Washington, D.C., August, 25, 2023 - On the morning of the U.S.-backed military coup in Chile, the CIA briefed President Nixon that Chilean military officers were “determined to restore political and economic order” but “may still lack an effectively coordinated plan that would capitalize on the widespread civilian opposition,” according to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) dated September 11, 1973, declassified today almost 50 years after it was written.
After withholding this document in its entirety for decades, the CIA finally released the September 11, 1973, PDB today in response to a formal petition from the Chilean government of Gabriel Boric for still secret records as the 50th anniversary of the coup approaches. The CIA also partially declassified a second PDB, dated September 8, 1973, which erroneously informed President Nixon that there was “no evidence of a coordinated tri-service coup plan” in Chile and said that “should hotheads in the navy act in the belief they will automatically receive support from the other services, they could find themselves isolated.”
The two PDBs are among the most historically iconic of missing records on the September 11, 1973, military coup because they contained information that went to President Nixon as a military takeover that he and his top advisor Henry Kissinger had encouraged for three years came to fruition.
In a press release, the State Department said that “the U.S. Government completed this declassification review in response to a request from the Government of Chile and to allow for a deeper understanding of our shared history.” The State Department said the release of the PDBs was “in accordance with our commitment to increased transparency.”
Peter Kornbluh, the Archive’s Chile specialist, who last year called on the Biden administration and the CIA to fully declassify the Chile PDBs, applauded the release. But he questioned why these two documents, which he said “contain not a single sentence that could compromise U.S. national security,” had been withheld in their entirety for decades. “I’m happy that the Freedom of Information Act, together with some positive diplomacy by the Chilean government, broke a secrecy barrier that has kept us from knowing this history for 50 years.”
Kornbluh noted that the Chilean government has asked the Biden administration to release other historically valuable, but still secret, U.S. records on Chile relating to the coup and its aftermath. “I hope the administration will reinforce its commitment to transparency by releasing all the documents that, inexplicably, remain secret after all this time,” he said.