November 21

This Day in History

Cold War

Nov 21, 1975:

Congressional report charges U.S. involvement in assassination plots

A Senate committee issues a report charging that U.S. government officials were behind assassination plots against two foreign leaders and were heavily involved in at least three other plots. The shocking revelations suggested that the United States was willing to go to murderous levels in pursuing its Cold War policies.
The Senate Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church, alleged that U.S. officials instigated plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. In addition, the U.S. officials "encouraged or were privy to" plots that led to the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, General Rene Schneider of Chile, and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. The attempts against Castro failed, but the other four leaders were killed. There was also evidence suggesting U.S. involvement in a number of other assassination plots against foreign leaders.
The committee indicated that it had no specific evidence that an American president ever authorized an assassination. However, it went on to declare that "whether or not the President in fact knows about the assassination plots, and even if their subordinates failed in their duty of full disclosure, it still follows that the President should have known about the plots." The Central Intelligence Agency came in for special condemnation for its efforts to recruit Mafia hit men to kill Castro and mercenaries to assassinate Lumumba. In the report's conclusion, the committee declared that, "We condemn the use of assassination as a tool of foreign policy [and] find that assassination violates moral precepts fundamental to our way of life."
President Gerald Ford criticized the decision to release the report, claiming that it would do "grievous damage to our country" and would be used by "groups hostile to the United States in a manner designed to do maximum damage to the reputation and foreign policy of the United States."

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