Administration Release Applauded; Concern Expressed

on Withheld U.S. Records

June 30, 1999--The National Security Archive, Center for National Security Studies and Human Rights Watch hailed todayís release of more than 20,000 pages of U.S. documents on Chile. The records, estimated to total more than 5,300 in number, were declassified pursuant to a February l, 1999 White House "tasker" directing U.S. national security agencies to collect and review for release documents "that shed light on human rights abuses, terrorism, and other acts of political violence in Chile."

The administrationís decision to undertake such a declassification review came in the aftermath of General Augusto Pinochetís arrest last fall in London and was prompted by international pressure, requests from Congress, and calls by the families of some of Pinochet's most famous victims -- including those of Charles Horman, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt. Today's release of documents is the first "tranche" covering 1973 through 1978, the Pinochet regime's bloodiest years of repression. Thousands of other records are expected to be released in the Fall.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, called the release "an acknowledgment that the United States must support human rights through the declassification of secret records." And Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, called it "a significant step in the search for truth and accountability for both Chilean and U.S. actions during that sad period."

The groups, however, expressed serious concern that the CIA has declassified only a fraction of its secret holdings on operations in Chile. "The CIA has the most to offer but also the most to hide," said Peter Kornbluh, director of the Archive's Chile Documentation project and author of the forthcoming book, The Pinochet File. He pointed to the dearth of documentation on the CIA's known intelligence support for the Chilean secret police (DINA) and on Operation Condor, a state-sponsored terrorism network directed by the Pinochet regime.

The Archive will post on the World Wide Web several heavily censored, previously released CIA documents that, Kornbluh said, should have been fully released today. It also will a selection of the new documents on its website.

  • View previously declassified documents relating to Pinochet and the 1973 coup.