U.S. Policy in Argentina Declassified

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tags: Argentina, Dirty War



Thumbnail image:   Photographs of victims of the 1976-83 dictatorship (Wikipedia)

The Obama Administration today released what it called “the first tranche” of declassified documents on repression in Argentina, fulfilling a commitment to open long-secret U.S. intelligence archives made by President Obama when he visited Buenos Aires on March 24, 2016, on the 40th anniversary of the military coup.

During diplomatic talks last week, Secretary of State John Kerry turned over more than 1000 pages, drawn from the SCIFS — Secure Compartmentalized Information Facilities — at the Ford, Carter and Reagan presidential libraries, to Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Tomorrow, the U.S. embassy plans to formally present a set of the records to CELS, Argentina’s leading human rights group. 

The administration also posted the records on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence today at this URL:

https://icontherecord.tumblr.com/post/148650765298/argentina-declassification-project

The release marks the first installment of thousands of CIA, NSC, Defense Department and FBI documents that are currently being gathered and reviewed as part of President Obama’s executive declassification project on Argentina. Another release of records is expected before Obama leaves office, with additional “tranches” of the most sensitive records to be released under the next administration. (During the last year of the Clinton administration in 2000, the State Department initiated a special declassification on Argentina which resulted in the release of 4,200 State Department records during the first year of the George W. Bush administration.) “We are conscious of the lessons of the past,” Secretary Kerry stated on August 4 when he handed over the first set of records. He noted that there would be “more to come in the future.”

The documents released today include formerly secret memoranda of conversation between President Jimmy Carter and Argentine junta leader General Jorge Videla, as well as records of a meeting between Videla and Vice President Walter Mondale in Rome in 1977, along with NSC records on how to press the Argentine military to limit human rights violations. The White House records reveal President Carter’s personal intervention in obtaining the release of one of Argentina’s most famous political prisoners, newspaper publisher Jacobo Timmerman. 

The National Security Archive, which has worked on previous executive declassification projects, hailed today’s publication of records related to Argentina. “This release marks an important step forward in the quest for truth, justice and historical accountability,” noted Carlos Osorio, who directs the Archive’s Southern Cone project. The Obama administration, according to senior analyst Peter Kornbluh, “deserves credit for this act of declassified diplomacy and for making the declassification of secret government records a creative component of U.S. policy to advance human rights.”




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