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The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continentsby John Dinges
Synopses & Reviews
Behind the covert, international anti-terrorist network responsible for South America's worst human rights abuses.
President Nixon had decided that an Allende regime was not acceptable to the United States. The President asked the agency to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him. — 1970 CIA internal memo
Operation Condor, set up by Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, was a secret alliance among six Southern Cone intelligence agencies that waged an international dirty war against internal enemies. Between 15,000 and 30,000 people were tortured and murdered as the operation, with funding and operational support from the CIA, ranged across national borders to destroy "subversion."
Award-winning journalist John Dinges, who was himself interrogated at a secret Chilean torture camp, draws on hundreds of interviews and newly opened secret police files to prove the extent of cooperation between Operation Condor and the United States government. Revolutionaries, spies and military officers — many speaking out for the first time — retell the brutal struggle between Condor and its enemies, alongside the suspenseful present-day narrative of the lawyers and judges whose relentless efforts to end the impunity of Condor's perpetrators led to Pinochet's arrest and changed international human rights law forever.
"Enthralling...deeply disturbing." Foreign Affairs
"Hampered by the weight and significance of its revelations, the book gets off to a slow start. Soon enough, however, vivid stories and details emerge....Dinges's meticulously documented study is a cautionary tale for today's war on terror..." Publishers Weekly
The Condor Years is the underground history of the international Dirty Wars by U.S. allies in South America. For much of a decade, six allied governments engaged in secret warfare intended to wipe out their enemies, kidnapping and murdering up to 30,000 people. At the initiative of Chilean president General Augusto Pinochet, and with encouragement from the CIA, they set up a multinational terrorist organization, Operation Condor, to pursue those who escaped to other Latin American countries, Europe, and the United States. John Dinges, using newly-available U.S. documents and the dictatorships' own files, tells this gripping story from the point of view of those who have tried to keep it secret. He dispassionately lays bare the true extent of U.S. complicity in the crimes of the dictators who called the United States "the leader." Revolutionaries, intelligence operatives, and U.S. officials — many speaking for the first time — recount the brutal struggle between Condor and its enemies.
The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents reveals the covert actions of an international intelligence network responsible for South America's worst human rights abuses.
About the Author
John Dinges, former managing editor of NPR News, is the author of Assassination on Embassy Row and Our Man in Panama. He is a professor of journalism at Columbia University.
Table of Contents
A Note on Sources and Acknowledgments
1 The First War on Terrorism 1
2 Meeting in Santiago 10
3 Tilting at Windmills 23
4 Revolution in the Counterrevolution 41
5 Agents in Argentina 63
6 Mission in Paraguay 82
7 The Condor System 99
8 "The Old Man Doesn't Want to Die" 126
9 Death in Argentina 135
10 Green Light, Red Light 156
11 A Preventable Assassination 175
12 Kissinger and Argentina's "Terrorist Problem" 199
13 Ed Koch and Condor's Endgame 214
14 The Pursuit of Justice and U.S. Accountability 230
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