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December 20, 2016
Document Release Date: 
November 27, 2007
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May 21, 1978
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PDF icon CIA-RDP99-00498R000100050048-7.pdf156.15 KB
Approved For Release 2007/11/27: CIA-RDP99-00498R000100050048-7 THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE APPEARED 21 May 1978 ON PAGE A-4 e-LeAelk r"'. er any. f By Timothy 9. Robinson . , s wsat=tai pest salt wrstu! `One of the?first police officers to ar', rive at : the ; scene, of the.- explosion watched the ?- debris Still - floating through the-damp' ,air to the ground like ash from a campfire. He looked at his watch and ' noted the, time 9:38 a.m. on Sept 21,,1976. Stately Sheridan Circle on Embassym. Row was soon filled with investigator* from the D.C. 'police; the FBI, the Ex- ecutive _ Protective Service;::.;- whi guards diplomats and embassies here, and the U.S. Treasury's Alcohol, To- bacco and Firearms unit, which inves-1 tigates crimes involving explosives. As } smoke continued ?to: rise from the i mangled Cheveile on the roadway of the circle, the Investigators scur'ried' to collect every ' possible bit of: evi- dence from the debris around it They shooki itiny particles-;down, 'from tree leaves; drained a rain pud- dle and strained Its contents, vacu-l umed debris from. the 'grass, and un-i ceremoniously put ladders up against! embassy walls to search rooftops. By the end of the gray, rainy day, tbou-11 sands of tiny plastic bags had been filled with fragments that Were taken to -an FBI laboratory for analysis. Painstaking work In the laboratoryi produced the first clues to the nature of the crime. The bomb had been strapped with precision above the I-, beam of the Chevelle's -'frame so the l driver would-be hit with the full force of the blast The high power of the ex- pertly- constructed explosive was clearly intended to kill: And the' fact that it had- apparently been detonated by remote, control was further ' evi- dence of the' sophistication of the crime. . ' The next clue was the Identity of the target of the crime: Orlando Lete? Iier, a former -'ambassador to the United States from the Chilean gov- ernment of Marxist president Salva- dor Allende and, an outspoken oppo- nent in exile of the current Chilean president, Gen. Augusta Pinochet, who overthrew Allende in 1973. ' 'Letelier had been working here at the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal "think tank that gave him a plat- -form for speeches and writings cri ical of Pinochet's government and the. Chilean secret police, then known as C Approved For Two colleagues of Letelier's were in his, Chevell&_when.it_was blown..ap on. Sheridan. Circle.. One of, .the Ronni Moffett, who was riding along side Letelier- in'.the front .seat,- di quickly of- a severed- artery:: Her: hus? band;.M1chsel, - who was In the-back seat, was thrown clear of the car. and slmvtved. y Leteller's colleagues it IP3, which itself had been infiltrated and spied i~- uced arrests of a number of 'suspects ing the anti Vietnam war. years,. diately decided that -DINA had. i-M dered Letelier to shut him up.. And,- because of'disclosures of CIA involved went against: Allende in Chile, they] doubted the U.S. government's deter. urination to find and bring Letelier's' killers to justice if it meant embar?I rassing, the' Pinochet. government.i Their suspicions and anger grew when they discovered that investiga- tors, checking out every possible mo- tive, were asking whether anything in Letelier's and . the Moffitts' private lives might be connected to the kill- Assistant U.S.* Attorney Eugene?M. Propper of the ? major crimes -division was sitting in the cafeteria in the fed- appointment could not show ':UV be- sors came by and asked him to work on the Letelier case.: this one seemed. particularly likely to But Propper, a nonestablfshment pros-? ing of -leaving the US._ Attorney's of? take the case anyway. A few. blocks away In the' Washing- his recent transfer from Puerto Rico. When the Letelier bombing occurred, Cornick was selected by FBI agent-in- charge-Nick F. Starnes for the job be- cause of Cornick's availability,.: his .knowledge of Spanish, and his investi?' gations of other bombings in Puerto. Cornick ie an outgoingT mail de= scended from, several generations of Virginians who. is frequently given to humor-traits not often ,expected' in' the dry sterotype of FBF agents, ' ?" Propper ? and Cornick, who had never' met before;-- would, spend ' the next . 18 months . on' the .unusually painstaking. and'. often frustrating in- and word'- that federal:.- prosecutors here knew .the details of the 'crime' and had traced -its' origins, to DINAi and the Chilean government.:-r-) .. _?,.. Unknown to'.:the; 'victims' friends and colleagues at the-Institute for Policy Studies,. the FBI, investigation already. had turned toward Chile. Agents in the nation's -Cuban- exile. communities, aware- of , A. growing af, finity between some very militant anti-Castro Cubans ' and the rightist Pinochet government in Chile, began checking Cuban informants. The FBI and the Justice Depart- r i nt-soon realized that this part of the investigation necessarily would in volve '-intelligence information here ,,and abroad, so they began laying-deli `state groundwork. j?roppgr,,ssistant Attorney General Ss ev pot inner. and CIA Director George Bush met to determine to wextent- that agency could top in the lnyesti?gaatio carefully worded agreement- placing the Letelier case in a "national sec rity" status allowed that cooperation..'- .The investigation quickly. focused on 'the, Cuban exile connection after, `Venezuelan authorities infortned ? the United States that- Cuban exile. leader Orlando Bosch-who was being held in that country for the-bombing of a Cuban -coamnerical .airliner^-1u-which 73 persons died--had implicated "the Novo brothers" in the- Letelier case,. By the end of October 1977; thee. Novos and other Cuban.'exiles were being brought before a federal grand jury here for questioning.- : ' _ The Novo brothers-lgroado Novo Sampol and Guillermo Novo Sampol .munity and to federal agents as lead. ers of the Cuban Nationalist Move- ment, a group that wants. to regain its homeland without-_:help "'from 'the United States: In 1964, they -had fired a-bazooka. from across the East River toward the' ,United: Nations while-Cbs. Gueva . Comm