RESEARCH DOCUMENT /// OPERATION CONDOR : Officials of Amnesty International Targeted for ‘Liquidation’


Head of the Argentine Military Junta, General Rafael Videla, in 1977.

OPERATION CONDOR : Officials of Amnesty International Targeted for ‘Liquidation’

Repression in Argentina: Obama Administration Declassifies Top Secret Intelligence Files

New Documents Shed Light on OPERATION CONDOR, planned missions in Europe

Posted December 14, 2016
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 572
Edited by Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh

For further information, contact:
Carlos Osorio: cosorio
Peter Kornbluh: peter.kornbluh

Washington D.C., December 14, 2016 – Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and “liquidate” opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, targeted officials of Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London, according to a comprehensive CIA report on Condor operations just released by the Obama administration. “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”

ARGENTINA DECLASSIFICATION PROJECT

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Documents Release [Tranche II]:

December 12, 2016

Documents Release [Tranche I]:

August 8, 2016

The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability
By Peter Kornbluh, New Press (September 11, 2013)

The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents
By John Dinges, The New Press (August 1, 2012)

The secret CIA report is included among more than 500 pages of documents on repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina declassified by the Obama administration this week as part of a commitment made by the president in March 2016 when he visited Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of the military coup. “I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency,” Obama stated then.

The CIA’s sources inside Condor reported that “a training course was held in Buenos Aires for the team heading overseas,” and that “Condor leaders were considering the dispatch of a team to London—disguised as businessmen—to monitor ‘suspicious’ activities in Europe.” According to the CIA, “Another proposal under study included the collection of material on the membership, location, and political activities of human rights groups in order to identify and expose their socialist and Marxist connections. Similar data reportedly are to be collected on church and third-world groups.”

The National Security Archive today publishes a sample of six documents that attest to the richness of the information contained in intelligence records and the extraordinary openness of the reviewers to contributing to the clarification of the history of human rights violations in Argentina. The records are part of a second tranche of intelligence and presidential records posted on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The administration posted an initial set of documents on Argentina, drawn from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, on August 8, 2016. As more records are processed for declassification, several more releases are planned for 2017, after Obama leaves office.
“With the release of this revealing documentation, President Obama has advanced the cause of human rights in Argentina and elsewhere,” said Carlos Osorio, who directs the Southern Cone documentation project at the National Security Archive and has actively supported the administration’s special declassification project. “This gesture of declassification diplomacy,” Osorio noted, “will be part of the legacy of Obama’s presidency.”

In another TOP SECRET/EXDIS/CODEWORD Condor document declassified this week and posted today, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research reported that “six Southern Cone nations," all “participants in a counterterrorist network codenamed ‘Condor’,” have agreed “to undertake the liquidation of Latin American” targets “living in France.”

Also in today’s posting, an unusually emotional NSC memorandum summarizes the torture of Alfredo Bravo, the president of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the recipient of the document, wrote in the margin: “a compelling, powerful report.”

Document 1

Department of State, "INR AFTERNOON SUMMARY," Top Secret, July 22, 1976

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

This TOP SECRET/ EXDIS/ CODEWORD document by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research reported that six Southern Cone nations which were "participants in a counterterrorist network codenamed ‘Condor’" have agreed "to undertake the liquidation of Latin American" targets "living in France."

Document 2

CIA, Report, "Counterterrorism in the Southern Cone," Secret, May 9, 1977

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

According to this comprehensive CIA report, "The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas, [was]… to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination," and "some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets." Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and "liquidate" opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, did in fact target officials of Amnesty International as well as human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London.

Document 3

CIA, President’s Daily Brief, "Argentina: New Foreign Policy Directions," Top Secret, July 19, 1978

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

In this "Top Secret" President’s Daily Brief, the CIA highlights how the Argentine military "are seeking to strengthen its ties with France, and several Communists and Arab countries." The military junta has felt encircled by the Department of State’s, and in particular Assistant Secretary of State Patt Derian’s, strong stance in condemning the dictatorship’s human rights abuses. At this point the Department is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in EXIM Bank loans that would be used to buy U.S. turbines for an Argentine Navy subsidiary project to build the Yacyreta dam. In addition, Washington is making the signing of the Tlatelolco nonproliferation treaty a condition for sharing nuclear technology with Argentina. By law, military sales and training will stop by the end of the year.

However, the French have indicated their willingness to provide weapons and training and, for its part, "Moscow has expressed strong interest in providing turbines" for the dam project. The document concludes that "… Argentine willingness to turn to the Communists on economic grounds is likely to increase if the U.S. Congress denies supplier credits through the Export-Import Bank of approximately $800 million for U.S. exports to Argentina." In September, 1978, Vice President Walter Mondale and Junta head Rafael Videla agree that the EXIM Bank loans will move forward and in exchange the Argentines will allow the Interamerican Human Rights Commission to visit in 1979.

Document 4

National Security Council, Memorandum, "Human Rights in Argentina," Confidential, August 28, 1978

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

This is a National Security Council summary of the torture of Alfredo Bravo, president of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. The report was sent in August 1978 to President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, by his top aide for Latin America, Robert Pastor, who detailed the atrocities the military had committed against Bravo. Pastor reported that Bravo was "subjected to a bucket treatment where his feet were held in a bucket of ice water until thoroughly chilled and then shoved into a bucket of boiling water." Bravo had also been subjected to electrical shocks and "to ‘the submarine’-repeatedly being held under water until almost drowned." In a handwritten note in the margin, Brzezinski wrote: "a compelling, powerful report."

Document 5

Senate Subcommittee on International Operations, Report, "Activities of Certain Foreign Intelligence Agencies in the United States," Top Secret, January 18, 1979

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

This Top Secret Sensitive report of the Staff of the Subcommittee on International Operations of the U.S. Senate provides a review of the Chilean secret service’s (DINA’s) activities in the United States. Officially declassified for the first time by the Obama administration, the report reveals that "Shortly after DINA was established, Director [Manuel] Contreras came to the United States to seek American assistance …" But the next 6 lines have been excised.

According to the report, DINA "officers have visited the United States using false identification and their activities were not known." Noting DINA’s membership in Operation Condor, the report continues: "This service maintains close liaison with the German Nazi colony of La Dignidad in Southern Chile which makes its substantial resources available."

Document 6

CIA, Latin America Review, "Argentina Grappling with Intelligence Reform," Secret, September 12, 1986

Source: President Obama Argentina Declassification Project [Tranche II]

This secret CIA Latin America Review takes a look into one of the conundrums faced by democratically elected Argentine President Raul Alfonsin to strengthen the democratic process itself. The issue at hand is control over the intelligence community comprised of the presidential intelligence agency SIDE (Secretaria de Inteligencia del Estado), military intelligence SIE, Navy and Air Force intelligence, and border patrol, coast guard, and Federal Police intelligence. "Testimony from ongoing military trials indicates that all the services committed human rights abuses during the ‘dirty war’ against terrorism…"

The document goes on to state that "Alfonsin began several reforms, but military resistance to change and a lack of capable intelligence officials loyal to the government have hampered these initiatives." For instance, after the Argentine president replaced some higher-ups in the powerful SIDE with civilians, the CIA indicates that "These moves, in our view, enhanced Alfonsin’s control over SIDE, but did so at the cost of the service’s professionalism."

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