71. Backchannel Message to the Ambassador to Chile (Korry) and the Chief of Station1

1. The 40 Committee met 8 September and after reviewing various avenues of approach to prevent an Allende administration, including the possible manipulation of Chilean Congress and military action, decided to give serious consideration only to the latter possibility.2

2. The Chairman requested by close of business 12 September a “cold-blooded assessment” of the realism and feasibility of any action [Page 202] by military either along lines of your Labor Day telegram3 or a coup d’état. This assessment to include:

A. How such action would be organized by the Chileans, including such detail as who could be expected to do what and how and by whom they could be approached;

B. Who would participate (include your assessment of their capability) and can the military leaders reportedly in touch with Valenzuela carry out a meaningful action?; are all the leaders likely to act in a unified way or is there a chance of a division in the military?

C. To what extent the USG would have to be involved either covertly or overtly;

D. Will the troops, particularly the non coms follow orders in a military move?;

E. What is the reaction in the country likely to be? What reaction by the Allende forces? Would a military move precipitate violence, and if so, how serious or sustained? What are the risks that a military move may end up in the destruction of the military as an institution?

F. What are the chances of success or failure of each step in military action? What are possible consequences?

3. In addition to the foregoing analysis of the military routes, we also want to assess what we might do assuming Allende takes office. Is there a strategy or purpose to be served by a covert action program in these circumstances? We need same scrupulous identification and examination of any meaningful political opposition which we could reasonably expect reach and support beginning now. Again we will need operational details including frank appraisal whether or not political figures involved more apt cave in under Allende administration pressures.

4. You are hereby authorized make appropriate contacts to obtain the political intelligence you feel you need to answer foregoing. We want to emphasize that we are trying to make as informed a judgment as possible on the realism of options that may be open to us. Hence your approaches to Chileans should tread a fine line. We are not inciting or organizing at this point; we are merely trying to get full information as to the situation, the motives and thoughts of the key actors to permit us to make that judgment.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Chile–ITTCIA 1963–1977, Lot 81D121, Documents Requested by the Department of Justice, 1970–1977. Secret. Attached to a note from Broe to Gardner that states, “This message was seen by Pete Vaky and John Crimmins and includes their views and thoughts.”
  2. See Document 70.
  3. Document 65.