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May 28, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017

US gov’t releases declassified files

State Department publishes 931 documents linked to the last military dictatorship

The US State Department released yesterday 931 declassified documents referring to the human rights violations that occurred during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983). This is the third tranche that has been released by the US government. President Donald Trump officially handed the files to President Mauricio Macri during his visit to the White House yesterday. This is a continuation of the policy enacted by former president Barack Obama’s administration, who had put in motion the new declassification process when he visited the country on March 24, 2016.

There are a total 931 declassified documents in the files, that have approximately 3,300 pages and are divided into two parts. 813 of those pages were partially or fully retracted from an earlier release by the State Department in 2002, but they were re-reviewed and declassified in this third tranche. In the second half, 119 high-level documents that include discussions between former US president Jimmy Carter and foreign leaders, memoranda about deliberations inside the National Security Council, the US State Department, cables and intelligence analyses. Some of the highlights regard new details about Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression and state terror involving intelligence operations and the assassination of political opponents in South America.

The dictatorships in the Southern Cone region at that time had considered creating “field offices” in the United States and Europe, but were confirmed to have followed through a certain plans in Western Europe. This is based on a declassified report from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR).

“This release is another positive act of declassified diplomacy that began with Obama and is continuing under the Trump administration,” said Carlos Osorio in an interview with the National Security Archive Blog. He underlined how this new release demonstrated that historical accountability continues to play an important role in current US foreign relations. Many historians and human rights activists were worried that with the election of Republican President Donald Trump, the declassification process could be put on hold or delayed. Although it was reported earlier this week that the White House had suggested that Macri delay awarding former president Jimmy Carter Argentina’s highest distinction for his work in human rights, this didn’t seem to have affected the on-going declassification process.

The final and biggest tranche of declassified documents from this project, which includes records from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Defense of Intelligence Agency (DIA), including 11 more agencies will be released before the end of 2017.

—Herald staff with agencies

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