US may have accidentally helped to start Falklands war by encouraging Argentinians to invade island, admits ex-CIA chief


US may have accidentally helped to start Falklands war by encouraging Argentinians to invade islands, admits ex-CIA chiefCIA boss William Casey voiced concerns over Argentina's confidence in US
Washington admitted they might have inadvertently encouraged Argentina

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 30 December 2012

The Americans admitted they may have inadvertently encouraged the Argentinians to invade the Falkland Islands, it emerged last night.

The former head of the CIA privately confessed that Argentina may wrongly have believed its support for US covert operations in Central America would mean Washington's 'acquiescence' for the 1982 invasion.

In fact, despite friction between London and Washington, the Pentagon provided vital behind-the-scenes support for the British military to retake the islands.

Classified: Former CIA chief William Casey pictured here with President Ronald Reagan, was concerned that the US might have given Argentina a false sense of security over the Falklands invasion

Classified: Former CIA chief William Casey pictured here with President Ronald Reagan, was concerned that the US might have given Argentina a false sense of security over the Falklands invasion

But newly declassified files reveal
fears at the heart of US intelligence that a misunderstanding over US
foreign policy could have led Buenos Aires to believe an invasion would
not upset Washington.

Just
over a month after the Argentinian surrender in June 1982, Sir Nicholas
Henderson – then about to retire as UK ambassador in Washington –
recalled conversations with CIA director William Casey in a 'valedictory
telegram' to his Foreign Office bosses in London.

Sir
Nicholas wrote: 'It is relevant that Mr William Casey, the head of the
CIA, who was closely concerned in Cabinet discussion on this subject,
has implied to us privately that he thinks the Argentinians may well
have been led up the wrong path.

'They may have believed that their support for the US in covert operations in Central America was more important to the US than in fact it was, and could be expected to earn them American acquiescence in forward policy elsewhere.'

Sir Nicholas also recalled handing US Secretary of State Alexander Haig a piece of paper detailing British evidence of Argentina's intention to invade on April 2, 1982.

He said: 'Mr Haig's reaction to the information I had given him was electric.'

Sir Nicholas added: 'He wanted us to win and would have been horrified if the Argentinians had got away with it.'

Misunderstanding: Files reveal that the then Ambassador to the US Sir Nicholas Henderson (right) had recalled conversations in Washington where CIA voiced concerns about their relationship with Argentina

Misunderstanding: Files reveal that the then Ambassador to the US Sir Nicholas Henderson (right) had recalled conversations in Washington where CIA voiced concerns about their relationship with Argentina