Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents

Overview


Throughout the 1970s, six Latin American governments led by Chile formed a military alliance called Operation Condor to carry out kidnappings, torture, and political assassinations across three continents. It was an early “war on terror” initially encouraged by the CIA which later backfired on the United States.

Hailed by Foreign Affairs as “remarkable” and “a major contribution to the historical record,” The Condor Years uncovers the unsettling facts about the secret U.S. ...

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The Condor Years: How Pinochet And His Allies Brought Terrorism To Three Continents

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Overview


Throughout the 1970s, six Latin American governments led by Chile formed a military alliance called Operation Condor to carry out kidnappings, torture, and political assassinations across three continents. It was an early “war on terror” initially encouraged by the CIA which later backfired on the United States.

Hailed by Foreign Affairs as “remarkable” and “a major contribution to the historical record,” The Condor Years uncovers the unsettling facts about the secret U.S. relationship with the dictators who created this terrorist organization. Written by award-winning journalist John Dinges and newly updated to include recent developments in the prosecution of Pinochet, the book is a chilling but dispassionately told history of one of Latin America’s darkest eras. Dinges, himself interrogated in a Chilean torture camp, interviewed participants on both sides and examined thousands of previously secret documents to take the reader inside this underground world of military operatives and diplomats, right-wing spies and left-wing revolutionaries.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When a Spanish judge pressed charges against Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1998, the case broke an international code of silence on the fates of the tens of thousands of Latin Americans who were tortured and killed during more than a decade of dictatorship in Chile and neighboring countries. The United States agreed to Spain's request for 60,000 pages of secret files on Chile, including CIA operational files. Former NPR news managing editor Dinges (Our Man in Panama), who lived in Chile and was interrogated in a secret torture camp during the Pinochet dictatorship, pored through those files and has uncovered the chilling story of Operation Condor, a Chilean-led conspiracy among six South American dictatorships to hunt down and eliminate leftist rebels and their sympathizers. Condor was responsible for the 1973 murder in Washington, D.C., of Chilean exile Orlando Letelier, which U.S. diplomats were aware of and failed to stop. Indeed, the picture that emerges of U.S. policy is frightening. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's "green light, red light" human rights policy for the first time presented a public U.S. stance in favor of human rights, yet behind closed doors, he was reassuring Latin America's dictators of U.S. support. Hampered by the weight and significance of its revelations, the book gets off to a slow start. Soon enough, however, vivid stories and details emerge: double agents, the euphemisms of the spy trade (e.g., "wet work" for assassinations), bumbling murderers and rebels, and cynical U.S. diplomats. Dinges's meticulously documented study is a cautionary tale for today's war on terror-which shares a major anniversary with the 1973 Chilean coup that brought Pinochet to power: September 11. (Feb. 2) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Dinges, a professor of journalism at Columbia University and former managing editor of National Public Radio News, takes a hard, careful look at Latin America in the 1970s, that woeful time of vicious struggles between bitter extremes, when human life was cheap and torture, kidnapping, and terrorism common. Dinges is careful not to go further than his evidence allows. On the contentious question of the U.S. role in the Chilean coup of 1973, for instance, he says the record remains incomplete, even with the recent declassification of 24,000 U.S. government documents. But the core of Dinges' book treats the period after the coup, examining the alliances that formed within the clandestine Latin American left, on the one hand, and between the United States and General Augusto Pinochet after he took power, on the other.

Dinges' account includes much new disturbing information and some remarkable revelations, particularly about the relationship of the United States to the Latin American intelligence agencies responsible for the Operation Condor assassinations and other systematic human rights violations. He cautiously weighs evidence of CIA support for Chile's notorious intelligence service, dina, and examines dina's role in targeting Pinochet's opponents at home and abroad. He also shows how contradictory U.S. behavior was, especially when human rights and intelligence concerns intersected. In June 1976, after Washington learned of planned assassinations outside of Latin America (including the targeting of a prominent U.S. Democratic member of Congress), U.S. support for the dictator began to wane. But Dinges sees this whole sorry episode as a classic case of "blowback": the unintendedconsequences of U.S. policies long kept secret from the U.S. public. This is a remarkable book and a major contribution to the historical record.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565849778
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Afterward by Author
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 731,141
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author


John Dinges, former managing editor of NPR News and Latin American special correspondent for the Washington Post, is the author of Our Man in Panama. He teaches journalism at Columbia University and lives in New York City and Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

A Note on Sources and Acknowledgments
1 The First War on Terrorism 1
2 Meeting in Santiago 10
3 Tilting at Windmills 23
4 Revolution in the Counterrevolution 41
5 Agents in Argentina 63
6 Mission in Paraguay 82
7 The Condor System 99
8 "The Old Man Doesn't Want to Die" 126
9 Death in Argentina 135
10 Green Light, Red Light 156
11 A Preventable Assassination 175
12 Kissinger and Argentina's "Terrorist Problem" 199
13 Ed Koch and Condor's Endgame 214
14 The Pursuit of Justice and U.S. Accountability 230
Bibliography 255
Notes 261
Index 305
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2004

    Fascinating

    I picked this up to learn a bit about Chile, but learned more about my own country in the process. Fervently factual, but reads like a novel. Engrossing, enlightening.

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