367. Telegram 4755 From the Embassy in Uruguay to the Department of State1
4755. Subj: Condor Operations. Ref: Montevideo 4652.
1. You will recall that in reftel, [1 line not declassified] there are various statements that officers mentioned had no “Condor Mission” in the US and [less than 1 line not declassified] conviction that there was no such mission. When I prepared that message and gave my own evaluation, I was under the impression that the Condor Organization had determined sometime ago not to engage in “operations” for the time being, even [Page 984] though it would go ahead and fulfill its mission of intelligence and security coordination and cooperation among its various members. [less than 1 line not declassified] now makes clear that this is not the case and I believe you should read this communication if it has not yet been brought to your attention. It reports the failure of a joint Uruguayan-Argentine effort to “operate against” three Uruguayan “terrorists” in Paris. One of the three, the only one whose name is mentioned, is an OPR–33 member, Hugo Andres Cores Perez. The mission is said to have failed because of Cores’ sudden disappearance, one day before the team had located his residence in Paris.
2. This information, it seems to me, reenforces my recommendation in para. 9 of reftel that the assignments of Col. Fons and of Maj. Gavazzo to Washington be blocked. It also should alert us to the concern that if Condor is real [less than 1 line not declassified] and even if it has no present intention of “operating” in the US, there is no guarantee that this would always be the case. Moreover, it seems to me to raise the important moral question of whether we, being privy to a plan to undertake an assassination attempt, are not thereby in some sense tainted by this knowledge and become at least passive collaborators. Only last night I read a news account from Spain accusing the CIA of shared responsibility for the murder of the Spanish Premier a couple of years ago on the grounds that it knew of the plot and did not warn him. I do not know who Cores is except that he is another human being, but what if the name mentioned was Wilson Ferreira or someone else in whom there may be a broader sympathetic interest? Would this change our attitude? And since we do not know the names of the other two, it could be that he could be one of them, even though [less than 1 line not declassified] Ferreira was removed from the Condor target list. But the source of the information of his “removal” is the same Col. Fons, who as I have reported, is said to be a loose talker and who has also said to others here that Wilson Ferreira is a dead man in any case. His reasoning, I am told, is that other enemies will get him so Condor does not have to do it.
3. I appreciate the great difficulty of the kinds of problems posed here, as to the line of delineation between moral obligation [less than 1 line not declassified] I do not know exactly where it should be drawn but confess that I am bothered by being the possessor of such information. I am also concerned that our regular official liaison on this subject here (and I assume at other nearby embassies as well) raises the question whether we become passive collaborators if we seek and obtain such information yet stand silent as “operations” are carried out. I am also mindful of the fact that recent publicity of alleged CIA assassination plots has brought forth clear executive and congressional direction that this shall not again occur. How does the problem I pose here relate to [Page 985] such directives? Is the Condor intelligence operations here consistent with them?
4. Perhaps it would help to know, if possible, what the Washington intelligence community thinks of Condor. I have often been struck by a somewhat unreal feeling about it all, perhaps now reinforced by knowledge of the source of our information and his peculiar characteristics. I wonder whether reporting from other countries tends to corroborate the reality of Condor as an “operative” organization in addition to its security-intelligence coordination missions.
5. In para. 10 of reftel I expressed my concern that the exchanges, [less than 1 line not declassified] regarding the possible threat against Congressman Koch could have gone on so long without ever having been brought to my attention. Recently, at his request, we provided Frank Ortiz for use in S/S with a reference to a standing instruction, still valid, which apparently had been lost sight of in the Department but which gives the Chief of Mission or his designated assistant the right to see “all available information [less than 1 line not declassified] which the principal officer indicates is of interest to him.” Based on this authority, [less than 1 line not declassified] I intend from here on to see to it that the DCM reviews on a bi-weekly basis everything covered by this instruction to me. I had thought [less than 1 line not declassified] was providing me with everything but he obviously was not. Perhaps you might consider whether this [less than 1 line not declassified] should be brought to the attention of other Chiefs of Mission who may not be aware of it, as I was not.
Summary: Siracusa, noting that he now had reason to believe that the Condor countries continued to direct assassination operations in foreign countries, reiterated that the appointments of Col. Fons and Maj. Gavazzo to positions in Washington should be blocked. He ruminated on the broader responsibility of the USG regarding knowledge of assassination plots and requested further information on “what the Washington intelligence community thinks of Condor.”
Source: Department of State, INR–IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Montevideo 1962–79. Secret; Roger Channel; Eyes Only. A handwritten notation indicates that this cable was distributed to ARA, P, S/S and OD. Telegram 4652 from the Embassy in Uruguay is Document 365.↩