Infinite Jest: State Terror From Nixon to Obama

Chris Floyd

July 8, 2010

As Arthur Silber pointed out so ably
out the other day, the high and horrendous crimes that the world’s
governments will openly commit — and admit to, if not brag about — in
their push for loot and power are by no means the full record of their
depredations. This is, as Silber rightly says, "an absolute certainty
given the testimony of history." Indeed. For while we look on, shocked
and awed, at the public parade of horrors rolling by each day, there are
foul deeds afoot which will only come to light — in dribs and drabs,
in shards and splinters –after many decades. (And of course this does
not include the countless crimes of elitist power that will never surface,
that lie forever buried and rotting with their victims.)

One such crime — oh, just a minor one, just the murder of one man;
hardly worth mentioning, really — came bobbing up from the fetid depths
of history just the other day. It surfaced on a sliver of tape released
from that endless, ever-gushing fountain of state crime and folly: the
Nixon tapes. As Gore Vidal once noted: "Where Kennedy never forgot that he was being
, Nixon seems never to have remembered … Despite
intermittent political skills, Nixon seems, on the evidence of the
tapes, to have had no conscious mind. He is all flowing unconscious."
Crimes, slurs, wild hairs, flaming bigotry and galloping anxiety — all
have come tumbling out over the years from the taped trove of the
jowl-quivering figure whose closest, most loyal apparatchik, Bob
Haldeman, once called "the weirdest man ever to live in the White
But the latest revelation involves no choice Nixonian weirdness; on the
contrary. It is simply the record of two of the highest officials of the
American republic sharing a hearty, manly joke about a foreign official
they have had assassinated. As Jeff Stein reports on his
Washington Post blog:

Richard M. Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger,
joked that an "incompetent" CIA had struggled to successfully carry out
an assassination in Chile, newly available Oval Office tapes reveal. At
the time, in 1971, Nixon and Kissinger were working to undermine the
socialist administration of Chilean President Salvador Allende, who
would die during a U.S.-backed military coup two years later. One of the
key figures to stand in the way of Chilean generals plotting to
overthrow Allende was the Chilean army commander-in-chief, Rene
Schneider, who was killed during a botched kidnapping attempt by
military right-wingers in 1970.

As Stein puts it, rather demurely, the CIA’s role in Schneider’s killing
has been "disputed" for decades. But the newly released tape nails the
case as solidly as it can be in the murky machinations of power. Nixon
and Kissinger are discussing the murder of a right-wing Chilean
politician; a killing that some had blamed on the CIA. This Socratic
dialogue followed:

They’re blaming the CIA.

Nixon: Why the hell would we assassinate him?
Kissinger: Well, a) we couldn’t. We’re—
Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: CIA’s too incompetent to do it. You

Nixon: Sure, but that’s the best thing. [Unclear].
Kissinger: —when they did try to assassinate
somebody, it took three attempts—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —and he lived for three weeks

Stein quotes historians who note that this perfectly fits the
circumstances of Schneider’s death:

Chilean groups, both with ties to the CIA, carried out three attempts
to kidnap the general, and on the third attempt shot him. He languished
for three days (not three weeks) before dying on October 22, 1970,"
[said John] Dinges, [author of two books on Chilean history of the
period.] "Kissinger’s denial, in his book and in statements to Congress,
alleges that the CIA had broken off contact with the group before it
carried out the third and successful attempt against the general. The
clear language of Kissinger’s remarks to Nixon, and Nixon’s affirmation
of his comments, is that the assassination-kidnapping was a CIA

Naturally, the CIA denied that the tapes proved — or even suggested —
anything untoward in the operations of the drug-running,
death-squadding, torture-inflicting, coup-throwing agency of
professional liars and covert operators:

incident from October 1970 — almost 40 years ago — has been, as I
understand it, thoroughly dissected, examined, and investigated," said
[CIA spokesman Paul] Gimigilano. "And now, based on someone’s
interpretation of part of a conversation, it’s time for a completely
different conclusion? Give me a break."

I totally agree. I think we should give Mr. Gimigilano a break.
How about, oh, two to five years in a minimum security prison for his
active association with a criminal organization? That would give him an
ample period of reflection in which to thoroughly dissect, examine and
investigate the poisonous, soul-killing equivocations and
rationalizations of evil that are the daily meat and drink of any
mouthpiece for the CIA.

But of course there will be no charges — not for small fry like Mr.
Gimigilano, and certainly not for the big fish at the top, whose
head-rot has spread throughout American society. Although the worms have
long since finished with Nixon’s corpse, he went to his grave as a
"rehabilitated" and honored "elder statesman." Henry Kissinger is still
among us, still doling out counsel, publicly and privately, to our
rulers — and still lying every inch of the way to his own impending
worm encounter about the many crimes of his past. From unleashing
genocidal hell on Cambodia to helping guide the Bush Regime in its
machinations for aggressive war on Iraq — via such blood-soaked way
stations as East Timor and the covert killing fields of Latin America —
Kissinger has been an instrumental accomplice in the murder of hundreds
of thousands of human beings. [For just a few examples, see here, here, here, and here.]

But it
doesn’t matter. And Kissinger knows it. This latest revelation will
produce not the slightest ripple of discomfort for this "elder
statesman." It did not even make the news pages of the Post, or any
other paper. Just a passing notice on a blog. This is not surprising, of
course. Just a few months ago, in April, yet another shard of ancient
evil slipped out: more confirmation of Kissinger’s acquiescence in a
"targeted assassination" carried out by foreign power on American soil:
the infamous murder of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and an
American colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, on the very streets of
Washington D.C. in 1976. The car-bombing was carried out by agents of
America’s staunch ally, mass-murdering Chilean tyrant Augusto Pinochet.
Kissinger spent decades furiously spinning away his complicity. But as I noted here in April:

old Henry Kissinger. All that botheration, all those lies, all the
years of gut-churning anxiety about scandal, even prosecution — and for
what? Mere complicity in state murder of foreigners carried out by a
foreign government? Why, nowadays, we have U.S. presidents openly ordering the murder of American
, and nobody bats an eye. There is no scandal, no
prosecution — there is not even any debate. It’s just a fact of life,
ordinary, normal, unchangeable: the sun rises in the east, cows eat
grass, rain is wet, American presidents murder people. What’s the big

Yes, we’ve come a long way since those bad old days of weird old Nixon.
He and Super K had to skulk around, straining to swathe their crimes in
clouds of misdirection, implication and winking allusion. Now we have,
as Silber aptly puts it in another recent essay, "evil in
broad daylight": state murder on tap, cheery admissions of death squads
and secret armies operating in 75 countries, free passes for torturers,
indefinite detention championed by "progressives," and  the bipartisan,
widespread, institutional acceptance of Nixon’s own pernicious doctrine:
"If the president does it, that means it’s legal."

So who cares if the American president and his minions ordered the
murder of Rene Schneider almost 40 years ago because he tried to defend
the democratic system of his country? Who cares if this murder helped
pave the way to mass butchery and repression under an American-backed
dictator? Who cares if this kind of moral rot is now accepted as normal,
even praiseworthy, by the entire American establishment? Who cares if
it has led us to a place where a Nobel Peace Prize laureate can order
the murder of his own citizens without charges, trial or evidence, while
killing multitudes of innocent foreigners each year with drones, with
bombs, with midnight raids?

Who cares? Look around you. Look at the news. Look at our
politics. Look at our leaders. Look at our culture. Look at our people.
What is the answer to the question?

That’s right. No one. No one cares.

laughing, Tricky Dick, down there with the worms. The joke is on us

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