Kissinger's Crimes

How Dr. Henry Kissinger orchestrated global repression

by Nora King

CovertAction Quarterly, April / June 2001


Some stones tossed in the pond make an amazing splash. Weight, not luster, causes the best splashes, and so it is with Christopher Hitchens' slim new volume, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, whose weight is in the gravity of the human loss it documents.

Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and East Timor stand out for the sheer casualty numbers, Chile and Cyprus for the conniving and intrigue.

Timing is everything, and Hitchens has the luck of a publication coinciding with public realization that Bill Clinton had actually signed the Rome Accord, facilitating the extradition of war criminals based in the U.S.. Although the publication date for Trial is May 2001, Hitchens serialized his book in Harpers magazine in the February and March 2001 issues, and the editions sold out.

... I saw a most remarkable interview with Henry Kissinger by Elizabeth Farnsworth on February 20, 2001 on PBS' Jim Lehrer News Hour. As part two of the Harpers series hit the newsstands, Kissinger faced a woman he had spied on in her youth and whose friends and fellow journalists were killed, imprisoned and tortured during his watch.

Farnsworth, a congenial and upbeat reporter for the most part, was extremely sober as she asked probing questions about his thoughts on the overthrow of Allende in 1973. Kissinger actually said that he and Nixon were "adolescent" and that he would not play it the same on second look.

For a man who has, to my knowledge, barely mentioned Chile in his own writings, he looked appropriately troubled as he mumbled and looked down. Ever watchful of his reputation, he would never have granted such an interview had Hitchens not pressed forward with Trial as a magazine nail-biter.

Damning though Trial is, it doesn't chronicle the true extent of Kissinger's crimes.

The U.S. was also extremely active in covert actions to stop U.S. citizens breaking out of our homegrown apartheid while we fought bloodthirsty policies. As on other continents, some paid with their lives, many with their freedom or health. There was plenty of suffering here, some having to do with Operation CHAOS, the CIA's illegal spying on domestic activists from 1967 until discovery by Congresswoman Bella Abzug in 1976. When she called the then CIA chief (later President) George Bush and challenged him about it, he admitted the CIA had over-reached its legal authority.

What about Africa? The war in Angola was a hastily manufactured war using Africans to play psychological warfare with the Soviets and to my mind cannot be overlooked. CIA Angola Task Force leader John Stockwell left the agency in disgust to write In Search of Enemies because the decision to make an illegal war was based on a Kissinger underling interpreting a grunt by the good doctor.

Some African governments implored the U.S. not to assign some of their CIA agents, because they knew what it meant to have a coup team come to town. The violent death of 21 year old student leader Steven Biko and other crimes of South African apartheid in which CIA was complicit can now be extensively explored using the South African truth and reconciliation provisions.

What about Horman v. Kissinger? Joyce Horman sued Henry Kissinger for $4.9 million and information on the murder in Chile of her husband, American journalist Charles Horman.

Joyce Horman's case against Henry Kissinger was filed in 1977 after four years searching for answers about her husband's brutal murder in 1973.

Over time, bits and pieces have come out and the picture emerged of an ugly conspiracy to silence her husband for his knowledge of U.S. involvement in the ambush killing of Constitutionalist General Rene Schneider. The Schneider assassination is the focus of the Chile section in Trial.

As told in the 1980 film "Missing," Charles Horman had only recently completed his research into the U.S. role in Schneider's killing when he was kidnapped off the street in front of neighbors on September 17, 1973. He had been on a story in Valparaiso when the coup began, and the Americans around him were a bit too forthcoming about the U.S. role, not knowing at first who Charles was.

Chile hadn't seen a political killing in a hundred years, but Charles had been a civil rights activist and an anti-war activist before his 1972 foray into Chile. He had seen the evil of the stolen vote, the abused soldier, the sinister gunman before and recognized it, with his filmmaker's nose for a story. Charles was an idealist, like many others who died that year.

Horman v. Kissinger names a number of other U.S. officials, including Nathaniel Davis, who was Kissinger's man at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, and who was promoted after the coup to become an undersecretary of state. He was rewarded for being a coup team player, well able to come in to keep his own spoon in the pot on the old cable traffic before it might reach the inquiring mind of a congressperson.

When the D.C. District Court judge ruled in Horman v. Kissinger to dismiss without prejudice in 1980, this meant that Kissinger et al and their lawyers failed to refute the Horman family claim that the U.S. knew of the coup at least 18 hours in advance. While Joyce Horman is still seeking declassification of many of the documents from the government which are still classified almost 30 years later, the ones now declassified seem to bear out her claim.

Discovery is now underway in Chile in Joyce's Chilean case and in many other cases sparked by the return of democracy's sense of accountability to those who have suffered at the hands of torture.

When Chile's files on the seventies are married with our own, it is reasonable to expect that valid evidence will emerge to show cause for reopening Horman v. Kissinger in the D.C. District Court. Kind of like the German folk tale about a bone, thrown by a tyrant under a tree, which with the vicissitudes of time becomes a flute which sings of the wrongs done to the ones who fell for the love of justice.

If the Trail of Henry Kissinger leads to the trial of Henry Kissinger, we need to hone the questions down, paint with a less broad brush. How about, for instance:

QUESTION: Dr. Kissinger, did you approve, or did anyone under your order authorize, the use of USAF B57 LIC#63103289 in the overthrow of the legally elected government of Chile in September of 1973?

QUESTION: Did you, Dr. Kissinger, authorize the use of smart bombs or rockets in the overthrow of the Chilean government, as aerial reconnaissance photo analyst Tim Butz indicated in February 1974?

QUESTION: Dr. Kissinger, why the dictators, why?


Nora King is a freelance journalist and visual artist who was overtly surveilled by Kissinger and friends in her youth and now lives with her pit bull in a large urban area.

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