U.S. secretary of state Kissinger- with the support of the executive- actively supported the overthrow of Chilean president Allende in favor of the military dictatorship of Pinochet. After the fact, there was political backlash in a variety of forms- and later as documents became unclassified.

Did Congress, the judiciary or other political houses governing in the U.S. attempt to halt, reverse or publicly filibuster against U.S. funding and strategic support in Chile while it was occurring? My question is asking about specific checks on executive orders while it was happening.

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    Well, what intervention, specifically? Although US supported (or at least did not oppose) the overthrow, there was very little actual intervention, if any. Nov 3, 2011 at 21:50
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    @LennartRegebro I count the US handing out money and arms as intervention. To refer to blatant funding and military support as anything else would be dilution of the truth. Are you aware of the facts of this period? Also, I'm confused about the downvotes. Nov 3, 2011 at 22:23
  • The US handed out money and arms to Argentina, the country and did so both before, during and after Allende. It can not be seen as active support of Pinochet or the coup. You got the downvote because your question misrepresented the facts. It is as such a false question. Nov 3, 2011 at 23:00
  • Did you do any preliminary research?
    – MCW
    Sep 19, 2016 at 17:02

3 Answers 3


There is a book that was written titled "The Pinochet File" by investigative reporter Peter Kornbluth. In this book, he uses actual audio recordings and declassified files to confirm that the US did indeed fund various groups in Chile to assist with the coup that took place on September 11, 1973.

However, there is nothing to indicate that the US Government at any level below the presidency did anything to prevent or counter these actions. In fact, it suggests that they did not know anything about US involvement until after the fact. Here is a direct quote that supports this:

"It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup," reads a CIA document from October 1970. "It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [US government] and American hand be well hidden."

Most of these meetings took place between the President (Nixon) and the National Security Council, and as a result the meeting minutes were considered classified. The book includes hundreds of CIA documents that detail the activities and involvement of the CIA which either directly or indirectly supported the coup.


The only thing resembling a "check" on pro-Pinochet activities in Chile was an investigation into U.S. intelligence activities in the 1960s and 1970s by the bi-partisan (but Democrat-led) Church Committee. These included the activities in Chile, but also Democratic initiatives (under Kennedy and Johnson) in the 1960s. The driving force was not foreign relations, but fears of an "imperial Presidency" after Watergate. Hence, even Democrats like UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick didn't seem to feel that the U.S. was overly interventionist.


This led to a few laws against "foreign surveillance," but otherwise had little impact.


Both Steven Drennon, and Tom Au, have provided excellent answers, but I wanted to add to them. The important thing seems to be that the other branches of government likely did not know about what was going on. Perhaps some had suspicions, but nothing to the level of allowing them to execute some sort of check on the activities. The reason for this is that the CIA has extremely broad authority to conduct activities as it sees fit:

(d) Responsibilities The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shall—

(1) collect intelligence through human sources and by other appropriate means, except that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shall have no police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers or internal security functions;

(2) correlate and evaluate intelligence related to the national security and provide appropriate dissemination of such intelligence;

(3) provide overall direction for and coordination of the collection of national intelligence outside the United States through human sources by elements of the intelligence community authorized to undertake such collection and, in coordination with other departments, agencies, or elements of the United States Government which are authorized to undertake such collection, ensure that the most effective use is made of resources and that appropriate account is taken of the risks to the United States and those involved in such collection; and

(4) perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the Director of National Intelligence may direct.

The wording of these responsibilities is very vague, and arguably purposefully so. Dealing with intelligence gathering in foreign nations is highly unpredictable, and substantial wiggle room seems to be worked into the package. At least that is what the language related to responsibilities reads like to me. The point is the budget for the CIA is secret, and their day to day activities are largely self-regulated. This is both good, and bad.

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