From the archives:
"Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism" (June 1999)
Henry Kissinger's first book, on the Napoleonic Wars, explains Kissinger's foreign policy better than any of his memoirs, and is striking as an early display of brilliance and authority. By Robert D. Kaplan
"Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" (February 1998)
The sensational revelations of recent years about the Central Intelligence Agency almost obscure a larger point: the Agency is just no good at what it's supposed to be doing. So writes the author, a former CIA officer, who describes a corrosive culture in which promotion-hungry operatives collect pointless intelligence from worthless foreign agents. Reform, the author warns, may be impossible. By Edward G. Shirley
"Inside the Department of Dirty Tricks" (August, 1979)
"The business of intelligence has its ugly side." Thomas Powers tells the story of former CIA director Richard Helms.
The Atlantic Monthly | December 1982
From the archives:
The Price of Power
Kissinger, Nixon, and Chile
by Seymour M. Hersh
"Kissinger and Nixon in the White House" (May 1982)
The first of two articles on Henry Kissinger's service as national security adviser to Richard Nixon. By Seymour M. Hersh
eoman Charles E. Radford did not want to be reassigned to Washington, but it was the fall of 1970 and he was in the Navy and his country was at war. Radford, twenty-seven years old, had been hand-picked by Rear Admiral Rembrandt C. Robinson to serve as his confidential aide and secretary on the National Security Council staff in the White House. The bright and ambitious Radford was an obvious choice for the sensitive job: he was married and had young children; he was a devout Mormon who did not drink and would never consider using drugs; and he was fierce in his determination to earn a commission and become a Navy officer. Radford reported for duty on September 18, replacing a civilian secretary who was being transferred. There was obvious tension in the office, and Admiral Robinson, in one of their first meetings, demonstrated why, Radford recalls: "He made it clear that my loyalty was to him, and that he expected my loyalty, and that I wasn't to speak outside of the office about what I did in the office."
Admiral Robinson was the liaison officer between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council, and his office was a sensitive one: the White House's most highly classified documents, including intelligence materials, routinely flowed through it. By mid-1970, Henry A. Kissinger, President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, had developed complete confidence in Robinson's discretion and loyalty.
It was not surprising, therefore, that Robinson was deeply involved in the secret Kissinger and Nixon operations against Salvador Allende Gossens, of Chile, who had astounded the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House by winning the September 4 popular election for the Chilean presidency, although Allende received only 36.6 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Radford, who arrived at his new post a few weeks after the Chilean election, vividly recalls the sense of crisis: "This wasn't supposed to happen. It was a real blow. All of a sudden, the pudding blew up on the stove." Admiral Robinson and his superiors were "wringing their hands" over Chile, Radford says, "almost as if they [the Chileans] were errant children. " Over the next few weeks, Radford says, he saw many sensitive memoranda and options papers, as the bureaucracy sought to prevent Allende from assuming office. Among the options was a proposal to assassinate Allende.
One options paper "discussed various ways of doing it," Radford says. "Either we have somebody in the country do it, or we do it ourselves. I was stunned; I was aghast. It stuck in my mind so much because for the first time in my life, I realized that my government actively was involved in planning to kill people."
The options papers had been prepared for Nixon in the weeks after Allende's election. "They were exploring ways to get Allende out of there," Radford says, and murder was one of the ways. The thrust of the option was clear: "I don't know if they used the word assassinate, but it was to get rid of him, to terminate him—he was to go."
y the mid-1960s, Chile had become widely known inside the American intelligence community as one of the CIA's outstanding success stories. The Agency had managed to penetrate all elements of Chilean government, politics, and society, and took credit for ensuring that Chile remained a progressive democratic nation that—not so incidentally—encouraged American multinational corporations to do business within its borders. The extent of American corporate involvement was a source of constant debate in Chile, however, and emerged by the end of the decade as a critical political issue, pitting the Chilean right, with its support for continued American profit-taking, against the left, which organized increasingly fractious labor strikes and public demonstrations against the American firms. Chile was a world leader in the mining of copper, but 80 percent of its production—60 percent of all exports from Chile—was in the hands of large corporations mostly controlled by U.S. firms, most prominently Anaconda and Kennecott Copper. Profits for the American firms were enormous: during the 1960s, for example, Anaconda earned $500 million on its investments—generously estimated by the company at $300 million—inside Chile, where it operated the largest open-pit copper mine in the world. The most significant political threat to Chilean democracy, in the view of American policy-makers, was Allende, a member of the Socialist Party, who had unsuccessfully run for president in 1958 and 1964 on a platform that advocated land reform, nationalization of major industries (especially copper), closer relations with socialist and communist countries, and redistribution of income. National concern over the disparity of income was especially critical to Allende's campaigns: by 1968, studies showed that the 28.3 percent of the Chilean people at the bottom of the economic scale took in 4.8 percent of the national income, while the 2 percent of the population at the top received 45.9 percent of the income.
In 1958, Allende had lost the presidential election by less than 3 percent to Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez, an arch-conservative who was strongly pro-business and was heavily backed by American corporations. Neither Allende nor Alessandri received a majority vote, and under the Chilean constitution the election was resolved in a run-off election by the Chilean Congress, which voted Alessandri into office. Despite CIA aid, Alessandri and his National Party steadily lost popularity over the next six years, and the presidential elections of 1964 came down to a battle between Allende and his radical forces and Eduardo Frei Montalva, a liberal representing the Christian Democratic Party, which was pro-American and far more favorable to business than Allende's coalition.
The United States' influence on the 1964 election was,"more extensive than has been publicly reported. At least $20 million in support of the Frei candidacy—about $8 per voter—was funneled by the United States into Chile in 1963 and 1964, much of it through the Agency for International Development (AID). Millions of dollars in AID and CIA funds were allocated, with the full knowledge of the Chilean and United States governments, to Roman Catholic organizations throughout the country whose objective was to oppose Protestantism and communism. Frei won handily, with 56 percent of the vote. Frei, who was fully aware of the source of his funding, also received covert help from a group of American corporations known as the Business Group for Latin America. The Group had been organized in 1963 by David Rockefeller, president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, at the express request of President Kennedy, who was directing his administration's fight against Castro and the spread of communism in Latin America. It included on its executive committee such prominent corporation executives as C. Jay Parkinson, board chairman of Anaconda; Harold S. Geneen, head of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, which owned and operated the telephone facilities in Chile; and Donald M. Kendall, chairman of PepsiCo, the softdrink company, which had extensive business activities in Latin America.
The principal contact in Chile for the CIA as well as for the American corporations was the organization of Agustín Edwards, a close friend of Kendall's, who was the owner of the conservative El Mercurio newspaper chain in Chile and a focal point for the opposition to Allende and the left. The CIA and the Business Group, which by 1970 had been reorganized into the Council of the Americas, relied heavily on Edwards to use his organization and his contacts to channel their moneys into the 1964 political campaign. Many of the ties between the Business Group and the CIA in 1964 remained in place long after the election. For example, Enno Hobbing, a CIA official who had initially been assigned as liaison to the Business Group, eventually left the CIA and became the principal operations officer for the Council.
The most profound issue for the American corporations was the threat of possible nationalization of their profitable subsidiaries in Chile. Allende's election would certainly lead to nationalization. Frei, although his Christian Democratic Party included factions that insisted on nationalization, offered more hope: one of his major campaign promises called for a compromise known as "Chileanization," a procedure by which the state would be authorized to buy large blocks of the stock of the Chilean subsidiaries of the American copper companies. By 1967, the Frei regime had bought 51 percent of Kennecott's Chilean corporation and 25 percent of Anaconda's. The stock transfers took place after negotiations with the companies, which subsequently continued to generate high profits for their American owners. Frei's reforms did not affect other industries, and there was an increase of American business activity in Chile throughout the 1960s. Political pressure from the left increased. The Frei regime reopened negotiations with Anaconda in 1969, and sought to begin a discussion of total nationalization—the only process that would enable the state to gain control of the huge profits being generated, as the more radical supporters of the Christian Democratic Party demanded.
During the Frei years, the CIA continued to operate at will throughout the country, primarily seeking to repress radical and left-leaning political activities. At least twenty operations were mounted inside Chile between 1964 and 1969, according to the published report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted an extensive investigation in 1975 into the CIA. Most of them were designed to support the election of moderate and conservative candidates in Chilean congressional elections. By the late 1960s, serious strain began to emerge in the CIA's relationship with the Frei government. Most important, the chief of the CIA station in Santiago, Henry D. Hecksher, believed that Frei and his Christian Democratic Party had tilted dangerously to the left. Hecksher, a vigorous anti-communist, incessantly urged CIA headquarters to change American Policy and turn from Frei to Alessandri, who was planning to run again for president in the 1970 elections. Under Chilean law, Frei could not stay in office for consecutive terms. Hecksher and others feared—correctly, as it turned out—that the Christian Democrats, increasingly polarized by Frei's politics, would choose an even more liberal candidate in 1970. If the CIA needed further evidence of the party's leftward drift, Frei gave it: in 1969, he reestablished trade relations with Cuba.
ichard Nixon entered office with a profound dislike for Eduardo Frei. Frei's movement to the left and his attempts, albeit feeble, to nationalize the American copper companies in the late 1960s were justification enough, but Nixon had another reason: Frei was a Kennedy man, a social liberal whose stature inside Chile was aided by the Kennedys and by the Georgetown set at the CIA. The American ambassador to Chile, Edward M. Korry, was also suspect: a former newspaperman with impeccable anti-communist credentials, Korry had been appointed as ambassador to Ethiopia by John F. Kennedy in 1963, and had served in Chile since 1967. In December of 1968, one month after Nixon's election, the CIA issued a National Intelligence Estimate, known in the government as an NIE, on Chile. The report was critical of economic and social policies of the Frei government and, so Korry thought, played down the importance of democracy in Chile. Once in office, Nixon quickly made clear his distaste for the Frei regime, Korry recalls, by striking Frei's name from a State Department list of foreign leaders who were being considered for future visits to Washington. Nixon also ordered a further cutback in American foreign aid to Chile, which totaled more than $1 billion between 1962 and 1969, by far the largest aid program per capita in Latin America. Whether intentionally or not, the White House moves served to weaken the moderates in Frei's Christian Democratic Party while strengthening the CIA's anti-Frei position in Santiago. Conservative and right-wing attacks in El Mercurio against the government grew more frequent and harsher in tone, adding to the polarization of the political forces inside Chile. The Frei government moved even further to the left. When Korry protested bitterly about the peremptory cutback of one $20 million aid program, which had been intensively negotiated over a five-month period, he was told that his resignation would be accepted by the new President—he was fired. After some special pleading by Charles A. Meyer, the newly appointed assistant secretary of state for Latin America, Korry says, he was permitted to stay on in Chile and was assigned the task of negotiating the future of the copper companies with the Frei government. Korry was cynical about Nixon's motives in reinstating him: he suspected that if the Christian Democrats went ahead with their nationalization plans, Nixon would move quickly to mollify his corporate supporters by making Korry—as a Democratic holdover—a scapegoat.
The Frei government did little to increase its popularity with the White House. Early in 1969, Frei canceled a planned visit to Chile by Nelson Rockefeller. The visit, part of a highly publicized tour of Latin America that the New York governor took at the express wish (so the public was told) of President Nixon, was meant to be a public sign of amity of sorts between the Nixon and Rockefeller wings of the Republican Party. Frei's cancellation—which was preordained by Nixon's earlier aid cutback—was taken as further proof by the White House of his moving left. Even Korry had officially opposed the visit, however, since he was sure that Rockefeller's appearance would spark large-scale anti-American demonstrations. Until mid-1970, Korry and Frei were forced to resort to duplicity to commnunicate with the White House. "Any idea put forward by Frei had to be transformed into my idea," Korry says. "Otherwise, we reckoned it would be automatically disregarded or turned against him."
Any doubts in the Frei government about its standing vith the White House were removed after an unusual face-to-face confrontation between Nixon and Gabriel Valdés, Frei's foreign minister. The occasion was a June, 1969, meeting of Latin American ambassadors in the White House at which Valdés, a member of an aristocratic Chilean family, chose to turn a formal ceremony into a seminar on North-South policy In his account of the Allende years. Armando Uribe, a diplomatic officer at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, writes that Valdés had been scheduled to present Nixon with a formal policy statement on commercial and financial matters. But then, Uribe says, "he spoke of the impossibility of dealing with the United States within the regular framework of inter-American relations; the differences in power were too great ... Nixon was caught off guard.... Masking his irritation, Nixon heard Valdés out, and then pulled himself together, lowering his eyelids, becoming impenetrable, withdrawn. Kissinger frowned."
Valdés recalls his impromptu talk as "the most difficult time in my life." He had come to the White House with the other Latin American officials knowing that the State Department had lobbied against his visit. At one point in his talk, Valdés says, he told Nixon that Latin America was sending back 3.8 dollars for every dollar in American aid. When Nixon interrupted to challenge the statistic, Valdés retorted that the number had come from a study prepared by a major American bank. "As I delivered my speech," Valdés says, "Kissinger was looking at me as if I were a strange animal." On the next afternoon, Kissinger asked for a private lunch with Valdés in the Chilean Embassy. The meeting was unpleasant. As Valdés describes it, Kissinger began by declaring: "Mr. Minister, you made a strange speech. You come here speaking of Latin America, but this is not important. Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance. You're wasting your time."
"I said," Valdés recalls, "Mr. Kissinger, you know nothing of the South." "No," Kissinger answered, "and I don't care." At that point, Valdés, astonished and insulted, told Kissinger: "You are a German Wagnerian. You are a very arrogant man." Later, to his embarrassment, Valdés learned that Kissinger was a German Jew, and suspected that he had gravely insulted him. Although it would have been impossible for Valdés to fathom, one of Kissinger's motives in arranging the lunch was clearly to avenge Nixon's honor, to confront the foreign minister who had dared to tell the President something he did not wish to hear. Korry, still in Santiago, was informed that Nixon was "very angry" over Valdés's "arrogant and insulting" lecture. "Valdés went beyond the limits agreed to," Korry says.
The Valdés incident evinced much of the White House attitude toward Latin America: like a child, Latin America was to be seen and not heard. Those who defied Nixon, such as Valdés and Frei—and, later, Allende—were to be treated harshly. In his memoirs, Nixon devotes only seven paragraphs, a few hundred words, to Chile, and says nothing at all about Latin American policy during his presidency. Kissinger, in his memoirs, defends his role in an extended chapter on Chile but in no other way deals with the administration's policies and problems in the South. Until 1970, Kissinger writes, when he became involved in the planning against Allende, "Latin America was an area in which I did not then have expertise of my own." That may be so, but from the first months of the administration, he was an expert disciple of basic American policy: Latin America was to be permitted little independence.
y the time Kissinger joined the Nixon administration, he was far from a newcomer to covert intelligence operations. He had served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps in occupied West Germany after World War II, and was eventually assigned to a unit whose functions included the recruitment of ex-Nazi intelligence officers for anti-Soviet operations inside the Soviet bloc. He retained his ties, as a reserve officer, to military intelligence after entering Harvard in 1947 at age twenty-four as an undergraduate. By 1950, after his graduation, he was working part time for the Defense Department (he was one of the first at Harvard to begin regular shuttles to Washington) as a consultant to its Operations Research Office, a unit under the direct control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that conducted highly classified studies on such topics as the utilization in CIA activities of former German operatives and Nazi partisan supporters. In 1952, Kissinger was named a consultant to the director of the Psychological Strategy Board, an operating arm of the National Security Council for covert psychological and paramilitary operations. In 1954, President Eisenhower appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his special assistant in charge of Cold War planning, a position that involved monitoring and approval of covert CIA operations. These were the days of CIA successes in Iran, where the Shah was installed on the throne, and in Guatemala, where the government of Jacobo Arbenz, considered to be anti-American and anti-business, was overthrown. In 1955, Kissinger, already known to insiders for his closeness to Rockefeller and for Rockefeller's reliance on him, was named a consultant to the Operations Coordinating Board, the highest policy-making board for implementing clandestine activity against foreign governments.
Kissinger has written and said little about his high-level exposure to clandestine operations in the early 1950s. Former intelligence officials, in interviews, recall that the young Harvard scholar had come to the attention of Allen Dulles, Eisenhower's influential CIA director, even before the Rockefeller appointment. "He was highly regarded," one senior aide says. "Allen spoke of his meetings with him. He and Walt Rostow [Kissinger's predecessor as national security adviser, and then a professor at MIT] were considered to be kind of a team." One little-known fact is that Rockefeller was replaced as the presidential adviser on Cold War planning in late 1955 by Richard Nixon, then Vice President. There is no evidence that Nixon and Kissinger met in those days, although, many former intelligence aides say, it is highly likely that Nixon was aware of Kissinger's intelligence work. By 1956, Kissinger was at work as director of the Special Studies Project for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., in New York.
Kissinger was able to exert near-total control over the intelligence community shortly after joining the Nixon administration. His bureaucratic device was a high-level group known as the 40 Committee (named for the National Security Decision Memorandum establishing it), which he formally chaired. Its six members included Attorney General John Mitchell; Richard Helms, the director of central intelligence; Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; U. Alexis Johnson, representing the State Department; and David Packard, deputy to Melvin Laird, secretary of defense. The 40 Committee was responsible for approving—theoretically—all sensitive covert operations by the Central Intelligence Agency; it also supervised and monitored many intelligence-gathering activities by the armed forces. In practice, however, Kissinger and Nixon treated it as they did the whole bureaucracy—as another office to be utilized or ignored at will. The CIA, in what amounted to routine operating policy, was also circumspect. For example, the Agency's extensive contacts with ITT officials throughout Latin America, and especially in Chile, were carefully shielded from the 40 Committee, whose members presumably did not "need to know"—as the CIA would put it—about them, although ITT eventually played a major role in Chile before the 1970 elections.
Complicating any account of the situation is the fact that most sensitive intelligence decisions are made without a paper trail. In the case of Chile in 1970, many of the documents that did exist, even those in government files, were withheld after the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department initiated full-scale inquiries in 1975 and 1976. At one point Justice Department attorneys came to believe, according to files later made public under the Freedom of Information Act, that Kissinger had kept his own minutes of 40 Committee meetings, which presumably were more detailed than the official minutes that were routinely distributed to the CIA and other involved agencies. (Kissinger's attorney, William D. Rogers, subsequently denied on behalf of his client that such personal 40 Committee files were kept.) The files of the 40 Committee, at least those turned over by the CIA to the various investigating groups, show that the election in Chile was discussed on at least four occasions between April of 1969 and September of 1970. In April of 1969, the CIA warned that a major campaign to influence the 1970 election would not succeed unless the CIA station in Santiago could begin assembling operatives in various political parties. No direct action was taken, the records show, until a 40 Committee meeting on March 25, 1970, at which $135,000 for anti-Allende propaganda efforts was approved. On June 27, the 40 Committee approved an outlay of $300,000—recommended by Korry as well as by the CIA—for more anti-Allende electioneering. It was at this meeting that Kissinger signaled his support of the anti-Allende programs: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. "
In these early meetings, however, the State Department generally took a position against more direct interference in the Chilean presidential elections. On June 27, for example, approval was sought for an additional $500,000 in contingency funds, initially proposed by Korry, to use for buying votes in the Chilean Congress in the anticipation that the September 4 election would result in a runoff between Allende, running for the Popular Unity coalition, and Alessandri, the candidate favored by the CIA, the corporations, and the White House. When some State Department officials objected, approval was deferred, pending the election. One official who attended the early meetings as a senior aide to Alexis Johnson recalls that he considered the operations against Allende to be a "stupid" effort. "It assumed too much reliability from people over whom we had no control. We were doing something culpable and immoral. Why take these risks?" His views prevailed that summer, but as the White House became more concerned, he soon found himself disinvited to the 40 Committee meetings.
hat the 40 Commitee did approve in March and June was a series of anti-Allende "spoiling" operations—as they became known inside the intelligence community—that utilized the media and right-wing civic groups to plant alarming allegations against the Allende coalition. Newsletters were mailed, booklets were printed, posters were distributed, and wall signs were painted—under the aegis of the CIA and the Agustín Edwards empire—that equated Allende's election with such events as the 1968 Soviet invasion of Prague and Castro's purported use of firing squads. By 1970, according to data compiled by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the CIA was subsidizing two wire services in Chile and a right-wing weekly newspaper, whose views were so extreme as to "alienate responsible conservatives."
Although he had recommended the propaganda programs, Korry says that he soon grew disenchanted with the crude results and antagonized the CIA by criticizing, in writing, its "spoiling" campaign as being counterproductive and, in effect, "making votes for Allende."
Despite his complaints, there was no sense of panic about Chile in the Nixon administration that summer (it was winter, of course, in Chile). Until election day, the CIA confidently predicted a huge Alessandri victory, on the basis of polls being conducted by the organization of Agustín Edwards—polls based on outdated 1960 census data. Edwards had become more important than ever to the CIA in Chile. Hecksher recommended that the $300,000 approved on June 27 be floated into Chile via his organization: the CIA, Hecksher argued, had no other proven "asset" in Chile with Edwards's skills and discretion. He owned three daily newspapers in Santiago, and his business interests seemed to be constantly expanding: he was affiliated with Lever Brothers and with Pepsi-Cola, and owned one of the nation's most successful granaries and a large chicken farm. At some point early that summer, his polls showed Alessandri with 50 percent of the popular vote, obviating the necessity of a runoff election.
Such predictions did little to soothe the American business community, which had been rebuffed earlier in the year in its efforts to persuade the Nixon administration to join in with it, as the Johnson administration had in 1964, to make sure the right man won. In April, according to documents made available by Korry, members of the Council of the Americas approached the State Department and offered to give at least $500,000 to Alessandri's campaign. A small delegation of Council members, including C. Jay Parkinson, of Anaconda, chose to relay the campaign pledge through Charles Meyer. Meyer was the logical choice; a former senior official of Sears, Roebuck, he had been involved in the firm's operations in Latin America, and had been an active member of the Council. Korry recalls that Meyer, shortly after assuming the State Department position, in 1969, told a private Council luncheon that he had been "chosen" for the post "by David Rockefeller." The Council's cash offer had a condition: the funds would be contributed only if, as in 1964, the CIA also invested a significant amount of money in the Alessandri campaign. Meyer forwarded the proposal to Korry, who objected strongly in a secret cable to Washington. Korry warned that such interference would be impossible to cloak, and would lead to serious problems for the United States if discovered. He also asserted that any overt opposition by American groups to the Christian Democrats, whose candidate, Radomiro Tomic Romero, was running third in the polls, "would doubtless produce a negative reaction that would do harm to immediate and longer term United States interests." Korry's opposition was instrumental, and the State Department rejected the Council's offer.
By that spring, Korry was emerging more and more as a wild card for the CIA and the American corporations. He was fiercely anti-communist and fiercely anti-Allende; his inflammatory cables warning of the dangers that Allende posed to American national-security interests were legendary throughout the State Department for their sense of drama. One State Department official recalls Korry's briefings on Chile as "really terrible. If you didn't believe in Korry's concept of free enterprise, you were a Commie." Nonetheless, Korry was adamant about maintaining control over the CIA in his embassy, and he had flatly ruled out any contact between the CIA and those members of the Chilean military who were known to be eager to stage a military coup d'état in the event of an Allende victory. Korry and Hecksher, who was bitterly opposed not only to Allende but also to the Frei regime, did not have a good working relationship—a fact that only Hecksher seemed to realize. One CIA operative who worked in Latin America at the time says that Korry "and the Agency were not on the same wavelength. He was a difficult ambassador." Although Korry had agreed enthusiastically with the CIA that a major propaganda program was needed to counter the growing drift to the left in Chile, he insisted that the propaganda be anti-communist in nature—and not pro-Alessandri, as Hecksher and his superiors in Washington wanted.
ITT and its president, Harold Geneen, were still determined to give money to Alessandri's campaign. But Geneen, obviously aware of Korry's rejection of the Council's proposal in April, avoided the American Embassy in Santiago and worked directly at the highest levels in Washington. Geneen's go-between was his good friend John A. McCone, a CIA director under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who in 1970 was a director of ITT; his wife was a major Anaconda stockholder. In May, June, and July, McCone repeatedly discussed the Chilean situation with Helms. At least two meetings took place at CIA headquarters (McCone was still a consultant to the Agency), and one was at McCone's home in San Marino, California. McCone, in 1973 testimony before the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that he learned from Helms that the 40 Committee and the White House had decided that no CIA programs in support of Alessandri were to be carried out in Chile—a decision obviously based on anticipated opposition from Korry as well as on the optimistic polls.
The Senate subcommittee subsequently concluded, in its final report, that it was McCone's suggestion that led Helms to arrange for Geneen to meet in July with William V. Broe, then chief of the CIA's clandestine operations in Latin America. During that meeting, Broe told the subcommittee, Geneen offered to make a "substantial" contribution to the Alessandri campaign if the CIA would handle the funds. The subcommittee never learned one essential fact, however: the Geneen-Broe meeting had been stimulated not by McCone but by Hecksher, who—working behind Korry's back—had met in Santiago with ITT operatives and had provided them with the name of a Chilean who could be used as a secure conduit for ITT's money. The information about Hecksher's role eventually became known to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but was censored from its final published report. The inability of the Senate Multinational Subcommittee to learn about Hecksher's role, and his close ties to ITT, indicated to what lengths senior officials such as Helms and Broe would go in order to protect Harold Geneen and his corporation—and, through Geneen, Nixon and Kissinger. Helms and Broe could rationalize their incomplete and misleading testimony by telling themselves that it was vital to national security and the protection of CIA "sources and methods," a repeated catchall excuse for not talking about Agency misdeeds. The willingness of the Senate Intelligence Committee to permit the CIA to monitor and censor its reports prior to publication—and, in the process, to delete Hecksher's role and the specific involvement of Agustín Edwards at key meetings is much harder to understand.
Hecksher's main ITT contacts inside Chile were Harold V. Hendrix and Robert Berrellez, two senior company officials, who had a close and long-standing relationship with the Agency's station in Santiago. The ITT men were considered to be "assets" of the CIA, and were even described by special code names in coded Agency communications. The Senate Multinational Subcommittee, after hearing sworn testimony from Geneen, Broe, McCone, and others, was unable to find evidence that ITT had in fact provided funds. Berrellez and another senior ITT vice president were later charged with obstruction of proceedings, false statements, and perjury in their testimony before the Multinational Subcommittee. Harold Geneen was also a subject of the federal grand jury investigation, but was not charged; the Justice Department eventually dismissed the charges against Berrellez and the other ITT official. Helms pled guilty in 1977 to misdemeanor charges stemming from his false testimony before the subcommittee.
In fact, Geneen did authorize at least one large contribution in the summer of 1970 from ITT to the Alessandri campaign—a payment of at least $350,000 that was not made public by the firm until 1976, after the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered it. Geneen had continued to deny any ITT involvement in Chilean politics.
The Geneen offer established a precedent for future anti-Allende activity that summer and fall: Hecksher and his colleagues in Santiago knowingly became involved in a policy of political support that had been specifically rejected by Korry and the 40 Committee. No evidence could be found directly linking Kissinger or Nixon to personal knowledge of the ITT support, but some senior officials in the White House surely had to know. It is inconceivable that the CIA, with its justifiable fear of crossing the White House, would have relayed Hecksher's information on how to slip money into Chile to ITT without receiving authorization to do so. In August of 1970, Charles Colson ran into Harold Geneen in John Ehrlichman's office. Colson recalls not being surprised at all when Geneen told him that ITT had "been funneling money to help us" in Chile. "Geneen was very happy to be in alliance with the CIA," Colson adds. "He was bragging about all the money he had given to the Agency"
Copyright © 1982 by Seymour Hersh. All rights reserved. This article was later included in Seymour Hersh's book, The Price of Power: Kissinger in Nixon's White House, currently published by Simon & Schuster.
The Atlantic Monthly; December 1982; The Price of Power - 12.82; Volume 250, No. 6; page 31-58.