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Henry Kissinger on trial

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger was U.S. Secretary of State during the Vietnam War under Richard Nixon. Who else but Kissinger could win a Nobel Peace Prize for the secret (and illegal) bombing of Cambodia? Kissinger helped Augusto Pinochet orchestrate the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected President Salvador Allende. Kissinger personally assured Pinochet that his human rights violations were not a problem for the United States. Kissinger did this knowing that Pinochet had set up an international network to assassinate his enemies.

On September 11, 1973, Allende died during a military coup launched by Pinochet, who became President of Chile. A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled "CIA Activities in Chile" revealed that the United States, acting through the CIA, actively supported Pinochet's military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet's officers into paid contacts of the CIA or U.S. military.

After Nixon was brought down by Watergate, Kissinger remained as Secretary of State under Gerald Ford. Kissinger left office when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential elections. However, Kissinger continued to participate in policy groups, such as the Trilateral Commission. Shortly after Kissinger left office in 1977, he was offered an endowed chair at Columbia University. There was significant student opposition to the appointment, which eventually became a subject of wide media commentary. Columbia University cancelled the appointment as a result.

George W. Bush tried to post Kissinger as the lead for the World Trade Center investigation. In November 2002, Kissinger was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the newly established National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to investigate the September 11 attacks. Kissinger stepped down as chairman on December 13, 2002 rather than reveal his business client list, when queried about potential conflicts of interest.

Since he left office, some efforts have been made to hold Kissinger responsible for perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in government. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels. Christopher Hitchens, the late British-American journalist and author, was highly critical of Kissinger, authoring The Trial of Henry Kissinger, in which Hitchens called for the prosecution of Kissinger "for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture".

Abby Ohlheiser in Slate wrote, "WikiLeaks released a searchable database of over 1.7 million diplomatic cables from the years 1973 to 1976 today. Because so many of them, over 200,000, are connected to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the collection is being informally dubbed the 'Kissinger Cables.' Julian Assange co-founded WikiLeaks in 2006. Kissinger is now useless as a statesman or envoy for even the most benign tasks of State, thanks to his now all-too-apparent monied interests.

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