Edward M. Korry US ambassador to Chile from 1967 to 1971 exonerated, Ed Korry obituary January 30, 2003, Wrongly suspected of helping to plot a military coup in Allende government


From the NY Times January 30, 2003.

“Edward Korry, 81, Is Dead; Falsely Tied to Chile Coup”

“Edward M. Korry, the United States ambassador to Chile from 1967 to 1971, who was for years wrongly suspected of helping to plot a military coup to prevent a Marxist from becoming president there, died yesterday at his home in Charlotte, N.C. He was 81.

The cause was cancer, said a daughter, Alexandra Korry of New York City.

Within two years after leaving Santiago, Mr. Korry found himself at the center of a Congressional investigation into whether Washington had made covert attempts to block the accession of Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens, who was elected in 1970 and who died in a military coup three years later.

Some investigators in Washington found it difficult to believe that Mr. Korry, as ambassador, could not have known about efforts by the White House and the C.I.A. — later made public — to compel Allende’s ouster.

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.

Mr. Korry was named ambassador to Chile by President Lyndon B. Johnson in October 1967. A former news agency reporter and magazine editor, Mr. Korry had previously served in the State Department as a consultant and as the ambassador to Ethiopia. A fervent anti-Communist, he was dismayed when Allende was narrowly elected president of Chile in 1970.”

“Mr. Korry told senators and reporters that he had engaged in hardball diplomatic tactics to weaken Allende. But he insisted he had nothing to do with coup-plotting. Had he known of a plot, Mr. Korry maintained, he would have warned the White House to stay out of it, or risk getting mired in another Bay of Pigs.

Some found Mr. Korry’s account difficult to believe, in part because he repeatedly refused to fully answer some of the lawmakers’ questions, insisting that to describe confidential communications and orders would be contrary to ”the entire moral contract” he lived by as a diplomat.

Some of his questioners could not imagine that he, as ambassador in Santiago, could be unaware of the maneuvering against Allende. Mr. Korry’s credibility dissolved with the disclosure of an I.T.T. cablegram in which two company officials in Santiago notified company headquarters that the ambassador had received the ”green light to move in the name of Richard Nixon” against the new Chilean leader.

Much later, Justice Department investigators determined that the ”green light” cable had been seen by the C.I.A. station chief in Santiago, not Mr. Korry. (Richard Helms, who was Director of Central Intelligence in 1973, and an I.T.T. official were eventually convicted of misdemeanor charges for having misled the lawmakers. They were fined and given suspended sentences.)

On Feb. 9, 1981, The New York Times published a front-page article reporting that a number of C.I.A. officials involved in the anti-Allende operations backed up Mr. Korry’s assertions that he had been kept in the dark because he was not entirely trusted by the Nixon White House or the people at C.I.A. headquarters.”

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