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Campaign to Force Disclosure yields 700

National Security Archive Applauds White House; Denounces CIA Censorship

Washington D.C.:  Under pressure from the
Clinton White House and human rights groups, the CIA has agreed to release more
than 700 documents on covert operations in Chile that the Directorate of
Operations had refused to declassify last August
, according to the
non-profit foreign policy center, the National Security Archive.  The CIA
documents have already been turned over to the Department of State for final
processing and are slated to be publicly released on November 13.

The Agency records are part of a special
“Chile Declassification Project” ordered by President Clinton in February
1999.  To date, some 7000 records, mostly from the State Department have
been declassified.  The final release on November 13 is expected to yield
another 11,000 State and Defense Department documents, most of them covering
the final 12 years of the Pinochet dictatorship.   Besides the 700 on
covert action, the CIA is expected to release an additional 800 records that
include intelligence reporting on the September 1976 assassination of Orlando
Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, and other activities of the Pinochet regime and its

The lack of CIA compliance with President
Clinton’s mandate to declassify records on human rights violations, political
violence and terrorism, has plagued the declassification project.  After
failing to release a single document on U.S. covert operations in Chile and
ties to Pinochet’s repression, the CIA did agree last fall to search its files
for such records.  After more than 700 documents had been gathered,
reviewed and censored, however, officials at the Directorate of Operations
refused to release the records last August on the grounds that they would
reveal “a pattern of activity” the CIA uses against other nations.  The
final declassification, originally scheduled for September 14, was postponed as
White House officials pressed the CIA to comply.

“This is a partial victory for openness over
secrecy,” said Peter Kornbluh, a specialist on Chile at the National Security
Archive, who credited the White House “with coercing the CIA to uphold a
principle of our democracy—the right-to-know.” Kornbluh noted however that
because the CIA records would be so heavily blacked out, much of the historical
record would continue to be withheld.  “The CIA,” he said, “is continuing
to hide still relevant history from U.S. and Chilean citizens alike.  The
road to a full accounting of covert operations in Chile is paved with

This CIA document, a two page memo from
Director William Colby to Henry Kissinger written twelve days after the coup,
summarizes covert operations against the Allende government. The document,
declassified in 1980 in response to a FOIA lawsuit, has been heavily censored;
major portions of this history withheld. Another censored version of this
document is expected to be among the 1,500 CIA records declassified on November
13. Those documents are also expected to be heavily censored.

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