from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
"Are you the wife of Orlando Letelier?"
asked the anonymous caller. "Yes," she answered. "No,"
the caller said, ~ you are his widow."
A week later, on September 21, 1976, the
exiled Chilean diplomat and prominent critic of the CIA-backed
Pinochet regime was torn to pieces by a car bomb on the streets
of Washington DC. Also killed was Letelier's American aide, Ronni
Moffit. Her husband, blown clear of the car, immediately began
shouting that Chilean fascists were responsible for the atrocity.
He was right, but those fascists had powerful
allies in Washington. An FBI informant knew of the plot to assassinate
Letelier before the fact but the FBI did nothing to protect him.
After the bombing, CIA Director George Bush told the FBI that
there'd been no Chilean involvement whatever. The CIA was certain
of this, he said, because it had many reliable sources inside
the Chilean secret police, DINA.
Actually, the CIA had known that a DINA
hit squad was in the US and headed for Washington. After the bombing,
the agency purged its files of photos of the assassins. The CIA
and DINA then began planting stories in the press suggesting that
Letelier had been killed by leftists seeking to make a martyr
The FBI figured out the identities of
Letelier's assassins within weeks, but didn't charge them until
the CIA's cover-up unraveled several years later. The unraveling
began a month after the killing, when a Cuban airliner was bombed,
killing 73 passengers. That bombing was done by a violent group
of CIA-linked Cuban exiles who were connected with the Bay of
Pigs and the JFK assassination and who went on to do similar things
in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Investigators into the airliner bombing
discovered that both it and the Letelier/Moffit killings were
planned at the same meeting, which was organized by a man with
longtime CIA connections and was attended by other FBI and CIA
Apologists argue that no one can prove
that Letelier's convicted assassins, "former" CIA agent
Michael Townley and two Cuban exiles, were acting under agency
orders. But if they weren't, why did the CIA immediately begin
covering up for them?
This case is so complex that, in 1991,
the Chilean Supreme Court (post-Pinochet) asked George Bush if
he'd mind submitting to questioning. You'd better believe he minded.