State Department spokesman James Rubin Wednesday denied reports in Britain's Guardian newspaper alleging the U.S. was working behind the scenes to press Spain to drop its bid to extradite Pinochet. Back in Washington, 36 U.S. congressmen wrote President Clinton urging that the Spanish investigators be provided with classified documents linking Pinochet to various atrocities -- including the 1976 car-bomb assassination of an exiled Chilean leftist in Washington, D.C. Classified documents have so far been withheld from the Spanish investigation, and it would be surprising if Langley didn't want to keep it that way.
Despite Washington's official indifference, a trial of Chile's General Augusto Pinochet may put the U.S. in an awkward position. The reason? Washington's direct role in the events that brought Pinochet to power in 1973. "It could be embarrassing for the U.S. if Pinochet talks about what actually happened in his coup against the democratically elected Salvador Allende," says Dowell. "The CIA actively promoted the economic collapse that preceded Pinochet's takeover. That coup was counted as one of the agency's major success stories in shaping the outcome of political events in other countries."