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Column 081015 Brewer

Monday, August 10, 2015
The Death of a Chilean Spy
Chief, Operation Condor and
the CIA
By Jerry Brewer
Former spymaster and retired
Chilean General Manuel Contreras,
who founded and headed the
ruthless and feared secret police in
Chile known as the Dirección de
Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) during
the 1970s, died August 7 at a military
hospital in Santiago. Contreras was
86.
DINA was established in November
1973 as a Chilean Army intelligence
unit. It was separated from the army
and made an independent
administrative unit in June 1974,
named the Central Nacional de
Informaciones (CNI; National
Information Center).
Contrera’s reign as head of the secret
police ran from 1973 until 1977. He
had been serving a prison term
consisting of 59 sentences, for a total
of 526 years, for crimes against
humanity. Charges attributed to him
and his secret police included
kidnapping, forced disappearances,
assassinations, sadism, rape, sexual

torture, and forced "unnatural acts
involving dogs.”
According to an official report,
“40,018 people were imprisoned,
tortured or slain during the 1973-90
dictatorship of Augusto
Pinochet. Chile's government
estimates that of those, 3,095 were
killed, including about 1,200 who
were forcibly "disappeared."
News of the death of Contreras
quickly resulted in “several dozen
people” gathering outside the
hospital, where they waved Chilean
flags and shouted “murderer!” In
celebration, they toasted with
champagne in paper cups.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) has had an incongruous
history in Chile. In 1975, the Church
Commission Report revealed that
covert U.S. involvement in Chile "in
the decade between 1963 and 1973
was extensive and continuous.”
A rationale, perhaps, for the U.S.
covert activities was a perceived
need to eradicate left-wing,
communist or Soviet influences that
included Cuba. This concern is
obvious due to the CIA’s
expenditures in almost every major
election in Chile in the decade
between 1963 and 1973.
In what appeared to be a smoking
gun for antagonists of CIA
operations, according to the report
"CIA activities in Chile," released on
September 19, 2000, the US
government policy community
approved the CIA's contact with
Contreras from 1974 to 1977 to

accomplish the CIA's continuing
program in Chile. Contreras was
reportedly retained as a paid CIA
contact until 1977.
South America's Operation Condor
clearly became a covert plan that
essentially used unconventional
warfare methods to pursue people
that fled their own countries after
military coups to find safe haven
elsewhere. Many of Plan Condor’s
targets were insurgents, dissidents,
activists, political exiles, plus they
included some leaders that were
against military rule. Under Condor,
abductions were frequent, many
were tortured and killed, plus
prominent figures were assassinated.
Condor could be described as an
early version of military hybrid
warfare, albeit without the use of
biological or nuclear weapons. Its
elements were variations of a blend
of conventional and irregular
warfare that exhibited flexibility and
complex dynamics ranging from
subversive efforts, to deceptive
propaganda that was ultimately
resilient and highly adaptable, along
with frequent lethal force.
U.S. declassified documents revealed
that U.S. officials considered Condor
a legitimate counterterror or
counterinsurgent organization “in
the fight against so-called
subversives in Latin America,” to
eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.
So much of this with the earmarks of
a U.S. special forces team.
The evidence attributing Condor to
one specific government is
convoluted. The fact is that on
November 25, 1975, leaders of the

military intelligence services of
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay,
and Uruguay met with the chief of
DINA, Manuel Contreras, in
Santiago, “officially creating Plan
Condor.”
Key members of Condor were the
aforementioned governments, plus
Brazil. Ironically, the U.S. was not a
member of the consortium, although
documentation shows that the U.S.
provided key organizational,
financial and technical assistance to
the operation.
This perceived struggle against
subversion had significant victims.
The exact number of deaths that
could be attributed to plan Condor is
obviously not available due to its
covert nature. Estimates are that “at
least 60,000 deaths can be
attributed to Condor,” and possibly
many more.
In 1975, the Church Commission
conducted thorough interviews and
document reviews and produced a
report of comprehensive analysis of
CIA actions in Chile during the
period from 1963 to 1973. Some of
their findings ruled in a matter-offact demeanor; others appear to
express some admonishment of CIA
operational acts; while others were
rationalized as necessary actions.
The report revealed some
clandestine contacts and assets “of
the CIA were involved in human
rights abuses.” It was explained that
CIA acted at the direction and full
concurrence of senior US
policymakers. At the same time, the
CIA maintained clandestine contacts
with selected members of the

Chilean military, intelligence and
security forces, both to collect
intelligence and carry out the covert
actions described. There is no doubt
that some CIA contacts were actively
engaged in committing and covering
up serious human rights abuses.
The report suggests that as a result
of lessons learned in Chile, Central
America and elsewhere, the CIA now
carefully reviews all contacts for
potential involvement in human
rights abuses and makes a deliberate
decision, “balancing the nature and
severity of the human rights abuse
against the potential intelligence
value of continuing the
relationship.”
________________________________

Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal
Justice International Associates, a
global threat mitigation firm
headquartered in northern
Virginia. His website is located at
www.cjiausa.org.
TWITTER: CJIAUSA
Jerry Brewer
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