The New York Times & Associated Press – 2010-08-14 23:49:10
Cables Bare Nixon’s Knowledge of Uruguay Strife
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (August 13, 2010) — Secret diplomatic cables show that President Richard M. Nixon wanted the Uruguayan government to threaten to kill leftist prisoners in an attempt to save the life of a kidnapped American agent 40 years ago.
The National Security Archive, which published the State Department cables on Wednesday, said they suggest that the United States government knew as early as 1970 about the death squads that were cracking down on violent leftist insurgencies in the years before military dictatorships ousted democracies across much of Latin America.
The cables, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, focus on the kidnapping of Dan Mitrione, a former Indiana police officer and FBI agent who had been advising Latin American governments on techniques [aka torture] for interrogating suspects.
Mr. Mitrione’s 10 days in captivity were part of a wave of kidnappings of foreign officials by the leftist Tupamaro guerrillas, who had hoped to use the captives in a prisoner exchange and eventually to topple the Uruguayan government. Instead, the kidnapping provoked an intense police and military response that resulted in the arrest of the Tupamaros’ leader, RaÃºl Sendic, and hundreds of other guerrillas.
“We have assumed that the Government of Uruguay has considered use of threat to kill Sendic and other key MLN prisoners if Mitrione is killed,” William Rogers, Nixon’s secretary of state, said in a classified cable to the United States ambassador, Charles Adair, using the Spanish initials of the group.
“If this has not been considered, you should raise it with GOU at once,” Mr. Rogers added, referring to the government of Uruguay.
As arrests of their leaders mounted and the Uruguayan government refused to release 150 imprisoned Tupamaro guerrillas, Mr. Mitrione’s captors shot him to death.
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