17 November 2016
By Jacob G. Hornberger
Throughout the presidential campaign, President Obama, the national security
establishment, and the mainstream press maintained that Donald Trump is unfit
to be president. Obama said that Trump is ''temperamentally unfit'' to be
president. For her part, Hillary Clinton stated, ''This is not someone who
should ever have the nuclear codes. It's not hard to imagine Donald Trump
leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.''
Were these people lying? Were their sentiments about Trump just campaign
hyperbole? According to an article in Politico, after the election White House
press secretary Josh Earnest said that ''the president hasn't changed his mind
about the man who will be the next commander in chief.''
Now, let that sink in for a moment. The president of the United States, the
National Security Council, the Pentagon, and the CIA are going to permit a man
who they are convinced is unfit to be president and unfit to have his finger
on the nuclear trigger to become president of the United States.
Why are they doing that? Why are they putting ''national security'' at risk by
permitting a man who they are convinced is temperamentally unfit to be
president to assume the power of the presidency? Isn't their prime
responsibility to protect ''national security''?
Their answer is: The election. Even though they have concluded that Trump is
unfit to be president, they have decided to permit him to assume the
presidency simply because he has been democratically elected by the American
If only the people of Chile had been extended the same courtesy. If they had
been, tens of thousands of innocent people would never have been rounded up,
incarcerated, tortured, raped, disappeared, executed, or assassinated.
In Chile's 1970 presidential election, a man named Salvador Allende received a
plurality of the votes. Since he had not received a majority, the election was
thrown into the Chilean congress.
U.S. officials, including President Nixon, National Security Adviser Henry
Kissinger, the Pentagon, and the CIA, however, concluded that Allende was
unfit to be president, just as many people, including President Obama, have
concluded that Trump is unfit to be president.
Their reasoning on Allende, however, is different than the reasoning on Trump.
They concluded that Allende was unfit because he was a socialist and a
communist, one who even desired to establish friendly relations with Russia,
much like Trump wants to do.
The issue was considered so grave that it didn't matter that Chilean voters
had given Allende a plurality of the votes. Considered unfit to be president,
Allende was believed to be a threat to ''national security,'' both in Chile
and the United States. As Kissinger put it, ''I don't see why we need to stand
by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.
The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide
So, U.S. officials went into action to prevent Allende from assuming the
First, they tried to persuade the current president to enter into a complex
and illegal political scheme that would have vested power in someone other
than Allende. He declined to participate.
Second, they came up with a plan to flood the Chilean congress with bribe
money, with the aim to getting the members of congress to vote for the second
place finisher. The members of the Chilean congress refused to go along with
Third, they came up with a plan for a military coup, one in which the Chilean
national security establishment would take power before Allende was sworn into
office. One big obstacle to this plan, however, was Gen. Rene Schneider, who
was the overall commander of Chile's armed forces. He opposed a coup because
it was illegal under Chile's constitution. Since he had taken an oath to
support and defend the Chilean constitution, his position was clear: The
military would protect the right of the Chilean people to elect Allende and
not take power in a coup.
That meant that for a coup to succeed, Schneider would need to be removed. So,
the CIA orchestrated a violent kidnapping at the hands of Chilean thugs, even
going so far as to smuggle high-powered rifles into the country under
diplomatic pouch. The kidnapping attempt went awry when Schneider, who was
armed, fought back. The kidnappers shot him dead. To cover up its role in the
kidnapping and murder, the CIA was later discovered to have paid hush money to
The CIA has always maintained that its objective was to kidnap, not kill,
Schneider. But that position has always been problematic because once
Schneider was removed from the scene, there is no way he could have been
permitted to return if the coup had succeeded. By the very nature and aims of
the plan, Schneider's murder had to have been necessarily built into the plan.
Nonetheless, even if we accept the CIA's claim that it didn't want to see
Schneider killed, that doesn't relieve U.S. officials who approved and planned
the kidnapping, including the CIA, of legal responsibility for the murder.
Under the legal principle of felony murder, they are as responsible for
Schneider's murder as the shooters themselves. That principle holds that
whenever a murder is committed in the course of a felony, all the participants
in the felony are legally culpable for the murder. At the risk of belaboring
the obvious, kidnapping is a felony, as is conspiracy to kidnap.
Angered over Schneider's assassination, the Chilean congress elected Allende
president. However, that did not stop the CIA, the Pentagon, Nixon, Kissinger,
or the National Security Council. Still believing that Allende was unfit to
become president, they embarked on a course of action designed to bring
maximum economic suffering to Chile. International credit to the Allende
regime were stopped, workers strikes were secretly subsidized, and economic
crises were fomented, while, at the same time, U.S. officials provided
millions of dollars directly to the Chilean military, cajoling them to oust
Allende in a coup.
Their argument was that Allende was unfit to be president and posed a grave
threat to national security, both in Chile and the United States. Finally, on
9/11 (ironically) in 1973, the Chilean national security establishment went on
the attack and violently ousted Allende from power, leaving him dead,
apparently a suicide. The new regime, headed by military Gen. Augusto Pinochet
embarked on one of the most brutal reigns of terror in history, backed fully
by Nixon and the national-security establishment.
With U.S. foreign aid flooding into Pinochet's dictatorship, Pinochet's goons
proceeded to round up some 60,000 innocent people — that is, people who were
suspected of having voted for or supported Allende — and incarcerated, rape,
tortured, or murdered them. Additionally, Pinochet, in partnership with the
CIA, established one of the biggest kidnapping, torture, and assassination
operations in history, called Operation Condor, which left tens of thousands
of innocent people dead.
Today, there are dozens of Chilean national security officials under the
Pinochet regime who are serving time in Chile's jails.
Yet, not one single U.S. official has ever been indicted or prosecuted for any
of this, notwithstanding the fact that they were the ones who set the forces
in motion that led to all those round-ups, rapes, torture, assassinations, and
executions. Moreover, the CIA continues to steadfastly guard its secret
records regarding the coup and its aftermath, despite presidential orders to
declassify the records. In fact, arguably the CIA's secrecy in the Chilean
coup is more pronounced than its secrecy in the JFK assassination.
The reason that no U.S. officials have ever been indicted for the round-ups,
rapes, murders, kidnappings, disappearances, and executions, including their
participation in the murder of two Americans during the coup, Charles Horman
and Frank Teruggi?
The answer is: No U.S. official has ever been indicted and convicted is
simple: Under American national-security state principles, to paraphrase
Richard Nixon, ''When the national-security establishment does it, that means
it is not illegal.'' (Note: While CIA Director Richard Helms pled guilty to a
misdemeanor, it was only because he had lied to Congress in an attempt to keep
secret what the CIA had done in the years leading up to the coup.)
That is to say, whatever the CIA, the Pentagon, and the CIA do as part of a
national security state operation, no one will ever be prosecuted for it. The
national-security state branch of the government has simply become much too
powerful. There is no possibility that the Justice Department is ever going to
target anyone for crimes committed in the course of a national-security state
But let's just assume, hypothetically, what would happen if President Obama
and the national security state decided that Trump's supposed unfitness for
office posed as big a threat to national security as Allende's. What if they
decided to prevent Trump from assuming power, just as Nixon, the Pentagon, and
the CIA decided to prevent Allende from taking power and then later instigated
the events that brought his removal him from power?
If that were to happen, there is absolutely nothing anyone could do about it.
That's the nature of a national-security state. If that were to happen,
Congress would buckle, the federal courts would buckle, and so would the
mainstream newspapers, just as they did in Chile. After all, given that these
institutions have buckled in the so-called war on terrorism in the face of
totalitarian-like powers now being wielded by the president and his
national-security forces, there is no doubt that their buckling would be much
pronounced in a military coup.
Impossible? The Chilean people certainly wouldn't think so. And neither would
the Los Angeles Times, which, prior to the election, published an op-ed
entitled ''If Trump Wins, a Coup Isn't Impossible Here in the U.S.''
If Obama, the Pentagon, and the CIA were to end up doing to Trump what Nixon,
the Pentagon, and the CIA did to Allende, undoubtedly there would be many
Americans who would cheer, just as there were many Chileans and Americans who
cheered when they did it to Allende and, for that matter, just as many
Egyptians cheered not so long ago when the U.S. supported military
dictatorship ousted that country's democratically elected president in a coup.
But as we learned from Pinochet's reign of terror, the consequences of
violating the will of the electorate oftentimes brings adverse consequences,
including tyranny, round-ups, torture, rape, and murder of tens of thousands
of innocent people, along with impunity for the malefactors.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in
economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the
University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He
also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught
law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become
director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has
advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the
country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and
he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show
Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full