More Than Social Security Theft Binds Bush and Pinochet

by Carl Osgood

The Bush and Pinochet regimes have more in common than the looting of Social Security. Just as Pinochet required eight years of brutal repression at home, and assassinations of political opponents, before he could steal the workers' pension funds, the Bush Administration could not have dared launch their current drive to implement the "Pinochet Model" without similar draconian efforts in advance. In the case of the Bush-Cheney Administration, the equivalent of the Pinochet coup was the 9/11 attack, which provided them with the "Reichstag fire" precedent to go for brutal repression at home, under the so-called Patriot Act, and an aggressive campaign of global assassinations, directed against "terrorists." In the case of Pinochet's Chile, the global assassination program went under the code name Operation Condor. Today, the Bush Administration is launching a similar program, under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's much-heralded "military reform" schema.

The resemblance is hardly coincidental. One of the Pinochet junta's first actions upon taking power after the September 1973 coup, was to impose extraordinary police-state powers, which it continued to renew every six months for several years afterwards. It claimed this was made necessary by the internal security situation in the country. As late as July 1977, according to a memo written by the CIA's deputy director of operations, Pinochet and Gen. Manuel Contreras, the chief of the Directorate of National Security (DINA), "have believed... that a serious internal threat has existed in Chile and that the methods used by DINA to eliminate that threat have been entirely justified." Those methods included torture, forced disappearances, illegal detentions, and murder, and were often targetted against leftist political opposition.

Similarly, after 9/11, the U.S. Department of Justice rounded up thousands of men, of Arab and South Asian origin, on the pretext of suspicions of terrorist activities, and held them in secret, sometimes for weeks or months, without pressing charges or even announcing their names or whereabouts. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued new guidelines allowing surveillance of political and religious organizations and individuals without evidence of wrongdoing. Then he turned around and demanded from Congress, codification of these and other police-state measures, which were passed in the form of the misnamed USA Patriot Act. Among other things, the Patriot Act expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches, gives wide authority for phone and Internet surveillance, and gives access to normally private records with minimal judicial oversight.

The passage of the intelligence reform bill in December 2004 furthered this process with the inclusion of a number of so-called "Patriot II" provisions. It further breaks down the wall that has historically separated domestic and foreign intelligence operations by combining them under one roof, and it adds a provision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the so-called "lone wolf" provision, which makes any non-American person suspected of engaging in terrorist activity, regardless of whether any connection exists to a foreign government or terrorist organization, subject to a FISA surveillance warrant. While the law specifies that "non-American persons" only can be targetted, the 1980s frameup, prosecution, and imprisonment of Lyndon LaRouche proves that FISA can be abused to target Americans, as well.

Likewise, Pinochet's DINA combined police and military intelligence functions under one head, Contreras, who reported directly to Pinochet. Contreras was one of the founders of Operation Condor, a cooperative arrangement also involving Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. An Aug. 11, 1976 CIA staff memo noted that security officials of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay were "reportedly expanding their cooperative anti-subversive activities to include assassination of top-level terrorists in exile in Europe." It further noted that Operation Condor had already included the development of a centralized data collection capability and the direction of joint operations in the southern part of South America. At least as far as Chile was concerned, "terrorists" were, by definition, opponents of the Pinochet regime, such as Orlando Letelier, who had served as Chilean Ambassador to Washington and then as Foreign Minister in the government of Salvador Allende, overthrown by Pinochet in the September 1973 coup.

Eventually, Contreras, along with others, was implicated and convicted in the 1976 murder of Letelier. Pinochet was never charged, even though it is extremely unlikely that the Letelier assassination could have been carried out without his knowledge, if not his authorization.

For the Bush Administration, 9/11 was its equivalent of a coup. It could not have imposed the police-state measures embodied in the USA Patriot Act, nor launched the war in Iraq, without it. Its version of Operation Condor is being assembled, in the Pentagon, by Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone, and his military deputy, Lt. Gen. William G. "Gerry" Boykin. As reported by the New York Times on Dec. 19, Cambone and Boykin are assembling a proposal by which the Defense Department would take over covert operations and human intelligence, areas traditionally the domain of the civilian CIA. "Right now, we're looking at providing Special Operations forces some of the flexibility the CIA has had for years," one Defense official told the Times.

Although not mentioned in the Times account, it is likely that one of the models for this new capability is the hunter-killer teams that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan, variously known as Grey Fox, Task Force 121, and other names. These teams, made up of CIA and Army personnel, have had the job of hunting down and assassinating alleged terrorists.

Only after eight years of police-state repression, after all potential political opposition was crushed, including the labor movement, did the Pinochet regime move forward with its theft of the public pension system. The Bush Administration, after having imposed nearly identical police-state measures, is now also moving forward to implement its theft of Social Security on behalf of the synarchist bankers. Unlike Chile, however, the political opposition to Bush's scheme is very much alive and well, and led by Lyndon LaRouche.

Next: Dossiers of 'Economic Hit Men'

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