Project FUBELT

Project FUBELT
Central Intelligence Agency

Project FUBELT is the codename for the secret CIA operations that were intended to undermine Salvador Allende's government and promote a military coup in Chile.

CIA memoranda and reports on Project FUBELT include meetings between U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CIA officials, CIA cables to its Santiago station, and summaries of secret action in 1970 — detailing decisions and operations against Allende's government.

The following are the documents involved in Project FUBELT (made available by the National Security Archive):

CIA, Notes on Meeting with the President Nixon on Chile, September 15, 1970Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives

These handwritten notes, taken by CIA director Richard Helms, record the orders of the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, to foster a coup in Chile:

l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile!
worth spending
not concerned risks involved
no involvement of embassy
$10,000,000 available, more if necessary
full-time job—best men we have
game plan
make the economy scream
48 hours for plan of action

CIA, Memorandum of Conversation of Meeting with Henry Kissinger, October 15, 1970Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

This memo records a discussion of promoting a coup in Chile, known as "Track II" of covert operations to block Allende:[1]

15 October 1970
Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Karamessines, Gen. Haig at the White House—15 October 1970
[Section deleted on national security grounds.]
2. Then Mr. Karamessines provided a run-down on Viaux, the Canales meeting with Tirado, the latter’s new position (after Porta was relieved of command “for health reasons”) and, in some detail, the general situation in Chile from the coup possibility viewpoint.
3. A certain amount of information was available to us concerning Viaux’s alleged support throughout the Chilean military. We had assessed Viaux’s claims carefully, basing our analysis on good intelligence from a number of sources. Our conclusion was clear: Viaux did not have more than one chance in twenty—perhaps less—to launch a successful coup.
4. The unfortunate repercussions, in Chile and internationally, of an unsuccessful coup were discussed. Dr. Kissinger ticked off his list of these negative possibilities. His items were remarkably similar to the ones Mr. Karamessines had prepared.
5. It was decided by those present that the Agency must get a message to Viaux warning him against any precipitate action. In essence our message was to state: “We have reviewed your plans, and based on your information and ours, we come to the conclusion that your plans for a coup at this time cannot succeed. Failing, they may reduce your capabilities for the future. Preserve your assets. We will stay in touch. The time will come when you with all your other friends can do something. You will continue to have our support”.
6. After the decision to de-fuse the Viaux coup plot, at least temporarily, Dr. Kissinger instructed Mr. Karamessines to preserve Agency assets in Chile, working clandestinely and securely to maintain the capability for Agency operations against Allende in the future.
7. Dr. Kissinger discussed his desire that the word of our encouragement to the Chilean military in recent weeks be kept as secret as possible. Mr. Karamessines stated emphatically that we had been doing everything possible in this connection, including the use of false flag officers, car meetings and every conceivable precaution. But we and others had done a great deal of talking recently with a number of persons. For example, Ambassador [Edward] Korry’s wideranging discussions with numerous people urging a coup “cannot be put back into the bottle”. [Sentence deleted on national security grounds.] (Dr. Kissinger requested that copy of the message be sent to him on 16 October.)
8. The meeting concluded on Dr. Kissinger’s note that the Agency should continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight—now, after the 24th of October [the date Allende’s election would be ratified by the Chilean Congress], after 5 November [the date of Allende’s inauguration], and into the future until such time as new marching orders are given. Mr. Karamessines stated that the Agency would comply.

CIA, Cable Transmissions on Coup Plotting, October 18, 1970Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

These three cables between CIA headquarters in Langley, VA., and the CIA Station in Santiago address the secret shipment of weapons and ammunition for use in a plot to kidnap the Chilean military commander, General René Schneider. "Neutralizing" Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup; he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende's constitutional election. The CIA supplied a group of Chilean officers led by General Camilo Valenzuela with "sterile" weapons for the operation which was to be blamed on Allende supporters and prompt a military takeover. Instead, on October 22, General Schneider was killed by another group of plotters the CIA had been collaborating with, led by retired General Roberto Viaux. Instead of a coup, the military and the country rallied behind Allende's ratification by Chile's Congress on October 24.

(The names are still blacked out for security purposes and cover identities written in by hand - in square brackets)

1. [Station cooptee] met clandestinely evening 17 Oct with [two Chilean armed forces officers] who told him their plans were moving along better than had thought possible. They asked that by evening 18 Oct [cooptee] arrange furnish them with eight to ten tear gas grenades. Within 48 hours they need three 45 calibre machine guns ("grease guns") with 500 rounds ammo each. [One officer] commented has three machine guns himself but can be identified by serial numbers as having been issued to him therefore unable use them.
2. [Officers] said they have to move because they believe they now under suspicion and being watched by Allende supporters. [One officer] was late to meeting having taken evasive action to shake possible surveillance by one or two taxi cabs with dual antennas which he believed being used by opposition against him.
3. [Cooptee] asked if [officers] had Air Force contacts. They answered they did not but would welcome one. [Cooptee] separately has since tried contact [a Chilean Air Force General] and will keep trying until established. Will urge [Air Force General] meet with [other two officers] a.s.a.p. [Cooptee] commented to station that [Air Force General] has not tried contact him since ref a talk.
4. [Cooptee] comment: cannot tell who is leader of this movement but strongly suspects it is Admiral [Deleted]. It would appear from [his contact's] actions and alleged Allende suspicions about them that unless they act now they are lost. Trying get more info from them evening 18 Oct about support they believe they have.
5. Station plans give six tear gas grenades (arriving noon 18 Oct by special courier) to [cooptee] for delivery to [armed forces officers] instead of having [false flag officer] deliver them to Viaux group. Our reasoning is that [cooptee] dealing with active duty officers. Also [false flag officer] leaving evening 18 Oct and will not be replaced but [cooptee] will stay here. Hence important that [cooptee] credibility with [armed forces officers] be strengthened by prompt delivery what they requesting. Request headquarters agreement by 1500 hours local time 18 Oct on decision delivery of tear gas to [cooptee] vice [false flag officer].
6. Request prompt shipment three sterile 45 calibre machine guns and ammo per para 1 above, by special courier if necessary. Please confirm by 2000 hours local time 18 Oct that this can be done so [cooptee] may inform his contacts accordingly.

The reply, which is headed "Immediate Santiago (Eyes Only [Deleted])" is dated October 18 and reads:

REF: Santiago 562
Sub-machine guns and ammo being sent by regular [deleted] courier leaving Washington 0700 hours 19 October due arrive Santiago late evening 20 October or early morning 21 October. Preferred use regular [deleted] courier to avoid bringing undue attention to op.

A companion message, also addressed to "Santiago 562", said:

1. Depending how [cooptee] conversation goes evening 18 October you may wish submit Intel report [deleted] so we can decide whether should be dissemed. 2. New subject. If [cooptee] plans lead coup, or be actively and publicly involved, we puzzled why it should bother him if machine guns can be traced to him. Can we develop rationale on why guns must be sterile? Will continue make effort provide them but find our credulity stretched by Navy [officer] leading his troops with sterile guns? What is special purpose for these guns? We will try send them whether you can provide explanation or not.

National Security Council, Options Paper on Chile (NSSM 97), November 3, 1970Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

A comprehensive secret/sensitive options paper, prepared for Henry Kissinger and the National Security Council on the day of Allende's inauguration, laid out U.S. objectives, interests and potential policy toward Chile. U.S. interests were defined as preventing Chile from falling under Communist control and preventing the rest of Latin America from following Chile "as a model." Option C--maintaining an "outwardly cool posture" while working behind the scenes to undermine the Allende government through economic pressures and diplomatic isolation--was chosen by Nixon. CIA operations and options are not included in this document. (23 pages)

CIA, Briefing by Richard Helms for the NSC, Chile, November 6, 1970:Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

his paper provides the talking points for CIA director Richard Helms to brief the NSC on the situation in Chile. The briefing contains details on the failed coup attempt on October 22--but does not acknowledge a CIA role in the assassination of General Schneider.

NSC, National Security Decision Memorandum 93, Policy Towards Chile, November 9, 1970:Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

This memorandum summarizes the presidential decisions regarding changes in U.S. policy toward Chile following Allende's election. Written by Henry Kissinger and sent to the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Director of Central Intelligence, this memo directs U.S. agencies to adopt a "cool" posture toward Allende's government, in order to prevent his consolidation of power and "limit [his] ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests."

National Security Decision Memorandum 93
TO: Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense
Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness
Director of Central Intelligence
SUBJECT: Policy Towards Chile
Following the discussion at the meeting of the National Security Council on November 6, 1970, the President has decided that the basis for our policy toward Chile will be the concept underlying Option C of the Interagency paper submitted November 3, 1970 by the Department of State for the consideration of the National Security Council as outlined in the guidelines set forth below.
The President has decided that (1) the public posture of the United States will be correct but cool, to avoid giving the Allende government a basis on which to rally domestic and international support for the consolidation of the regime; but that (2) the United States will seek to maximize pressures on the Allende government to prevent its consolidation and limit its ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests.
Specifically, the President has directed that within the context of a publicly cool and correct posture toward Chile:
—Vigorous efforts be undertaken to assure that other governments in Latin America understand fully that the U.S. opposes consolidation of a communist state in Chile hostile to the interests of the United States and other hemisphere nations, and to the extent possible encourage them to adopt a similar posture.
—Close consultation be established with key governments in Latin America, particularly Brazil and Argentina, to coordinate efforts to oppose Chilean moves which may be contrary to our mutual interests; in pursuit of this objective, efforts should be increased to establish and maintain close relations with friendly military leaders in the hemisphere.
—necessary actions be taken to:
a. exclude, to the extent possible, further financing assistance or guarantees for U.S. private investment in Chile, including those related to the Investment Guarantee Program or the operations of the Export-Import Bank;
b. determine the extent to which existing guarantees and financing arrangements can be terminated or reduced;
c. bring maximum feasible influence to bear in international financial institutions to limit credit or other financing assistance to Chile (in this connection, efforts should be made to coordinate with and gain maximum support for this policy from other friendly nations, particularly those in Latin America, with the objective of lessening unilateral U.S. exposure); and
d. assure that U.S. private business interests having investments or operations in Chile are made aware of the concern with which the U.S. Government views the Government of Chile and the restrictive nature of the policies which the U.S. Government intends to follow.
—no new bilateral economic aid commitments be undertaken with the Government of Chile (programs of a humanitarian or private social agency character will be considered on a case by case basis); existing commitments will be fulfilled but ways in which, if the U.S. desires to do so, they could be reduced, delayed or terminated should be examined.
The President has directed that the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness prepare a study which sets forth the implications of possible developments in world copper markets, stockpile disposal actions and other factors as they may affect the marketing of Chilean copper and our relationships with Chile.
The President also has directed that the Senior Review Group meet monthly or more frequently as necessary to consider specific policy issues within the framework of this general posture, to report actions which have been taken, and to present to him further specific policy questions which may require his decision. To facilitate this process the President has directed the establishment of an Ad Hoc Interagency Working Group, comprising representatives of the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, and chaired by the representative of the Secretary of State, to prepare options for specific courses of action and related action plans for the consideration of the Senior Review Group and to coordinate implementation of approved courses of action.
Henry A. Kissinger
Cc: Secretary of the Treasury
Administrator, A.I.D.
Director, Office of Management and Budget
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

CIA, Report of CIA Chilean Activities, 15 September to 3 November, November 18, 1970:Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

The CIA prepared a summary of its efforts to prevent Allende's ratification as president and to foment a coup in Chile-- track I and track II covert operations. The summary details the composition of the Task Force, headed by David Atlee Phillips, the team of covert operatives "inserted individually into Chile," and their contacts with Col. Paul Winert, the U.S. Army Attache detailed to the CIA for this operation. It reviews the propaganda operations designed to push Chilean president Eduardo Frei to support "a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office on 3 November."

Department of State, Memorandum for Henry Kissinger on Chile, December 4, 1970:Edit

Original document can be viewed at National Security Archives.

In response to a November 27 directive from Kissinger, an inter-agency Ad Hoc Working Group on Chile prepared this set of strategy papers covering a range of possible sanctions and pressures against the new Allende government. These included a possible diplomatic effort to force Chile to withdraw--or be expelled--from the Organization of American States as well as consultations with other Latin American countries "to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile." The documents show that the Nixon administration did engage in an invisible economic blockade against Allende, intervening at the World Bank, IDB, and Export-Import bank to curtail or terminate credits and loans to Chile before Allende had been in office for a month.

Additional informationEdit


  1. A CIA group was set up in Langley, Virginia, with the express purpose of running a "two track" policy for Chile: one the ostensible diplomatic one and the other - unknown to the State Department, the 40 Committee, or the US ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry - a strategy of destabilisation, kidnap and assassination, designed to provoke a military coup. --Edited extract from The Trial Of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens, in the Guardian newspaper, the article is Why has he got away with it?

External linksEdit