W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 20 -- The CIA is acknowledging for the first timethe extent of its deep involvement in Chile, where it dealt withcoup-plotters, false propagandists and assassins.
The agency planned to post a declassified report required byCongress on its Web site today that admits CIAsupport for the 1970 kidnapping of Chile’s top general for refusingto use the Army to prevent the country’s congress from confirmingthe election of socialist Salvador Allende as president. Thekidnapping failed, but Gen. Rene Schneider was shot and died twodays later, the day Allende’s election was confirmed.
The CIA admits prior knowledge of the plot that overthrewAllende three years later but denies direct involvement. The reportsays the agency had no idea that Allende would refuse safe passagewith his palace under bombardment and apparently kill himself. Hewas found dead of gunshot wounds.
There is no evidence the CIA wanted Schneider killed forrefusing to join the coup attempt in 1970, the report said,although the agency later paid $35,000 to the group that botchedhis capture.
CIA Payment to Secret Police Chief
The report also disclosed a CIA payment to Gen. Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, head of the Chilean secret police, whom it knew to be involved in post-Allende human rights abuses. In 1993, Contreras was sentenced to prison for a rare act of foreign-sponsored terrorism on American soil — the 1976 car-bomb killing of a Chilean diplomat and an American associate on Embassy Row in Washington.
The report does not reveal how much Contreras received in aone-time payment for his CIA services and says the payment was made by mistake after it had been overruled by high officials. Thereport says, however, that the CIA had contact with Contreras onseveral occasions before and after the bombing.
Payment to remnants of the group that kidnapped Schneider wasmade for “humanitarian reasons,” to maintain their good will andto avoid disclosure of prior CIA contacts, the report said. It saidin those contacts the agency withheld support for the Schneiderkidnapping, because agents believed the group could not pull itoff.