Henry Kissinger’s Documented Legacy 

Thursday, 25 May 2023 — National Security Archive


A Declassified Dossier on HAK’s Controversial Historical Legacy, on His 100th Birthday

Kissinger’s 8 Years in Power Changed Chile, Cambodia, East Timor, Angola, and Much of the World, for the Worse

Washington, D.C., May 25, 2023 – As Henry Alfred Kissinger (HAK) reaches 100 years of age, his centennial is generating global coverage of his legacy as a leading statesman, master diplomat and realpolitik foreign policy strategist. “Nobody alive has more experience of international affairs,” as The Economist recently put it in a predictably laudatory tribute to Kissinger. But the historical record also documents the darker side of Kissinger’s controversial tenure in power: his role in the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia that killed over 100,000 civilians; the overthrow of democracy and the rise of dictatorship in Chile; disdain for human rights and support for dirty, and even genocidal, wars abroad, as well as involvement in the Nixon administration’s criminal abuses, among them the secret wiretaps of his own top aides.

To contribute to a balanced and more comprehensive evaluation of Kissinger’s legacy, the National Security Archive has compiled a small, select dossier of declassified records—memos, memcons, and “telcons” that Kissinger wrote, said and/or read—documenting TOP SECRET deliberations, operations, and policies during Kissinger’s time in the White House and Department of State. Among them are newly obtained documents on Kissinger’s role in TOP SECRET FBI surveillance of officials he suspected of leaking information on the clandestine U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia, including his own NSC aide, Morton Halperin. “The illegal and rule-less government wiretaps not only violated the right to privacy but interfered with the political rights of those surveilled and those they talked to,” Halperin said in a statement to the Archive for this posting. “These surveillance records remind us of the need for eternal vigilance and accountability.”

THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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