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Kissinger's Back 

The master of deceit gets another shot

Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes. Pretty damn akin, since Kissinger has been accused, with cause, of engaging in war crimes of his own. Moreover, he's been a poster-child for the worst excesses of secret government and secret warfare. Yet George W. Bush has named him to head a supposedly independent commission to investigate the nightmarish attacks of Sept.11, 2001, a commission intended to tell the public what went wrong on and before that day. This is a sick, Orwellian black-is-white, war-is-peace joke -- a cruel insult to the memory of those killed on 9/11 and a screw-you affront to any American who believes the public deserves a full accounting of government actions or lack thereof. Consider the record.

Vietnam. Kissinger participated in a GOP plot to undermine the 1968 Paris peace talks in order to assist Richard Nixon's presidential campaign. Once in office, Nixon named Kissinger his national security adviser, and later appointed him secretary of state. As co-architect of Nixon's war in Vietnam, Kissinger oversaw the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, an arguably illegal operation estimated to have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Chile. In the early 1970s, Kissinger oversaw the CIA's extensive covert campaign that assisted coup-plotters, some of whom eventually overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and installed the murderous military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. On June 8, 1976, at the height of Pinochet's repression, Kissinger met with Pinochet and behind closed doors told him that "we are sympathetic to what you are trying to do here," according to minutes of the session.

East Timor. In 1975, President Gerald Ford and Kissinger, still serving as secretary of state, offered advance approval of Indonesia's brutal invasion of East Timor, which took the lives of tens of thousands of East Timorese. For years afterward, Kissinger denied the subject ever came up during the Dec. 6, 1975, meeting he and Ford held with General Suharto, Indonesia's military ruler, in Jarkata. A classified US. cable obtained by the National Security Archive shows otherwise.

Argentina. In 1976, as a fascistic and anti-Semitic military junta was beginning its so-called "dirty war" against supposed subversives -- between 9,000 and 30,000 people would be "disappeared" by the military over the next seven years -- Argentina's foreign minister met with Kissinger. According to a US. cable released earlier this year, the foreign minister was convinced after his chat with Kissinger that the US wanted the Argentine terror campaign to end soon -- not that Washington was dead-set against it. The cable said that the minister had left his meeting with Kissinger "euphoric."

Appropriately, Kissinger is a man on the run for his past misdeeds. He is the target of two lawsuits, and judges overseas have sought him for questioning in war-crimes-related legal actions. In the United States, the family of Chilean General Rene Schneider sued Kissinger last year. Schneider was shot on Oct. 22, 1970, by would-be coup-makers working with CIA operatives. These operatives were part of a secret plan supervised by Kissinger to foment a coup before Allende, a Socialist, could be inaugurated as president. Schneider, a constitutionalist who opposed a coup, died three days later.

On Sept. 9, 2001, 60 Minutes aired a segment on the Schneider family's charges against Kissinger. The former secretary of state came across as partly responsible for what is the Chilean equivalent of the JFK assassination. It was a major blow to his public image: Kissinger cast as a supporter of terrorists. Two days later, Osama bin Laden struck. Immediately, Kissinger was again on television, but now as a much-in-demand expert on terrorism.

The Spanish judge who requested the 1998 arrest of Pinochet in Great Britain has declared he wants to question Kissinger as a witness in his inquiry into crimes against humanity committed by Pinochet and other Latin American military dictators. In France, a judge probing the disappearance of five French citizens in Chile during the Pinochet years wants to talk to Kissinger. In February, Kissinger canceled a trip to Brazil, where he was to be awarded a medal by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. His would-be hosts said he had pulled out to avoid protests by human rights groups.

In other words, a fellow who has coddled state-sponsored terrorism has been put in charge of this terrorism investigation. A proven liar has been assigned the task of finding the truth.

What are his qualifications for the job, as Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney might see it? A leaks-obsessed Kissinger, when he served as Nixon's national security adviser, wiretapped his own staff.

And when he left office, Kissinger took tens of thousands of pages of documents -- created by government employees on government time -- and treated them as his personal records, using them for his own memoirs and keeping the material for years from the prying eyes of historians and journalists. He and the Bush-Cheney White House agree on open government: the less the better.

Remember, the White House was never keen on setting up an independent commission that would answer to the public. Finally, the White House said okay, as long as it could pick the chairman and subpoenas would only be issued with the support of at least six of the commission's 10 members.

With Kissinger in control, the secret-keepers of the White House -- who already have succeeded in preventing the House and Senate intelligence committees' investigation of 9/ll from releasing embarrassing and uncomfortable information -- will have little reason to fear.

For many in the world, Kissinger is a symbol of US. arrogance and the misuse of American might. In power, he cared more for US. credibility and geostrategic advantage than for human rights and open government. His has been a career of covertly moving chips, not one of letting them fall. He is not a truth-seeker. In fact, he has blatantly lied about his own actions and tried to limit access to government information. He should be subpoenaed, not handed the right to subpoena. He is a target, not an investigator.

With Kissinger's appointment, Bush has rendered the independent commission a sham. The public would be better served and the victims of 9/11 better honored by no commission rather than one headed by Kissinger.

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