With yesterday marking the 41st anniversary of the U.S.-supported military coup in Chile, which resulted in the kidnapping, detention, rapes, torture, disappearances, and murders of thousands of innocent people, we would be remiss if we failed to commemorate the criminal conviction of Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, for lying to Congress about the CIA’s role in trying to effect regime change in Chile prior to the coup.
In Chile’s 1970 presidential election, Salvador Allende won with a plurality of the votes. Under Chile’s constitution, that threw the election into the hands of the Chilean congress. Traditionally, the congress would elect the person who received the largest number of votes, even if he wasn’t of the political party that controlled Congress.
Since Allende was a person who believed in socialism and communism, however, President Richard Nixon decided that the U.S. government would do whatever it could to prevent Allende from becoming president of Chile, notwithstanding the fact that he would have been duly elected president by the Chilean people.
So, Nixon ordered the CIA into action.
The CIA operated on two tracks: One track involved bribing the members of the Chilean congress with enormous amounts of U.S. taxpayer money. The purpose of the bribes was to induce the congressmen to vote against Allende notwithstanding the fact that he had been the leading vote-getter.
The other track involved a military coup, one in which U.S. officials would bribe, cajole, and encourage Chilean military officials to violate their oaths to support and defend the country’s constitution by ousting the Allende from office in a violent military coup should the congress proceed to elect him president.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that U.S. officials had intervened in Chilean political affairs. To prevent Allende from rising within Chile’s political system during the 1960s, the CIA had become one of the biggest, most influential, and powerful political forces in the country by flooding groups, candidates, and newspapers who were opposed to Allende with U.S. taxpayer money.
Needless to say, all of this sordid activity was kept secret from the American people on the basis of, yes, “national security,” the two magic words that have come to be used as shield for wrongdoing by the U.S. national-security state — two magic words that aren’t even mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.