August 23, 2002
We're Supposed to Be the Good Guys

"DISGUSTED" Department

Not that this is real news to anyone who paid any attention to U.S. policy in the 1970s:

National Security Archive Update, August 21, 2002 *ARGENTINE MILITARY BELIEVED U.S. GAVE GO-AHEAD FOR DIRTY WAR*

New State Department documents show conflict between Washington and US Embassy in Buenos Aires over signals to the military dictatorship at height of repression in 1976

Contact: Carlos Osorio/Thomas Blanton - 202/994-7000

Washington, D.C: State Department documents released yesterday on Argentina's dirty war (1976-83) show that the Argentine military believed it had U.S. approval for its all-out assault on the left in the name of fighting terrorism. The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires complained to Washington that the Argentine officers were "euphoric" over signals from high-ranking U.S. officials including then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The Embassy reported to Washington that after Mr. Kissinger's 10 June 1976 meeting with Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral Guzzetti, the Argentine government dismissed the Embassy's human rights approaches and referred to Kissinger's "understanding" of the situation. The current State Department collection does not include a minute of Kissinger's and Guzetti's conversation in Santiago, Chile.

On 20 September 1976, Ambassador Robert Hill reported that Guzzetti said "When he had seen SECY of State Kissinger in Santiago, the latter had said he 'hoped the Argentine Govt could get the terrorist problem under control as quickly as possible.' Guzzetti said that he had reported this to President Videla and to the cabinet, and that their impression had been that the USG's overriding concern was not human rights but rather that GOA 'get it over quickly'."

After a second meeting between Kissinger and Guzzetti in Washington, on 19 October 1976, Ambassador Robert Hill wrote "a sour note" from Buenos Aires complaining that he could hardly carry human rights demarches if the Argentine Foreign Minister did not hear the same message from the Secretary of State. "Guzzetti went to U.S. fully expecting to hear some strong, firm, direct warnings on his government's human rights practices, rather than that, he has returned in a state of jubilation, convinced that there is no real problem with the USG over that issue," wrote Hill.

The U.S. Embassy also disagreed with the State Department‚s Bureau of Intelligence 19 July 1976 assessment that there was a "murderous three-cornered battle going on in Argentina amongst left-wing terrorists, government security personnel and right wing goon squads." On 23 July 1976, Deputy Chief of Mission Maxwell Chaplin cabled Washington that "The battle is a two-sided affair, not tri-cornered" since "the only 'right-wing assassins' operating in Argentina at this point, however, are members of the GOA security forces."

The documents and analysis are available at the following URL:

Posted by DeLong at August 23, 2002 10:20 AM | Trackback

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