204. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1


  • Query on Chilean Intelligence Shifts

1. INR and reporting components of the US Embassy in Santiago agree with us that there is no way to determine whether the National [Page 615] Information Center (CNI) will differ substantially from its predecessor, the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA).2 The critical factor, as INR specifically noted, is not so much to be found in the legal framework as in the decisions of President Pinochet and events in Chile. We concur in this view.

2. We were requested by the White House,3 however, to provide an assessment of Pinochet’s decision, i.e. our best guess as to whether or not we thought the Chilean government is moving sincerely to prevent abuses or merely resorting to subterfuge. [less than 1 line not declassified] the move “appears to represent a genuine effort to curtail human rights abuses.”4 Of course, we cannot flatly predict how Chile’s security services will act under the new mandate, but [less than 1 line not declassified] we are inclined to be positive. We do not expect high officials of the government to condone further excesses such as torture or illegal disappearance, although isolated cases could still occur. If the security situation in Chile deteriorates—which is unlikely—the possibility of retrogression in the human rights field would increase.

3. In our view, the matter boils down to how one perceives Chilean intentions. We agree with the embassy that the Pinochet government “cannot help but recognize that it must persuade its skeptical friends of its sincerity in ‘dissolving’ DINA.”5 We believe, on balance, that the risks of allowing repressive practices to recur are too great; the new organization would quickly find itself under even stronger attack than DINA. In our view, Chile cannot afford to gamble on the inevitable backlash that would undo efforts to improve its international standing, particularly its relations with the US.

4. In conclusion, we think that INR side-stepped making a firm judgment on the matter, going only as far as expressing some degree of skepticism. We have noted in today’s INR NODIS Morning Summary a somewhat altered view; the dissolution of DINA is now seen by INR [Page 616] as “the first stage of a major policy shift.”6 In addition, INR reports that Chilean Cardinal Silva—a strong critic of Pinochet—told the US Embassy that he considers the change to be a positive step.


(1) [less than 1 line not declassified]

(2) Amembassy 6642, Aug 12, 1977

(3) Amembassy 6818, Aug 19, 1977

(4) INR Morning Summary/Chile

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Support Services (DI), Job 80T00071A, Box 10, Folder 43. Confidential. [less than 1 line not declassified].
  2. In telegram 6642 from Santiago, August 12, the Embassy reported on the abolishment of DINA and the creation of CNI. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770291-0576) In telegram 6818 from Santiago, August 19, the Embassy reported: “The law creating the National Information Center (CNI) deletes from its charter the blanket arrest and detention authority of its predecessor National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) and place CNI more clearly within the Ministry of Interior.” The Embassy continued: “Whether the GOC intends fundamentally to change its internal security modus operandi depends less on the legal framework (decrees can be ignored), than on a variety of factors such as events in Chile, decisions by President Pinochet, forces at work within the GOC and the external environment.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770300-0492)
  3. Not found.
  4. [1 line not declassified].
  5. See telegram 6818 from Santiago, footnote 2 above.
  6. Not found.