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Eyes Wide Open --
The Killing of an American Reporter

Tuesday July 1, 2014. By William Rittenberg.

A recent article by W. J. Glennon, entitled "National Security and Double Government", and published in The Harvard National Security Journal shows how the US government actually makes decisions about war and peace and the use of "security assets" (weapons, surveillance, etc.).

Glennon, a lawyer, was involved as staff in the US Senate with US national security policy and decision making. Then he went on to a position as law professor at Tufts University. His article is comprehensive and thoroughly documented.

Glennon argues that the interlocking and massive US national security establishment (Dept. of Defense, CIA, Homeland Security, FBI, NSA) functions as an autonomous independent element of the US government. The security establishment is almost entirely unaccountable to our elected representatives or constitutional traditions. It has had such expertise and power that it decides how US military and surveillance assets are used more or less independently of congressional input and even the president's wishes. In creating and pursuing its policies, the security establishment regularly lies to congress and the public, and ignores our American legal traditions of due process.

In that context I heard today on NPR "The World" a detailed description of how the US intelligence services set up the murder of an American reporter, Charles Howard, in Chile during the coup against Allende. It's a case study of how the security services operate independently of legal and other oversight, ignoring citizens' constitutional protections.

Mr. Howard and his wife, who had been active in the civil rights and peace movement in the US, traveled to Chile after Allende was elected. It was an exciting time in Chile full of hope, perhaps like the euphoria after Obama's first election. However, amidst the ferment and hope at the democratic election of a people's president there were rumors of a military coup against Allende. In this setting a naval officer befriended the Howards, and supported Charles' journalistic investigation of social conditions and political developments in Allende's Chile.

Not known to the Howards, however, their supposed friend was a double agent working for US intelligence and was feeding information about Howard to his contacts in the Chilean navy all the way up the hierarchy. When General Pinochet overthrew Allende with American CIA support, the Chilean generals undertook their bloodletting against Allende supporters, including Howard, who the generals executed. It was a betrayal and extra judicial murder of an American citizen in which the US naval officer and double agent cooperated. It took Howard's widow almost 40 years to find out the truth about how the US security service cooperated in killing her husband.

When Glennon writes about "Double Governance" and the autonomy and impunity of our security institutions who can and do violate the law and the constitutional rights of American citizens at will, I believe that this murder is part of what he is referring to.

We should have eyes wide open about how our ostensibly representative democracy actually functions. We can start with the Howard murder, which everyone should know about. Then ask ourselves, Who's next?


 

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