279. Telegram From the Embassy in Chile to the Department of State1

1920. Subject: Project Camelot.2

Communist newspaper Saturday morning, June 12, broke story Project Camelot under headline “Yankees Study Invasion of Chile,” subheaded, “Project Camelot Financed by U.S. Army,” etc.

Embassy recently became aware through university community of serious anxiety middle-of-the-road scholars with this project and specifically with the manner in which university people here were approached by SORO personnel.3

I consider, particularly under current conditions, this effort to be seriously detrimental to U.S. interests in Chile and urgently request full explanation of Department Army actions in this regard. Was this project approved by the Department?

On basis December 4 memorandum SORO concerning Project Camelot,4 consider this whole effort not only politically dangerous, but a serious duplication of other U.S. Government efforts, and a waste of government funds. Urgently request guidance from Department and explanation from Army OSD this activity in Chile without prior notification.5

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 11 US. Confidential; Priority. Passed to DOD.
  2. See Document 280.
  3. The Special Operations Research Office, a private research organization affiliated with the American University in Washington, D.C.
  4. A copy of the memorandum is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 11 US.
  5. The Department subsequently reported that it had expressed its concern in a letter to the Secretary of the Army. (Telegram 1238 to Santiago, June 17; ibid.) In the letter, the Department complained that the arrangements for Camelot fell “far short of the kind of coordination that such an ambitious project may require.” In addition to telegram 1920 from Santiago, the Department had received other reports of the “unfavorable impression made by the Camelot project on Latin American scholars—a fact of considerable political importance.” (Letter from Llewellyn Thompson to Stephen Ailes, June 19; ibid.) Joseph Califano, Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, defended the project in a memorandum to Bundy, June 24: “No Camelot research activities have been authorized or conducted outside the continental United States, including Chile. The only known contact is a letter written by a U.S. scientist to a Swedish social scientist presently resident in Chile.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Chile, Vol. III, 12/64–9/65)