Washington Split Over Pinochet

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WASHINGTON: Like a family's dirty little secret, General Augusto Pinochet is haunting Washington's corridors of power. "The U.S. government is deeply divided over what policy to pursue in response to Pinochet's arrest," says TIME correspondent Adam Zagorin. "Right now that policy is in flux." On Monday State Department spokesman James Rubin promised the U.S. would "declassify and make public as much information as possible" over human rights abuses in Chile under Pinochet; then on Wednesday he said that meant only that the U.S. would "review" the those documents. Rubin's shuffling is reflective of a fierce debate in the State Department and National Security Council.

Concerns of those counseling caution range from avoiding a precedent of cross-border political extradition to fear of destabilizing Chile. Then there's the case of the 1976 car bomb in Washington, D.C., that killed Chilean exile Orlando Letelier and American citizen Roni Moffit. "There's already strong circumstantial evidence that Pinochet ordered that attack, and there may be even more precise information in the classified documents," says Zagorin. "The U.S. government hasn't pursued Pinochet's involvement as aggressively as they might have." So, even if the former dictator is sent home by Britain next week, it may be some time before Washington exorcises his ghost.