The Case Against Henry Kissinger
Crimes against humanity
by Christopher Hitchens
Harpers magazine, March 2001
CHILE (PART II): DEATH IN THE SOUTH
On November 9, 1970, Henry Kissinger authored National Security
Council Decision Memorandum 93, which reviewed policy toward Chile
in the immediate wake of Salvador Allende's confirmation as president.
Various routine measures of economic harassment were proposed
(as per Nixon's instruction to "make the economy scream"),
with cutoffs in aid and investment. More significantly, Kissinger
advocated that "close relations" be maintained with
military leaders in neighboring countries, in order to facilitate
both the coordination of pressure against Chile and the incubation
of opposition within the country. In outline, this prefigures
the disclosures that have since been made about Operation "Condor,"
a secret collusion among military dictatorships across the hemisphere,
operated with the United States government's knowledge and indulgence.
The actual overthrow of the Allende government in a sanguinary
coup d'etat took place on September 11, 1973, while Kissinger
was going through his own Senate confirmation process as secretary
of state. He falsely assured the Foreign Relations Committee that
the United States government had played no part in the coup. From
a thesaurus of hard information to the contrary, one might select
Situation Report No. 2, from the Navy Section of the United States
Military Group in Chile and written by U.S. Naval Attaché
Patrick J. Ryan. Mr. Ryan describes his close relationship with
the officers engaged in overthrowing the government, hails September
11, 1973, as "our D-Day," and observes with satisfaction
that "Chile's coup de etat [sic] was close to perfect."
Or one may peruse the declassified files on "Project FUBELT"-
the code name under which the CIA, in frequent contact with Kissinger
and the 40 Committee, conducted covert operations against the
legal and elected government of Chile.
What is striking, and what points to a much more direct complicity
in individual crimes against humanity, is the microscopic detail
in which Kissinger kept himself informed, after the coup, of Augusto
Pinochet's atrocities. On November 16, Assistant Secretary of
State Jack B. Kubisch delivered a detailed report on the Chilean
junta's execution policy, which, as he notes to the new secretary,
"you requested by cable from Tokyo." The memo goes on
to enlighten Kissinger in various ways about the first nineteen
days of Pinochet's rule. Summary executions during that period,
we are told, totaled 320. (This contrasts with the publicly announced
total of 100 and is based on "an internal, confidential report
prepared for the junta" to which American officials are evidently
privy.) Looking on the bright side,
On November 14, we announced our second CCC credit to Chile
$24 million for feed corn. Our long-standing commitment to sell
two surplus destroyers to the Chilean navy has met a reasonably
sympathetic response in Senate consultations. The Chileans, meanwhile,
have sent us several new re' quests for controversial military
Kubisch then raises the awkward question of two American citizens
murdered by the junta- Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman-details
of whose precise fate are still, more than a quarter century later,
being sought by their families. The reason for the length of the
search may be inferred from a telegram, dated February 11, 1974,
which reports on a meeting with the junta's foreign minister and
notes that Kubisch raises the matter of the missing Americans
"IN THE CONTEXT OF THE NEED TO BE CAREFUL TO KEEP RELATIVELY
SMALL ISSUES IN OUR RELATIONSHIP FROM MAKING OUR COOPERATION MORE
To return, via this detour, to Operation "Condor":
"Condor" was a machinery of cross-border assassination,
abduction, torture, and intimidation coordinated among the secret
police forces of Pinochet's Chile, Alfredo Stroessner's Paraguay,
Jorge Rafael Videla's Argentina, and other regional caudillos.
This internationalization of the death-squad principle is now
known to have been responsible for the murder of the dissident
general Carlos Prats of Chile (and his wife) in Buenos Aires,
the murder of the Bolivian general Juan Jose Torres, also in Argentina,
and the maiming of a Christian Democratic Chilean senator, Bernardo
Leighton, in Italy, to name only the most salient victims. A "Condor"
team also detonated a car bomb in downtown Washington, D.C., in
September 1976, killing the former Chilean foreign minister, Orlando
Letelier, and his aide, Ronni Moffitt. United States government
complicity has been uncovered at every level of this network.
It has been established, for example, that the FBI aided Pinochet
in capturing Jorge Isaac Fuentes de Alarchon, who was detained
and tortured in Paraguay, then turned over to the Chilean secret
police and "disappeared." Astonishingly, the surveillance
of Latin American dissident refugees in the United States was
promised to "Condor" figures by American intelligence.
Stroessner has been overthrown; Videla is in prison; Pinochet
and his henchmen are being or have been brought to account in
Chile. And what of Kissinger? All of the above-cited crimes, and
many more besides, were committed on his "watch" as
secretary of state. And all of them were and are punishable under
local or international law or both. It can hardly be argued, by
himself or by his defenders, that he was indifferent to, or unaware
of, the true situation. In 1999 a secret memorandum was declassified,
giving excruciating details of a private conversation between
Kissinger and Pinochet in Santiago, Chile, on June 8, 1976. The
meeting took place the day before Kissinger was due to address
the Organization of American States. The subject was human rights.
Kissinger was at some pains to explain to Pinochet that the few
pro forma remarks he was to make on that topic were by no means
to be taken seriously. My friend Peter Kornbluh has performed
the service of comparing the "Memcon" (Memorandum of
Conversation) with the account of the meeting given by Kissinger
himself in his third volume of apologia, Years of Renewal:
The Memoir: A considerable amount of time in my dialogue
with Pinochet was devoted to human rights, which were, in fact,
the principal obstacle to close United States relations with Chile.
I outlined the main points in my speech to the OAS which I would
deliver the next day. Pinochet made no comment.
The Memcon: I will treat human rights in general terms, and
human rights in a world context. I will refer in two paragraphs
to the report on Chile of the OAS Human Rights Commission. I will
say that the human rights issue has impaired relations between
the U.S. and Chile. This is partly the result of Congressional
actions. I will add that I hope you will shortly remove these
obstacles....I can do no less, without producing a reaction in
the U.S. which would lead to legislative restrictions. The speech
is not aimed at Chile. I wanted to tell you about this. My evaluation
is that you are a victim of all left-wing groups around the world
and that your greatest sin was that you overthrew a government
that was going Communist.
The Memoir: As Secretary of State, I felt I had the responsibility
to encourage the Chilean government in the direction of greater
democracy through a policy of understanding. Pinochet's concerns....
Pinochet reminded me that "Russia supports their people 100
percent. We are behind you. You are the leader. But you have a
punitive system for your friends." I returned to my underlying
theme that any major help from us would realistically depend on
progress on human rights.
The Memcon: There is merit in what you say. It is a curious
time in the U.S. . .. It is unfortunate. We have been through
Viet Nam and Watergate. We have to wait until the  elections.
We welcomed the overthrow of the Communist-inclined government
here. We are not out to weaken your position.
In an unpleasant way, Pinochet twice mentioned the name of
Orlando Letelier the exiled Chilean opposition leader, accusing
him of misleading the United States Congress. Kissinger's response,
as can be seen, was to apologize for the Congress and (in a minor
replay of his 1968 Paris tactic over Vietnam) to suggest that
the dictator hope for better days after the upcoming elections.
Three months later, a car bomb in Washington killed Letelier,
the only such outrage ever committed in the nation's capital by
agents of a foreign regime (and an incident completely absent
from Kissinger's memoirs). The man responsible for arranging the
crime, the Chilean secret policeman General Manuel Contreras,
has since stated in an affidavit that he took no action without
specific and personal orders from Pinochet. He remains in prison,
doubtless wondering why he trusted his superiors.
"I want to see our relations and friendship improve,"
Kissinger told Pinochet (but not the readers of his memoirs).
"We want to help, not undermine you." In advising a
murderer and despot, whose rule he had helped impose, to disregard
his upcoming remarks as a sop to Congress, Kissinger insulted
democracy in both countries. He also gave the greenest of green
lights to further crossborder and internal terrorism, neither
of which could have been unknown to him. (In his memoirs, he does
mention what he calls Pinochet's "counter-terrorist intelligence
agency.") Further colluding with Pinochet against the United
States Congress, which was considering cutting off arms sales
to human-rights violators via the Kennedy Amendment, Kissinger
"I don't know if you listen in on my phone, but if you
do you have just heard me issue instructions to Washington to
[defeat the Kennedy Amendment] if we defeat it, we will deliver
the F-5Es as we agreed to do."
The foregoing passage is worth bearing in mind. It is a good
key for decoding the usual relationship between fact and falsehood
in Kissinger's ill-crafted memoir. (And it is a huge reproach
to his editors at Simon & Schuster, and Weidenfeld & Nicolson.)
It should also act as an urgent prompting to members of Congress,
and to human-rights organizations, to reopen the incomplete inquiries
and thwarted investigations into the multifarious crimes of this
period. Finally, and read in the light of Chile's return to democracy
and the decision of the Chilean courts to pursue truth and justice,
it repudiates Kissinger's patronizing insult concerning the "irresponsibility"
of a dignified and humane people, who have suffered very much
more than verbal insult at his hands.
A rule of thumb in Washington holds that any late disclosure
by officialdom will ,~ contain material that is worse than even
the cynics suspected. In September 2000, however, the CIA disgorged
the results of an internal inquiry on Chile, which had been required
of it by the Hinchey Amendment to the Intelligence Authorization
Act for that fiscal year. And the most hardened critics and investigators
were reduced to amazement:
"Support for Coup in 1970. Under "Track lI"
of the strategy, CIA sought to instigate a coup to prevent Allende
from taking office after he won a plurality in the 4 September
election and before, as Constitutionally required because he did
not win an absolute majority, the Chilean Congress reaffirmed
his victory. CIA was working with three different groups of plotters.
All three groups made it clear that any coup would require the
kidnapping of Army Commander Rene Schneider, who felt deeply that
the Constitution required that the Army allow Allende to assume
power. CIA agreed with that assessment. Although CIA provided
weapons to one of the groups, we have found no information that
the plotters' or ClA's intention was for the general to be killed.
Contact with one group of plotters was dropped early an because
of its extremist tendencies. CIA provided tear gas, submachine-guns
and ammunition to the second group, mortally wounding him in the
attack. CIA had previously encouraged this group to launch a coup
but withdrew support four days before the attack because, in ClA's
assessment, the group could not carry it out successfully."
This repeats the old canard supposedly distinguishing a kidnapping
or abduction from a murder, and once again raises the intriguing
question: What was the CIA going to do with General Schneider
once it had kidnapped him? (Note also, the studied passivity whereby
the report "found no information that the plotters' or CIA's
intention was for the general to be killed." What would satisfy
this bizarre criterion?) But then we learn of the supposedly unruly
gang that actually took its instructions seriously:
"In November 1970 a member of the Viaux group who avoided
capture recontacted the Agency and requested financial assistance
on behalf of the group. Although the Agency had no obligation
to the group because it acted on its own, in an effort to keep
the prior contact secret, maintain the good will of the group,
and for humanitarian reasons, $35,000 was passed."
"Humanitarian reasons." One has to admire the sheer
inventiveness of this explanation. At 1970 prices, $35,000 was,
in Chile, a considerable sum. Not likely the sort of sum that
a local station chief could have disbursed on his own. One wants
to know how the 40 Committee and its vigilant chairman, Henry
Kissinger, decided that the best way to dissociate from a supposedly
loose-cannon gang was to pay it a small fortune in cash after
it had committed a cold-blooded murder.
The same question arises in an even more acute form with another
disclosure made by the CIA in the course of the same report. This
is headed "Relationship with Contreras." Manuel Contreras
was the head of Pinochet's secret military police, and in that
capacity organized the death, torture, and "disappearance"
of innumerable Chileans as well as the use of bombing and assassination
techniques as far afield as Washington, D.C. The CIA admits early
on in the document that it
"had liaison relationships in Chile with the primary
purpose of securing assistance in gathering intelligence on external
targets. The CIA offered these services assistance in internal
organization and training to combat subversion and terrorism from
abroad, not in combating internal opponents of the government."
Such flat prose, based on a distinction between the "external
targets" and the more messy business of internal dictatorial
discipline, invites the question: What external threat? Chile
had no foreign enemy except Argentina, which disputed some sea-lane
rights in the Beagle Channel. (In consequence, Chile helped Mrs.
Thatcher in the Falklands war of 1982.) And in Argentina, as we
know, the CIA was likewise engaged in helping the military regime
to survive. No, Chile had no external enemies to speak of, but
the Pinochet dictatorship had many, many external foes. They were
the numerous Chileans forced to abandon their country. Manuel
Contreras's job was to hunt them down. As the report puts it,
"During a period between 1974 and 1977, CIA maintained
contact with Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, who later became notorious
for his involvement in human rights abuses. The U.S. Government
policy community approved ClA's contact with Contreras, given
his position as chief of the primary intelligence organization
in Chile, as necessary to accomplish the ClA's mission, in spite
of concerns that this relationship might lay the CIA open to charges
of aiding internal political repression."
After a few bits of back-and-forth about the distinction without
a difference (between "external" and "internal"
police tactics), the CIA report states candidly,
"By April 1975, intelligence reporting showed that Contreras
was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy
within the Junta, but an interagency committee directed the CIA
to continue its relationship with Contreras. The U.S. Ambassador
to Chile urged Deputy Director of Central Intelligence [General
Vernon] Walters to receive Contreras in Washington in the interest
of maintaining good relations with Pinochet. In August 1975, with
interagency approval, this meeting took place.
In May and June 1975, elements within the CIA recommended
establishing a paid relationship with Contreras to obtain intelligence
based on his unique position and access to Pinochet. This proposal
was overruled, citing the U.S. Government policy on clandestine
relations with the head of an intelligence service notorious for
human rights abuses. However, given miscommunications in the timing
of this exchange, a one-time payment was given to Contreras."
This does not require too much parsing. Some time after it
had been concluded, and by the CIA at that, that Manuel Contreras
was the "principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights
policy," he is given American taxpayers' money and received
at a high level in Washington. The CIA's memorandum is careful
to state that, where doubts exist, they are stilled by the "U.S.
Government policy community" and by "an interagency
committee." It also tries to suggest, with unconscious humor,
that the head of a murderous foreign secret service was given
a large bribe by mistake. One wonders who was reprimanded for
this blunder, and how it got past the scrutiny of the 40 Committee.
The report also contradicts itself, stating at one point that
Contreras's activities overseas were opaque and at another that
"[w]ithin a year after the coup, the CIA and other U.S.
Government agencies were aware of bilateral cooperation among
regional intelligence services to track the activities of and,
in at least a few cases, kill political opponents. This was the
precursor to Operation Condor, an intelligence-sharing arrangement
among Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay established
So now we know: The internationalization of the death-squad
principle was understood and approved by American intelligence
and its political masters across two administrations. The senior
person concerned in both administrations was Henry Kissinger.
Whichever "interagency committee" is meant, and whether
it is the 40 Committee or the interagency committee on Chile,
we are led back to the same source.
On leaving the State Department, Kissinger made an extraordinary
bargain whereby he gifted his papers to the Library of Congress
(having first hastily trucked them for safekeeping to the Rockefeller
estate at Pocantico Hills, New York) on the sole condition that
they remain under seal until five years after his death. Kissinger's
friend Manuel Contreras, however, made a mistake when he killed
an American citizen, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in the Washington car
bomb that also murdered Orlando Letelier in 1976. By late 2000,
the Federal Bureau of Investigation had finally sought and received
subpoena power to review the Library of Congress papers, a subpoena
with which Kissinger dealt only through his attorneys. It was
a start, but it was pathetic when compared with the efforts of
truth-and-justice commissions in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay,
and Uruguay, which have now emerged from years of Kissinger befriended
dictatorship and are seeking a full accounting. We await the moment
when the United States Congress will inaugurate a comparable process
and finally subpoena all the hidden documents that obscure the
view of unpunished crimes committed in our names.
CYPRUS: A TURBULENT PRIEST
In the second volume of his trilogy of memoirs, Years of Upheaval,
Henry Kissinger found the subject of the 1974 Cyprus catastrophe
so awkward that he decided to postpone consideration of it:
"I must leave a full discussion of the Cyprus episode
to another occasion, for it stretched into the Ford Presidency
and its legacy exists unresolved today."
This argued a certain nervousness on his part, if only because
the subjects of Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, Angola, Chile,
China, and the SALT negotiations all bear legacies that are "unresolved
today" and were unresolved then. (To say that these matters
"stretched into the Ford Presidency" is to say, in effect,
nothing at all except that this pallid interregnum did, historically
In most of his writing about himself (and, one presumes, in
most of his presentations to his clients) Kissinger projects a
strong impression of a man at home in the world and on top of
his brief. But there are a number of occasions when it suits him
to pose as a sort of Candide, naive and ill prepared and easily
unhorsed by events. No doubt this pose costs him something in
self-esteem. It is a pose, furthermore, that he often adopts at
precisely the time when the record shows him to be knowledgeable
and when knowledge or foreknowledge would also confront him with
charges of responsibility or complicity.
Cyprus in 1974 is just such a case. Kissinger now argues,
in the third volume of his memoirs, Years of Renewal, that he
was prevented and distracted, by Watergate and the deliquescence
of the Nixon presidency, from taking a timely or informed interest
in the crucial triangle of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. This is
a bizarre disclaimer: the phrase "eastern flank of NATO"
was then a geopolitical commonplace of the first importance, and
the proximity of Cyprus to the Middle East was a factor never
absent from American strategic thinking. There was no reason of
domestic policy to prevent the region from engaging his attention.
Furthermore, the very implosion of Nixonian authority, cited as
a reason for Kissinger's own absence of mind, in fact bestowed
extraordinary powers upon him. To restate the obvious once more:
When he became secretary of state in 1973, he took care to retain
his post as "special assistant to the president for national
security affairs," or, as we now say, national security adviser.
This made him the first and only secretary of state to hold the
chairmanship of the 40 Committee, which, of course, considered
and approved covert actions by the CIA. Meanwhile, as chairman
of the National Security Council, he held a position in which
every important intelligence plan passed across his desk. His
former NSC aide, Roger Morris, was not exaggerating by much, if
at all, when he said that Kissinger's dual position, plus Nixon's
eroded one, made him "no less than acting chief of state
for national security."
Kissinger gives one hostage to fortune in Years of Upheaval
and another in Years of Renewal. In the former volume he says,
quite plainly: "I had always taken it for granted that the
next communal crisis in Cyprus would provoke Turkish intervention"-i.e.,
would at least risk the prospect of a war within NATO between
Greece and Turkey and would certainly involve the partition of
the island. That this was indeed common knowledge may not be doubted
by any person even lightly acquainted with Cypriot affairs. In
the latter volume, wherein Kissinger finally takes up the challenge
implicitly refused in the first volume, he repeatedly asks the
reader why anyone (such as himself, so burdened with Watergate)
would have sought "a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean
between two NATO allies."
These two disingenuous statements need to be qualified in
the light of a third one, which appears on page 199 of Years of
Renewal. Here, President Makarios of Cyprus is described without
adornment as "the proximate cause of most of Cyprus's tensions."
Makarios was the democratically elected leader of a virtually
unarmed republic, which was at the time in an association agreement
with the European Economic Community, as well as a member of the
United Nations and of the Commonwealth. His rule was challenged,
and the independence of Cyprus threatened, by a military dictatorship
in Athens and a highly militarized government in Turkey, both
of which sponsored right-wing gangster organizations on the island,
and both of which had plans to annex the greater or lesser part
of it. In spite of this, "intercommunal" violence had
been on the decline in Cyprus throughout the 1970s. Most killings
were, in fact, "intramural": of Greek and Turkish democrats
or internationalists by their respective nationalist and authoritarian
rivals. Several attempts, by Greek and Greek Cypriot fanatics,
had been made on the life of President Makarios himself. To describe
his person as the "proximate cause" of most of the tensions
is to make a wildly aberrant moral judgment.
This same aberrant judgment, however, supplies the key that
unlocks the lie at the heart of Kissinger's chapter. If the elected
civilian authority (and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox
community) is the "proximate cause" of the tensions,
then his removal from the scene is self-evidently the cure for
them. If one can demonstrate that there was such a removal plan,
and that Kissinger knew about it in advance, then it follows logically
and naturally that he was not ostensibly looking for a crisis-as
he self-pityingly asks us to disbelieve-but for a solution. The
fact that he got a crisis, which was also a hideous calamity for
Cyprus and the region, does not change the equation or undo the
syllogism. The scheme to remove Makarios, on which the "solution"
depended, was in practice a failure. But those who willed the
means and wished the ends are not absolved from guilt by the refusal
of reality to match their schemes.
It is, from Kissinger's own record and recollection, as well
as the subsequent official inquiry, quite easy to demonstrate
that he did have advance knowledge of the plan to depose and kill
Makarios. He admits as much himself, by noting that the Greek
dictator Dimitrios Ioannides, head of the secret police, was determined
to mount a coup in Cyprus and bring the island under the control
of Athens. This was one of the better-known facts of the situation,
as was the more embarrassing fact that Brigadier Ioannides was
dependent on American military aid and political sympathy. His
police state had long since been expelled from the Council of
Europe and blocked from joining the EEC, and it was largely the
advantage conferred by his agreement to "home port"
the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and host a string of U.S. air force and
intelligence bases, that kept him in power. This lenient policy
was highly controversial in Congress and in the American press,
and the argument over it was part of Kissinger's daily bread long
before the Watergate drama.
Thus it was understood in general that the Greek dictatorship,
an American client, wished to see Makarios overthrown and had
already tried to kill him or have him killed. (Overthrow and assassination,
incidentally, are effectively coterminous in this account; there
was no possibility of leaving such a charismatic leader alive,
and those who sought his removal invariably intended his death.)
This was also understood in particular. The most salient proof
is this: In May of 1974, two months before the coup in Cyprus's
capital, Nicosia, which Kissinger later claimed came as a shock
to him, he received a memorandum from the head of his State Department
Cyprus desk, Thomas Boyatt. Boyatt summarized all the cumulative
and persuasive reasons for believing that a Greek junta attack
on Cyprus and Makarios was imminent. He further argued that, in
the absence of an American demarche to Athens, warning the dictators
to desist, it might be assumed that the United States was indifferent
to this. And he added what everybody knew: that such a coup, if
it went forward, would beyond doubt trigger a Turkish invasion.
Prescient memos are a dime a dozen in Washington after a crisis;
they are often then read for the first time, or leaked to the
press or to Congress in order to enhance (or protect) some bureaucratic
reputation. But Kissinger now admits that he saw this document
in real time, while engaged in his shuttle between Syria and Israel
(both of them within half an hour's flying time of Cyprus). Yet
no demarche bearing his name or carrying his authority was issued
to the Greek junta.
A short while afterward, on June 7, 1974, the National Intelligence
Daily, which is the breakfast-table reading of all senior State
Department, Pentagon, and national security officials, cited an
American field report, dated June 3, that stated the views of
the dictator in Athens:
"loannides claimed that Greece is capable of removing
Makarios and his key supporters from power in twenty-four hours
with little if any blood being shed and without EOKA assistance.
[EOKA was a Greek-Cypriot fascist underground, armed and paid
by the junta.] The Turks would quietly acquiesce to the removal
of Makarios, a key enemy . . . Ioannides stated that if Makarios
decides on some type of extreme provocation against Greece to
obtain a tactical advantage, he (loannides) is not sure whether
he should merely pull the Greek troops out of Cyprus and let Makarios
fend for himself, or remove Makarios once and for all and have
Greece deal directly with Turkey over Cyprus' future."
This report and its contents were later authenticated before
Congress by CIA staff who had served in Athens at the relevant
time. The fact that it made Brigadier Ioannides seem bombastic
and delusional-both of which he was- should have underlined the
obvious and imminent danger.
At about the same time, Kissinger received a call from Senator
J. William Fulbright, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. Senator Fulbright had been briefed about the impending
coup by a senior Greek dissident journalist in Washington named
Elias P. Demetracopoulos. According to Demetracopoulos, Fulbright
told Kissinger that steps should be taken to avert the planned
Greek action, and he gave three reasons. The first was that it
would repair some of the moral damage done by America's indulgence
of the junta. The second was that it would head off a confrontation
between Greece and Turkey in the Mediterranean. The third was
that it would enhance American prestige on the island. Kissinger
declined to take the recommended steps, on the bizarre grounds
that he could not intervene in Greek "internal affairs"
at a time when the Nixon Administration was resisting pressure
from Senator Henry Jackson to link U.S.-Soviet trade to the free
emigration of Russian Jewry. However odd this line of argument,
it still makes it quite impossible for Kissinger to claim, as
he still does, that he had had no warning.
So there was still no American high-level concern registered
with Athens. The difficulty is sometimes presented as one of protocol
or etiquette, as if Kissinger's regular custom was to whisper
and tread lightly. Ioannides was the de facto head of the regime
but technically only its secret police chief. For the U.S. ambassador,
Henry Tasca, it was awkward to make diplomatic approaches to a
man he described as "a cop." But again I remind you
that Henry Kissinger, in addition to his formal diplomatic eminence,
was also head of the 40 Committee, and therefore the supervisor
of American covert action, and was dealing in private with an
Athens regime that had long-standing ties to the CIA. The 1976
House Committee on Intelligence later phrased the problem rather
deftly in its report:
"Tasca, assured by the CIA station chief that loannides
would continue to deal only with the CIA, and not sharing the
State Department desk officer's alarm, was content to pass a message
to the Greek leader indirectly.... It is clear, however, that
the Embassy took no steps to underscore for loannides the depth
of U.S. concern over a Cyprus coup attempt. This episode, the
exclusive CIA access to loannides, Tasca's indications that he
may not have seen all important messages to and from the CIA Station,
loannides' suggestions of U.S. acquiescence, and Washington's
well-known coolness to Makarios have led to public speculation
that either U.S. officials were inattentive to the reports of
the developing crisis or simply allowed it to happen..."
Thomas Boyatt's memoranda, warning of precisely what was to
happen (and echoing the views of several mid-level officials besides
himself), were classified as secret and still have never been
released. Asked to testify at the above hearings, he was at first
forbidden by Kissinger to appear before Congress and was finally
permitted to do so only in order that he might avoid a citation
for contempt. His evidence was taken in Executive Session, with
the hearing room cleared of staff, reporters, and visitors.
Matters continued to gather pace. On July 1, 1974, three senior
officials of the Greek foreign ministry, all of them known for
their moderate views on the Cyprus question, publicly tendered
their resignations. On July 3, President Makarios made public
an open letter to the Greek junta, which made the direct accusation
of foreign interference and subversion:
"In order to be absolutely clear, I say that the cadres
of the military regime of Greece support and direct the activities
of the EOKA-B terrorist organization.... I have more than once
so far felt, and some cases I have almost touched, a hand invisibly
extending from Athens and seeking to liquidate my human existence."
He called for the withdrawal from Cyprus of the Greek officers
Some days after the coup, which eventually occurred on July
15, 1974, and when challenged at a press conference about his
apparent failure to foresee or avert it, Kissinger replied that
"the information was not Iying around on the streets."
Actually, it nearly was. It had been available to him round the
clock, in both his diplomatic and intelligence capacities. His
decision to do nothing was therefore a direct decision to do something,
or to let something be done.
To the rest of the world, two things were obvious about the
coup. The first was that it had been instigated from Athens and
carried out with the help of regular Greek forces, and was thus
a direct intervention in the internal affairs of one country by
another. The second was that it violated all the existing treaties
governing the status of the island. The obvious and unsavory illegality
was luridly emphasized by the junta itself, which chose a notorious
chauvinist gunman named Nikos Sampson to be its proxy "president."
Sampson must have been well known to the chairman of the 40 Committee
as a long-standing recipient of financial support from the CIA;
he also received money for his fanatical Nicosia newspaper Makli
("Combat") from a pro-junta CIA proxy in Athens, Mr.
Savvas Constantopoulos, the publisher of the pro-junta organ Eleftheros
Kosmos ("Free World"). No European government treated
Sampson as anything but a pariah during the brief nine days in
which he held power and launched a campaign of murder against
his democratic Greek opponents. But Kissinger told the American
envoy in Nicosia to receive Sampson's "foreign minister"
as foreign minister, thus making the United States the first and
only government to extend de facto recognition. (At this point,
it might be emphasized, the whereabouts of President Makarios
were unknown. His palace had been heavily shelled and his death
announced on the junta's radio. He had in fact made his escape,
and was able to broadcast the fact a few days afterward-to the
enormous irritation of certain well-placed persons.)
In Washington, Kissinger's press spokesman, Robert Anderson,
flatly denied that the coup- later described by Makarios from
the podium of the United Nations as "an invasion"-constituted
foreign intervention. "No," he replied to a direct question
on this point. "In our view there has been no outside intervention."
This surreal position was not contradicted by Kissinger when he
met with the Cypriot ambassador and failed to offer the customary
condolences on the reported death of his president-the "proximate
cause," we now learn from him, of all the unpleasantness.
When asked if he still recognized the elected Makarios government
as the legal one, Kissinger doggedly and astonishingly refused
to answer. When asked if the United States was moving toward recognition
of the Sampson regime, his spokesman declined to deny it. When
Senator Fulbright helped facilitate a visit by the escaped Makarios
to Washington, the State Department was asked whether he would
be received by Kissinger "as a private citizen, as Archbishop,
or as President of Cyprus?" The answer? "[Kissinger]'s
meeting with Archbishop Makarios on Monday." Every other
government in the world, save the rapidly collapsing Greek dictatorship,
recognized Makarios as the legitimate head of the Cyprus republic.
Kissinger's unilateralism on the point is without diplomatic precedent
and argues strongly for his collusion and sympathy with the armed
handful who felt the same way.
It is worth emphasizing that Makarios was invited to Washington
in the first place, as elected and legal president of Cyprus,
by Senator William J. Fulbright of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee and by his counterpart, Congressman Thomas Morgan, chairman
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Credit for their invitation
belongs to the above-mentioned Elias Demetracopoulos, who had
long warned of the coup and who was a friend of Fulbright's. It
was he who conveyed the invitation to Makarios, who was by then
in London meeting with the British foreign secretary. This initiative
crowned a series of anti-junta activities by this guerrilla journalist
and one-man band, who had already profoundly irritated Kissinger
and become a special object of his spite. At the very last moment,
and with a very poor grace, Kissinger was compelled to announce
that he was receiving Makarios in his presidential and not his
Since Kissinger himself tells us that he had always known
or assumed that another outbreak of violence in Cyprus would trigger
a Turkish military intervention, we can assume in our turn that
he was not surprised when such an intervention came. Nor does
he seem to have been very much disconcerted. While the Greek junta
remained in power, his efforts were principally directed to shielding
it from retaliation. He was opposed to the return of Makarios
to the island and strongly opposed to Turkish or British use of
force to undo the Greek coup (Britain being a guarantor power
with a treaty obligation and troops on Cyprus). This same counsel
of inertia or inaction-amply testified to in Kissinger's own memoirs
as well as everyone else's-translated later into equally strict
and repeated admonitions against any measures to block a Turkish
invasion. Sir Tom McNally, then the chief political adviser to
Britain's then foreign secretary and future prime minister, James
Callaghan, has since disclosed that Kissinger "vetoed"
at least one British military action to preempt a Turkish landing.
This may seem paradoxical, but the long-standing sympathy
for a partition of Cyprus, repeatedly expressed by the State and
Defense departments, make it seem much less so. The demographic
composition of the island (82 percent Greek, 18 percent Turkish)
made it more logical for the partition to be imposed by Greece.
But a second best was to have it imposed by Turkey. And once Turkey
had conducted two brutal invasions and occupied almost 40 percent
of Cypriot territory, Kissinger exerted himself very strongly
indeed to protect Turkey from any congressional reprisal for this
outright violation of international law and promiscuous and illegal
misuse of American weaponry. He became so pro-Turkish, in fact,
that it was if he had never heard of the Greek colonels (though
his expressed dislike of the returned Greek democratic leaders
supplied an occasional reminder).
Not all the elements of this partitionist policy can be charged
to Kissinger personally; he inherited the Greek junta and the
official dislike of Makarios. Even in the dank obfuscatory prose
of his own memoirs, however, he does admit what can otherwise
be concluded from independent sources. Using covert channels,
and short-circuiting the democratic process in his own country,
he made himself a silent accomplice in a plan of political assassination,
and when this plan went awry it led to the deaths of thousands
of civilians, the violent uprooting of almost 200,000 refugees,
and the creation of an unjust and unstable amputation of Cyprus
that constitutes a serious threat to peace a full quarter century
On July 10, 1976, the European Commission of Human Rights
adopted a report, prepared by eighteen distinguished ~ jurists
and chaired by Professor J.E.S. Fawcett, resulting from a year's
research into the consequences of the Turkish invasion. It found
that the Turkish army had engaged in the deliberate killing of
civilians, in the execution of prisoners, in the torture and ill-treatment
of detainees, in the arbitrary collective punishment and mass
detention of civilians, and in systematic and unpunished acts
of rape, torture, and looting. A large number of "disappeared"
persons, both prisoners of war and civilians, are still "missing"
from this period. This number included a dozen holders of United
States passports, which is evidence in itself of an indiscriminate
strategy when conducted by an army dependent on American aid and
Perhaps it was a reluctance to accept his responsibility for
these outrages, as well as his responsibility for the original
Sampson coup, that led Kissinger to tell a bizarre sequence of
lies to his new friends, the Chinese. On October 2, 1974, he held
a high-level meeting in New York with Qiao Guanhua, vice foreign
minister of the People's Republic. It was the first substantive
Sino-American meeting since the visit of Deng Xiaoping, and the
first order of business was Cyprus. The memorandum, which is headed
"TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE/EXCLUSIVELY EYES ONLY," has Kissinger
first rejecting China's public claim that he had helped engineer
the removal of Makarios. "We did not. We did not oppose Makarios"
(a claim belied by his own memoirs). He says, "When the coup
occurred I was in Moscow," which he was not. He says, "My
people did not take these intelligence reports [concerning an
impending coup] seriously," even though they had. He says
that neither did Makarios take them seriously, even though Makarios
had gone public in a denunciation of the Greek junta for its coup
plans. He then makes the amazing claim that "we knew the
Soviets had told the Turks to invade," which would make this
the first Soviet-instigated invasion to be conducted by a NATO
army and paid for with American aid.
A good liar must have a good memory. Kissinger is a stupendous
liar with a remarkable memory. So perhaps some of this hysterical
Iying is explained by its context: the need to enlist China's
anti-Soviet instincts. But the total of falsity is so impressive
that it suggests something additional, something more like denial
or delusion, or even a confession by other means.
BLOODBATH IN BANGLADESH
Cyprus was not the first instance in which a perceived need
to mollify China outweighed even the most minimal concern for
human life elsewhere. On April 6, 1971, a cable of protest was
written from the United States Consulate in what was then East
Pakistan, the Bengali "wing" of the Muslim state of
Pakistan, known to its restive nationalist inhabitants by the
name Bangladesh. The cable's senior signatory, the consul general
in Dhaka, was named Archer Blood, though it might have become
known as the Blood Telegram in any case. Sent directly to Washington,
its purpose was, quite simply, to denounce the complicity of the
United States government in genocide. Its main section read:
OUR GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO DENOUNCE THE SUPPRESSION OF
DEMOCRACY. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO TAKE FORCEFUL MEASURES
TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME BENDING OVER BACKWARDS
TO PLACATE THE WEST PAKISTAN-DOMINATED GOVERNMENT. OUR GOVERNMENT
HAS EVIDENCED WHAT MANY WILL CONSIDER MORAL BANKRUPTCY, IRONICALLY
AT A TIME WHEN THE USSR SENT PRESIDENT YAHYA KHAN A MESSAGE DEFENDING
DEMOCRACY, CONDEMNING THE ARREST OF A LEADER OF A DEMOCRATICALLY
ELECTED MAJORITY PARTY. . .. BUT WE HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INTERVENE,
EVEN MORALLY, ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE AWAMI CONFLICT, IN WHICH
UNFORTUNATELY THE OVERWORKED TERM GENOCIDE IS APPLICABLE, IS PURELY
AN INTERNAL MATTER OF A SOVEREIGN STATE. PRIVATE AMERICANS HAVE
EXPRESSED DISGUST. WE, AS PROFESSIONAL PUBLIC SERVANTS, EXPRESS
OUR DISSENT WITH CURRENT POLICY AND FERVENTLY HOPE THAT OUR TRUE
AND LASTING INTERESTS HERE CAN BE DEFINED AND OUR POLICIES REDIRECTED....
This was signed by twenty members of the United States' diplomatic
equipe in Bangladesh and, on its arrival at the State Department,
by a further nine senior officers in the South Asia division.
It was the most public and the most strongly worded demarche,
from State Department servants to the State Department, that has
ever been recorded.
The circumstances fully warranted the protest. In December
1970, the Pakistani military elite had permitted the first open
elections in a decade. The vote was easily won by Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, the leader of the Bengali-based Awami League, who gained
a large overall majority in the proposed National Assembly. (In
the East alone, it won 167 out of 169 seats.) This, among other
things, meant a challenge to the political and military and economic
hegemony of the Western "wing." The National Assembly
had been scheduled to meet on March 3, 1971. On March 1, General
Yahya Khan, head of the supposedly outgoing military regime, postponed
its convening, which resulted in mass protests and nonviolent
civil disobedience in the East.
On March 25,1971, the Pakistani army struck at the Bengali
capital of Dhaka. Having arrested and kidnapped Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, and taken him to West Pakistan, it set about massacring
his supporters. The foreign press had been preemptively expelled
from the city, but much of the direct evidence of what then happened
was provided via a radio transmitter operated by the American
consulate. Archer Blood himself supplied an account of one episode
directly to the State Department and to Henry Kissinger's National
Security Council. Having readied the ambush, Pakistani regular
soldiers set fire to the women's dormitory at the university and
then mowed the occupants down with machine guns as they sought
to escape. (The guns, along with all the other weaponry, had been
furnished under American military-assistance programs.)
Other reports, since amply vindicated, were supplied to the
London Times and Sunday Times by the courageous reporter Anthony
Mascarenhas and flashed around a horrified world. Rape, murder,
dismemberment, and the state murder of children were employed
as deliberate methods of repression and intimidation. At least
10,000 civilians were butchered in the first three days. The eventual
civilian death toll has never been placed at less than half a
million and has been put as high as 3 million. Since almost all
Hindu citizens were at risk by definition from Pakistani military
chauvinism (not that Pakistan's Muslim co-religionists were spared),
a vast movement of millions of refugees-perhaps as many as 10
million-began to cross the Indian frontier. To summarize, then:
first, the direct negation of a democratic election; second, the
unleashing of a genocidal policy; third, the creation of a very
dangerous international crisis. Within a short time, Ambassador
Kenneth Keating, the ranking American diplomat in New Delhi, had
added his voice to those of the dissenters. It was a time, he
told Washington, when a principled stand against the authors of
this aggression and atrocity would also make the best pragmatic
sense. Keating, a former senator from New York, used a very suggestive
phrase in his cable of March 29,1971, calling on the administration
to "PROMPTLY, PUBLICLY AND PROMINENTLY DEPLORE THIS BRUTALITY."
It was "MOST IMPORTANT THESE ACTIONS BE TAKEN NOW,"
he warned, "PRIOR TO INEVITABLE AND IMMINENT EMERGENCE OF
Nixon and Kissinger acted quickly. That is to say, Archer
Blood was immediately recalled from his post, and Ambassador Keating
was described by the president to Kissinger, with some contempt,
as having been "taken over by the Indians." In late
April 1971, at the very height of the mass murder, Kissinger sent
a message to General Yalya Khan, thanking him for his "delicacy
We now know of one reason why the general was so favored at
a time when he had made himself-and his patrons-responsible for
the grossest crimes against humanity. In April 1971, an American
Ping-Pong team had accepted a surprise invitation to compete in
Beijing, and by the end of that month, using the Pakistani ambassador
as an intermediary, the Chinese authorities had forwarded a letter
inviting Nixon to send an envoy. Thus there was one motive of
realpolitik for the shame that Nixon and Kissinger were to visit
on their own country for its complicity in the extermination of
Those who like to plead realpolitik, however, might wish to
consider some further circumstances. There already was, and had
been for some time, a "back channel" between Washington
and Beijing. It ran through Nicolae Ceausescu's Romania; not a
decorative choice but not, at that stage, a positively criminal
one. To a serious person like Chou En-Lai, there was no reason
to confine approaches to the narrow channel afforded by a blood-soaked
(and short-lived, as it turned out) despot like the delicate and
tactful Yabya Khan. Either Chou En-Lai wanted contact, in other
words, or he did not. As Lawrence Lifschultz, the primary historian
of this period, has put it:
"Winston Lord, Kissinger's deputy at the National Security
Council, stressed to investigators the internal rationalization
developed within the upper echelons of the Administration. Lord
told [the staff of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace]
"We had to demonstrate to China we were a reliable government
to deal with. We had to show China that we respect a mutual friend."
How, after two decades of belligerent animosity with the People's
Republic, mere support for Pakistan in its bloody civil war was
supposed to demonstrate to China that the U.S. "was a reliable
government to deal with" was a mystifying proposition which
more cynical observers of the events, both in and outside the
U.S. government, consider to have been an excuse justifying the
simple convenience of the Islamabad link-a link which Washington
had no overriding desire to shift."
Second, the knowledge of this secret diplomacy and its accompanying
privileges obviously freed the Pakistani general of such restraints
as might have inhibited him. He told his closest associates, including
his minister of communications, G. W. Choudhury, that his private
understanding with Washington and Beijing would protect him. Choudhury
later wrote, "If Nixon and Kissinger had not given him that
false hope, he'd have been more realistic." Thus the collusion
with him in the matter of China increases the direct complicity
of Nixon and Kissinger in the massacres.
Only a reopened congressional inquiry with subpoena power
could determine whether there was any direct connection, apart
from the self-evident ones of consistent statecraft attested by
recurring and reliable testimony, between the secret genocidal
diplomacy of 1971 and the secret destabilizing diplomacy of 1975.
The task of disproving such a connection, meanwhile, would appear
to rest on those who believe that everything is an accident.
One small but significant territory has the distinction of
being omitted-entirely omitted-from Henry Kissinger's memoirs.
And since East Timor is left out of the third and final volume
(Years of Renewal) it cannot hope, like Cyprus, for a hasty later
emendation. It has, in short, been airbrushed.
The date of the Indonesian invasion of this small neighboring
country-December 7, 1975-is significant. On that date, President
Gerald Ford and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, arrived
in Hawaii, having concluded an official visit to Jakarta. Since
they had come fresh from a meeting with Indonesia's military junta,
and since the United States was Indonesia's principal supplier
of military hardware (Portugal, a NATO ally, had broken relations
with Indonesia on the point), it seemed reasonable to inquire
whether the two leaders had given the invaders any impression
amounting to a "green light." The president was evasive:
"When he landed at Hawaii, reporters asked Mr. Ford
for comment on the invasion of Timor. He smiled and said: "We'll
talk about that later." But press secretary Ron Nessen later
gave reporters a statement saying: "The United States is
always concerned about the use of violence. The President hopes
it can be resolved peacefully."
The literal incoherence of this official utterance-a peaceful
resolution to a use of violence- may perhaps have possessed an
inner coherence: the hope of a speedy victory for overwhelming
force. Kissinger moved this suspicion a shade nearer to actualization
in his own more candid comment, which was offered while he was
still on Indonesian soil. He told the press in Jakarta that the
United States would not recognize the republic declared by FRETILIN
(Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of East Timor) and that
"the United States understands Indonesia's position on the
So gruesome were the subsequent reports of mass slaughter,
rape, and deliberate starvation that bluntness fell somewhat out
of fashion. The killing of several Australian journalists who
had witnessed Indonesia's atrocities, the devastation in the capital
city of Dili, and the stubbornness of FRETILIN's hugely outgunned
rural resistance made East Timor an embarrassment to, rather than
an advertisement for, Jakarta's new order. Kissinger generally
attempted to avoid any discussion of his involvement in the extirpation
of the Timorese-an ongoing involvement, since he authorized backdoor
shipments of weapons to those doing the extirpating-and was ably
seconded in this by his ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, who later confided in his memoir, A Dangerous
Place, that in the matter of East Timor the initial invasion toll
was "almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the
Soviet Union during the Second World War." Moynihan continued:
"[T]he United States wished things to turn out as they
did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired
that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever
measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried
it forward with no inconsiderable success."
The terms "United States" and "Department of
State" are here foully prostituted, by this supposed prose
master, since they are used as synonyms for Henry Kissinger.
Twenty years later, on July 11, 1995, Kissinger was confronted
with direct questions on the subject. Publicizing and promoting
his then latest book, Diplomacy, at an event sponsored by The
Learning Exchange at the Park Central Hotel in New York City,
he perhaps (having omitted Timor from his book and from his talk)
did not anticipate the first line of questioning that arose from
the floor. Constancio Pinto, a former resistance leader in Timor
who had been captured and tortured and had escaped to the United
States, opened the bidding:
PINTO: I am Timorese. My name is Constancio Pinto. And I
followed your speech today and it's really interesting. One thing
that I know you didn't mention is this place invaded by Indonesia
in 1975. It is in Southeast Asia. As a result of the invasion
200,000 people of the Timorese were killed. As far as I know Dr.
Kissinger was in Indonesia the day before the invasion of East
Timor. The United States actually supported Indonesia in East
Timor. So I would like to know what you were doing at that time.
KISSINGER: What was I doing at that time ? The whole time
or just about Timor? . . . What most people who deal with government
don't understand is one of the most overwhelming experiences of
being in high office. That there are always more problems than
you can possibly address at any one period. And when you're in
global policy and you're a global power, there are so many issues....We
had at that time, there was a war going on in Angola. We had just
been driven out of Vietnam. We were conducting negotiations in
the Middle East, and Lebanon had blown up. We were on a trip to
China. Maybe, regrettably, we weren't ever thinking about Timor.
I'm telling you what the truth of the matter is. The reason we
were in Indonesia was actually accidental. We had originally intended
to go to China, we meaning President Ford and myself and some
others. We had originally intended to go to China for five days.
This was the period when Mao was very sick and there had been
an upheaval in China.... So we cut our trip to China short....
Timor was never discussed with us when we were in Indonesia.
At the airport as we were leaving, the Indonesians told us that
they were going to occupy the Portuguese colony of Timor. To us
that did not seem like a very significant event, because the Indians
had occupied the Portuguese colony of Goa ten years earlier, and
to us it looked like another process of decolonization. Nobody
had the foggiest idea of what would happen afterwards, and nobody
asked our opinion, and I don't know what we could have said if
someone had asked our opinion....
Now there's been a terrible human tragedy in Timor afterwards.
The population of East Timor has resisted, and I don't know whether
the casualty figures are correct. I just don't know, but they're
certainly significant, and there's no question that it's a huge
tragedy. All I'm telling you is what we knew in 1975. This was
not a big thing on your radar screen. Nobody has ever heard again
of Goa after the Indians occupied it.... And to us, Timor, look
at a map, it's a little speck of an island in a huge archipelago,
half of which was Portuguese. We had no reason to say the Portuguese
should stay there....
ALLAN NAIRN: Mr. Kissinger, my name is Allan Nairn. I'm a
journalist in the United States. I'm one of the Americans who
survived the massacre in East Timor on November 12, 1991, a massacre
during which Indonesian troops armed with American M-16s gunned
down at least 271 Timorese civilians in front of the Santa Cruz
Catholic cemetery as they were gathered in the act of peaceful
mourning and protest. Now you just said that in your meeting with
Suharto on the afternoon of December 6, 1975, you did not discuss
Timor, you did not discuss it until you came to the airport. Well,
I have here the official State Department transcript of your and
President Ford's conversation with General Suharto, the dictator
of Indonesia.... It has been edited under the Freedom of Information
Act, so the whole text isn't there. It's clear from the portion
of the text that is here that in fact you did discuss the impending
invasion of Timor with Suharto, a fact which was confirmed to
me by President Ford himself in an interview I had with him. President
Ford told me that in fact you discussed the impending invasion
of Timor with Suharto and that you gave the U.S....
KISSINGER: Who? I or he?
NAIRN: That you and President Ford together gave U.S. approval
for the invasion of East Timor. There is another internal State
Department memo.... This is a memo of a December 18 1975, meeting
held at the State Department. This was held right after your return
from that trip, and you were berating your staff for having put
on paper a finding by the State Department legal adviser Mr. Leigh
that the Indonesian invasion of East Timor was illegal, that it
not only violated international law, it violated a treaty with
the U.S. because U.S. weapons were used, and it's clear from this
transcript, which I invite anyone in the audience to peruse, that
you were angry at them first because you feared this memo would
leak and second because you were supporting the Indonesian invasion
of East Timor.... If one
looks at the public actions, sixteen hours after you left
that meeting with Suharto the Indonesian troops began parachuting
over Dili, the capital of East Timor. They came ashore and began
the massacres that culminated in a third of the Timorese population
[being killed]. You announced an immediate doubling of U.S. military
aid to Indonesia at the time....
KISSINGER: Look, I think we all got the point...
NAIRN: My question, Mr. Kissinger, my question, Dr. Kissinger,
is twofold: First, will you give a waiver under the Privacy Act
to support full declassification of this memo so we can see exactly
what you and President Ford said to Suharto? Secondly, would you
support the convening of an international war-crimes tribunal
under U.N. supervision on the subject of East Timor, and would
you agree to abide by its verdict in regard to your own conduct?
KISSINGER: I mean, uh, really, this sort of comment is one
of the reasons why the conduct of foreign policy is becoming nearly
impossible under these conditions. Here is a fellow who's got
one obsession . . . he collects a bunch of documents, you don't
know what is in these documents...
NAIRN: I invite your audience to read them.
It's interesting to notice the final decomposition of Kissinger's
normally efficient if robotic syntax in that final answer. It's
also interesting to see, once again, the operations of his denial
mechanism. If Kissinger and his patron Nixon were identified with
any one core belief, it was that the United States should never
be, or even appear to be, a "pitiful, helpless giant."
Kissinger's own writings and speeches are heavily larded with
rhetoric about "credibility" and the need to impress
both friend and foe with the mettle of American resolve. Yet,
in response to any inquiry that might implicate him in crime and
fiasco, he rushes to humiliate his own country and its professional
servants, suggesting that they know little, care less, are poorly
informed, and are easily rattled by the pace of events. He also
resorts to a demagogic isolationism. This is as much as to claim
that the United States is a pushover for any ambitious or irredentist
This semiconscious reversal of rhetoric also leads to renewed
episodes of hysterical and improvised Iying. (Recall his claim
to the Chinese that it was the Soviets who had instigated the
Turkish invasion of Cyprus.) The idea that Indonesia's annexation
of Timor may be compared to India's occupation of Goa is too absurd
to have been cited in any apologia before or since. What Kissinger
seems to like about the comparison is the rapidity with which
Goa was forgotten. What he overlooks is that it was forgotten
because ( 1 ) it was not a bloodbath on the scale of Timor and
(2) it completed the decolonization of India. Timor represented
the cementing of colonization by Indonesia. And, quite clearly,
an Indonesian invasion that began a few hours after Kissinger
had left the tarmac at Jakarta airport must have been planned
and readied several days before he arrived. Such plans would have
been known by any embassy military attaché and certainly
by any visiting secretary of state. We have, in fact, the word
of C. Philip Liechty, a former CIA operations officer in Indonesia,
"Suharto was given the green light to do what he did.
There was discussion in the embassy and in traffic with the State
Department about the problems that would be created for us if
the public and Congress became aware of the level and type of
military assistance that was going to Indonesia at that time.
. .. Without continued heavy U.S. Iogistical military support
the Indonesians might not have been able to pull it off."
The desire to appear to have been uninvolved may-if we are
charitable arise in part from the fact that even Indonesia's ~
~ foreign minister, Adam Malik, conceded in public a death toll
of between 50,000 and 80,000 Timorese civilians in the first eighteen
months of Indonesia's war of subjugation: in other words, on Kissinger's
watch, and inflicted with weapons that he bent American laws to
furnish to the killers. Now that a form of democracy has returned
to Indonesia, which in its first post-dictatorial act renounced
the annexation of East Timor and-after a bloody last pogrom by
its auxiliaries -withdrew from the territory, we may be able to
learn more exactly the extent of the quasi-genocide.
Kissinger's arrogance in 1975 did not dispose of two matters
of legality, both of them in the province of the State Department.
The first was the violation of international law by Indonesia,
in a case where jurisdiction clearly rested with a Portuguese
and NATO government of which Kissinger (partly as a result of
its support for "decolonization") did not approve. The
second was the violation of American law, which stipulated that
weapons supplied to Indonesia were to be employed only in self-defense.
State Department officials, bound by law, were likewise bound
to conclude that United States aid to the generals in Jakarta
would have to be cut off. Their memo summarizing this case was
the cause of the tremendous internal row that is minuted below:
SECRET/SENSITIVE MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
Participants: The Secretary [Henry Kissinger] Deputy Secretary
[Robert] Ingersoll Under Secretary [for Political Affairs Joseph]
Sisco Under Secretary [Carlyle] Maw Deputy Under Secretary [Lawrence]
Eagleburger Assistant Secretary [Philip] Habib Monroe Leigh, Legal
Advisor Jerry Bremer, Notetaker
Date: December 18, 1975 Subject: Department Policy
The Secretary [Kissinger]: I want to raise a little bit of
hell about the Department's conduct in my absence. Until last
week I thought we had a disciplined group; now we've gone to pieces
completely. Take this cable on Timor. You know my attitude and
anyone who knows my position as you do must know that I would
not have approved it. The only consequence is to put yourself
on record. It is a disgrace to treat the Secretary of State this
What possible explanation is there for it? I had told you
to stop it quietly. What is your place doing, Phil, to let this
happen? It is incomprehensible....
Habib: Our assessment was that if it was going to be trouble,
it would come up before your return. And I was told they decided
it was desirable to go ahead with the cable.
The Secretary: Nonsense. I said do it for a few weeks and
then open up again.
Habib: The cable will not leak.
The Secretary: Yes it will and it will go to Congress too
and then we will have hearings on it.
Habib: I was away. I was told by cable that it had come up.
The Secretary: That means that there are two cables! And that
means twenty guys have seen it.
Habib: No, I got it back channel-it was just one paragraph
double talk and cryptic so l knew what it was talking about. I
was told that Leigh thought that there was a legal requirement
to do it.
Leigh: No, I said it could be done administratively. It was
not in our interest to do it on legal grounds.
Sisco: We were told that you had decided we had to stop.
The Secretary: Just a minute, just a minute. You all know
my view on this.... No one has complained that it was aggression.
Leigh: The Indonesians were violating an agreement with us.
The Secretary: The Israelis when they go into Lebanon-when
was the last time we protested that?
Leigh: That's a different situation.
Maw: It is self-defense.
The Secretary: And we can't construe a Communist government
in the middle of Indonesia as self-defense ?
The Secretary: Then you're saying that arms can't be used
Habib: No, they can be used for the defense of Indonesia.
The Secretary: Now take a look at this basic theme that is
coming out on Angola. These SOBs are leaking all of this stuff
to [New York Times reporter] Les Gelb.
Sisco: I can tell you who.
The Secretary: Who?
Sisco: [National Security Council member William] Hyland spoke
The Secretary: Wait a minute-Hyland said . . .
Sisco: He said he briefed Gelb.
The Secretary: I want these people to know that our concern
in Angola is not the economic wealth or a naval base. It has to
do with the USSR operating 8,000 miles from home when all the
surrounding states are asking for our help. This will affect the
Europeans, the Soviets, and China.
On the Timor thing, that will leak in three months, and it
will come out that Kissinger overruled his pristine bureaucrats
and violated the law. [Italics added.] How many people in L [the
legal adviser's office] know about this?
Habib: There are at least two in my office.
The Secretary: Plus everybody in the meeting so you're talking
about not less than 15 or 20.
You have a responsibility to recognize that we are living
in a revolutionary situation. Everything on paper will be used
Habib: We do that and take account of that all the time....
The Secretary: Every day some SOB in the Department is carrying
on about Angola but no one is defending Angola. Find me one quote
in the Gelb article defending our policy in Angola.
Habib: I think the leaks and dissent are the burden you have
The Secretary: . . . This is not minor league stuff. We are
going to lose big. The President says to the Chinese that we're
going to stand firm in Angola and two weeks later we get out.
I go to a NATO meeting and meanwhile the Department leaks that
we're worried about a naval base and says it's an exaggeration
or aberration of
Kissinger's. I don't care about the oil or the base but I
do care about the African reaction when they see the Soviets pull
it off and we don't do anything.... The Chinese will say we're
a country that was run out of Indochina for 50,000 men and is
now being run out of Angola for less than $50 million....
The Secretary: It cannot be that our agreement with Indonesia
says that the arms are for internal purposes only. I think you
will find that it says that they are legitimately used for self-defense.
There are two problems. The merits of the case which you had
a duty to raise with me. The second is how to put these to me.
But to put it into a cable 30 hours before I return, knowing how
cables are handled in this building, guarantees that it will be
a national disaster and that transcends whatever [Deputy Legal
Adviser George] Aldrich has in his feverish mind.
I took care of it with the administrative thing by ordering
Carlyle [Maw] not to make any new sales.
How will the situation get better in six weeks?
Habib: They may get it cleaned up by then.
The Secretary: The Department is falling apart and has reached
the point where it disobeys clear cut orders.
Habib: We sent the cable because we thought it was needed
and we thought it needed your attention. This was ten days ago.
The Secretary: Nonsense. When did I get the cable, Jerry?
Bremer: Not before the weekend. I think perhaps on Sunday.
The Secretary: You had to know what my view on this was. No
one who has worked with me in the last two years could not know
what my view would be on Timor.
Habib: Well, let us look at it-talk to Leigh. There are still
some legal requirements. I can't understand why it went out if
it was not legally required.
The Secretary: Am I wrong in assuming that the Indonesians
will go up in smoke if they hear about this ?
Habib: Well, it's better than a cutoff. It could be done at
a low level.
The Secretary: We have four weeks before Congress comes back.
That's plenty of time.
Leigh: The way to handle the administrative cutoff would be
that we are studying the situation.
The Secretary: And 36 hours was going to be a major problem?
Leigh: We had a meeting in Sisco's office and decided to send
The Secretary: I know what the law is but how can it be in
the U.S. national interest for us to give up on Angola and kick
the Indonesians in the teeth? Once it is on paper, there will
be a lot of FSO-6's who can make themselves feel good who can
write for the Open Forum Panel on the thing even though I will
turn out to be right in the end.
Habib: The second problem on leaking of cables is different.
The Secretary: No it's an empirical fact.
Eagleburger: Phil, it's a fact. You can't say that any NODIS
["No Distribution": the most restricted level of classification]
cable will leak bur you can't count on three to six months later
someone asking for it in Congress. If it's part of the written
record, it will be dragged out eventually.
The Secretary: You have an obligation to the national interest.
l don't care if we sell equipment to Indonesia or not. l get nothing
from it. ~ get no rakeoff. But you have an obligation to figure
out how to serve your country. The Foreign Service is not to serve
itself. The Service stands for service to the United States and
not service to the Foreign Service.
Habib: I understand that that's what this cable would do.
The Secretary: The minute you put this into the system you
cannot resolve it without a finding.
Leigh: There's only one question. What do we say to Congress
if we're asked?
The Secretary: We cut it off while we are studying it. We
intend to start again in January.
Nobody, it must be said, comes out of this meeting especially
well; the secretary's civil servants were anything but "pristine."
Still it can be noted of Kissinger that, in complete contrast
to his public statements, he (1) forbore from any mention of Goa,
(2) did not trouble to conceal his long-held views on the matter,
berating his underlings for being so dense as not to know them;
(3) did not affect to be taken by surprise by events in East Timor;
(4) admitted that he was breaking the law; and (5) felt it necessary
to deny that he could profit personally from the arms shipments,
a denial for which nobody had asked him.
That Kissinger understood Portugal's continuing legal sovereignty
in East Timor is shown by a NODIS memorandum of a Camp David meeting
between himself, General Suharto, and President Ford on the preceding
July 5,1975. Almost every line of the text has been deleted by
official redaction, and much of the discussion is un-illuminating
except about the eagerness of the administration to supply naval,
air, and military equipment to the junta, but at one point, just
before Kissinger makes his entrance, President Ford asks his guest:
"Have the Portuguese set a date yet for allowing the Timor
people to make their choice?" The entire answer is obliterated
by deletion, but let it never be said that Kissinger's State Department
did not know that Portugal was entitled, indeed mandated, to hold
a free election for the Timorese. It is improbable that Suharto,
in the excised answer, was assuring his hosts that such an open
election would be won by candidates favoring annexation by Indonesia.
On November 9, 1979, lack Anderson's syndicated column published
an interview with ex-President Ford on East Timor along with a
number of classified U.S. intelligence documents relating to the
1975 aggression. One of the latter papers describes how Indonesia's
generals were pressing Suharto "to authorize direct military
intervention," while another informs Ford and Kissinger that
Suharto would raise the East Timor issue at their December 1975
meeting and would "try and elicit a sympathetic attitude."
The relatively guileless Ford was happy to tell Anderson that
the American national interest "had to be on the side of
Indonesia." He may or may not have been aware that he F was
thereby giving the lie to everything ever said by Kissinger on
A WET JOB IN WASHINGTON?
As we have now seen, Kissinger has a j' tendency to personalize
his politics. His policies have led directly and deliberately
to the deaths of anonymous hundreds of thousands but have also
involved the targeting of certain inconvenient individuals: General
Schneider, Archbishop Makarios, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. And, as
we have also more than once glimpsed, Kissinger has a special
relish for localized revenge.
It seems possible that these two tendencies converge in a
single case: a plan to kidnap and murder Elias P. Demetracopoulos,
a distinguished Greek journalist with an unexampled record of
opposition to the dictatorship that disfigured his homeland between
1967 and 1974. In the course of those years, he made his home
in Washington, D.C., supporting himself as a consultant to a respected
Wall Street firm. Innumerable senators, congressmen, Hill staffers,
diplomats, and reporters have testified to the extraordinary one
man campaign of lobbying and information that he waged against
the military gangsters who had usurped power in Athens. Since
that same junta enjoyed the sympathy of powerful interests in
Washington, Demetracopoulos was compelled to combat on two fronts,
and he made some influential enemies.
After the collapse of the Greek dictatorship in 1974, Demetracopoulos
gained access to the secret police files in Athens and confirmed
what he had long suspected: there had been more than one attempt
made to kidnap and eliminate him. Files held by the KYP-the Greek
equivalent of the CIA-revealed that the then dictator, Georgios
Papadopoulos, and his deputy security chief Michael Roufougalis,
several times contacted the Greek military mission in Washington
with precisely this end in view. Stamped with the words "COSMIC:
Eyes Only"-the highest Greek security classification-this
traffic involved a plethora of schemes. They had in common a desire
to see Demetracopoulos snatched from Washington and repatriated.
An assassination in Washington might have been embarrassing; moreover,
there seems to have been a need to interrogate Demetracopoulos
before dispatching him. One proposal was to smuggle Demetracopoulos
aboard a Greek civilian airliner; another, to put him on a Greek
military plane; and still another, to get him aboard a submarine.
If it were not for the proven record of irrationality and mania
among the leaders of the junta, one might be tempted to dismiss
at least the third of these plans as a fantasy.
One sentence in particular stands out in the COSMIC cables:
WE CAN RELY ON THE COOPERATION OF THE VARIOUS AGENCIES OF
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, BUT ESTIMATE THE CONGRESSIONAL REACTION TO
Seeking to discover what kind of "cooperation" this
might have been, Demetracopoulos in 1976 engaged an attorney-William
A. Dobrovir of the D.C. firm of Dobrovir, Oakes, Gebhardt and
Scull-and brought suit under the Freedom of Information Act and
the Privacy Act. He was able to obtain many hundreds of documents
from the FBI, the CIA, and the State Department, as well as from
the Department of Justice and the Pentagon. A number of these
papers indicated that copies had been furnished to the National
Security Council, then the domain of Henry Kissinger. But requests
for documentation from this source were unavailing. As previously
noted, Kissinger had upon leaving office made a hostage of his
own papers-copying them, classifying them as "personal,"
and deeding them to the Library of Congress on condition that
they be held privately. Thus Demetracopoulos was met with a stone
wall when he used the law to try and prise anything from the NSC.
In March 1977, however, the NSC finally responded to repeated
legal initiatives by releasing the skeletal "computer indices"
of the files that had been kept on Demetracopoulos. Paging through
these, his attention was not unnaturally caught by the following:
7024513 DOCUMENT= 5 OF 5 PAGE = 1 OF 1
KEYWORDS ACKNOWLEDGING SENS MOSS BURDICK GRAVEL RE MR DEMETRACOPOULOS
DEATH IN ATHENS PRISON DATE 701718
"Well, it's not every day," said Demetracopoulos
when I interviewed him, "that you read about your own death
in a state document." His attorney was bound to agree, and
he wrote a series of letters to Kissinger asking for copies of
the file to which the indices referred. For several years Kissinger
declined to favor Demetracopoulos's lawyer with a reply. When
eventually he did respond, it was only through his own lawyer,
who wrote that efforts were made to search the collection for
copies of documents which meet the description provided. . . .
No such copies could be found.
"Efforts were made" is, of course, a piece of obfuscation
that might describe the most perfunctory inquiry. We are therefore
left with the question: Did Kissinger know of, or approve, or
form a part of, that "cooperation of the various agencies
of the U.S. Government" on which foreign despots had been
counting for a design of kidnapping, torture, and execution?
To begin with an obvious question: Why should a figure of
Kissinger's stature either know about, or care about, the existence
of a lone dissident journalist? This question is quite easily
answered: the record shows that Kissinger knew very well who Demetracopoulos
was and detested him. The two men had actually met in Athens in
1956, when Demetracopoulos had hosted a luncheon at the Grand
Bretagne Hotel for the visiting professor. Over the next decade
Demetracopoulos had been prominent among those warning of, and
resisting, a military intervention in Greek politics. The CIA
generally favored such an intervention and maintained intimate
connections with those who were planning it. In November 1963
the director of the CIA, John McCone, signed an internal message
asking for "any substantive derogatory data which can be
utilized to deny [Demetracopoulos] subsequent entry to U.S."
No such derogatory information was available, and when the coup
came Demetracopoulos was able to settle in Washington, D.C., and
begin his exile campaign.
He began it auspiciously enough, by supplying his own derogatory
information about the Nixon and Agnew campaign of 1968. This campaign-
already tainted badly enough by the betrayal of the Vietnam peace
negotiations-was also receiving illegal donations from the Greek
military dictatorship. The money came from Michael Roufougalis
at the KYP and was handed over, in cash, to John Mitchell by an
ultra-conservative Greek-American businessman named Thomas Pappas.
The sum involved was $549,000, a considerable amount by the standards
of the day. Its receipt was doubly illegal: foreign governments
are prohibited from making campaign donations (as are foreigners
in general), and, given that the KYP was in receipt of CIA subsidies,
there existed the further danger that American intelligence money
was being recycled back into the American political process-in
direct violation of the ClA's own charter.
Demetracopoulos took his findings to Larry O'Brien, chairman
of the Democratic National Committee, who issued a call for an
inquiry into the activities of Pappas and the warm relations existing
between the Nixon-Agnew campaign and the Athens junta. A number
of historians have since speculated as to whether it was evidence
of this "Greek connection," with its immense potential
for damage, that Nixon and Mitchell's burglars were seeking when
they entered O'Brien's Watergate office under the cover of night.
Considerable weight is lent to this view by one salient fact:
when the Nixon White House was seeking "hush money"
for the burglars, it turned to Thomas Pappas to provide it.
Elias Demetracopoulos's dangerous knowledge of this guilty
secret, and his incessant lobbying on the Hill and in the press
against Nixon and Kissinger's client regime in Athens, drew unwelcome
attention. He later sued both the FBI and the CIA-becoming the
first person ever to do so successfully-and received written admissions
from both agencies that they possessed "no derogatory information"
about him. In the course of these suits, he also secured an admission
from then FBI director William Webster that he had been under
"rather extensive" surveillance on and between the following
dates: November 9,1967, and October 2,1969; August 25,1971, and
March 14, 1973; and February 19 and October 24, 1974.
Unaware of the precise extent of this surveillance, Demetracopoulos
nonetheless more than once found himself brushed by a heavy hand.
On September 7, 1971, he had lunch at Washington's fashionable
Jockey Club with Nixon's chief henchman, Murray Chotiner, who
told him bluntly, "Lay off Pappas. You can be in trouble.
You can be deported. It's not smart politics. You know Tom Pappas
is a friend of the President." The next month, on October
27, 1971, Demetracopoulos was lunching with Robert Novak at Sans
Souci and was threatened by Pappas himself, who came over from
an adjacent table to tell him and Novak that he could make trouble
for anyone who wanted him investigated. On the preceding July
12, Demetracopoulos had testified before the European subcommittee
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Congressman
Benjamin Rosenthal of New York, about the influence of Pappas
on U.S. foreign policy and the Athens dictatorship (and vice versa).
Before his oral testimony could be printed, a Justice Department
lawyer appeared at the subcommittee's office and demanded a copy
of the statement. Demetracopoulos had then, on September 17, furnished
a memorandum on Pappas's activities to the same subcommittee.
His written deposition closed with the words, "Finally, I
have submitted separately to the subcommittee items of documentary
evidence which I believe will be useful." This statement,
wrote Rowland Evans and Robert Novak in their syndicated column,
caused "extreme nervousness in the Nixon White House."
Demetracopoulos then received a letter from Louise Gore. Ms.
Gore has since become more celebrated as the cousin of Vice President
Al Gore and the proprietress of the Fairfax Hotel in Washington,
D.C., where the boy politician grew up. She was then quite celebrated
in her own right, as a Republican state senator from Maryland
and as the woman who introduced Spiro Agnew to Richard Nixon.
She was a close friend of Attorney General Mitchell's and had
been appointed as Nixon's representative to UNESCO. Demetracopoulos
lived, along with many congressmen and political types, as a tenant
of an apartment in her hotel. He had also been a friend since
1959. On January 24, 1972, she wrote to him,
I went to Perle's [Perle Mesta's] luncheon for Martha Mitchell
yesterday and sat next to John. He is furious at you-and your
testimony against Pappas. He kept threatening to have you deported!!
At first I tried to ask him if he had any reason to think
you could be deported and he didn't have any answer-But then tried
to counter by asking me what I knew about you and why we were
It really got out of hand. It was all he'd talk about during
lunch and everyone at the table was listening . . .
Among those present at the table were George Bush, then ambassador
to the United Nations, and numerous other diplomats. The attorney
general's lack of restraint and want of tact, on such an occasion,
and at the very table of legendary hostess Perle Mesta, were clearly
symptomatic of a considerable irritation, even rage.
I have related this background in order to show that Demetracopoulos
was under surveillance, that he possessed information highly damaging
to an important Nixon-Kissinger client, and that his identity
was well known to those in power, in both Washington and Athens.
Henry Tasca, the United States ambassador in Athens at the time,
was a Nixon and Kissinger crony with a very lenient attitude toward
the dictatorship. (He later testified before a closed session
of Congress that he had known of the 1968 payments by the Greek
secret police to the Nixon campaign.) In July 1971, shortly after
Demetracopoulos testified before Congressman Rosenthal's subcommittee,
Tasca sent a four-page secret cable from Athens. It began:
FOR SOME TIME I HAVE FELT THAT ELIAS DEMETRACOPOULOS IS HEAD
OF A WELL-ORGANIZED CONSPIRACY WHICH DESERVES SERIOUS lNVESTIGATION.
WE HAVE SEEN HOW EFFECTIVE HE HAS BEEN IN COMBATING OUR PRESENT
POLICY IN GREECE. HIS AIM IS TO DAMAGE OUR RELATIONS WITH GREECE,
LOOSEN OUR NATO ALLIANCE AND WEAKEN THE U.S. SECURITY POSITION
IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN.
This was certainly taking Demetracopoulos seriously. So were
the closing paragraphs, which read,
I AM THEREFORE BRINGING THE MATTER TO YOUR PERSONAL ATTENTION
IN THE HOPE THAT A WAY WILL BE FOUND TO STEP UP AN INVESTIGATION
OF DEMETRACOPOULOS TO IDENTIFY HIS SPONSORS, HIS SOURCES OF FUNDS,
HIS INTENTIONS, HIS METHODS OF WORK AND HIS FELLOW CONSPIRATORS....
I BRING THIS MATTER TO YOUR ATTENTION NOW, BELIEVING THAT
AS AN ALIEN RESIDENT IN THE UNITED STATES IT MAY BE POSSIBLE TO
SUBMIT HIM TO THE KIND OF SEARCHING AND PROFESSIONAL FBI INVESTIGATION
WHICH WOULD LIFT SOME OF THE MYSTERY.
The cable was addressed, as is usual from an ambassador, to
Secretary of State William Rogers. Yet it was also addressed-highly
unusually-to Attorney General John Mitchell. Mitchell, as we have
seen, was the only attorney general ever to serve on Henry Kissinger's
supervisory 40 Committee.
The State Department duly urged that "the Department
of Justice do everything possible to see if we can make a Foreign
Agents case, or any kind of a case for that matter" against
Demetracopoulos. Of course, as was later admitted, these investigations
turned up nothing, as Demetracopoulos's influence did not derive
from any sinister source or nexus. But when he said that the Greek
dictatorship had trampled its own society, used censorship and
torture, threatened Cyprus, and bought itself political influence
in Washington, he was uttering potent truths. Nixon himself confirmed
the connection between the junta and Pappas and Tasca on a post-Watergate
White House tape dated May 23, 1973. He is talking to his renowned
confidential secretary, Rose Mary Woods:
Good old Tom Pappas, as you probably know or heard, if you
haven't already heard, it is true, helped, at Mitchell's request,
fundraising for some of the defendants.... He came up to see me
on March 7th, Pappas did. Pappas came to see me about the ambassador
to Greece, that he wanted to-he wanted to keep [Henry] Tasca there.
This same dictatorship had in June 1970 revoked Demetracopoulos's
Greek citizenship, so he was a stateless person traveling only
on a flimsy document giving him leave to reenter the United States.
This fact assumed its own importance in December 1970, when his
blind father was dying of pneumonia, alone, in Athens. Demetracopoulos
sought permission to return home under a safe conduct, or laissez-passer,
and was able to enlist numerous congressional friends in the attempt.
Among those who signed a letter, dated December 11, to the Greek
government and to Ambassador Tasca were Senators Frank E. Moss
of Utah, Quentin N. Burdick of North Dakota, and Mike Gravel of
Alaska. Senators Kennedy and Fulbright also expressed a personal
Neither the Athens regime nor Tasca replied directly, but
on December 20, four days after the old man had died without seeing
his only son, Senators Moss, Burdick, and Gravel received a telegram
from the Greek Embassy in Washington. This instructed them that
Demetracopoulos should have applied in person to the embassy-
an odd demand to make of a man whose passport and citizenship
had just been canceled by the dictatorship. Meanwhile, Demetracopoulos
received a telephone call at his home, from Senator Kennedy, advising
him not to accept any safe-conduct offer from Greece even if he
was offered it. Had Demetracopoulos presented himself at the junta's
embassy, he might well have been detained and kidnapped, in accordance
with one of the plans we now know had been readied for his "disappearance."
Of course, such a scheme would have been extremely difficult to
carry out in the absence of some "cooperation" from
local American intelligence officials.
Declassified cable traffic between Ambassador Tasca in Athens
and Kissinger's deputy, Joseph Sisco, at the State Department
shows that Senator Kennedy's misgivings were amply justified.
In a cable dated December 14, 1970, from Sisco to Tasca, the ambassador
IF GOG [Government of Greece] PERMITS DEMETRACOPOULOS TO
ENTER, QUITE CLEARLY WE MUST AVOID BEING PUT IN A POSITION OF
GUARANTEEING ANY ASSURANCES THAT HE MAY HAVE OF BEING ABLE TO
Concurring with this extraordinary statement, Tasca added
that there was a possibility of Senator Gravel attending the funeral
of Demetracopoulos Sr. Elias, wrote the ambassador,
UNDOUBTEDLY HOPES TO EXPLOIT SENATOR'S VISIT BY PROVIDING
SOME WAY OF PROVING THAT CONDITIONS HERE ARE AS REPRESSIVE AS
HE HAS BEEN REPRESENTING THEM TO BE. HE COULD EVEN TRY TO ARRANGE
FOR SOME MANIFESTATION OF VIOLENCE, SUCH AS A SMALL BOMB.
The absurdity of this-Demetracopoulos has no record whatsoever
of the advocacy or practice of violence-also has its sinister
side. Suggested here is just the sort of pretext that the junta
might need for a frame-up, or to cover up a "disappearance."
The entire correspondence reeks of the priorities of both the
embassy and the State Department, which reflect their contempt
for elected U.S. senators, their dislike of dissent, and their
need to gratify a group of Greek gangsters who are now rightly
serving terms of life imprisonment.
Now look again at the computer index disgorged, after years
of litigation, from Kissinger's NSC files. It bears the date of
December 18, 1970, and appears to apprise Senators Moss, Burdick,
and Gravel that Demetracopoulos had met his end in an Athens prison.
Was this a contingency plan? A cover story? As long as Dr. Kissinger
maintains his stubborn silence, and the control over his "private"
state papers, it will be impossible to determine.
Having avoided the trap that seems to have been set for him
in 1970, Demetracopoulos kept up his fusillade of leaks and disclosures,
aimed at discrediting the Greek junta and embarrassing its American
friends. He also warned of the junta's designs on the independence
of Cyprus and of American indifference to, or complicity in, that
policy. In this capacity he became a source of annoyance to Henry
Kissinger. In a Memorandum for the Record on a briefing presented
to President Gerald Ford in October 1974, there are references
to "derogatory traces from our files" about Demetracopoulos,
to "the derogatory blind memo" about him, and to "the
long Kissinger memo" on him. Once again, and despite repeated
requests from lawyers, Kissinger has declined to answer any queries
about the whereabouts of these papers, or to shed any light on
their contents. His National Security Council, however, asked
the FBI to amass any information that might discredit Demetracopoulos,
and between 1972 and 1974, according to papers since declassified,
the bureau furnished Kissinger with slanderous and false material
concerning, among other things, a romance that Demetracopoulos
was allegedly conducting with a woman now dead and a supposed
relationship between him and Daniel Ellsberg, a man he has never
This might seem trivial, were it not for the memoirs of Constantine
Panayotakos, the ambassador of the Greek junta to Washington,
D.C. Arriving to take up his post in February 1974, as the ambassador
wrote in his later memoirs, entitled In the First Line of Defense,
"I was informed about some . . . plans to kidnap and
transport Elias Demetracopoulos to Greece; plans which reminded
me of KGB methods.... On 29 May a document was transmitted to
me from Angelos Vlachos, Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry,
giving the views of the United States ambassador Henry Tasca,
which he agreed with, about the most efficient means of dealing
with the conspiracies and the whole activity of Demetracopoulos.
Tasca's views are included in a memorandum of conversation with
the Foreign Minister Spyridon Tetenes of 27 May.
Finally, another brilliant idea of the most brilliant members
of the Foreign Ministry in Athens, transmitted to me on 12 June,
was for me to seek useful advice on the extermination of Elias
Demetracopoulos from George Churchill, director of the Greek desk
at the State Department, who was one of his most vitriolic enemies.
Ambassador Panayotakos later wrote in a detailed letter, which
is in my possession, that he had direct knowledge of a plan to
abduct Demetracopoulos from Washington. His testimony is corroborated
by an affidavit, which I also possess, signed by Charalambos Papadopoulos.
Mr. Papadopoulos was at the time the political counselor to the
Greek Embassy-the number three position-and was bidden to lunch
at the nearby Jockey Club, in late May or early June of 1974,
by Ambassador Panayotakos and the assistant military attaché,
Lieutenant Colonel Sotiris Yiounis. At the lunch, Yiounis broached
the question of kidnapping Demetracopoulos, who was to be smuggled
aboard a Greek NATO submarine at a harbor in Virginia.
Papadopoulos, who was Greek ambassador to Pakistan at the
time he swore his affidavit, has since said that he was assured
that Henry Kissinger was fully aware of the proposed operation.
By that stage, the Greek junta had only a few weeks to live because
of its crimes in Cyprus. Since the fall of the dictatorship even
more extensive evidence of the junta's assassination plans has
been uncovered, if only at the Athenian end of the plot. But this
was not a regime that ever acted without Washington's "understanding."
Attempts to unearth more detail have also been made in Washington.
In 1975, Senators George McGovern and James Abourezk, seconded
by Congressman Don Edwards of the House Intelligence Committee,
asked Senator Frank Church to include the kidnapping plot against
Demetracopoulos in the investigative work of his famous committee
on U.S. intelligence. As first reported by the New York Times
and then confirmed by Seymour Hersh, Kissinger intervened personally
with Church, citing grave but unspecified matters of national
security, to have this aspect of the investigation shut down.
Some of this may seem fantastic, but we do know that Kissinger
was conducting a vendetta against Demetracopoulos (as was Ambassador
Henry Tasca); we do know that Kissinger was involved in high-level
collusion with the Greek junta and had advance knowledge of the
plot to assassinate Archbishop Makarios; and we do know that he
had used the American Embassy in Chile to smuggle weapons for
the contract killing of General Rene Schneider. The cover story
in that case, too, was that the hired guns were "only"
trying to kidnap him.
Thus the Demetracopoulos story, told here in full for the
first time, makes a prima facie case that Henry Kissinger was
at least aware of a plan to abduct and interrogate, and almost
certainly kill, a civilian and journalist in Washington, D.C.
In order to be cleared of the suspicion, and to explain the mysterious
reference to Demetracopoulos's death in his own archives, Kissinger
need only make those same archives at last accessible, or else
be subpoenaed to do so.
THE PROFIT MARGIN
In his furious meeting at the State Department on December
18, 1975, shortly after his moment of complicity with the Indonesian
generals over East Timor, Kissinger makes the following peculiar
"I don't care if we sell equipment to Indonesia or not.
I get nothing from it. I get no rakeoff."
One might have taken it for granted that a serving secretary
of state had no direct interest in the sale of weapons to a foreign
dictatorship; nobody at the meeting had suggested any such thing.
How peculiar that Kissinger should deny an allegation that had
not been made, answer a question that had not been asked.
It isn't possible to state with certainty when Kissinger began
to profit personally from his association with the ruling circles
in Indonesia, nor can it be definitely asserted that this profit
was part of any "understanding" that originated in 1975.
And yet there is a perfect congruence between Kissinger's foreign-policy
counsel and his own business connections. One might call it a
"harmony" of interests rather than a "conflict."
Six years after he left office, Kissinger set up a private
consulting firm named Kissinger Associates, which exists to smooth
and facilitate contact between multinational corporations and
foreign governments. The client list is secret, and contracts
with the "Associates" contain a clause prohibiting any
mention of the arrangement, but corporate clients include or have
included American Express, Shearson Lehman Hutton, Arco, Daewoo
of South Korea, H. J. Heinz, ITT, Lockheed Corporation, Anheuser-Busch,
the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Coca-Cola, Fiat, Revlon, Union
Carbide, and Midland Bank. Kissinger's initial fellow "associates"
were General Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, both of
whom had worked closely with him in the foreign-policy and national-security
branches of government.
Numerous instances of a harmony between this firm and Kissinger's
policy pronouncements can be cited. The best-known is probably
that of the People's Republic of China. Kissinger helped several
American conglomerates, notably H. J. Heinz, to gain access to
the Chinese market. As it was glowingly phrased by Anthony J.
F. O'ReilIy, CEO of Heinz,
"Kissinger and his associates make a real contribution,
and we think they are particularly helpful in countries with more
centrally planned economies, where the principal players and the
dynamics among the principal players are of critical importance.
This is particularly true in China, where he is a popular figure
and is viewed with particular respect.
On China, basically, we were well on our way to establishing
the baby-food presence there before Henry got involved. But once
we decided to move, he had practical points to offer, such as
on the relationship between Taiwan and Peking. He was helpful
in seeing that we did not take steps that would not have been
helpful in Peking. His relevance obviously varies from market
to market, but he's probably at his best in helping with contacts
in that shadowy world where that counts."
The Chinese term for this zone of shadowy transactions is
guanxi. In less judgmental American speech it would probably translate
as "access." Selling baby food in China may seem innocuous
enough, but when the Chinese regime turned its guns and tanks
on its own children in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it had no more
staunch defender than Henry Kissinger. Arguing very strongly against
sanctions, he wrote that "China remains too important for
America's national security to risk the relationship on the emotions
of the moment." Taking the Deng Xiaoping view of the democratic
turbulence, he added that "no government in the world would
have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied
for eight weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators." It
is perhaps just as well that Kissinger's services were not retained
by the Stalinist regimes of Romania, Czechoslovakia, and East
Germany, which succumbed to just such public insolence later in
the same year.
Nor was Kissinger's influence peddling confined to Heinz's
nutritious products. He assisted Atlantic Richfield/Arco in the
marketing of oil deposits discovered in China. He helped ITT (a
corporation that had once helped him to overthrow the elected
government of Chile) to hold a path-breaking board meeting in
Beijing, and he performed similar services for David Rockefeller
and the Chase Manhattan Bank, which held an international advisory
committee meeting in the Chinese capital and met with Deng himself.
Six months before the massacre in Tiananmen Square, Kissinger
set up a limited investment partnership named China Ventures,
of which he personally was chairman, CEO, and general partner.
Its brochure helpfully explained that CV involved itself only
with projects that "enjoy the unquestioned support of the
People's Republic of China." The move proved premature; the
climate for investment on the Chinese mainland soured after the
post-Tiananmen repression and the limited sanctions approved by
Congress. This no doubt contributed to Kissinger's irritation
at the criticism of Deng. But while China Ventures lasted, it
drew large commitments from American Express, Coca-Cola, Heinz,
and a large mining-and-extraction conglomerate named Freeport-McMoRan.
Many of Kissinger's most extreme acts and positions have been
taken, at least ostensibly, in the name of anti-Communism. So
it is amusing to find him exerting himself on behalf of a regime
that can guarantee safe investment by virtue of a one-party ideology,
a ban on trade unions, and a slave-labor prison system. Nor is
China the sole example here. When Lawrence Eagleburger left the
State Department in 1984, having been ambassador to Yugoslavia,
he became simultaneously a partner of Kissinger Associates; a
director of LBS Bank, a subsidiary of a bank then owned by the
Belgrade regime; and the American representative of the "Yugo"
mini-car. Yugo duly be came a client of Kissinger Associates,
as did a Yugoslav construction concern named Enerjoprojeckt. The
Yugo is of particular interest because it was produced by the
large state-run conglomerate that also functioned as Yugoslavia's
military-industrial and arms-manufacturing complex. This complex
was later seized by Slobodan Milosevic, along with the other sinews
of what had been the Yugoslav National Army, and used to prosecute
wars of aggression against four neighboring republics. At all
times during this protracted crisis, and somewhat out of step
with many of his usually hawkish colleagues, Henry Kissinger urged
a consistent policy of conciliation with the Milosevic regime.
(Mr. Eagleburger in due course rejoined the State Department as
deputy secretary and briefly became secretary of state. So it
Much the same can be said for the dual involvement of the
"Associates" with Saddam Hussein. When Saddam was riding
high in the late 1 980s, and having his way with the departments
of Commerce and Agriculture, and throwing money around like the
proverbial drunken sailor, and using poison gas and chemical weapons
on his Kurdish population without a murmur from Washington, the
U.S.-Iraq Business Forum provided a veritable fruit machine of
contacts, contracts, and opportunities. Kissinger's partner Alan
Stoga, who had also been the economist attached to his Reagan-era
Commission on Central America, featured noticeably on a junket
to Baghdad. At the same time, Kissinger's firm represented the
shady Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, which was later shown
to have made illegal loans to Saddam's Baathist regime.
In the same year-1989-Kissinger made his lucrative connection
with Freeport-McMoRan, a globalized firm based in New Orleans.
Its business is the old-fashioned one of extracting oil, gas,
and minerals. Its chairman, James Moffett, has probably earned
the favorite titles bestowed by the business and financial pages,
being beyond any doubt "flamboyant," "buccaneering,"
and a "venture capitalist." In 1989, Freeport paid Kissinger
Associates a retainer of $200,000 and fees of $600,000, not to
mention a promise of a 2 percent commission on future capital
investments made with the Associates' advice. Freeport also made
Kissinger a member of its board of directors at an annual salary
of at least $30,000. In 1990 the two concerns went into business
in Burma, the most grimly repressive state in all of South Asia.
Freeport would drill for oil and gas, according to the agreement,
and Kissinger's other client Daewoo would build the plant. That
year, however, the Burmese generals, under their wonderful collective
title of SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council), lost
a popular election to the democratic opposition, led by Aung San
Suu Kyi, and decided to annul the result. This development-yet
more irritating calls for the isolation of the Burmese junta-was
unfavorable to the Kissinger Freeport-Daewoo triad, and the proposal
But the next year, in March 1991, Kissinger was back in Indonesia
with Mr. Moffett, closing a deal for a thirty-year license to
continue exploiting a gigantic gold-and-copper mine. The mine
is of prime importance for three reasons. First, it was operated
as part of a joint venture with the Indonesian military government
and with that government's maximum leader. Second, it is located
on the island of Irian Jaya (in an area formerly known as West
Irian), a part of the archipelago that, like East Timor, is only
Indonesian by right of arbitrary conquest. Third, its operations
commenced in 1973-two years before Henry Kissinger visited Indonesia
and helped unleash the Indonesian bloodbath in East Timor while
unlocking a flow of weaponry to his future business partners.
This could mean no more than the "harmony of interest"
I suggested above. No more, in other words, than a happy coincidence.
What is not coincidental is the following:
( 1 ) Freeport's enormous Grasberg mine in Irian Jaya stands
accused of creating an environmental and social catastrophe. In
October 1995 the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC),
a federal body that exists to help American companies overseas,
decided to cancel Freeport's investment insurance because of political
risk, the very element on which Kissinger had furnished soothing
assurances in 1991. OPIC concluded that Freeport's mine had "created
and continues to pose unreasonable or major environmental, health
or safety hazards with respect to the rivers that are being impacted
by the tailings, the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem, and the
(2) The "local inhabitants" who came last on that
list are the Amungme people, whose protests at the environmental
rape, and at working conditions in the mine, were met by Indonesian
regular soldiers at the service of Freeport-McMoRan and under
the orders of Suharto. In March 1996 large-scale rioting nearly
closed the mine at a cost of four deaths and many injuries.
Freeport-McMoRan mounted an intense lobbying campaign in Washington,
with Kissinger's help, to get its OPIC insurance reinstated. The
price was the creation of a trust fund of $100 million for the
repair of the Grasberg site after it, and its surrounding ecology,
has eventually been picked clean. All of this became moot with
the overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship, the detention of Suharto
himself, and the unmasking of an enormous nexus of "crony
capitalism" involving him, his family, his military colleagues,
and certain favored multinational corporations.
This political revolution also restored, at incalculable human
cost, the independence of East Timor. There was even a suggestion
of a war crimes inquiry and a human-rights tribunal to settle
some part of the account for the years of genocide and occupation.
Once again, Henry Kissinger has had to scan the news with anxiety
and wonder whether even worse revelations are in store for him.
It will be a national and international disgrace if the answer
to this question is left to the pillaged and misgoverned people
of Indonesia, rather than devolving onto an American Congress
that has for so long shirked its proper responsibility.
The subject awaits its magistrate.
A NOTE ON THE LAW
As Henry Kissinger now understands, /~ there are increasingly
noticeable rents ,L. and tears in the cloak of immunity that has
shrouded him until now. Recent evolutions in national and international
law have made his position an exposed and, indeed, a vulnerable
one. For convenience, the distinct areas of law may be grouped
under four main headings:
1) International Human Rights Law. This comprises the grand
and sonorous covenants on the rights of the individual in relation
to the state; it also protects the individual from other actors
in the international community who might violate those rights.
Following from the French Revolution's "Declaration of the
Rights of Man," international human-rights law holds that
political associations are legitimate only insofar as they preserve
the dignity and well-being of individuals, a view that challenges
the realpolitik privilege given to the "national interest."
The United States is directly associated with sponsoring many
of these covenants and has ratified several others.
2) The Law of Armed Conflict. Somewhat protean and uneven,
this represents the gradual emergence of a legal consensus on
what is, and what is not, permissible during a state of war. It
also comprises the various humanitarian agreements that determine
the customary "law of war" and that attempt to reduce
the oxymoronic element in this ancient debate.
3) International Criminal Law. This concerns any individual,
including an agent of any state, who commits direct arid grave
atrocities against either his "own" citizens or those
of another state; covered here are genocide, crimes against humanity,
and other crimes of war. The Rome Statute, which also establishes
an International Criminal Court for the trial of individuals,
including governmental offenders, is the codified summa of this
law as revised and updated since the Nuremberg precedent. It commands
the signatures of most governments as well as, since December
31, 2000, that of the United States.
4) Domestic Law and the Law of Civil Remedies. Most governments
have similar laws that govern crimes such as murder, kidnapping,
and larceny, and many of them treat any offender from any country
as the same. These laws in many cases permit a citizen of any
country to seek redress in the courts of the offender's "host"
country or country of citizenship. In United States law, one particularly
relevant statute is the Alien Tort Claims Act.
The United States is the most generous in granting immunity
to itself and partial immunity to its servants, and the most laggard
in adhering to international treaties (ratifying the Genocide
Convention only in 1988 and signing the Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights only in 1992). And the provisions of the Rome
Statute, which would expose Kissinger to dire punishment if they
had been law from as early as 1968 are not retroactive. The Nuremberg
principles, however, were in that year announced by an international
convention to have no statute of limitations. International customary
law would allow any signatory country (again exempting the United
States) to bring suit against Kissinger for crimes against humanity
More importantly, United States federal courts have been found
able to exercise jurisdiction over crimes such as assassination,
kidnapping, and terrorism, even when these are supposedly protected
by the doctrine of state or sovereign immunity. Of a number of
landmark cases, the most salient one is the finding of the D.C.
Circuit Court in 1980, concerning the car-bomb murder, by Pinochet's
agents, of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt. The court held
that "[w]hatever policy options may exist for a foreign country,"
the Pinochet regime "has no 'discretion' to perpetrate conduct
designed to result in the assassination of an individual or individuals,
action that is clearly contrary to the precepts of humanity as
recognized in both national and international law." Reciprocally
speaking, this would apply to an American official seeking to
assassinate a Chilean. Assassination was illegal both as a private
and a public act when Henry Kissinger was in power and when the
attacks on General Schneider of Chile and President Makarios of
Cyprus took place.
As the Hinchey report to Congress in 2000 now demonstrates
that U.S. government agents were knowingly party to acts of torture,
murder, and "disappearance" by Pinochet's death squads,
Chilean citizens will be able to bring suit in America under the
Alien Tort Claims Act, which grants U.S. federal courts "subject-matter
jurisdiction" over a claim when a non-U.S. citizen sues for
a civil wrong committed in violation of a U.S. treaty or other
international law. Chilean relatives of the "disappeared"
and of General Schneider have recently expressed an intention
to do so, and I am advised by several international lawyers that
Henry Kissinger would indeed be liable under such proceedings.
The Alien Tort Claims Act would also permit victims in other
countries, such as Bangladesh or Cambodia, to seek damages from
Kissinger, on the model of the recent lawsuit filed in New York
against Li Peng, among the Chinese Communist officials most accountable
for the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square.
A significant body of legal theory can be /' brought to bear
on the application of "customary law" to the bombardment
of civilians in Indochina. The Genocide Convention was not ratified
by the United States until 1988. In 1951, however, it was declared
by the International Court of Justice to be customary international
law. The work of the International Law Commission is in full agreement
with this view. There would be argument over whether the numberless
victims were a "protected group" under existing law,
and also as to whether their treatment was sufficiently indiscriminate,
but such argument would place heavy burdens on the defense as
well as the prosecution.
An important recent development is the enforcement by third
countries-most notably Spain-of the international laws that bind
all states. Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who initiated the
successful prosecution of General Pinochet, has also secured the
detention in Mexico of the Argentine torturer Ricardo Miguel Cavallo,
who is now held in prison awaiting extradition. The parliament
of Belgium has recently empowered Belgian courts to exercise jurisdiction
over war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention committed
anywhere in the world by a citizen of any country. This practice,
which is on the increase, has at minimum the effect of limiting
the ability of certain people to travel or to avoid extradition.
The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany have all recently
employed the Geneva Conventions to prosecute war criminals for
actions committed against non-nationals by non-nationals. The
British House of Lords decision in the matter of Pinochet has
also decisively negated the defense of "sovereign immunity"
for acts committed by a government or by those following a government's
orders. This has led in turn to Pinochet's prosecution in his
There remains the question of American law. Kissinger himself
admits that he knowingly broke the law in continuing to supply
American weapons to Indonesia, which used them to violate the
neutrality of a neighboring territory and to perpetrate gross
crimes against humanity. Kissinger also faces legal trouble over
his part in the ethnic cleansing of the British colonial island
of Diego Garcia in the early 1970s, when indigenous inhabitants
were displaced to make room for a United States military base.
Lawyers for the Chagos Islanders have already won a judgment in
the British courts on this matter, which now moves to a hearing
in the United States. The torts cited are "forced relocation,
torture, and genocide."
In this altered climate, the United States faces an interesting
dilemma. At any moment, one of its most famous citizens may be
found liable for terrorist actions under the Alien Tort Claims
Act, or may be subject to an international request for extradition,
or may be arrested if he travels to a foreign country, or may
be cited for crimes against humanity by a court in an allied nation.
The non-adherence by the United States to certain treaties and
its reluctance to extradite make it improbable that American authorities
would cooperate with such actions, though this would gravely undermine
the righteousness with which Washington addresses other nations
on the subject of human rights. There is also the option of bringing
Kissinger to justice in an American court with an American prosecutor.
Again the contingency seems a fantastically remote one, but, again,
the failure to do so would expose the country to a much more obvious
charge of double standards than would have been apparent even
two years ago.
The burden therefore rests with the American legal community
and with the American human-rights lobbies and non-governmental
organizations. They can either persist in averting their gaze
from the egregious impunity enjoyed by a notorious war criminal
and lawbreaker or they can become seized by the exalted standards
to which they continually hold everyone else. The current state
of suspended animation, however, cannot last. If the courts and
lawyers of this country will not do their duty, we shall watch
as the victims and survivors of this man pursue justice and vindication
in their own dignified and painstaking way, and at their own expense,
and we shall be put to shame.
Christopher Hitchens, formerly Washington editor of Harper's
Magazine, is the author of books on the Cyprus crisis Kurdistan,
Palestine, and the Anglo-American relationship. He is a regular
columnist for Vanity Fair and The Nation.