Chile (cont.)

The case of Edward Korry has become an object lesson against rushing to jugment on individuals when institutional wrongdoing is disclosed. For years doubt has been cast on Mr. Korry's self-exculpating version of his role as US ambassador to Chile a decade and more ago. That was when the Nixon administration, the ITT corporation, and the CIA were later found to have been trying to subvert the Chilean political process. Now new or previously underplayed evidence has come to light in support of Mr. Korry's credibility. It deserves no less airing than the earlier damage to his reputation.

A central point in the emerging story is that Mr. Korry was telling the truth when he denied that he had received a "green light" message to move in the name of President Nixon against Chile's Marxist President Allende. Later evidence showed that the message had, in fact, gone to a CIA station chief. In this and other matters, it now appears, Mr. Korry was testifying honestly out of ignorance whereas some other were simply lying. One of the dismaying sidelights reported by the New York Times is that Mr. Korry received compliments on his testimony from senior government officials who assumed he was ying, too. Indeed , it strained belief to think that the ambassador on the spot did not know of his government's machinations. Again the folly of two-track operations -- keeping those in the public diplomatic track in the dark -- was exposed. A sorry episode in US history might have been avoided if all had acted in the spirit of Mr. Korry's warnings against trying to topple Allende.

Press and public would be well advised to allow a margin for error whenever there are big breaks in secrecy as in the CIA investigations of recent years. The fully story on Chile itself is probably sti ll to be told.

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