The New York Times
August 17, 2000

Albright to Try to Shed Light on Missing Argentine Children


          BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 16 -- Secretary of State Madeleine K.
          Albright pledged today that she will work to declassify United
          States government documents that may shed light on the kidnappings of
          hundreds of children from dissidents captured by the Argentine military
          during the dictatorship that governed here from 1976 to 1983.

          "This is a matter of conscience," she said at a news conference.

          Dr. Albright, who is on a five-day tour of five South American nations,
          invited representatives of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and
          Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo for a meeting today at the
          ambassador's residence.

          The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a rights group trying to locate
          children believed stolen from their imprisoned mothers, have requested
          that the Clinton administration open C.I.A. files that could help them in
          their search. At the meeting, the groups also urged Dr. Albright to release
          documents related to Operation Condor, a plan conceived by several
          South American military dictatorships to arrest dissidents in one another's

          "I said I would do my best to see what kind of papers there were," she
          told reporters. But in a reference to the Central Intelligence Agency, she
          added, "As you know the State Department is not the keeper of all the

          Foreign Minister Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini said he welcomed the
          promise, adding, "The government of Argentina thinks any acts to clarify
          the past will be helpful."

          But human rights activists expressed skepticism.

          "We do not believe her," said Hebe de Bonafini, president of the
          Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, adding that it was "hypocritical of
          Albright to say she is going to look into something that the government
          she represents was largely responsible for."

          Representatives of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo told Dr. Albright
          that they held the United States responsible for instructing Argentine
          officers at the School of the Americas, a military academy at the time
          located in Panama.

          Historians of the period say that Washington's ties to the Argentine
          military junta were not as close as they were to Gen. Augusto Pinochet's
          men in Chile.

          Relations between the United States and Argentina were tense during the
          Carter administration, especially after the junta sold wheat to the Soviet
          Union in defiance of the embargo that Washington instituted after
          Moscow invaded Afghanistan. And during the Falklands War, the
          Reagan administration supported Britain.

          Nevertheless, the C.I.A. is believed to have had a robust intelligence
          operation in Argentina at the time.

          Between 15,000 and 30,000 people disappeared or were executed
          during the "dirty war" between the military and two guerrilla groups, the
          largest of which carried the banner of Peronist populism. Many of those
          killed were students, labor activists and dissidents.

          An administration official said that there were far fewer documents in
          government files that shed light on Argentina than exist on Chile.

          In the case of Chile, the C.I.A. has continued to resist the release of
          many documents.