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
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
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
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.