, U.S.-backed, coup d’état in Chile, the very first item in President Richard Nixon’s September 12, 1973, CIA intelligence report—known as the President’s Daily Brief (PDB)—was the overthrow of Salvador Allende. “Chile’s President Allende is dead and the armed forces, together with the carabineros, are working to consolidate their successful coup,” stated a short summary of principal developments around the world. On page 1 of the PDB, the CIA informed Nixon that the members of the new military junta “are all respected and experienced leaders,” indicating they were not supporters of democracy. According to the PDB, “the new rulers have declared [the Chilean] Congress to be in recess.”
But, on the actual day the military moved to overthrow Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973, what the CIA informed President Nixon remains TOP SECRET. Forty-nine years after one of the most infamous military coups in Latin American history, the intelligence report in Nixon’s 9/11/1973 PDB on Chile continues to be classified as sensitive national security information. Nixon’s PDB on September 8, 1973, which is believed to contain initial CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency reporting on specific coup preparations by the Chilean military, also remains completely redacted, almost half a century later.
As the countdown to the 50th anniversary of the coup next year begins, the National Security Archive called on the Biden administration and the CIA to fully declassify the PDBs and all remaining records related to covert operations in Chile. “Secrecy over time erodes credibility, especially regarding national security,” according to John Dinges, author of The Condor Years and a member of the Archive’s advisory board. “Continuing to hide key documents from public view after half a century,” he noted, “prevents finding a credible answer to the questions about U.S. actions in Chile.”
Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive’s Chile Documentation Project said the Archive would use the Freedom of Information Act and all legal means to press for full disclosure of the controversial history of U.S. ties to the coup before the 50th anniversary. “There is still more to be learned about this dark and sordid episode of covert intervention,” Kornbluh stated, “in order to finalize the judgement of history on the U.S. role in Chile.”