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Deep History and the Global Drug Connection, Part 2: Murder on the Streets of Washington

Introduction by Russ Baker

Orlando Letelier was an exiled former Chilean diplomat. He had served in the socialist government of   Salvador Allende, who, in 1973, was overthrown in a US-backed coup. The notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet took over. Letelier was seized, tortured and imprisoned. He was released a year later as a result of international pressure. He was invited to Washington, DC where he became a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, the director of the Transnational Institute, and a professor at American University.

More important, he became the leading voice of the Chilean resistance — and thanks to his lobbying, he prevented several loans from being awarded to the Pinochet regime.

On the morning of September 21,1976, Orlando Letelier was driving to work with his assistant, Ronni Moffitt, and her husband when a bomb went off under his car. It blew off the bottom half of his body and severed both legs; flying shrapnel severed the larynx and carotid artery of Ms.Moffitt who was in the passenger seat. Both died soon after. American War Machine: ... Scott, Peter Dale Best Price: $24.95 Buy New $27.67 (as of 04:25 UTC - Details)

At the time, George H.W. Bush was CIA director. And as Peter Dale Scott asserts in the excerpt below, the CIA, a Latin American assassination apparatus, and international drug dealing were all bound up together.

Sound like fiction? Well, where do you suppose fiction writers get their ideas?

Excerpt from American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan ( Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014), Introduction. Deep History and the Global Drug Connection:

Drugs, the State, and the Letelier Assassination

A serious manifestation of sanctioned violence – or, if you will, of a mysterious deep force – was the 1976 assassination of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier on the streets of Washington. This was a covertly arranged deep event, an event in which key facts were certain from the outset to be suppressed, an event that mainstream information systems failed to discuss candidly, and an event that earned for those few scholars who have studied it the derisive label of “conspiracy theorists.”

In the nearly 40 years since some basic facts about the Letelier assassination have slowly come to light. Those facts are, for the most part, no longer contested.

It is now known that Letelier was killed on orders from the Chilean intelligence agency DINA, with the aid of a supranational collaborative assassination apparatus, Operation Condor, which the CIA helped to create.(14)

We shall look more closely at Condor and its drug connections in this book. What is particularly relevant here is that DINA, Condor, and the Cuban Americans who were involved in Letelier’s assassination were all also involved in drug trafficking.

There were American aspects to the killing as well as Chilean ones.(15)  Shortly before the murder, secretary of state Kissinger blocked a proposed urgent State Department warning to Latin American Condor states not to engage in assassinations.(16)

Augusto Pinochet, Henry Kissinger

Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger  Photo credit: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0 CL)

Two days after the killing, CIA Director George H. W. Bush received a memo reporting the speculation (which proved to be accurate) “that, if Chilean Govt did order Letelier’s killing, it may have hired [Miami] Cuban thugs to do it.”(17)  Yet for weeks after the killing, the U.S. press ran stories that – as The New York Times put it – the FBI and CIA “had virtually ruled out the idea that Mr. Letelier was killed by agents of the Chilean military junta.”(18)

The CIA had evidence in its files against DINA when the FBI went to meet with Bush about CIA cooperation on the Letelier murder probe. But Bush did not turn over those files, making him arguably guilty of obstructing justice.(19)

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