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Following Pinochet's arrest in London, the White House ordered U.S. national security agencies to release confidential documents that shed light on human rights violations in Chile from 1968-1990. By mid-2000, some 7,500 documents had been released, but they did not include crucial Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents believed to reveal the details of U.S. covert action in Chile prior to and following the election of the Allende government that was overthrown by the military coup of 1973, and information on U.S. support for the military junta. Following pressure from freedom of information groups, the CIA carried out a search of its archives and gave written assurances to the National Security Council that its documents would be declassified in time to be released in September 2000. However, CIA Director George Tenet went back on this commitment in August, by deciding not to release hundreds of documents on grounds that they could compromise intelligence sources and operational methods. Of particular concern was the fact that the missing documents might contain information crucial to Pinochet's trial in Chile, such as the functioning of his secret police, the DINA, and the CIA's liaison with it.

During a visit to Santiago in August, however, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pledged to push for the "fullest possible declassification." A breakthrough in understanding the role of the CIA in Chile came the following month, in response to a 1999 amendment to the fiscal 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act authored by member of the House of Representatives Maurice Hinchey. It required the agency to submit a report to Congress on its relations with Pinochet's military government, among other aspects of CIA involvement in Chile. In the report, the CIA revealed that it had maintained a liaison with Manuel Contreras, the DINA's infamous director, from 1974 to 1977. The relationship lasted throughout the period in which human rights were grossly and systematically abused in Chile, and it ended a year after the car-bomb murder in Washington, D.C. of former Allende foreign minister Orlando Letelier, and his colleague Ronni Moffitt, for which Contreras had been indicted in the United States and convicted in Chile. At this writing, the CIA and other agencies were preparing for a release of 16,000 declassified documents related to the U.S. role in Chile.

The U.S. continued to investigate Pinochet's role in the Letelier-Moffitt assassination. On March 22, U.S. law enforcement officials arrived in Santiago to question witnesses, after the Chilean Supreme Court agreed to subpoena forty-two people at the request of the U.S. government. Without the presence of the U.S. investigators, a Chilean judge asked the witnesses, including Contreras, questions provided by the U.S. authorities. The Chilean Supreme Court has requested the extradition of one of the DINA agents convicted in the U.S. for the Letelier crime, Armando Fernández Larios, to answer charges in the caravan of death case.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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