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Oct 28, 2009 8:36 pm


Complicating Korry



The headline of his obituary spoke to the unfairness of false charges, “Edward Korry, 81, Is Dead; Falsely Tied to Chile Coup.”

Korry was Richard Nixon’s ambassador to Chile. A vehement critic of Salvador Allende—whose coming to power he compared to that of the Stalinist Klement Gottwald in Czechoslovakia—Korry was widely criticized for an alleged role in bringing about Allende’s ouster. He denied the allegations, and, as the Times noted in 2004, “after years of protestations, evidence eventually came to light that Mr. Korry had not been entirely trusted by the Nixon administration, which indeed had worked around him.”

Yet the fact that Korry wasn’t trusted by the Nixon administration (which, of course, didn’t trust lots of people) and the fact that Nixon and Henry Kissinger tried to work around the ambassador doesn’t mean, as the Times claimed upon Korry’s death, that it was “false” to tie him to the coup.

This March 23, 1972 conversation below, between President Nixon and White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler, illustrates the point. The occasion was the publication of an article by investigative journalist Jack Anderson exposing an ITT document in which Korry allegedly said he was authorized to do everything to destabilize Allende short of a U.S. military intervention.

RON ZIEGLER: Yes, sir?

PRESIDENT NIXON: What did you—have you said anything, Ron, with regard to the ITT and Chile . . . How did you handle that?

ZIEGLER: The State Department dealt with that today.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Oh, they did?

ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT NIXON: What did they do—deny it?

ZIEGLER: Uh, they denied it, but they were cautious on how they dealt with the [Ambassador Edward] Korry statement, because they were afraid that might backfire.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Why? What did Korry say?

ZIEGLER: Well, Korry said that he had received instructions to do anything short of a Dominican-type [military intervention]—alleged to have said that.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Korry did?

ZIEGLER: Right.

PRESIDENT NIXON: So, how the hell did that get out? He put that out?

ZIEGLER: Well, [investigative reporter Jack] Anderson received that from some source. Al Haig is sitting with me now.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Oh, yeah.

[Haig passes on information to Ziegler in the background.]

ZIEGLER: It was a report contained in an IT&T—

PRESIDENT NIXON: Oh, yeah.

ZIEGLER: —thing. But—

PRESIDENT NIXON: He was! He was instructed to.

ZIEGLER: Well, but—

PRESIDENT NIXON: I hope—But he just failed. Son of a bitch; that’s his main problem. He should have kept [Salvador] Allende from getting in.

Well—

ZIEGLER: In any event, State has [talking over the President] denied it today, and they referred to your comments about Latin America and Chile and—

PRESIDENT NIXON: Yeah, fine.

ZIEGLER: And—so you just refer to that on that one.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Fine. OK.

ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Right.

Perhaps the Times overstated Korry’s exoneration.

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