In 1975 the public learned a little bit about what the CIA had been doing with
its tax dollars. In addition to spying on 1.5 million Americans (reading their
mail, bugging their phones, breaking into their houses), and testing hallucinogenic
drugs on unsuspecting individuals, CIA Director William Colby admitted US involvement in
the bloody 1973 coup in Chile. Throughout the Johnson and Nixon administrations, it
was revealed, the CIA had spent millions trying to defeat Salvador Allende and
get their chosen dupe elected in his stead. When Allende won the election, Nixon
ordered the CIA to create a climate ripe for a coup. This was done through
"propaganda, disinformation, and terrorist activities," according to
Thomas Karamessines, the CIA agent in charge of the operation. The US ambassador
to Chile, Edward Korry described his task at the time in this way:
"to do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to
utmost deprivation and poverty." The US also cut back on exports to Chile
in order to create more turmoil.
The US got their Chilean coup on September 11, 1973. Allende was ousted and General
Augusto Pinochet took command. For the next 16 years he held the country in a
grip of terror. He rounded up 45,000 individuals, and executed thousands, and torture
On December 3, 1980, three nuns and a lay-worker were on a mission of mercy to deliver
food, clothing, and medicine to the homeless in El Salvador. They were raped,
murdered, and mutilated by US-backed National Guardsmen. They were part of the 10,000
victims who were killed that year in El Salvador by US-supplied guns. After the
incident, President Carter cut off military aid to El Salvador -- but reinstated it
a few weeks later.
In December of 1981, troops equipped and trained by the US entered El Mozote and
several nearby towns, and slaughtered everyone they could find. Men were decapitated,
women were raped and tortured before being killed, and children were burned alive. The
same day this was reported in the US media, President Reagan affirmed that El
Salvador was making "a concerted and significant effort to comply with
internationally recognized human rights." He claimed that the massacre was
made up by the liberal press. (Excavations of the massacre site in 1992 proved
that the event had occurred exactly as reported at the time: amongst the tangled
mass of skeletons were found hundreds of spent M16 rifle cartridges with the
imprint: "manufactured for the United States Government at Lake City, Missouri".)
Congress responded to the murder of the nuns by stipulating that further miliary
aid would be conditional on the administration's certifying that progress was
being made in human rights. For the next 8 years Reagan regularly so certified.
Nicaragua in the 1980s was subjected to violent assault by the U.S.
Tens of thousands of people died. The country was substantially destroyed, and
it may never fully recover. Nicaragua took its case against the US to the World Court.
The World Court ruled in favor of Nicaragua, and ordered the U.S. to desist and to
pay substantial reparations. The US dismissed the court judgment with contempt,
and escalated their attack! Nicaragua next turned to the Security Council,
which considered a resolution calling on states to observe international law.
The U.S. alone vetoed it. So the Nicaraguans took their case to the General Assembly,
where they were once again vindicated: the US was condemned by the World Court
for "unlawful use of force" for political ends (i.e. international terrorism)
-- but the US refused to ratify it.
From December 1983, to September 1985 military aid to Nicaragua was illegal.
Congress had passed the Boland
amendments, which prohibited the Defense Department, the CIA, or any other
government agency from providing military aid to the contras during that time.
During this time there was also a U.S. trade and arms embargo against Iran.
But President Reagan had other ideas. He created Operation Enterprise, which
broke both laws -- and which should've been considered a treasonable act. He
sold arms to Iran and used the profits to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
National Security Council staff member Lt. Col. Oliver North
was the White House official most directly involved with selling arms
to Iran and diverting the proceeds to the Contras. He continued to funnel
money to the rebels until November 1986, when his activities were
discovered and he was fired.
In March 1988 Robert McFarlane, who was national security adviser from
1983 to 1985 and North's boss, pleaded guilty to withholding information
from Congress concerning the aid being given to the Contras. He was later
fined $20,000 and given two years' probation. Oliver North and John
Poindexter, McFarlane's successor at the NSC, were convicted on several counts,
including obstruction of congressional inquiries. Ultimately, neither
served any prison time, however. Their convictions were set aside on
the grounds that their immunized congressional testimony had unfairly
influenced the juries at their trials.
Higher administration officials, particularly Reagan, Vice President Bush, and
William J. Casey (former director of the CIA, who died in May, 1987),
were implicated in some testimony, but the extent of their involvement
remained unclear, and Bush went on to become president of the US --
followed a few years later by his son for another two terms!
In what has sometimes been seen as a cover-up, President Bush in 1992
granted pardons to six officials involved in the scandal, including McFarlane
and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who was accused of lying to
Congress about his knowledge of the arms-for-hostages deals. The pardon
meant that Weinberger did not have to testify regarding the involvement
of senior Reagan administration officials, including Bush.
Years later, North -- claiming to be a true patriotic American -- ran for congress!
In 1983 President Reagan ordered a military invasion of Grenada. Although this
socialist country was a part of the British Commonwealth, Reagan did not bother
to notify (much less consult) the British government concerning the invasion.
Shortly after the marines landed they managed to overthrow the existing
government and install their own choice of leader and their choice of
government upon the country.