ACTION ALERT: Why Wasn’t Kissinger Asked About War Crimes Charges?

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was summoned last month to appear at the French Palace of Justice to answer questions about murders and disappearances in Chile in the 1970s. While the story was carried by major European news outlets, it has received relatively little coverage in U.S. media.

June 29, 2001

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was summoned last month to appear at the French Palace of Justice to answer questions about murders and disappearances in Chile in the 1970s. While the story was carried by major European news outlets, it has received relatively little coverage in U.S. media.

French authorities wanted to ask Kissinger, who was visiting Paris, about Operation Condor, the terror network set up by the governments of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia. Evidence that the U.S. government was aware of and lent support to Operation Condor has been available for years (see The Nation, 8/9-16/99; New York Times, 3/6/01). The French magistrate who summoned Kissinger was particularly interested in what light he might shed on the disappearances of five French nationals who disappeared in Chile during or shortly after the U.S.-supported coup there in 1973.

But the French courts would learn nothing from Kissinger, who left town the day after being summoned without answering any questions.

After the episode in France, Kissinger did a lengthy, one-on-one interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose (6/20/01). Kissinger also appeared alone with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (6/21/01) and Fox News Channel’s Paula Zahn (6/13/01). None of the interviews even mentioned the French attempt to question Kissinger about human rights abuses. Nor did any of the journalists bring up the question of whether Kissinger might be indictable on war crimes charges, as journalist Christopher Hitchens argued in a two-part Harper’s magazine article (2/01, 3/01).

Was there an agreement that the interviewers would avoid raising such uncomfortable issues for Kissinger? Charlie Rose was recently accused of making such an agreement with Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News Channel. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine (6/24/01), Ailes claimed that he had written assurance from Rose that he would not be asked about “politics” during his May 22 interview. Yvette Vega, the executive producer for the Charlie Rose Show, told FAIR that she was unaware of any such deal with Ailes.

But Kissinger himself seemed to have this kind of agreement with the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where Kissinger spoke on June 21. Noting that none of the questions asked of Kissinger, chosen from written questions submitted by the audience, dealt with war crimes or human rights investigations, journalists Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman asked Press Club moderator Richard Koonce if there was some sort of arrangement to avoid these topics.

According to Mokhiber and Weissman, Koonce explained that there was a “definite sensitivity” to those kinds of questions, and that Kissinger “was afraid that if we got into a discussion of that, for the vast majority of people that, it would take so much time to explain all of the context, that, you know, he preferred to avoid that.”

Which raises the question: If a former Secretary of State receiving a summons about his knowledge of murder, torture and disappearances is not news, then what is?

ACTION: Please contact Charlie Rose and ask why he failed to ask Henry Kissinger about the newsworthy issues of human rights investigations and war crimes charges. You might also contact the National Press Club to voice your disappointment that journalists were not allowed to press Kissinger on these matters.

CONTACT:

The Charlie Rose Show
mailto:charlierose@pbs.org
Phone: 212-940-1600

National Press Club
Melinda Cooke, Assistant to Club President Dick Ryan
mailto:mcooke@npcpress.org
Fax: 202-662-7537

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your correspondence.

Read Mokhiber and Weissman’s column, “Censorship at the National Press Club,” at:
http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corp-focus/2001/000077.html

Read “The Fugitive” by Christopher Hitchens (The Nation, 6/25/01)
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20010625&s=hitchens

Author: FAIR

News Service: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

URL: http://www.fair.org