The National Security Archive
The George Washington University
Gelman Library, Suite 701
2130 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: 202/994-7000
Fax: 202/994-7005

October 24, 2000
For more information contact: 
Peter Kornbluh 202/994-7116 

Campaign to Force Disclosure yields 700 Documents
National Security Archive Applauds White House; Denounces CIA Censorship

Washington D.C.:  Under pressure from the Clinton White House and human rights groups, the CIA has agreed to release more than 700 documents on covert operations in Chile that the Directorate of Operations had refused to declassify last August, according to the non-profit foreign policy center, the National Security Archive.  The CIA documents have already been turned over to the Department of State for final processing and are slated to be publicly released on November 13.

The Agency records are part of a special “Chile Declassification Project” ordered by President Clinton in February 1999.  To date, some 7000 records, mostly from the State Department have been declassified.  The final release on November 13 is expected to yield another 11,000 State and Defense Department documents, most of them covering the final 12 years of the Pinochet dictatorship.   Besides the 700 on covert action, the CIA is expected to release an additional 800 records that include intelligence reporting on the September 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, and other activities of the Pinochet regime and its opponents.

The lack of CIA compliance with President Clinton’s mandate to declassify records on human rights violations, political violence and terrorism, has plagued the declassification project.  After failing to release a single document on U.S. covert operations in Chile and ties to Pinochet’s repression, the CIA did agree last fall to search its files for such records.  After more than 700 documents had been gathered, reviewed and censored, however, officials at the Directorate of Operations refused to release the records last August on the grounds that they would reveal “a pattern of activity” the CIA uses against other nations.  The final declassification, originally scheduled for September 14, was postponed as White House officials pressed the CIA to comply.

“This is a partial victory for openness over secrecy,” said Peter Kornbluh, a specialist on Chile at the National Security Archive, who credited the White House “with coercing the CIA to uphold a principle of our democracy—the right-to-know.” Kornbluh noted however that because the CIA records would be so heavily blacked out, much of the historical record would continue to be withheld.  “The CIA,” he said, “is continuing to hide still relevant history from U.S. and Chilean citizens alike.  The road to a full accounting of covert operations in Chile is paved with censorship.”


CIA's [excised] Program in Chile [excised], September 23, 1973.

This CIA document, a two page memo from Director William Colby to Henry Kissinger written twelve days after the coup, summarizes covert operations against the Allende government. The document, declassified in 1980 in response to a FOIA lawsuit, has been heavily censored; major portions of this history withheld. Another censored version of this document is expected to be among the 1,500 CIA records declassified on November 13. Those documents are also expected to be heavily censored.

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