Jacob G Hornberger |
In my article “Don’t Be Surprised If Saudis Get Away with Murder,” I detailed the U.S. national-security state’s kidnapping and the assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider in 1970. The point I made is that the power to assassinate comes with any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state. That includes the United States, where the military and the CIA wield the omnipotent, non-reviewable power to assassinate people who they deem to be threats to “national security.”
Given that the U.S. national-security state got away with murder in the case of Gen. Schneider, what are the odds that there will be a different outcome in Saudi Arabia? Sure, there might be some underlings who have to fall on their swords as a sacrifice to the greater good, but the chance that higher-ups in the Saudi regime will be held accountable for the murder is virtually nil.
There was no reasonable possibility that the CIA and the military were going to permit anyone to conduct any investigation into any of their national-security state assassinations.
Another example of this immunity-and-impunity phenomenon on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment was the killing of two Americans three years after Schneider’s assassination. The two Americans were Charles Horman and Frank Terguggi, two young American men who were executed during the Chilean coup in 1973.
In the 1970 Chilean presidential election, a socialist physician named Salvador Allende received a plurality of votes. Owing to his belief in socialism and communism and his reaching out to the Russians and Cubans in peace and friendship, U.S. officials deemed Allende to be a threat to U.S. “national security” and, therefore, had to be removed from power.
Since none of the three Chilean presidential candidates had received a majority of the votes, the election was thrown into the Chilean congress, pursuant to the Chilean constitution. So, the first U.S. plan was to bribe Chilean congressmen into voting against Allende. If that plan failed, the fallback plan was to incite a military coup to violently oust Allende from power.
The reason they assassinated Schneider was that Schneider was objecting to the coup, arguing that the Chilean constitution, which Chilean soldiers take an oath to support and defend, did not provide for a military coup as a way to remove a democratically elected president. The assassination of Schneider, however, angered the Chilean congressmen (and the Chilean people) so much that they rejected the CIA’s bribes and proceeded to vote in favor of Allende.
That didn’t stop U.S. officials, however. Since they had now removed Schneider from the scene, they began working on the Chilean military and intelligence establishment to oust Allende in a coup. Their argument? That the national-security establishment of any country has the solemn duty to oust a democratically elected president who is deemed to be a threat to national security.
The point I made is that the power to assassinate comes with any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state.
As I pointed out in my previous article, that mindset obviously has ramifications for the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, especially given that Kennedy, like Allende, was a left-leaning president who was reaching out to the communist world in a spirit of peace and friendship. U.S. officials finally succeeded in bringing about a coup on September 11, 1973. At the time of the coup, Horman had taken a friend to visit a seacoast town named Vina del Mar.
It undoubtedly was the unluckiest decision Horman ever made because that was where the coup began. Horman happened to discover evidence of U.S. military and CIA complicity in the coup, something that U.S. officials were determined to keep secret. In fact, that quest for secrecy was what ultimately got CIA Director Richard Helms convicted of lying to Congress. When asked if the CIA had participated in the events leading up to the coup, Helms lied and said no.
It didn’t help that Horman was a leftist and a strong supporter of Allende. So was Teruggi. In fact, Teruggi was also an ardent opponent of the U.S. military’s and CIA’s intervention in Vietnam, which had caused U.S. officials to conclude that he was a traitor to America. Along with some 50,000 Chileans, Horman and Teruggi were rounded up by goons of Chile’s national-security state, which was now being run by a brutal rightwing general named Augusto Pinochet. Almost all of them were brutally tortured, abused, or raped.
The national-security establishment of any country has the solemn duty to oust a democratically elected president who is deemed to be a threat to national security.
About three thousand of them were killed or disappeared. The crime? Believing in socialism or having supported or voted for a socialist president. Ordinarily, when something like this happens, however, foreigners are simply deported from the country. Since the U.S. government was a partner in this endeavor, it is inconceivable that Chilean officials would have executed two Americans instead of simply sending them out of the country, at least not without getting a green light from U.S. officials.
And a green light to kill both Horman and Teruggi was precisely what U.S. national-security officials gave their counterparts in the Chilean national-security establishment. Needless to say, the CIA and U.S. military intelligence played the innocent and acted like they had played no role in the execution of these two young American men. Many years later, however, a top-secret State Department memorandum revealed that the State Department had conducted a secret investigation into the murders of Horman and Teruggi.
The report concluded that U.S. intelligence had played a role in their executions and recommended a full investigation. That role had to have consisted of giving the green light to their Chilean counterparts to kill Horman and Teruggi.
But this was the CIA and military intelligence we are talking about. There was no reasonable possibility that the CIA and the military were going to permit anyone to conduct any investigation into any of their national-security state assassinations. That’s how they got away with murder, just as high Saudi officials will.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. This article was first published in The Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished here with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.