Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability

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First published on September 11, 2003 - the thirtieth anniversary of the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power - The Pinochet File has been hailed as a definitive account of the U.S. role in supporting bloody regime change in Chile. This edition is revised and updated to include the newest declassified information on how Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger launched a preemptive strike against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and helped Pinochet consolidate his rule.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
… ultimately the value of The Pinochet File lies less in any new revelation or unique insight than in the missionary zeal and methodical devotion with which Kornbluh sets out to catalogue the evidence of U.S. guilt -- to dizzying, devastating effect. — Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
The New Yorker
For Chileans, September 11th marks a different tragedy -- the anniversary of the 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. This timely book weaves together thirty years of declassified documents with a gripping narrative of America's involvement in the affair. At a National Security Council meeting in 1970, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird said of Allende, "We want to do everything we can to hurt him and bring him down," and a C.I.A. memo from the same year describes efforts of a key ally "to increase the level of terrorism in Santiago." This terrorism included the assassination of René Schneider, the constitutionalist commander-in-chief of Chile's armed forces, which was carried out with C.I.A.-provided funds and submachine guns. The evidence that Kornbluh has gathered is overwhelming. As Colin Powell recently remarked about the United States' role in the Pinochet coup, "It is not a part of American history that we are proud of."
Publishers Weekly
For years, the United States government maintained top-secret archives detailing its policy in Chile and its role in aiding and securing General Pinochet's rise to dictatorial power in the early 1970s. In this examination of the thousands of records recently declassified by the CIA, White House, NSC, Pentagon and FBI, Kornbluh offers new revelations about America's development of a policy dedicated to overthrowing Chile's existing democratic government and to replacing it with a military leader reviled for his complete disregard for human rights. Throughout the book, Kornbluh-a director of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research library-buttresses his assertions with excerpts from the relevant documents, and attempts to shed light on some of the outstanding questions of the period that still beg for answers, including what motivated President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to authorize the bloody campaign and how involved the US government actually was in the September 1973 coup itself. (Sept. 7) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
There are two types of what Theodore Draper called "present history." The first is based on documents and testimony accessible to all historians: assertions and interpretations can be checked, verified, and contested on the basis of fact rather than speculation. Both Draper and, in his own way, I. F. Stone were brilliant practitioners of this kind of history and demonstrated that, despite the best (or worst) intentions of bureaucrats to hide or distort the record, much could be found in the public domain if diligently sought after. The second approach to writing about contemporary history is based on anonymous "sources" and self-interested "leaks." Here, much depends on the credibility of the authors; but in the right political climate, such writing can be powerful enough to bring down a president, as it did with Watergate. And over the past two decades, heavily redacted, "secret" government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have been added to its menu.

Both approaches have their weaknesses, and neither is as new as might first appear. The Draper method — by abjuring the fragments exhumed from a government's dark places — risks underestimating the role of the clandestine actions that were often at the center of the ideological and geostrategic struggles of the Cold War. History by self-interested leaking of documents or the use of anonymous sources, however, tends to produce narratives that are self-justifying, on the one hand, or indictments, on the other, and to exaggerate the importance of covert operations. Again, there is a long history of both genres: Winston Churchill the historian was a master over many volumes at preempting the assessment ofWinston Churchill the statesman, and Henry Kissinger is doing what Churchill did for his own epoch and his own historical place within it by releasing weighty tomes on his White House years and other topics.

From the Publisher

"Weaves together thirty years of declassified documents with a gripping narrative."
The New Yorker

"The long–awaited book of rec­ord on the U.S. intervention in Chile… A crisp, compelling narrative, almost a political thriller."
Los Angeles Times

"A remarkable reconstruction of the secret foreign policy that transformed Chile into a dictatorship."

"The smoking guns are all here."
—Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer prize–winning A Problem from Hell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565849365
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 587
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 1.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Kornbluh directs the Chile Documentation Project and the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He is a co-author of The Iran-Contra Scandal (The New Press) and the editor of The Bay of Pigs Declassified (The New Press) and The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. He lives in Maryland.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Project FUBELT : "formula for chaos" 1
Ch. 2 Destabilizing democracy : the United States and the Allende government 79
Ch. 3 Pinochet in power : building a regime of repression 161
Ch. 4 Consolidating dictatorship : the United States and the Pinochet regime 209
Ch. 5 American casualties 275
Ch. 6 Operation condor : state-sponsored international terrorism 331
Ch. 7 Denouement of the dictator : from terrorism to transition 403
Epilogue : atrocity and accountability : the long epilogue of the Pinochet case 465
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2003

    damning and uncomfortable truths

    This is essential reading for anyone who wants to know the truth about how Nixon, Kissinger and a host of other elected and appointed representatives of these United States, ruthlessly destroyed a country and thousands of innocent people. It's a lesson that is totally relevant to our present morass in Iraq, a situation that even a modicum of sober reflection could have prevented. As with George Bush, Nixon and Kissinger and their underlings drunk wirh a kind of anti- communist xenophobia (Allende was NOT a Communist but a duly elected SOCIALIST Prime Minister and there is a huge difference), were determined to do literally anything, including murder, to keep Allende out of power. International Law and human rights meant absolutley nothing to them. It is one of the most chilling episodes in recent American history but there are many more that come near it. Kornbluh has made a major contribution. The book is soberly written. He lets the record speak for itself, and he grants the reader the courtesy of letting him make up his own mind about the kind of atrocities we can inflict on other nations simply because dangerous fools in high places mistake their zeal for some kind of righteously inspired wisdom. If George Bush could read a book this would be a very instructive one to send him. As it is he will be left behind. At the same time he will, like Nixon, if we don't stop him, take thousands of human beings into hell. And like Nixon, and the unspeakable Kissinger, who is nothing short of a war criminal at large, he will do it with a lack of conscience which is totally pathological. The author deserves the highest commendation for his patient and thorough research and the steadiness of his mind and spirit. I have taught 'clever' college students for thirty years. I doubt if more than a handful will read this book. This is the kind of historical oblivion on which the present administration thrives. The tragedy of Chile is one in whch we are all involved. It will be forgotten at our peril. One can only hope the book has the readership it merits.

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