Condor Document 1

[ This September 28, 1976 cable is from the FBI's legal attaché in Buenos Aires, Robert Scherrer. For more than two decades, it was almost the only released U.S. document that mentions Condor, and has been widely quoted in books and articles. ]

Condor Cable 1, p. 1

P 28??30 SEP 76

FM BUENOS AIRES (109-2) (189-9)

TO DIRECTOR (1?9-12-201) (1?9-12-2?7) PRIORITY 204-28







On September 28, 1976, a confidential source abroad [one line deleted] provided the following information:

"Operation Condor" is the code name for the collection, exchange and storage of intelligence data concerning socalled "leftists," communists and Marxists, which was recently established between cooperating intelligence services in South America in order to eliminate Marxist terrorist activities in the area. In addition, "Operation Condor" provides for joint operations against terrorist

Condor Cable 1, p. 2

targets in member countries of "Operation Condor." Chile is the center for "Operation Condor" and in addition to Chile its members include Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Brazil also has tentatively agreed to supply intelligence input for "Operation Condor." Members of "Operation Condor" showing the most enthusiasm to date have been Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. The latter three countries have engaged in joint operations, primarily in Argentina, against the terrorist target. During the week of September 20, 1976, the [two lines deleted] with respect to "Operation Condor."

A third and most secret phase of "Operation Condor" involves the formation of special teams from member countries who are to travel anywhere in the world to non-member countries to carry out sanctions up to assassination against terrorists or supporters of terrorist organizations from "Operation Condor" member countries. For example, should a terrorist or a supporter of a terrorist organization from a member country of "Operation Condor" be located in a European country, a special team from "Operation Condor"

Condor Cable 1, p. 3

would be dispatched to locate and surveil the target. When the location and surveillance operation has terminated, a second team from "Operation Condor" would be dispatched to carry out the actual sanction against the target. Special teams would be issued false documentation from member countries of "Operation Condor" and may be composed exclusively of individuals from one member nation of "Operation Condor" or may be composed [of a] mixed group from various "Operation Condor" member nations. European countries, specifically mentioned for possible operations under the third phase of "Operation Condor" were France and Portugal.

A special team has been organized [two lines deleted] which are being prepared for possible future action under the third phase of "Operation Condor."

[three lines deleted]

Condor Cable 1, p. 4

coordinated locally.

It should be noted that no information has been developed indicating that sanctions under the third phase of "Operation Condor" have been planned to be carried out in the United States; however, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the recent assassination of Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. may have been carried out as a third phase action of "Operation Condor." As noted above, information available [from] the source indicates that particular emphasis was placed on the third phase actions of "Operation Condor" in Europe, specifically France and Portugal. This office will remain alert for any information indicating that the assassination of Letelier may be [part] of "Operation Condor" action.

Condor Document 1, unredacted

[ The Defense Intelligence Agency recently declassified a more complete version of the above information, reproduced here as page 1 and page 2. The additional lines are added below. The fact that the Pentagon was interested in Condor in 1976 may be relevant to the communications network mentioned in Document 2, below. The Pentagon's Special Operations Forces were frequently assigned to CIA officers during the Vietnam war, particularly for special missions. This is only a few years later, so the same arrangement may have existed in Latin America. ]

Country: Argentina

Subject: (U) Special Operations Forces (U)

Date of information: 1976, Sep 28

Date of report: 1976, Oct 1

This IR provides information on joint counterinsurgency operations by several countries in South America. Information was provided by US Embassy Legal Attache who has excellent contacts within the State Secretariat for Information and Federal Police Force.

This IR partially fulfills requirement of ICR A-TAC-44396.


During the week of 20 September 1976, the Director of the Argentine Army Intelligence Service traveled to Santiago to consult with his Chilean counterparts on Operation Condor (This travel is similar to trip reported in IR b 804 0309 76.)

2. ------------- During the period 24-27 September 1976, members of the Argentine State Secretariat for Information (SIDE), operating with officers of the Uruguayan Military Intelligence Service carried out operations against the Uruguayan Terrorist organization, the OPR-33 in Buenos Aires. As a result of this joint operation, SIDE officials claimed that the entire OPR-33 infrastructure in Argentina has been eliminated. A large volume of US currency was seized during the combined operation.


4. ------------- A special team has apparently been organized in Argentina for use in "Operation Condor." They are members of the Argentine Army Intelligence Service and the State Secretariat for Information. They are reportedly structured much like a US Special Forces Team with a medic (doctor), demolition expert, etc. They are apparently being prepared for action in phase three.

COMMENT: ------------ More and more is being heard about "Operation Condor" in the southern cone. Military officers who, heretofore, had been mum on the subject have begun to talk openly about it. A favorite remark is that "one of their colleagues is out of the country because he is flying like [a] condor."

Condor Document 2

[ State Department cable from U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Robert White, to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, October 13, 1978. This document was discovered by Prof. J. Patrice McSherry of Long Island University, who has published several articles on Condor. It was reported in the March 6, 2001 New York Times. McSherry described this cable, with its reference to U.S. communication facilities in Panama as participating in Condor, as "another piece of increasingly weighty evidence suggesting that U.S. military and intelligence officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor." ]

Condor Cable 2

O 1319?5Z OCT 78



I.D. 11??2: GDS


1. On October 11 I called again on chief of staff General Alejandro Fretes Davalos. After preliminary courtesies, he read me the ACTA(?) or summary minutes resulting from the visit of General Orozco, chief of Chilean intelligence, to Asuncion. The document itself makes no direct reference to the Letelier case. Fretes said the president had authorized him to brief me on the ACTA but he preferred to read it verbatim.

2. The document is basically an agreement to coordinate all intelligence resources in order to control and eliminate subversion. It speaks of exchange of information, prompt use of communication facilities, monitoring of subversives and their detention and informal hand over from one country to the other. It repeats over and over the need for full cooperation and mutually facilitative acts in the context of a fight to the death against subversion.

3. In response to my questions, Fretes Davalos gave the following account of the meeting between Chile and Paraguay. It was simply another in a regular series of meeting which take place annually among the chiefs of intelligence of the countries of the southern cone. This system of consultations came into being mainly as a defense against the threat of Argentine subversion spreading to other countries. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay make up the net, although Uruguay is now almost on the inactive list. Fretes Davalos said the meetings are not particularly useful anymore, in his judgment, because the main threat (from Argentina) has been eliminated. They keep in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America. This U.S. communications facility is used mainly by student officers to call home to Latin America but it is also employed to co-ordinate intelligence information among the southern cone countries. They maintain the confidentiality of their communication throu[gh] the U.S. facility in Panama by using bilateral codes. In his view the whole network is practically useless and serves mainly to permit chiefs of intelligence to exaggerate their own diminishing importance.

4. COMMENT: Obviously this is the Condor network which all of us have heard about over the last few years. Although Fretes Davalos told me he had only mentioned to President Stroessner that we were going to talk about the meeting, I suspect the President vetoed Fretes' stated intention of providing me with a copy of the ACTA and instead told him to read it to me. Either I misunderstood or Fretes misspoke in our previous meeting (REFTEL) when he said Argentina had also attended. Apparently two bilateral meetings with Chile and Argentina took place one after the other and some sessions may even have overlapped.

5. RECOMMENDATION: The two FBI agents here tell me there is likelihood Condor will surface during Letelier trial in the U.S. If General Fretes Davalos is accurate in describing the communications it uses as an encrypted system within U.S. communications net (and I have no knowledge whether this is true), it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.


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