The Kissinger Telcons: Kissinger Telcons on Chile
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
Posted May 26, 2004
KISSINGER TO NIXON: “WE HELPED” COUP FORCES IN CHILE
New Telephone transcript records conversation with President
Washington D.C. May 26, 2004 – In one of his first conversations with President Richard Nixon following the bloody military coup in Chile, Henry Kissinger stated “we helped them,” according to declassified transcripts of a telephone conversation obtained today by the National Security Archive. “That is right,” Nixon responded.
The transcript records a call made by President Nixon to Kissinger’s home on the weekend following General Augusto Pinochet’s violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Kissinger reports to the president that the new military regime was “getting consolidated” and complains that the press is “bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.” When Nixon notes that “our hand doesn’t show on this one though,” Kissinger responds that “We didn’t do it” [referring to the coup itself]. I mean we helped them….created the conditions as great as possible.”
The September 16, 1973, “telcon” was found by the Archive’s Chile analyst, Peter Kornbluh, among thousands of pages of transcriptions of Kissinger’s telephone calls dated between 1969 and 1974, declassified today at the initiative of the Archive. Kornbluh, the author of The Pinochet File, called the new document “damning proof, in Kissinger’s own words, that the Nixon administration directly contributed to creating a coup climate in Chile which made the September 11, 1973, military takeover possible.”
In his confirmation hearings as Secretary of State that very week, Kissinger denied that the U.S. Government played any role whatsoever in Allende’s overthrow. A year later, after details of a CIA destabilization program had leaked to the press, he again testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the intent of the United States was not to destabilize or to subvert [Allende]….Our concern was with the election of 1976 and not at all with a coup in 1973 about which we knew nothing and [with] which we had nothing to do….”
In his conversation with Nixon, Kissinger suggested that the press should be “celebrating” instead of being critical of the coup. “In the Eisenhower period we would be heroes,” he tells the President. “But listen,” Nixon replies to his national security adviser, “as far as people are concerned let me say they aren’t going to buy this crap from the Liberals on this one.”
Watch this site for more “telcons” on the U.S. role in Chile.