151. Editorial Note

On October 14, 1970, Army Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Paul Wimert received the following message marked Top Secret; Sensitive; Destroy Immediately from Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Donald Bennett: “1. You will select two Chilean General Officers who can best be trusted to be discreet and who are most likely to respond and convey to them the following: High authority in Washington has authorized you to offer material support short of armed intervention to Chilean Armed Forces in any endeavors they may undertake to prevent the election of Allende on October 24, his inauguration on 4 November, or his subsequent overthrow. 2. Inform me immediately through CAS channels when offer has been made and reaction thereto. Also relay immediately any requests or sug[Page 369]gestions concerning assistance which Chileans may broach. 3. Discuss this matter with no one repeat no one except contacted general officers and CAS Chief of Station. Should any other person mention this matter to you, deny any knowledge and report circumstances to me immediately via this channel. I rely on your utmost discretion. Your contacts must realize that this matter must remain strictly in military channels. Except for you and your above noted contacts, U.S. policy is as indicated in recent State and DoD messages.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80R01284A, Box 24, Chile) Apparently the signature is that of Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Lieutenant General Jamie Philpott.. Philpott stated in congressional testimony, however, that although the signature appeared to be his, he could not recall seeing the message and doubted having signed it. (Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 237)

Wimert had been directed by Philpott, acting for the absent Bennett, to assist the Station in Chile. In a September 28 message, Philpott instructed Wimert “to work closely with the CIA chief, or in his absence, his deputy, in contacting and advising the principal military figures who might play a decisive role in any move which might, eventually, deny the Presidency to Allende. Do not, repeat not, advise the Ambassador or the Defense Attaché of this message, or give them any indication of its portent. In the course of your routine activities, act in accordance with the Ambassador’s instructions. Simultaneously, I wish—and now authorize you—to act in a concerted fashion with the CIA chief. This message is for your eyes only, and should not be discussed with any person other than those CIA officers who will be knowledgeable. CIA will identify them.” (Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 236. A copy of this telegram is also in the National Archives, RG 59, Chile–ITTCIA 1963–1977, Lot 81D121, Chile Papers, Church Committee, August 12, 1975) Further elaboration on the role played by Colonel Wimert based upon congressional testimony of the principals is in Alleged Assassination Plots, pp. 235–238.

The following explanation was given in telegram 763 to the Station in Santiago immediately following the October 14 message from Bennett to Wimert: “There seems little doubt this will confuse Col Wimert. Background for his information: both Generals Bennett and Philpott have been briefed by C/WHD [Western Hemisphere Division Chief William V. Broe] and are aware of his valuable efforts in spreading the word to the military, but without detail on degree to which Wimert has been encouraging the military. This new message originates outside the office of Bennett and Philpott, and is known to several persons. As we understand it, Bennett and Philpott felt they could not tell these new interested parties of 28 Sept message; thus this new instruction is pro-forma. Col Wimert should understand, however, that his response, [Page 370] even though in our channel, may be read by relatively wide audience. Thus suggest Wimert reply equivocate on actual dates” and “in short, while Track II principals aware of Wimert’s fine performance, it would be best if COS and Wimert can work out response to ref that does not signal seriousness of his past activities to those who await his reply. Once Wimert has selected ‘two Chilean General Officers’ (see ref) his subsequent reports can be candid and comprehensive, as long as comprehensive does not obviously include discussions prior to receipt of ref, especially in describing ‘material’ support. Note that we must advise General Bennett time when Wimert shown ref.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80R01284A, Box 24, Chile)

Wimert, in an October 15 backchannel message sent Eyes Only to Bennett, replied: “My selections from among the General Staff Officers who stand out because of their discretion and political orientation are General Camilo Valenzuela, commander of the Santiago Garrison, and [redacted to read ‘another Chilean General’]. Based on guidance passed on to me via the Chief, CAS on 8 October I have already been in contact with both of these officers. Acting upon the instruction conveyed to me by CAS I informed them, in a discreet manner, that if a successful effort is made to thwart Allende from taking office, we would reconsider cuts we have taken in our MAP program and would increase such support in the future. I also informed the Chileans that should there be civil disorder as a result of a military move to block Allende, the USG would be prepared to deliver material support that might be needed. At the same time I pointed out that we could not provide American personnel in such a situation. I shall now recontact the aforementioned officers and convey the message I have just read.” (Ibid.)

The other general was General Alfredo Canelas Márquez, Director of Military Intelligence. A late October undated memorandum from Colonel Robert C. Roth to Philpott listed “key personnel” in the Chilean military and briefly discussed whether they were approachable for a potential coup. (Telegram 539 from the Station in Santiago to Headquarters, October 15; Ford Library, Philip Buchen Collection, Box 11, Job 80–0012A, Intelligence Subject File, Box 112, CIA-Chile (2)) A covering memorandum by Roth stated that, “these folders contain data on all individuals who were discussed in a favorable light at the 21 October meeting. The others have been eliminated.” The folders were not found.