March 25-26, 2009 -- George H. W. Bush's near indictment for obstruction of justice
Buried in the newspaper clipping files of the CIA are two short articles describing how Ronald Reagan's 1980 running mate, George H. W. Bush, was nearly indicted for obstruction of justice in the FBI's investigation of the car bombing assassination in downtown Washington, DC on September 21, 1976, of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American female colleague Ronni Karpen Moffitt. A hit team sent by Chile to assassinate Letelier, known to Bush beforehand, placed a radio-controlled bomb under Letelier's car and detonated on Massachusetts Avenue's Sheridan Circle, near the Irish embassy.
One clipping from the September 1980 Progressivestates that the Jimmy Carter Justice Department was considering empaneling a grand jury to investigate Reagan's vice presidential running mate for not telling FBI agents what he knew about a Chilean Secret Police hit team active in the United States while Bush was director of the CIA. In addition, the Senate Intelligence Committee was probing what Bush knew and when he knew it about the assassination of Letelier.
Three Cuban members of Omega 7, the anti-Castro terroist group operating in the United States, were convicted of their role in the Letelier assassnation but their conviction was later overturned by a federal appeals court. Senator James Buckley (R-NY) had close ties to Omega 7. Buckley, the brother of the late right-wing pundit William Buckley, now serves on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Bush and his deputy, General Vernon Walters, had apparently ordered the CIA station in Asuncion, Paraguay to grant two Chilean intelligence agents to be issued U.S. visas by the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay George W. Landau in July 1976. Landau took care to photograph the false Paraguayan passports with the U.S. visas as a safeguard.
Landau was told by a top official of Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner's government that Chilean President Augusto Pinochet had asked for the visas to be granted as a personal favor to him. The two Chilean agents, an expatriate American named Michael Vernon Townley and Armando Fernandez traveled to Washington to help plan the hit on Letelier. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who had helped form the "Operation Condor" intelligence sharing and mutual assassination pact among various South American dictatorships, was briefed on the assassination plans against Letelier and approved them.
The Washington Star newspaper's "The Ear" column on June 24, 1980, quotes two authors of the book, Assassination on Embassy Row, Saul Landau and John Dinges, as writing that Bush new "perfectly well" that Chilean Secret Police had sent an assassination squad to Washington but that Bush sat on the information. In addition, Bush instructed CIA sources to tell the press that the Chilean government of General Pinochet had "nothing" to do with the assassination of Letelier and Moffitt.
According to The Progressive piece, Carter declined to prosecute Bush because in an election year it would look "too political." Had Carter known that Bush was secretly and illegally negotiating covert arms sales to Iran in return for their holding the U.S. hostages until after the November 1980 election, Carter could have upped the charges against Bush to treason and the Democrats would have enjoyed their own "October Surprise" with Reagan being defeated and Bush never entering the White House but going to a federal "Big House."
Of the major conspirators in the assassination of Letelier, Walters is dead. However, Bush and Kissinger, who now serves as Barack Obama's special envoy to the Kremlin, are still alive and subject to prosecution for complicity to commit murder. Since there is no statute of limitation for murder and acts of terrorism, Bush and Kissinger are still liable to be charged for their involvement in the first major act of modern terrorism in the nation's capital -- the "9/21 attack."