No Place To Hide
by Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive magazine, December 1998
The arrest of Augusto Pinochet, regardless of the outcome,
was a balm to the spirit. I spoke with friends from the Institute
for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., who were practically popping
the champagne bottles.
In 1976, Pinochet sent an assassination squad to Washington,
D.C., to bump off Orlando Letelier, formerly the defense minister
in the government of Salvador Allende. Letelier was then working
at the Institute for Policy Studies. The assassins blew up the
car he was riding in, killing him and Ronni Moffitt, also a staff
member at IPS.
These were just two of the thousands of Pinochet's victims.
And yet, for twenty-five years, Pinochet has preened himself on
the world stage, above the claims of justice, oblivious to his
victims (he once ordered the dead thrown into a mass grave instead
of buried in coffins because he said he wanted to save the Chilean
treasury the cost of the nails).
Now, no matter what the final disposition of his case may
be, Pinochet has at least been made aware that he has something
to account for, that he cannot simply glide around the globe receiving
the blessings of liberty from every country he visits.
But what of U.S. responsibility for Pinochet? When will the
American leaders who systematically sabotaged the Allende government
be arrested? In September 1970, National Security Adviser Henry
Kissinger said, "I don't see why we need to stand by and
watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of
its own people." Kissinger and Nixon then gave CIA Director
Richard Helms "the marshal's baton" to destabilize the
country, Helms testified in 1975. And so the United States paved
the way for Pinochet.
When are we going to own up to that? The Spanish judge who
sought Pinochet's extradition also sought documents from U.S.
files. But the Clinton Administration was not forthcoming.
No surprise there. The Clinton Administration doesn't go in
for international law: It did all it could to undermine the creation
of a strong world court a few months ago. I guess the White House
doesn't think it would look good for Henry Kissinger to be in
the dock alongside Pinochet. But it's a consummation devoutly
to be wished.
Policy and Pentagon