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An Interview with Richard Helms

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But 1 suppose the point on Schneider is that if the CIA gave ammunition, albeit to other kidnap groups, as they did, the Agency must have been aware that ammunition might be used in a kidnap. Isn't that fair?
          
It is perhaps a fair question, but who can prove that any ammunition was given. One of the difficulties with the Senate report about this business in Chile was that it is all based on second-hand stuff-from CIA case officers' documents, allegations and so forth. But nobody has ever demonstrated exactly what went on down there, and in 1975 it was very popular to pick on the CIA and give the worst cast to all of these things. Someday, with the aid of the Chileans who took part, maybe the proper history of this will be written, and then maybe we will have a correct rendition.
          
My own feeling about the Schneider affair is the irony of it, that given President Nixon's instructions, the United States was a party to removing a democrat in order to install somebody else, who would support overthrowing the democratic process in Chile?
          
Who was the democrat in this?
          
Schneider was the man who believed in constitutionalism in Chile.
          
That is a better term, constitutionalist, rather than democrat.
          
Should we really not have been on the side of a constitutionalist, rather than trying to have him removed?
          
We could discuss for hours the backings and forthings of what went on during this period of time in Chile, but I agree that it is ironical. Let's leave it there. I have no other insights to contribute, to help unwind the tangled skein of who did what to whom in connection with Schneider's kidnapping and death. I don't know the facts to this day and I don't believe they have ever been put down any place accurately.
          
It will only be with the aid of the Chileans that were involved?
          
I would think so.
          
How many Chileans were involved?
          
I don't remember any more.
          
It has often been reported that Israel, with the help of persons in the United States, achieved the wherewithal for the atomic bomb. What was the reaction in the Intelligence Community to the news that the Israelis had almost certainly joined the nuclear club?
          
Intelligence officers are so used to the Quixotic developments of life that what they are really interested in is trying to make a correct assessment and getting something right. In the study of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, there were certain countries referred to as "threshold countries." These were countries thought to have the capability to make an atomic bomb if they chose, but most have not done so.
          
If you don't test such a bomb, it is not difficult to make one secretly. You can put the bomb together and the only way that anybody is going to know that you have it is either to spy it out and take a photograph or have you explode it. Anyone who wants to assume that the Israelis have nuclear weapons is free to do so. There has been enough evidence in the newspapers and so forth to argue both ways.
 
For the record, during the Johnson administration, did you hear that the Israelis probably had a nuclear capability and did President Johnson tell you that that must remain a secret?
          
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM