Family To Sue Kissinger For Death

1970 Kidnapping Of General Led To Death

60 Minutes has learned that the family of a murdered Chilean general plans to file a lawsuit seeking damages against Henry Kissinger for his alleged role in the death of Gen. Rene Schneider, the commander of the Chilean Army who was killed by kidnappers in 1970. Citing recently declassified government documents, the civil suit is expected to claim that the CIA supported a kidnapping plot which led to the death of the Chilean general. The CIA’s support for the kidnapping was part of a larger effort by the Agency to instigate a coup in Chile – an objective ordered by President Nixon and overseen by Kissinger. Bob Simon reports.

Rene Schneider Jr., son of the late general, tells Simon, “I always wanted to put all this behind me, but we have a duty to humanity to speak about this. It would be irresponsible to remain silent.”

Accounts of the former U.S. ambassador to Chile and the embassy’s former military attaché - both of whom appear in the report - and the documents tell the Cold War story of the Nixon administration’s desire to thwart leftist politician Salvadore Allende’s successful election to Chile’s presidency. The Nixon White House sought a military coup in Chile before Allende’s inauguration, but Schneider, a constitutional defender, stood in the way. Schneider was shot by the would-be kidnappers when he reached for his revolver.

Kissinger declined to speak to 60 Minutes, but when questioned about Chile in the past, he has responded that he personally cut off support for the coup conspirators during a meeting with the CIA on Oct. 15, 1970, a few days before Schneider’s murder. CIA officials, however, differed with Kissinger on this point in subsequent investigations. The Senate committee that investigated the matter could not determine who was telling the truth.

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