Pinochet Papers a Pandora's Box

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Does embarrassment constitute a threat to U.S. security? The answer to that question may determine which classified documents Washington releases to prosecutors investigating General Augusto Pinochet. "The decision seems to indicate that the Clinton Administration believes that the pursuit of justice is the most important consideration here," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "But this could be a Pandora's box, because it inevitably raises questions about America's involvement in the Chilean coup." Previously declassified U.S. documents implicate Pinochet in human rights abuses, but also suggest that the Nixon administration actively encouraged the coup that brought the dictator to power.

Although U.S. officials have indicated that they plan to release sealed documents concerning human rights abuses in Chile -- which include the murder of American citizens -- "they're still unlikely to release anything that would endanger U.S. security, and that may include information that embarrasses the U.S.," says Dowell. In other words, don't expect more Pentagon Papers.