The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability


Revised and updated for the fortieth anniversary of Augusto Pinochet’s September 11, 1973, military coup in Chile, The Pinochet File reveals a formerly secret record of complicity with atrocity on the part of the U.S. government. Documents that were first made publicly available in the original hardcover edition formed the heart of the international campaign to hold Pinochet accountable for murder,­ torture, and ­terrorism—a campaign chronicled for the first time in this ...
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The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability

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Revised and updated for the fortieth anniversary of Augusto Pinochet’s September 11, 1973, military coup in Chile, The Pinochet File reveals a formerly secret record of complicity with atrocity on the part of the U.S. government. Documents that were first made publicly available in the original hardcover edition formed the heart of the international campaign to hold Pinochet accountable for murder,­ torture, and ­terrorism—a campaign chronicled for the first time in this updated edition.

Peter Kornbluh spearheaded the effort to declassify some 24,000 secret CIA, White House, National Security Council, and Defense Department records on Chile, and when The Pinochet File was first published in 2003, Marc Cooper wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Thanks to Peter Kornbluh, we have the first complete, almost day–to–day and fully documented record of this sordid chapter in Cold War American history.” With the publication of this edition, that record becomes even more complete.

This book now includes the story of Pinochet’s 2004 indictment and trial, as well as new information about the famous cases of the American Charles Horman and Chilean folk singer Victor Jara—both executed by Pinochet’s military after the coup. The new afterword also tells the story of The Pinochet File itself: Henry Kissinger’s attempt to undercut the book’s reception generated a major scandal that led to high–level resignations at the Council on Foreign Relations, illustrating the continued ability of the book to speak truth to power.

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Editorial Reviews

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

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595589125
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/11/2013
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 1,448,727
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.60 (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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