Show: FRESH AIR
Date: MARCH 02, 2000
Head: Britain Allows Pinochet to Return to Chile
Sect: News; International
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.
TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
Early this morning, the 84-year-old former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was freed from house arrest in England and allowed to return home to Chile. He had been held in England for over 16 months during proceedings to extradite him to Spain to stand trial on charges of genocide, torture, kidnapping, and murder in connection with the disappearance of more than 3,000 people after he took power in a 1973 coup. He remained in power till 1990.
Britain ended proceedings against Pinochet on the grounds that his failing health and his, quote, "memory deficit" made him unfit to stand trial.
When Pinochet was placed under house arrest, President Clinton ordered the declassification of all documents that might shed light on human rights abuse, terrorism, and other acts of political violence during the Pinochet era. Thousands of documents have already been released. Another batch will be released in June.
Later, we'll talk with the widow of one of Pinochet's victims. First we're joined by Peter Kornbluh. He's senior analyst at the National Security Archive, which works for the release of classified documents that can shed light on important recent history.
I asked Kornbluh his reaction to Pinochet's release.
PETER KORNBLUH, NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE: Well, on the one hand, it's an extraordinarily disappointing day for the international human rights community, and certainly for General Pinochet's victims, who are both in Chile and in the United States and around the world.
But on the other hand, over these last 16 months, an extraordinary precedent has been set and an extraordinary chain of events has taken place, which has established not only the principle of universal jurisdiction in international law regarding human rights violators like General Pinochet, but has also changed the way Chile will always be and the way people around the world and the United States and elsewhere will always view the history of General Pinochet's repression.
So on the one hand it's a difficult day, but it's also the beginning of a new era for the human rights movement.
GROSS: What did you hope would have been accomplished if he were extradited and thence to trial?
KORNBLUH: Very simply that his victims would have been able to face him in court. That was the basic goal, to see him in court, facing his victims, having the evidence presented in an organized, legal fashion for him to face and confront that history and those crimes, and for the world to be able to witness this presentation as well.
GROSS: How did the attempts to extradite Pinochet and prosecute him lead President Clinton to release documents related to Chile?
KORNBLUH: Well, Spain, of course, had indicted General Pinochet and 38 of his subordinates. A special prosecutor there had begun an investigation in 1996. And under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that Spain has with the United States, Spanish courts had asked Washington, had asked the Clinton administration for evidence. And at the point when General Pinochet was actually arrested in London in October of 1998, the Clinton administration had not responded in any way, shape, or form.
After Pinochet's arrest, there was extraordinary pressure from the international community, from some of Pinochet's most famous victims, on the Clinton administration to do something to support the Spanish case. And for a variety of reasons, Clinton administration officials did not want to directly make any pronouncement in support of prosecuting Pinochet. And instead, they decided to do a special declassification project, to declassify documents in the name of helping Chile confront its past, of helping American victims of Pinochet's crimes close -- closure on those cases, and to help, I think, the historical record be given to the American public and to Chileans as well.
If somebody like Peter Kornbluh wanted to take these documents and go to Spain and enter them into evidence there, then that could happen. But the administration itself was simply going to release these documents for the public at large.
GROSS: Well, the documents that have been released so far -- and there's more that will be released in June -- these documents have reopened two issues. One, what are the atrocities that the Pinochet government was responsible for? And two, what was the involvement of the U.S. government in supporting the coup against Allende and then supporting the Pinochet government?
Let's start with what the Pinochet government was responsible for. Do these documents help reveal how much responsibility Pinochet had for murder and torture of dissidents in Chile?
KORNBLUH: Some of the documents that have been declassified so far -- and we're talking about over 25,000 pages at this point -- are really extraordinary. They record the inner machinery of Pinochet's oppression, because they're based on sources inside his own military, inside his own secret police, for example.
And a number of the intelligence reports that have been declassified do make it clear that Pinochet was directly in the chain of command for the repression that took place. There's one Defense Intelligence Agency document, for example -- and I have it here with me -- that states that Pinochet was given a briefing every morning at 7:30 by the head of Chile's secret police, known as DINA. And a DINA official told U.S. intelligence that Pinochet issues instructions to DINA, is aware of its activities, and, in fact, heads it.
Now, DINA, of course, was responsible for the vast majority of the torture, disappearances, murders that took place inside Chile as well as for the extraordinary acts of international terrorism that took place against Chilean targets abroad, including here in Washington, D.C.
GROSS: Any other documents you want to excerpt for us that shed light on Pinochet's role in human rights abuses and crimes against humanity?
KORNBLUH: Well, there was another Defense Intelligence Agency document here that makes it clear that other members of the Chilean military were upset that DINA had such extraordinary powers of repression, and the document shows that these other members of Chile -- of Pinochet's own regime went to him and said, You know, DINA has to be put under control. DINA is a monster. DINA is like the KGB. This is the Chilean military officials talking in these documents.
And Pinochet absolutely refused to release -- relinquish his own personal control. As the document puts it, "The head of DINA, General Manuel Contreras, has reported exclusively to and received orders only from President Pinochet." "There is an apprehension," this document goes on, "of many senior military authorities regarding the possibility of DINA becoming a modern-day Gestapo. DINA's autonomous authority is great and increasing. Junta members are unable to influence President Pinochet's decisions concerning DINA. Regarding DINA organization, policies, and operations, Contreras's authority is near absolute, subject only to an unlikely presidential veto."
GROSS: If Pinochet had stood trial, it would have been for crimes against humanity. Give us a sense of the scope of what crimes he would have been charged for.
KORNBLUH: He would have been charged for multiple acts of torture. And these documents, I think, help tie him to the abuses that took place. He would have been tried for disappearances. There's still 1,000 people who disappeared in Chile during Pinochet's reign of terror that are unaccounted for, whose families don't know where they are, don't really know if they're actually dead, although assume that they are, and would like to give them a proper burial.
This is one of the most outstanding issues of human rights abuses that's still -- that Chile has still yet to confront, and certainly will when Pinochet returns. But -- and those are some of the cases that he would have been charged with.
There was a great deal of back and forth in the British courts about what period of time of Pinochet's atrocities he could actually be accused of if he went to Spain. And the window on this was narrowed to 1988, 1989, 1990, although the charge of conspiracy to commit torture still stood.
And under that charge, I think the Spanish case would have gone back to the beginning, the moment of the coup and the days following that, and how the repressive apparatus was created, how Pinochet took direct control of DINA and gave free reign to his secret police forces to commit these horrible acts of human rights atrocities.
GROSS: My guest is Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive. We'll talk more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.
GROSS: My guest is Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive, which works for the release of classified documents, documents that will help us better understand our own recent history.
In the documents that have been released, with the support of President Clinton, is their new information about U.S. involvement in the coup against Allende and in the support of the Pinochet regime?
KORNBLUH: In truth, the U.S. intelligence community has so far withheld almost all documentation on the U.S. role in Chile, both the U.S. role in seeking to undermine the Allende government between 1970 and 1973, and the role of the CIA and the U.S. military in helping General Pinochet consolidate his power after the coup in September of 1973.
And those documents are missing so far. They are desaparicodos (ph), disappeared, just like so many of Pinochet's victims. We have brought increased pressure on the Clinton administration to make sure that some of these documents are declassified in June, when the final release takes place. But so far there's still extraordinary resistance all these years later, by U.S. agencies, U.S. national security agencies, to actually let this history loose once and for all.
GROSS: Let's start with what we do know so far as the result of the recent release of documents and earlier releases as well. There's notes that date back to 1970, and these were notes, I think handwritten, by then-CIA director Richard Helms after a meeting with President Nixon. Would you just summarize what's revealed in that memo?
KORNBLUH: Those notes actually were declassified some years ago as part of a major Senate investigation into CIA covert operations in Chile. They're rather -- it's a rather extraordinary document. It's the handwritten notes of Richard Helms, the director of the CIA, listening to Richard Nixon's orders on September 15, 1970, just after Salvador Allende has been elected but before Allende has actually been inaugurated.
And Nixon basically tells Helms, Spend $10 million, use the best men we have, make the economy scream, don't tell the State Department or the U.S. embassy what we're doing. This is a top priority. And so it's -- in a record of promoting -- of the president of the United States telling the CIA to go to Chile, undermine democracy, promote a military coup if possible.
These orders set off a whole chain of events, most of the documentation on which has yet to be declassified. The whole three-year history of U.S. efforts that began with Nixon's directive to the CIA to promote a coup is largely still hidden. And as we are asking the Chileans to address their past, the human rights abuses there, we, I think, in the United States have to also uncover and acknowledge and confront our own role in undermining democracy in Chile and promoting the violent coup and the terror that took place thereafter.
GROSS: Would you sum up some of the documents that were released back in the '70s that indicate that there was U.S. complicity in the coup?
KORNBLUH: Over the years, only a handful of documents -- I'd say, you know, a dozen or so that are really top secret, dealing with Nixon and Kissinger and the CIA's high-level decision-making on covert operations in Chile -- have been declassified, and those that have been declassified are heavily censored. They have huge passages that are blacked out still.
But those documents show that Nixon told his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to kind of oversee this project. Kissinger called in the CIA and had them report to him on coup plotting in the fall of 1970, an effort to keep Allende from being inaugurated. And after Allende was inaugurated, Kissinger basically said to the CIA, you know, Keep every effort on Allende's weak spot until new marching orders are given.
And new marching orders were not given until the coup took place in 1973. And at that point Kissinger oversaw a committee that changed the covert operations in Chile from being destabilization operations against Allende to being operations to help General Pinochet consolidate.
We don't have any of the documents, for the most part, on that period of time, 1973, 1974, 1975, and that is critical history that absolutely must be released if we are to understand the past and go forward.
GROSS: Now, there is a document that was recently released that sheds light on the murder of a young American man in Chile named Charles Horman, and his dramatized in the 1982 film "Missing." He was arrested during the coup, taken to the stadium, which was being used as a detention center, and killed. And a question has always been, you know, did the U.S. embassy in Chile or any other U.S. government officials know anything about this, and was the U.S. government complicit in any way?
Would you tell us what this document reveals and read an excerpt for us?
KORNBLUH: For many years, the U.S. government's position was that they did not know what happened to Charles Horman, and another American was also executed in the national stadium, Frank Tarucci (ph). And that was their official position. And they hid that -- they hid the truth from the families, particularly the Horman family, for almost 26 years. In 1980 they declassified a document, but portions of it were blacked out, and recently the same document has been declassified under this special project, and now those passages can be read.
And they're extraordinary. They show that the State Department knew that the Chilean military had killed Charles Horman, despite the public -- our public statements that we didn't know what had happened to him, and that they -- State Department shared the suspicions of the family that the U.S. intelligence community, the CIA, might have had some direct or indirect role.
The document, the passage that was blacked out originally, reads, "Based on what we have, we are persuaded that the government of Chile sought Horman and felt threatened enough to order his immediate execution. The government of Chile might have believed this American could be killed without negative fallout from the U.S. government."
And it goes on, "There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest," according to this declassified State Department document, "that U.S intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death. At best, that role was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the government of Chile. At worst, U.S. intelligence was aware the government of Chile saw Horman in a rather serious light, and U.S. officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of the governor of Chile's paranoia."
This, of course, is as close to a smoking gun of a document as we have seen on the Horman case, and even though it is referring to circumstantial evidence, it makes it clear that the State Department itself had grave concerns about conduct and possible complicity of other branches of the U.S. government in Chile. I have to say that in these documents that were declassified, the State Department says, you know, We can only read our own documents. Somebody's got to go to the CIA and get them to investigate.
That never happened back then, and that is one of the things that needs to happen now. It's a difficult situation. To date the CIA has not released a single paragraph of its own documents on the Horman case as part of this special declassification project.
GROSS: Why was Charles Horman seen as a threat by Pinochet?
KORNBLUH: You know, Charles Horman may well simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the day of the coup, he and a friend were in the port city of Valparaiso, and they met a number of U.S. military officials and overheard conversations that they were having, which Charlie and his friend interpreted as complicity in the coup.
They were stuck there. They got a ride back to Santiago from a U.S. military official, Captain Ray Davis, and that's how they crossed paths with Americans. Two days later, Charlie disappeared and was not seen again until his body was discovered in a hidden grave in the national cemetery weeks later.
But we don't really know at this point what happened. U.S. intelligence officials have never opened their files for public scrutiny on this case and the case of Frank Tarucci. U.S. intelligence officials who had contacts with the Chilean military have never testified in court about this. The historical record remains buried, and for the families, the Horman family, the Tarucci family, to have closure on this case, the files have to be opened, the evidence reviewed, leads followed, Chileans who actually did the murders identified, and the story told.
GROSS: Why is this case so important?
KORNBLUH: Well, one reason it's so important is because it is at the heart of U.S. policy towards democracy and/or dictatorship. These two young Americans were killed as part of a U.S.-supported coup. And their deaths were essentially swept aside by the efforts of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and other U.S. officials to embrace the Pinochet dictatorship and keep peripheral issues -- "trivial matters," as one document refers to them -- from interrupting the new relationship between the United States and the military government of Chile.
We have a declassified memorandum of conversation between Henry Kissinger and Augusto Pinochet, for example, June of 1976, at the height of Pinochet's repression, where Kissinger says to Pinochet, We're sympathetic to what you're trying to do in Chile here. We think you're the victim of a left-wing conspiracy around the world, you know, to cast you in a bad light. But we supported your overthrow of the Allende government, which was going communist. You did the West a service.
That's the kind of attitude that came to play in 1973 when these two Americans were killed.
GROSS: Peter Kornbluh is senior analyst at the National Security Archive. He'll be back later in the show. We'll also talk with Joyce Horman about her husband, Charles, who was executed by the Pinochet regime.
I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.
GROSS: Joyce Horman's husband, Charles, was one of the victims of the Pinochet regime. Charles was arrested, detained, and executed during the coup. A classified U.S. document that was recently released indicates that U.S. intelligence may have played a part in his murder. We'll talk with Joyce Horman and continue our conversation with Peter Kornbluh.
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was released from house arrest in England today and allowed to return home to Chile. He will not be extradited and prosecuted for crimes against humanity because the British government determined that his failing health and memory left him unfit to stand trial.
My guest, Joyce Horman, is the widow of Charles Horman, an American victim of the Pinochet regime. Charles Horman was dragged away from his home in Santiago by soldiers during Pinochet's 1973 military coup and taken to the stadium, which had been converted into a detention center.
Joyce didn't find out that he was killed until a month after his arrest. She and her father-in-law received no help from the American embassy in Chile, where officials professed to know nothing.
The Hormans have always wondered if American officials played a role in Charles's murder. A classified document that was recently released reveals that American officials knew more than they let on and may have provided or confirmed information that led to Charles Horman's murder.
I spoke to Joyce Horman earlier this week, before Pinochet's release. I asked her what else she still wants to know about her husband's death.
JOYCE HORMAN, WIDOW OF CHARLES HORMAN: I want to know who gave the order to kill my husband and why. And I don't think the U.S. government has helped clarify that as much as they could, and certainly the Chilean government has -- you know, in 1973, they told us Charlie had been killed in the streets by leftists, which is obviously a falsehood.
GROSS: Let's go back to 1973, the year of the military coup in Chile, the year that your husband was murdered. Why had you both gone to Chile? What were you looking for there? What were you doing there?
HORMAN: Well, Charles had actually finished his services obligation in the U.S., and he was a journalist and a filmmaker, and very interested in the fact that Allende had been elected in Chile. Allende, a socialist, and at that particular time there was a lot of interest in this democratic process and what, in fact, it would signify in Chile and to others.
So his was an intellectual and political interest. And at that time, we wanted to visit Latin America and spend more time together, and this was a destination we both decided on, Santiago, Chile.
GROSS: Just before the coup, Charles had gone to a coastal resort in Chile with your mutual friend Terry Simon (ph), and I think he saw something there that he probably wasn't supposed to see. What happened?
HORMAN: Well, tensions were rising in Santiago at that time, and Terry had come down from New York to visit us. And the day before, I -- a couple of days before, I had taken her to the mountains just to see Portillo (ph), and I would have gone with them to Vina, except I had to renew my passport.
So Charles and Terry set out, and that's when the coup happened, is when they got to Vina. And they were trapped there and met up with other Americans, and these Americans were U.S. military personnel. And they were not only jubilant about the coup and its success, but they seemed to be taking credit for part of it. And Charles knew how dangerous that information was.
And he and Terry were really privy to their conversations for this period of a few days, until they -- until Terry and Charles got a ride back to Santiago with Captain Ray Davis, the head of the military group, the U.S. military group.
And then the next day, after arrival in Santiago -- because they got there very close to curfew -- the next day they came to our home, and I got to talk to Terry and Charlie about what they had seen. And it was very clear that Charles was disturbed and understood that this was dangerous information, because they were covert, they weren't there on public duties from the U.S.
GROSS: The military people who your husband and Terry met were there covertly?
GROSS: You were separated by a lot of miles when the coup actually happened, because your -- you were trying to get your passport (inaudible) Santiago, whereas your husband was at a resort town on the coast. So you were alone during...
HORMAN: I was alone, but I was -- honestly, I was very happy that Charles was in a safe -- what I considered to be a safe place. I was very pleased about that. Yes, I was alone, and I was hunkering down in my apartment, and I wasn't going anywhere because there was curfew 24 hours a day.
GROSS: Would you describe to us what was going on in the streets during the coup?
HORMAN: Well, most of what you could tell was going on was the sounds, and the strafing of the planes you could hear. At night you could hear machine guns, and sometimes they were close and sometimes they were far. But mostly it was the sounds that could tell you what was happening. The radio broadcasts were very aggressively suggesting that there were people in Santiago that had to be rooted out, people that were bad for Chileans. Externjas (ph), you know, the foreigners, should be reported to the military.
So that was a very, very frightening aspect to the sounds of violence that came across during the day and at night.
GROSS: When was the last time you saw your husband?
HORMAN: They -- Terry and Charles came to the house on Sunday night, and then Monday Charles took Terry downtown and also to find out about airplane tickets out. We were planning on leaving as soon as we could. Since I had not successfully renewed my passport, I was reluctant to go downtown with them and went to another part of the city to check on friends' well-being.
And coming back from that visit, I ran into the problem of the buses not stopping regularly and there being a general high level of tension about the curfew. And I did not get back to the house that evening. That is when Charles was taken and our home was ransacked that evening. He was taken from our home and, with a box of books, put into a truck. Then a neighbor, who accidentally was going the same direction that that truck was, saw them take him to the stadium, where many people were being detained at that time, the national football stadium.
GROSS: Did you have any reason to believe, after you found out that your husband had been taken away, that they'd come for you next?
HORMAN: Yes. Another neighbor, sharing the gate that we shared, suggested that they might come back, and that I should leave immediately. That was the morning that I did get back and found the house ransacked. So I did go across town to a friend's house, and it was there that I learned that some of our old neighbors had been queried -- had been given -- had been called by military intelligence about Charles, calling him a leftist extremist. And that's when I decided to go in to tell the U.S. embassy and consulate of his disappearance.
GROSS: What kind of reaction did you get?
HORMAN: Because I didn't honestly know before that. What kind of reaction did I get?
HORMAN: Well, I went to tell them that my husband had been taken away and was being held by the Chileans, and I was surprised that they didn't seem to be very excited about it. They wanted to know when I'd seen my husband, what it -- all of the information that I could give them, and I understand that. But I was very upset when I went there, and I also asked them for asylum for myself, because I -- my home had been destroyed, and I didn't know where I was going to stay.
And they said that wasn't possible, they didn't have accommodations. Please remember that the Italian embassy, the Swedish embassy, were filled, filled with people taking refuge at that time because of the violence.
And the thing that was remarkable about the U.S. embassy was, there was no out-of-the-ordinary behavior. They hadn't acknowledged the violence in the streets, and they still weren't, in their behavior, behaving like there was some urgency. It was still a very business-as-usual kind of environment, which was utterly remarkable to me, the way I came in to them at that time.
GROSS: What do you do when your husband has been taken away by the government, where do you look? Do you -- did you try to go to the stadium? Was there any way of finding out if he was there? Do you call the police?
HORMAN: Well, in fact, that...
GROSS: (inaudible)? What do you do?
HORMAN: Well, it wasn't until Ed Horman came down that we started a very thorough set of actions like the ones you mentioned.
GROSS: He's your father-in-law.
HORMAN: Yes, Ed Horman is Charlie's father. And when Ed came to Santiago, which I think was an incredibly courageous act on his part, we did all of those things together. Prior to that, I went to speak to Captain Ray Davis, who said he would help us. I went to find out whether or not people were getting into the stadium. I asked the ambassador to go to the stadium, and he said, Well, what do you want me to do, look under all the bleachers?
Of course, that's exactly what I wanted him to do, and other ambassadors were going to the stadium. But Nathaniel Davis was not, was not so inclined and not feeling the urgency to do that.
And when I kept getting what I felt was a lack of support and a lack of assistance, I called for -- I called Ed Horman and spoke to him of that. And that was also when we had learned that Frank Tarucci's body had been identified. And all of a sudden it became extremely urgent. It was urgent before, and I had been trying to find Charles. But when we found out about Frank, then I asked Ed if he would please come and help, and he did.
GROSS: Frank was a friend of Charles.
HORMAN: Frank Tarucci was a student, and a few years younger. But they were both -- they were acquaintances.
GROSS: How did you find out what actually happened to Charles?
HORMAN: It's actually a member of the Ford Foundation who told Ed Horman what had happened to Charles, and Ed told me. And this was via a friend who had a close association with someone in the stadium who told him. So that's how it got to us.
GROSS: And what...
HORMAN: It wasn't...
GROSS: Yes, go ahead.
HORMAN: It wasn't via the U.S. officials.
GROSS: Were you able to get evidence that he was actually killed? Like, were you able to see his body?
HORMAN: Yes, we did. The body was shipped to the U.S. several months afterwards, and it confirmed as Charles's body. The body had not been preserved, so it was difficult to do in an autopsy so many months later. And actually probably the only reason that the body was ever sent back was because of Jake Javits, who said, No body, no TOE (ph) missiles. And so he's another of my heroes.
GROSS: When you say, No body, no TOE missiles, what, he wasn't going to vote for...
HORMAN: The U.S. wouldn't send any TOE missiles to Chile if they didn't return Charles Horman's body.
GROSS: I see. So you got the body but no information.
GROSS: And you buried his remains in the States?
HORMAN: Yes, Greenwood.
GROSS: It sounds like you remain close to your in-laws.
HORMAN: Actually, Edmund Horman passed away a few years ago, and if he were alive today, he would be definitely down in Washington talking to congressmen about being sure that those intelligence agencies let go of those documents at this time, 26 years later. There's really no national security issue any more, state security issue any more. He would be doing that if he were here.
But Elizabeth Horman and I definitely are very close, and we are still hopeful that the truth will come out. And we are looking very closely at this June date of release of documents, and hopefully we will get some more information. If it's the full truth, that would be the best.
GROSS: My guest is Joyce Horman. Her husband, Charles, was killed in Chile in 1973 during Pinochet's military coup. We'll talk more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.
GROSS: My guest is Joyce Horman. Her husband Charles Horman was killed in 1973 by the Pinochet regime.
GROSS: ... who were in similar positions to you, who had lost loved ones who were executed at the stadium right after the coup.
HORMAN: In fact, I had. There was an opportunity to testify in the House of Commons. It was an invitational. And there were many people that had actually come up from Chile and from other parts of Europe to testify as well as I. And there were people who had suffered at the hands of the Pinochet regime, people who'd suffered torture and never been able to tell their story before.
And I was quite moved by these incredible stories. And I think anyone who had the privilege of being there at that time would have understood the importance of some sort of justice for Pinochet and for what happened in Chile in 1973.
GROSS: I was reading the book that was written awhile ago about you and your husband. It was the book that was the basis of the movie "Missing." And in, you know, in that book, it said that your husband and your father for a while hadn't been getting along very well, for the typical reasons that parents and young people weren't getting along back in the '60s and early '70s, different political points of view, cultural points of view.
I'm wondering how this -- the execution of your husband affected his father's politics.
HORMAN: Actually I think that was fairly accurately reflected in the movie "Missing." Ed Horman had a very strong sense of the U.S. government being right in a lot of things, and for Ed Horman to experience what he experienced in Chile did produce changes in him. And then afterwards, to go to the U.S. Congress and demand an investigation and to be told, of course, this can't ever happen again, and then not to have any investigation produced a change in Ed Horman.
And then to sue Kissinger and the State Department for documents that came out heavily redacted and obviously with more information about and knowledge of the circumstances of Charlie's death, all of that changed Ed Horman.
GROSS: Did it change you, or did it confirm what you already believed?
HORMAN: I had a strong feeling that the U.S. was promoting the coup and, in fact, the U.S. officials in Chile did not protect my husband. I know that they didn't protect my husband. And I, having lived down there and having watched the process of the coup and seen the violence and the bodies in the street, I knew that -- how much violence and how much wrong was being done.
I didn't have a lot of hope in uncovering it, and I think what I learned, mostly from Ed Horman, is that you have to go after the truth, and you have to go after it as if you won't settle for less.
GROSS: I know you want an explanation about what happened to your husband. Do you want anything else? Do you want an apology? Do you want damages?
HORMAN: Well, we certainly want the truth to come out about U.S. involvement, if there is, and there's actually no doubt that there was U.S. involvement in the coup in Chile, but all -- but if there was U.S. involvement in Charles's death, we want that truth to come out. We also want the truth as they know it from Chile as to what happened to Charles. I want to know who gave the order and why.
In terms of damages, I think once the truth comes out, it will be clear whether or not it's appropriate to ask for damages. Certainly Elizabeth Horman and Ed Horman, as long as he lived, was working on this, trying to get at the truth, and when one person dies in this way, many people's lives are affected.
GROSS: Joyce Horman's husband, Charles, was killed in Chile in 1973 by the Pinochet regime. Our interview was recorded earlier this week, before Pinochet's release from house arrest.
Coming up, Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive returns to talk more about Pinochet and American classified documents about Chile.
This is FRESH AIR.
GROSS: Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was allowed to return home to Chile today after the British government determined that his failing health and memory left him unfit to stand trial. He would have been extradited to Spain and prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed during his regime from 1973 to 1990.
Let's get back to Peter Kornbluh, who we spoke with earlier on today's show. Kornbluh is senior analyst at the National Security Archive, which works for the declassification of secret American documents that can shed light on recent history.
What do you expect will happen when Pinochet returns back to Chile? Do you think there will be any kind of protests?
KORNBLUH: Certainly there will be people that come out to protest. There will be a smaller group of his supporters that rally behind him. There will be calls for his prosecution in Chile. Chilean military will cast its net around him, its net of protection, to keep him from being prosecuted.
You know, the Chilean civilian government of Eduardo Frei, which is about to step down, is largely responsible for Pinochet's return. They kind of had a long checklist of efforts to get him sprung from London, and they finally arrived at the medical issue and petitioned the British to evaluate him on medical grounds and release him on humanitarian grounds.
And I think they will forever be tied to Pinochet's release. Ironically, I think his return to Chile will be more disruptive than if he had stayed in Europe.
But he is coming back to a country that has changed dramatically. A former disciple of the Allende government, Ricardo Lagos (ph), has been elected president over a former disciple of Pinochet's regime. You have a country where before Pinochet was arrested, it was simply impolite to talk about the past. Yet since his arrest, kind of a shadow of his repression has been lifted, and the whole country is focused on redressing these still-open wounds in order to move forward.
There's an extraordinary irony that he's being allowed to go back because of what Home Secretary Jack Straw calls his memory deficiency, that is, that he has suffered some minor strokes and can't really remember what his misdeeds of the past in order to help his defense. But he's going back to a country and to a world that certainly remembers. He may well not remember his crimes against humanity, but now the world will never forget.
GROSS: Pinochet won't be standing trial, but will anyone else be prosecuted?
KORNBLUH: It is extremely possible now that some of his subordinates will be prosecuted. One of his key kind of handymen of repression, Dinero Arolano Stark (ph), has, in fact, been indicted and arrested for charges that he led a so-called caravan of death up and down Chile in the days following the coup. Other military officials are being indicted and investigated for crimes including disappearances of Chilean citizens.
The Chilean courts have ruled that disappearance is really perpetual kidnapping, and that there is no limit of -- statute of limitations on such a crime, and that such a crime does not fall under the immunity that Pinochet gave to himself and his subordinates in the late 1970s to protect them from precisely this kind of prosecution.
So human rights cases are going to go forward. They are going to be emboldened and hopefully they will be helped by the declassification of U.S. documents which can shed light on those responsible for these crimes.
GROSS: Pinochet won't be prosecuted because of his failing health and failing memory. But other than that, he would have been extradited, and he would have been prosecuted. What precedent does the Pinochet case set now for other tyrants?
KORNBLUH: There is a new verb in the lexicon of human rights work, "to be pinocheted." And that means to have former dictators or current dictators feel the fear of leaving the sanctuary of their own home states and going abroad, knowing that the human rights community is now empowered by international law to seize them abroad and try them outside of the countries which they control for their crimes.
This is an extraordinary turning point in this -- in the history of human rights work. It is a great -- it is a great irony that, in fact, Pinochet himself was responsible for some of the human rights laws that were passed in the United States in the mid-1970s making human rights a criteria of U.S. foreign policy. And those laws have been expanded and extended around the world. The international country over all of these years has finally put teeth into the international conventions to protect the rights of citizens abroad and bring those who violate them to justice.
It is an irony that General Pinochet may now not ever face a courtroom verdict. But with the declassification of U.S. documents, and with all the events surrounding the saga of his arrest and detention, it is clear that he is going to face a verdict of history, in fact, that that verdict has already been rendered.
GROSS: Peter Kornbluh, thank you so much for talking with us.
KORNBLUH: It's a great pleasure.
GROSS: Peter Kornbluh is senior analyst at the National Security Archive.
FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our interviews and reviews are produced by Monique Nazareth, Phyllis Myers, Amy Salit, and Naomi Person, with Ann Marie Baldonado and Patty Leswing, research assistance from Brendan Noonam.
I'm Terry Gross.
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Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia, PA
Guest: Peter Kornbluh, Joyce Horman
High: Declared physically and mentally unfit to stand trial, the 84 year-old former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet flew home to Chile today, after the British Home Secretary ruled against extraditing him to Spain, where he would have faced trial for torture and human rights violations. Pinochet had been under house arrest in England for over a year, as legal efforts were made to hold him accountable for the thousands of people who died or disappeared during his 17-year regime in Chile. Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive discusses the thousands of pages of documents related to Chile that the White House ordered declassified after Pinochet was arrested in Britian. Also, Joyce Horman, the widow of Charles Horman, an American living in Chile at the time of Pinochet's 1973 coup, who was executed for his support of the Allende government, discusses the U.S. government's denial of any complicity in Horman's death, and how recently declassified documents proved otherwise.
Spec: Augusto Pinochet; Chile; Human Rights; Government; Murder
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End-Story: Britain Allows Pinochet to Return to Chile
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