35+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Operation Condor: Officials of Amnesty International Targeted for 'Liquidation'

Published: Dec 14, 2016
Briefing Book #572

Edited by Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh

For further information, contact:
Carlos Osorio: cosorio@gwu.edu
Peter Kornbluh:

Repression in Argentina: Obama Administration Declassifies Top Secret Intelligence Files

New Documents Shed Light on OPERATION CONDOR, planned missions in Europe

Washington D.C., December 14, 2016 - Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and “liquidate” opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, targeted officials of Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London, according to a comprehensive CIA report on Condor operations just released by the Obama administration. “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”

The secret CIA report is included among more than 500 pages of documents on repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina declassified by the Obama administration this week as part of a commitment made by the president in March 2016 when he visited Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of the military coup. “I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency,” Obama stated then.

The CIA’s sources inside Condor reported that “a training course was held in Buenos Aires for the team heading overseas,” and that “Condor leaders were considering the dispatch of a team to London—disguised as businessmen—to monitor ‘suspicious’ activities in Europe.” According to the CIA, “Another proposal under study included the collection of material on the membership, location, and political activities of human rights groups in order to identify and expose their socialist and Marxist connections. Similar data reportedly are to be collected on church and third-world groups.”

The National Security Archive today publishes a sample of six documents that attest to the richness of the information contained in intelligence records and the extraordinary openness of the reviewers to contributing to the clarification of the history of human rights violations in Argentina. The records are part of a second tranche of intelligence and presidential records posted on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The administration posted an initial set of documents on Argentina, drawn from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, on August 8, 2016.  As more records are processed for declassification, several more releases are planned for 2017, after Obama leaves office.
“With the release of this revealing documentation, President Obama has advanced the cause of human rights in Argentina and elsewhere,” said Carlos Osorio, who directs the Southern Cone documentation project at the National Security Archive and has actively supported the administration’s special declassification project. “This gesture of declassification diplomacy,” Osorio noted, “will be part of the legacy of Obama’s presidency.”

In another TOP SECRET/EXDIS/CODEWORD Condor document declassified this week and posted today, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research reported that “six Southern Cone nations," all “participants in a counterterrorist network codenamed ‘Condor’,” have agreed “to undertake the liquidation of Latin American” targets “living in France.”

Also in today’s posting, an unusually emotional NSC memorandum summarizes the torture of Alfredo Bravo, the president of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the recipient of the document, wrote in the margin: “a compelling, powerful report.”


Read the documents