- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

LONDON Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has characterized legal moves to question him about war-crime charges as attempts "to settle scores" dating back three decades.

Writs have been issued by judicial investigators in France, Chile and Argentina who want to question the Nobel Peace Prize-winning diplomat in connection with "Operation Condor," a suspected terror campaign in South America during the 1970s in which the CIA purportedly targeted leftist national leaders when Mr. Kissinger was the secretary of state.

Spanish Magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who tried to have former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet extradited in 1998, also tried to "intercept" Mr. Kissinger during his London trip last week but failed.

Mr. Kissinger, in London to address the Institute of Directors' annual convention, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the legal maneuvers against him represented a "new vogue" of employing human rights legislation to settle old debts stemming from Cold War days.

"What they are attempting to do is to use universal human rights to settle scores from 30 years ago," he told an interviewer last week as protesters outside London's Royal Albert Hall called him a "serial killer" among other epithets.

Dozens of protesters staged a sit-down demonstration that stopped traffic outside the hall. They called for his indictment on war-crimes charges stemming from U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

"They're not making any charges involving universal violations," Mr. Kissinger, 78, said. "They're getting into specific issues of the management of American foreign policy with respect to one very geographically confined situation."

Minutes later, Mr. Kissinger said to some 2,800 businessmen that "quite possibly" some mistakes had been made in the administrations of presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, in which he played a key role.

"No one can say that he served in an administration that did not make mistakes," Mr. Kissinger said. "The decisions made in high office are usually 51-49 decisions, so it is quite possible that mistakes were made."

"The issue," he said, "is whether 30 years after the event courts are the appropriate means by which determination is made.

"My position is that if the U.S. government thinks it is appropriate for me to answer the questions of foreign judges about the conduct of American policy, I will cooperate to the fullest extent."

Meanwhile, he said to the audience of directors, "it is not a refusal on my part to answer questions."

He said that the trend of pursuing unsettled scores from the Cold War by using human rights legislation could mean trouble for the future.

Mr. Kissinger told the Telegraph: "People should ask whether it is actually feasible to conduct international policy if high officials, 30 years after the event, are hounded on tactical matters.

"The pursuit of high officials of foreign governments especially friendly governments should be reserved for truly major human rights violations," he said.

Such targets, Mr. Kissinger made it clear, do not include himself.

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