Obama Declassifies Top Secret Intelligence Files on Repression in Argentina

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tags: Argentina, Operation Condor



 Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and “liquidate” opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, targeted officials of Amnesty International as well as human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London, according to a comprehensive CIA report on Condor operations released today by the Obama administration. “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”

The secret CIA report is included among more than 500 pages of documents on repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina declassified today by the Obama administration as part of a commitment made by the president last March when he visited Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of the military coup. “I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency,” Obama stated then.

The CIA’s sources inside Condor reported that “a training course was held in Buenos Aires for the team heading overseas,” and that “Condor leaders were considering the dispatch of a team to London—disguised as businessmen—to monitor ‘suspicious’ activities in Europe.” According to the CIA, “Another proposal under study included the collection of material on the membership, location, and political activities of human rights groups in order to identify and expose their socialist and Marxist connections. Similar data reportedly are to be collected on church and third-world groups.”

In another TOP SECRET/EXDIS/CODEWORD Condor document declassified today, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research reported that “six Southern Cone nations" which were “participants in a counterterrorist network codenamed ‘Condor’” have agreed “to undertake the liquidation of Latin American” targets “living in France.”

The documents are part of a second tranche of intelligence and presidential records posted today on the website of the Department of National Intelligence. The administration posted an initial set of documents on Argentina, drawn from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, on August 8, 2016.  As more records are processed for declassification, several more releases are planned for 2017, after Obama leaves office.

“With the release of this revealing documentation, President Obama has advanced the cause of human rights in Argentina and elsewhere,” said Carlos Osorio, who directs the Southern Cone documentation project at the National Security Archive and has actively supported the Administration’s special declassification project. “This gesture of declassification diplomacy,” Osorio noted, “will be part of the legacy of Obama’s presidency.”

Among the documents that the National Security Archive identified as newsworthy was a NSC summary of the torture of Alfredo Bravo the president of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. The report was sent in August 1978 to President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, by his top aide for Latin America, Robert Pastor, who detailed the atrocities the military had committed against Bravo. Pastor reported that Bravo had been “subjected to a bucket treatment where his feet were held in a bucket of ice water until thoroughly chilled and then shoved into a bucket of boiling water.” Bravo had also been subjected to electrical shocks and “subjected to ‘the submarine’—repeatedly being held under water until almost drowned.”

In a handwritten note in the margin of the document Brzezinski wrote: “a compelling, powerful report.”

For further information, contact: Carlos Osorio: cosorio@gwu.edu




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