Justice Finally Comes for Perpetrator in Thirty-Year-Old Crime

Justice Finally Comes for Perpetrator in Thirty-Year-Old Crime

One of those who ordered killings of Jesuit Priests in El Salvador convicted in Spanish court.

BY  The Progressive, September 15, 2020

See original story here.

“This is War”: How the CIA Justifies Torture

By Frank Smyth on December 10, 2014

Editor’s Note: This piece by Frank Smyth on the use of “negative incentive” methods in Central America was originally published in our August 1987 issue, under the title “El Salvador’s Forgotten War.” From Frank:

The Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week concluded that the CIA engaged in the torture of terrorist suspects in the years following 9/11 without obtaining any significant intelligence information, contrary to claims by former U.S. intelligence and Bush administration officials. The panel concluded that the CIA techniques included waterboarding or nearly drowning suspects, prolonged sleep deprivation, and other techniques including making suspects wear diapers, putting insects in their cells, and subjecting detainees to mock burials.

The revelations have cast the United States in a harsh light 25 years after the end of the Cold War. But such techniques have been employed by U.S. intelligence agencies, in fact, going back even longer. In the 1980s, during the Reagan administration’s effort to repel Marxist guerrilla movements in El Salvador and Guatemala, and to ultimately help oust a leftist revolutionary government in Nicaragua, U.S. intelligence agencies agencies used similar tactics then against Marxist guerrilla suspects that they used two decades later against Islamist terrorist suspects.

U.S. intelligence officers coined such techniques as applying a “negative incentive,” using an Orwellian euphemism for torture that echoes that kind of double-speak like “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by U.S. officials in the 2000s.

Below is my 1987 story in The Progressive about the use of torture by U.S. intelligence agencies in Central America. It has a personal resonance for me. I interviewed many torture victims in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s. In 1991, I found myself in an Iraqi prison run by intelligence agents from the regime led by President Saddam Hussein, and listened night after night as they tortured Iraqis suspected of having tried to overthrow his regime.

Torture knows no political bounds. No matter who the abuser is, it is employed more often for revenge and deterrence than to gather information. It is abhorrent in all forms. It must be called by its proper name. And it must be resisted always. Torture by U.S. officials has done much harm to many human beings. It has done irreparable harm to us.”

The U.S. Congress, like the American mass media, seem notoriously in­ capable of focusing on more than one international troublespot at a time. A few years ago, all eyes were on El Salvador, its infamous Death Squads, and the U.S. Government’s role in sustaining a brutally repressive regime. Today the spotlight is on Nicaragua and El Salvador is all but forgotten, despite a resurgence of political violence and new evidence of U.S. com­ plicity in assaults on human rights.

“The democratic revolution has just begun,” President Jose Napoleon Duarte told the Salvadoran people in his third an­nual state-of-the-union address on June 1. But one day earlier, labor leader Julio Portillo was shot at an anti-government dem­onstration near San Salvador. Three days before that, the offices of the Co-Madres (Committee of Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners Disappeared) were de­molished by a bomb. And earlier in May, the tortured, headless body of peasant leader Antonio Hernandez Martinez was found in San Miguel.

Hernandez, Portillo, and the Co-Madres were active participants in a labor-led op­position coalition that has been challeng­ing the Salvadoran government to pursue genuine reforms and negotiate an end to years of insurgent warfare. Instead, the Duarte government has chosen to dismiss the opposition as a subversive communist front.

The murdered Hernandez Martinez was last seen being led off by government sol­diers on April 16. He had been on his way to arrange for a loan to his peasant co­ operative.

Julio Portillo, who heads a high-school teachers’ union, was leading a peaceful anti-government protest outside Mariona prison when he was struck by one of the shots directed at the protesters from the direction of the Salvadoran army’s First Infantry Brigade.

Duarte ignored these developments when he traveled in a heavily armored eighty-car convoy to deliver his state-of-the-union address in the small northern town of Sensuntepeque. He unveiled fifty- four new proposals to rebuild El Salvador and promised to open a dialogue with left­ist guerrillas, provided they first laid down their arms.

The Salvadoran government maintains that the Farabundo Marti National Lib­eration Front (FMLN) is prolonging the conflict. But classified CIA documents re­veal that it is Duarte’s U.S.-backed government that has no interest in ending the civil war. In fact, these documents—pre­pared by the Office of African and Latin American Analysis in coordination with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations—dis­miss Duarte’s previous call for peace, is­ sued last year, as a meaningless “public-relations gesture.” Salvadoran govern­ment officials “see little to be gained in a dialogue with the rebels while the Salva­doran military has the initiative in the war,” says a CIA report dated September 2, 1986.

The Salvadoran military say they can win the war, and U.S. authorities believe the government has taken the upper hand. “Although they have not been decisively beaten,” the September CIA report states, “the guerrillas, in our view, no longer have the capacity to launch and sustain major offensives.”

Such assessments have often been made in the course of the eight-year-old conflict, and they have always turned out to be un­founded. Early this spring, at a time when the insurgents were believed to be in de­cline, the FMLN mounted a surprise at­tack on an army garrison at El Paraiso, killing sixty-nine government soldiers and one U.S. Army Special Forces adviser.

The FMLN has expanded its opera­tions to all fourteen provinces of El Sal­vador, increasing the likelihood that the struggle may continue for many years. The conflict has already claimed some 60,000 lives—more than 1 percent of the Salva­doran population.

Duarte, who has neither the will nor the power to oversee an end to the war, did offer two symbolic concessions in his June 1 speech: He said that he would allow sev­enty-eight wounded rebels to leave the country for medical treatment and that he might grant amnesty to 400 political pris­oners. At the same time, however, he re­jected out of hand a bold new FMLN peace initiative.

Three days before Duarte’s speech at Sensuntepeque, the FMLN had proposed to enter into direct negotiations with the government on July 15. Their offer in­cluded pledges to stop using land mines and to suspend their campaign of eco­nomic sabotage in exchange for an end to aerial bombing by the government and a halt of summary executions by both sides.

Guerrilla-planted mines cause up to 70 percent of government casualties and are, along with the economic-sabotage cam­paign, the insurgents’ most effective weap­ons. Government bombing missions are targeted on areas of high rebel activity, but most casualties are inflicted on civilians rather than FMLN fighters. The steps pro­posed by the FMLN would, therefore, go a long way toward reducing civilian cas­ualties.

But the Salvadoran government, backed by the United States, is interested only in a military solution. The Reagan Admin­istration has tried to make El Salvador a showcase for containment of communism in the Hemisphere, and has undertaken highly publicized steps to “professional­ize” the Salvadoran military.

In 1981, when unarmed civilians were being murdered at the rate of thirty-five a day, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sent Brigadier General Fred Woerner to con­duct a survey of the Salvadoran armed forces. His report, which called for the ex­pansion, equipping, training, and modern­ization of the Salvadoran military, set the tone for Reagan Administration policy toward El Salvador.

However, State Department sources confirm there was considerable friction within the Administration over its indif­ference to human-rights considerations. Under mounting pressure from church and human-rights groups, the Administration began in 1983 to express concern over the operations of the Salvadoran Death Squads.

“The idea,” says a former State Department official, “was to play by their rules”—”their” meaning such human-rights organizations as Amnesty International and Americas Watch, which had long crit­icized U.S. policy. Congress, mindful of El Salvador’s blatant disregard for human rights, had blocked or reduced Adminis­tration requests for an escalation of mili­tary aid. However, the new training effort undertaken by the U.S. Government was directed less at restoring human rights than at developing more sophisticated forms of interrogation.

The first group of 470 Salvadoran of­ficer cadets received training in a three-month course at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1982. Another 600 arrived in 1983, fol­lowed by even more in 1984. Additional units, particularly elite battalions, were trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and smaller units received special instruction at the U.S. Southern Command in Pan­ama. In 1985, 250 Salvadoran military personnel were sent to the Pentagon’s Re­gional Training Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Last year, training shifted to a new center in La Union, El Salvador.

A Defense Department spokesman, Marine Captain Jay C. Farrar, said it is “highly doubtful” that these courses of­fered instruction in abusive interrogation techniques. But according to U.S. Army Special Forces advisers formerly stationed in the region, small courses for selected Salvadoran soldiers regularly included training in “negative-incentive” methods.

“Torture in El Salvador,” Americas Watch reported last year, “consists in­creasingly of physical abuse that does not leave physical marks, such as the capucha (hood to suffocate) and immersion in filthy water. . . . The most prevalent forms of abuse of detainees at present are sleep dep­rivation, food deprivation, and threats against family members. These practices, like the capucha and immersion, leave no physical marks.” State Department sources say abuse of this kind now occurs in about 20 percent of all prisoner interrogations.

A Pentagon intelligence officer who spoke on condition that his name not be published said such techniques “are ex­actly the kind of thing that the Special Forces are teaching in El Salvador.” He added that methods inappropriate for use by the police in the United States can be justified in El Salvador because “this is a war and a different situation.”

Even as the use of “negative-incentive” techniques has increased, blatant physical abuse continues. Few armed guerrillas have ever been taken prisoner, and it is gener­ally assumed that they are executed when captured in the field. According to former U.S. advisers, Salvadoran officers com­plain that they don’t have time for lengthy interrogations on patrol.

Military intelligence documents sent from El Salvador to Washington give an indication of how interrogations are con­ducted in the field. In mid-1985, three combatants of the FAL—a guerrilla group led by the Salvadoran Communist Party—were captured coming off the Guazapa Volcano near the capital. The interroga­tors were able to learn the pseudonyms of about thirty members of that guerrilla unit, their titles and functions, and the pseu­donyms of the three clandestine operatives who had recruited the prisoners.

The documents explain, in euphemistic terms, the interrogation of one combatant: “In the beginning he didn’t say much, due to his companeros who had told him that the FAL would beat or kill him [if he talked]. But once he saw that this was false, he opened up a little more.” The prisoner, it seems clear, was persuaded that his cap­tors would inflict greater harm if he didn’t talk than his comrades would if he did.

One goal of Reagan Administration policy is to avoid the kind of wholesale slaughter that used to lead to questions in Congress and public protests. But if the Duarte government’s current policy of selective repression were to fail to keep the domestic opposition un­der control, the military might resort to more obvious methods. Indeed, five un­armed alleged “FMLN collaborators” were murdered by the army’s Arce Battalion on May 22, their bodies thrown into a well.

CIA analysts fear the FMLN is trying to provoke violence between civilians and security forces, and have expressed con­cern that in the future the military may exercise less restraint: “Increasing violence will fuel the insurgency by alienating Duarte’s primary constituencies in the lower middle classes and the urban poor, or by provoking a coup and military crack­down.”

The extreme Right continues to play an active role in Salvadoran politics. Ultra-conservative parties, backed by the coun­try’s intransigent private sector, control El Salvador’s supreme court. For four months earlier this year, they boycotted the legis­lative assembly, which is dominated by Duarte’s Christian Democrats. A new rightist organization, the Movement for National Action, has entered the fray, call­ing for Duarte’s resignation and berating the military for failing to crush the insur­gents.

In the past, such rhetoric has preceded the unleashing of new Death Squad offen­sives. In fact, one of El Salvador’s notor­ious right-wing Death Squads resurfaced on June 16. The Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez Brigade accused fourteen teach­ers and students at the National Univer­sity of having guerrilla links, and gave them forty-eight hours to leave the country.

The ultraconservatives enjoy backing within the armed forces, especially among U.S.-trained oficiales de la guerra (war of­ ficers), including Colonel Sigfrido Ochoa, former commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade in Chalatenango, and Colonel Mauricio Staben of the Arce Battalion. For these officers, there is no distinction be­tween the insurgents and the domestic po­litical opposition.

That may explain why opposition po­litical figures have come under violent po­litical attack in recent months, and why Duarte’s effectiveness has been markedly reduced. In the past few months, the mil­itary has grown increasingly independent in El Salvador, and another round of po­litical violence may be in the offing. •

Frank Smyth, a freelance writer in Wash­ington, D.C., has reported from El Salva­dor.

– See more at:

Solidarity, a key to security, eludes Salvadoran press

The original blog is posted here.

By Frank Smyth/Senior Adviser for Journalist Security

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.

These priests were slain back in 1989 by El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military leadership during the largest battle of the nation’s long civil war. In a decision seen as a press freedom milestone, CPJ considered the three university Jesuits (who were slain along with three other Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter to eliminate witnesses) to be journalists. The names of Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, and Segundo Montes are also etched into the glass plates of the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington.

The three university Jesuits had independently chronicled events and criticized policies through a decade of war after tens of thousands of Salvadorans, many of them independent critics, were murdered or driven into exile. At a time when two right-wing dailies dominated domestic news, the Jesuit university weekly newsletter and bimonthly journal ran analysis and commentary along with select foreign stories in translation, including a few of mine.

The Salvadoran press is diverse today, much like the nation’s politics. The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, the party bearing the name of a 1930s-era revolutionary leader, is now in power. A former leftist guerrilla is now a critical columnist for the nation’s most conservative daily. And a new generation of talented investigative journalists is emerging.

But all of this is happening in a professional void in El Salvador, which does not have a long tradition of independent journalism. The generational evolution of journalistic mentors passing on lessons to the next crop of reporters is largely missing here, along with a strong professional culture and sense of solidarity.

I returned to El Salvador last week to help lead a workshop on journalist security at a far-ranging event called the Central American Journalism Forum. The event was organized by the online news outlet El Faro, which is subsidized by the Open Society Foundations. The very notable speakers included Frank La Rue, the U.N. special rapporteur for free expression, the Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, and the legendary investigative journalists Gustavo Gorritiof Peru and Monica Gonzalez of Chile.

But only a handful of journalists from El Salvador and other Central American nations joined in the conference. Neither the dynamic Salvadoran online magazine ContraPunto, run by the son of a legendary guerrilla leader murdered in internecine violence, nor the fledging Salvadoran press freedom group, APES, or Association of El Salvador Journalists, which recently called a press conference to defend El Faro, were given roles at the forum.

Journalists working in risky nations such as Colombia and Brazil have learned that solidarity in the press corps is essential to survival. After seeing dozens of their colleagues murdered, leading journalists in each of those nations organized press freedom groups to combat anti-press crimes, and collaborative investigative groups to diffuse the risk while working on sensitive stories.

Many people think journalist security involves the use of encrypted files and counter-surveillance techniques–and those practices do have their place. But security is really a way of thinking, a way of approaching your work. And fostering professional solidarity is crucial to that approach.

Isolation can be dangerous, and one recent episode in El Salvador illustrates the potential risk. In March, Security and Justice Minister David Munguía Payés called a press conference to respond to a hard-hitting story by El Faro–and invited reporters from every major news outlet except El Faro. During the press conference the security minister said El Faro journalists could be in danger for their reporting; in response to a question, he raised the case of a French journalist murdered here three years ago.

El Faro and the French journalist, a documentarian and contributor to ContraPunto, were investigating gangs. Most notably, El Faro had exposed the secret transfer of imprisoned gang leaders to less restrictive jails. The minister took issue with some aspects of El Faro‘s reporting.

Last week, I asked Munguía Payés at a public event whether his comments were intended to threaten El Faro‘s journalists. No, he replied, although he admitted that not inviting the online news magazine’s reporters to the press conference was a mistake. No doubt, but solidarity among the Salvadoran press corps was also lacking.

Journalists did not appear to object to El Faro‘s exclusion from the press conference, “especially those that in some way enjoy certain privileges of political or economic power in the country,” noted one blogger and University of El Salvador photojournalism graduate.

Journalists in Colombia and Brazil have paid a terrible price for their in-depth reporting: They have been murdered, assaulted, kidnapped, and forced to flee. El Salvador’s new generation of journalists has not been tested so severely yet, but these talented reporters would do well to be proactive, to work together, and to speak as one on the issues that endanger them all.

They are picking up where the late Jesuits left off, cutting their own swaths. But, this time, blood should not be spilled.

(Reporting from San Salvador)

UPDATE: This post has been corrected in the thirteenth paragraph to reflect that the blogger is a photojournalism graduate of University of El Salvador, not Jesuit university as previously stated.

Frank Smyth is CPJ’s senior adviser for journalist security. He has reported on armed conflicts, organized crime, and human rights from nations including El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Cuba, Rwanda, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Jordan, and Iraq. Follow him on Twitter @JournoSecurity.

El Salvador’s Cold War Martyrs

The original article may be found here.

The curfew broke after dawn. But the massacre took place in the middle of the night. The high command of the Salvadoran armed forces, who were receiving a million dollars a day in U.S. aid, made their decision near midnight. They had been on the defensive over the past four days and nights, as Marxist guerrillas took over and held poor as well as wealthy neighborhoods throughout the capital city. The strength of the rebel offensive took Salvadoran and U.S. officials alike by surprise. El Salvador’s military leaders chose to strike back by bombing –not the wealthy– but the poor barrios being held by guerrillas, and by targeting civilians whom they accused of being guerrilla collaborators. They decided to start that night by murdering their most vocal critics.

The massacre made news worldwide. Six Jesuit university priests wearing their bloodied night clothes and lying dead on the campus grass, along with their housekeeper and her daughter who were also murdered nearby as they held each other. But it was only the second story of the day, as by then the main headline was the falling Berlin Wall.

East German authorities began letting their own citizens cross over into West Berlin in the evening of November 9, 1989. Two days later, leftist guerrillas of the Farabundo MartÍ National Liberation Front launched not only the largest rebel offensive of El Salvador’s long civil war, but what still stands as perhaps the most sizeable insurgent offensive in Latin America. Thousands of Marxist combatants infiltrated and took up positions in the largest cities across the small Central American nation, and held their ground in many cases including various parts of San Salvador for up to ten days.

The Cold War was visibly ending in Europe, but fighting in the name of ideology was still ongoing in much of the “periphery,” to use the euphemistic parlance of academic experts. The Jesuits were murdered twenty years ago on November 16, as Germans on both side of the Berlin Wall were still literally knocking it down. The Jesuits were Europeans, too, who had migrated from the Basque country of Spain to El Salvador in the early 1960s. There they founded a Jesuit university intending to educate the children of the nation’s Catholic elite but to also encourage them to embrace a sense of service.

The university rector, Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., was a priest who sometimes made students chuckle when he would seemingly forget the words on the rare occasion, usually at a university event, when he would give mass. But he was also among Central America’s most influential liberation theologians whose philosophy might be summed up by his book of the same name, Converting the Church into the Kingdom of God, although reading it one thinks it could have subtitled, Making the Church Work for the Poor on Earth.

Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., who was also slain on the university lawn, was the head of the university’s psychology department. He was an accomplished theorist, but his main concern was to document and find ways to treat the trauma that was spreading through Salvadoran society as a result of the then-ongoing war. He also called the Army soldiers who were about to kill him and his colleagues a slang term for carrion, according to residents who overheard the murders from houses just over a fence from the Jesuit residence. Afterward, one soldier popped open a can of beer.

Segundo Montes, S.J., headed the university sociology department. He and his staff not only documented human rights abuses along with the refugees that were being created by the war, but he befriended one mountainous, rural community in Eastern El Salvadoran whose members renamed the town in his name after the murders. He also knew how to reach his more well-off, urban students and would even show Hollywood films like “Beaches,” which was translated as “Friends” in Spanish, starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. “What is the meaning of friendship,” asked Montes, “in war?”

But the Salvadoran Army didn’t murder the university priests over what they taught their students. No, the nation’s U.S.-backed military commanders most likely killed them because the Jesuits led by Ellacuría had consistently advocated a negotiated end to the nation’s long civil war. While hardliners on both sides had long sought to completely eradicate the other, Ellacuría was among the first to point out that negotiations leading to a peace accord was not only the only way to end the fighting, but to also save the nation’s overwhelmingly poor population from more needless suffering.

Ellacuría, while he had been in danger before like many others, starting receiving a slew of threats along with insinuations singling him out as early as 1985. By then the war seemed to be at an impasse, and the political space for students, trade unionists, farm workers and others to demonstrate their grievances again seemed to be opening. Ellacuría began writing about “a third force” between the two warring sides that could help pave the road to negotiations.

By the late 1980s, the new U.S. weaponry and training provided to government forces had improved the military’s performance, but the Marxist insurgency only seemed to be growing stronger as well. The issue seemed to be, how long might the war go on? The leftist guerrilla leadership clandestinely left El Salvador for the first time in nearly a decade in 1988. Visiting Mexico, Nicaragua, and nations in Western Europe, they learned that Marxism around the world was on the wane, and began listening to many sympathetic voices encouraging them to accept the idea of a negotiated settlement.

But the FMLN leaders, who each represented one of five distinct revolutionary parties, decided that they would need to fight first and launch an offensive to demonstrate their strength and try and compel the Salvadoran military to the negotiating table. Who knew that the rebels would end up launching one of the largest offensives by a Marxist insurgency the world had ever seen less than 48 hours after the Berlin Wall started falling?

The Salvadoran Army found itself surrounded by guerrillas dug into positions among the civilian population. The government then led by President Alfredo Cristiani of the right-wing and formerly death squad-linked ARENA party simply stopped talking to the press as the President and his spokesmen took cover. The U.S. embassy began holding daily press briefings to try and fill in the gap.

Early in the morning of November 16, members of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion awoke the six Jesuits from their sleep, forced them outside and shot them with automatic weapons. Another of the leading priests, Jon Sobrino, S.J., survived as he happened to be away that night from the Jesuit residence. The soldiers killed the housekeeper and her daughter in order to try and eliminate any witnesses.

With the Salvadoran government unwilling to comment, U.S. Ambassador William Walker decided to provide a narrative to the press. He suggested that it was the guerrillas who had killed the Jesuits. Indeed there was no love lost between at least some of the rebel commanders and Ellacuría, as he was also critical of many guerrilla actions and abuses. But no motive Ambassador Walker suggested made sense. A U.N. truth commission later established that the decision to murder Ellacuría and other leading Jesuit priests had been made by consensus at a meeting of the high command presided over by Chief of Staff René Emilio Ponce.

On the first anniversary of the murders, dozens of Catholic cardinals from around the world came to a ceremony on El Salvador’s Jesuit university campus. Wearing their customary red caps, they participated in the mass that marked the martyrs’ deaths. This month on the twentieth anniversary campuses from Boston College to the University of Central America in El Salvador will mark their deaths.

Of course the Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter hardly died alone. At least 70,000 people died in El Salvador’s twelve-year civil war, many if not most at the hands of rightist death squads or military forces. El Salvador is only one of many so-called peripheral nations where the warm blood of many was shed in the Cold War.

Frank Smyth, who covered El Salvador for CBS News Radio, The Village Voice, The Economist and other outlets, is co-author of Dialogue and Armed Conflict: Negotiating the Civil War in El Salvador. He is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Communication at American University.

Estado Unidos no debería confiar en los hombres “yes” de Irak

Original story found here.

¿Cómo terminamos con tantos aprietos en Irak? Porque hicimos lo que hemos hecho por largo tiempo: Buscamos no a los extranjeros con quienes todavía necesitamos trabajar, sino a los exiliados que fueran más parecidos a nosotros.

La práctica de imponer poderes impopulares no comenzó con esta administración de Bush hijo. Es una que los hacedores de la política de Estados Unidos han venido persiguiendo con diferentes resultados. Pero en un mundo tan complejo como este después del 11/9, los días de seleccionar líderes con caracteres de un nobel a lo Graham Greene, se han ido. Al contrario, nosotros debemos construir relaciones con los extranjeros que tienen apoyo entre su propia gente y dejar de acercarnos a los que meramente nos dicen lo que queremos escuchar.

Los hijos de los extranjeros favoritos a menudo disfrutan de más apoyo en esta nación estadounidense que en la suya, apoyo basado en ilusiones que han venido vendiendo de puerta en puerta y que puede tomar años antes de que sean expuestas. Tal hombre fue el presidente de El Salvador, José Napoleón Duarte, quien una vez disfrutó de un amplio consenso bipartidista en Washington.

Duarte era tan dependiente de nosotros para mantenerse en el poder, que él no solamente escribió su autobiografía cuando todavía era presidente en el contexto de la guerra civil de su país, sino que la escribió y la publicó en inglés para que nosotros la leyéramos, en lugar de su propia gente.

Les tomó cinco años a los políticos de Estados Unidos para que finalmente se dieran cuenta de que Duarte, por todas sus promesas color rosa, había fracasado.

Pero ha tomado solamente un año para la mayoría de políticos el darse cuenta que los iraquíes seleccionados por Estados Unidos, están fracasando. El Pentágono ha favorecido a Ahmad Chalabi, mientras que el Departamento de Estado ha preferido a Adnan Pachachi. Ambos son exiliados que no sentaron sus pies en Irak por más de tres décadas, y tampoco nunca se han unido a algún distrito electoral dentro de Irak.

Pero cada uno de ellos se ve bien en papeles. Fluido en inglés, Chalabi estudió matemáticas antes de convertirse en banquero, y él se describe a sí mismo no en términos religiosos sino como un secular Shia Iraki. Pachachi, quien tiene mejores enlaces en el mundo árabe, es un antiguo diplomático quien una vez representó a Irak en Nueva York, en las Naciones Unidas. Chalabi y su familia estuvieron cerca de la “Iraq’s old British-imposed monarchy”(La pasada monarquía inglesa impuesta sobre Irak), mientras que Pachachi sirvió para “Iraq’s pre-Baathist military regimes”( Los regímenes militares antes de la fundación del partido Baath ). Cuando los diferentes oficiales de la actual administración buscaron sobre el colorido pero confuso paisaje sectario de Irak, estos dos hombres sobresalieron.

Una razón por la que Chalabi se encontró favorito por tanto tiempo es que él, en particular, siempre nos dijo que “sí”. “Yes”, los iraquíes van a alzarse cuando tú invadas, a pesar de que Estados Unidos los traicionó la última vez que ellos se alzaron contra Saddam durante la primer guerra del Golfo Pérsico (el libro de Bob Woodward “Plan de ataque”, reporta que el vicepresidente Dick Cheney no supo hasta después de la invasión que “el trauma” entre Shias iraquíes por esa “traición”, todavía era muy grave). “Yes”, tú podrías explotar el petróleo iraquí por medio de un tratado de dulce corazón con Halliburton, aunque solo unos cuantos iraquíes se beneficien de ello.

“Yes,” Chalabi argumentó, tú podrías usarme para dar forma a un gobierno de tu conveniencia, incluso si los iraquíes no lo eligen. Oh, y no te preocupes acerca de todas esas tensiones religiosas y étnicas, conmigo a cargo, juntos vamos a transcenderlas.

La más grande ficción que Chalabi difundió fue la misma que Duarte, que llevar la democracia a su país era sinónimo de ponerlo a él en el poder. Esta es la gran mentira que la Casa Blanca podría haberse tragado. El mes pasado en Washington, el presidente George W. Bush dijo a los editores de periódicos que él todavía planea llevar la democracia a Irak. Pero lo que Bush todavía no puede entender es que algunas elecciones democráticas no son como para conducir a algún gobierno que él tiene en mente, o elegir a algún líder que él conoce.

Cada uno debería saber por ahora que el futuro de Irak podría bien manejarse sobre la palabra, o vida, de un clerigo de 74 años de edad de la fe Shia Musulmán, Ali Sistani, quien viste un turbante negro calificándolo como un descendiente del profeta Mohammed. Pero solo después de la invasión el año pasado, parecieron los políticos entender que posiblemente pueden necesitar el apoyo de iraquíes no tan familiares de nosotros como este gran “ayatollah”.

Pero, por el contrario, los oficiales administrativos seleccionaron a diferentes iraquíes con los que se sentían más cómodos, y ahora soldados estadounidenses junto a civiles iraquíes están muriendo por sus errores.

Para una nación con tantos enemigos como los que Estados Unidos tiene ahora, nosotros necesitamos más aliados y menos títeres alrededor del mundo.

Frank Smyth es un periodista independiente que está escribiendo un libro sobre los levantamientos de 1991 contra Saddam Hussein. Traducción al español por Catalina Barrera.

U.S. shouldn’t rely on Iraq’s yes men

Original story found here.

How did we end up in such a fix in Iraq? We did what we have long done abroad: We sought out not the foreigners whom we still need to work with, but the exiles who were most like us.

The practice of imposing unpopular proxies hardly began with this Bush administration. It is one that U.S. policy makers have long been pursuing with mixed results. But, in a world as complex as this one is after 9/11, the days of picking leaders like characters in a Graham Greene novel may be gone. Instead, we must build relationships with foreigners who have support among their own people and stop sidling up to the kind who merely tell us what we want to hear.

Favorite foreign sons often enjoy more support in this nation than in their own, and it may take years before the illusions they have peddled here are exposed. One such man was the late president of El Salvador, José Napoleon Duarte, who once enjoyed a broad bipartisan consensus in Washington.

Duarte was so dependent on us to keep him in power that he not only wrote his autobiography when he was still in office during his nation’s ongoing war, but he wrote and published it in English for us to read – instead of his own people.

It took five years before U.S. policy makers finally realized that Duarte, for all his rosy promises, had failed.

But it has taken only one year for most policy makers to realize that America’s handpicked Iraqis are failing. The Pentagon has favored Ahmad Chalabi while the State Department has preferred Adnan Pachachi. Both are exiles who did not set foot inside Iraq for more than three decades, and neither man has ever enjoyed any sizable constituency inside Iraq.

But they each looked good on paper. Fluent in English, Chalabi studied mathematics before becoming a banker, and he describes himself not in religious terms but as a secular Shia Iraqi. Pachachi, who has better ties to the Arab world, is a former diplomat who once represented Iraq in New York at the United Nations. Chalabi and his family were close to Iraq’s old British-imposed monarchy, while Pachachi served Iraq’s pre-Baathist military regimes. When different administration officials looked out at Iraq’s colorful (and confusing) sectarian landscape, these two men stood out.

One reason Chalabi found favor for so long is that he, in particular, always said yes to us. Yes, Iraqis will rise up when you invade, even though America only betrayed them the last time they rose up. (Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack” reports that Vice President Dick Cheney did not know until after the invasion that “the trauma” among Shi’a Iraqis was still so bad.) Yes, you may exploit Iraqi oil through a sweetheart deal with Halliburton, even if few Iraqis benefit from it.

Yes, Chalabi argued, you may use me to shape a government to your liking, even if Iraqis do not elect it. Oh, and don’t worry about all those messy ethnic and religious tensions — with me in charge together we will transcend them.

The biggest fiction Chalabi spread was the same one Duarte told, that bringing democracy to his country was somehow synonymous with bringing him to power. This is the whopper the White House may have swallowed. Last month in Washington, President George W. Bush told newspaper editors that he still plans to bring democracy to Iraq. But what Bush may not yet get is that any democratic elections there are not likely to lead to any government he has in mind, or elect any leader he knows.

Everyone should know by now that Iraq’s future could well hang on the word, or life, of a 74-year-old cleric of the Shi’a Muslim faith, Ali Sistani, who wears a black turban signifying that he is a descendant of the prophet Mohammed. But only after last year’s invasion did policy makers seem to learn that they might even need support from Iraqis as unfamiliar to us as this grand ayatollah.

Instead, administration officials picked different Iraqis with whom they were most comfortable, and now American soldiers along with Iraqi civilians are dying for their mistakes.

For a nation with as many enemies as America has today, we need more allies and fewer puppets around the world.

Green Berets in El Salvador

By 1987 “our guys simply stopped reporting…up through the chain [because] they were reporting things they felt were absolute violations, and were absolutely wrong, and they were not seeing any action taken. …It was up to the State Department to arrest those people or to investigate those at fault… .You couldn’t go up to people and say ’40 persons got themselves whacked over here because they were thinking of forming a workers’ union. And the landowner is not into that at all, so he asked his buddy the Colonel to send a squad over and take care of the problem. ‘ [If] you did that, it was real easy to find yourself on the receiving end of a grenade, or a bomb, or a rifle bullet. So…our guys…reported the information and then just saw it disappear into that great void.”

An ex-adviser in El Salvador says senior U.S. officials covered up the combat role of U.S. advisers and hid a pattern of human rights violations by the Salvadoran army.

Greg Walker was a U.S. military adviser in El Salvador, and he is not happy with the people who assigned him there. Walker is the director of Veterans of Special Operations, which, he says, represents an estimated 4,500 U.S. advisers, pilots, medics, and other personnel who served in El Salvador during the 12-year war. But, according to Walker, since the Pentagon denies that U.S. military personnel in El Salvador served in a combat situation, it refuses to give them proper compensation or recognition. That refusal means lower pay, no combat military decorations such as the Purple Heart, and less chance of promotion. Walker, a Green Beret who volunteered for El Salvador, says that’s not fair.

Fairness is a different kind of question for those Salvadorans who survived the 75,000 killings and the consistent pattern of human rights abuses that marked the U.S.-sponsored war. What bothers Walker, however, is that although this spring’s U.N. Truth Commission Report on El Salvador laid the blame for the majority of these human rights crime on U.S.-backed Salvadoran Armed Forces, U.S. personnel are being tarred with the same brush. Walker served as a Green Beret Army Special Forces adviser in El Salvador from 1982 to 1985 when the Salvadoran military, after substantial U.S. training, committed some of the worse violations.

Walker maintains that although he and other U.S. advisers secretly took part in combat, they regularly reported extra-judicial killings and other crimes to the U.S. Embassy and their military superiors. Those senior officials there and in Washington routinely covered them up.

President Clinton has ordered the CIA, Pentagon, and the State Department to pursue an “expedited review” of all documents relevant to 32 specific violations in El Salvador in response to the U.N. report.

Frank Smyth: What was your mandate while you were in El Salvador? What exactly were you doing?
Greg Walker: Well, the mandate of the entire military assistance program, if there was a single mandate, was to reorganize, restructure, and reform the Salvadoran army.

FS: Were there any restrictions placed upon you and other personnel about what it was you were and were not allowed to do in terms of participating in combat or going into the field?
GW: Well, the restrictions and the limitations essentially were placed upon us by the United States military through Congress. For example, where did the 55 advisers limit come from? That limitation did not come from Congress. That limitation came from the military itself when they sent a colonel to the country in the very early ‘80s to reassess what was going to be necessary to upgrade the military and to keep America’s involvement to a minimum.

FS: You mean Fred Woerner?
GW: Fred Woerner, Joe Stringham, any number of officers went down there. …Beginning in 1983, there were always no more than 55 U.S. military special operations advisers, as per the mandate in-country. But, at the same time, especially with the Army Special Forces advisers, we are trained in a multitude of different military skills such as communicators, medics, etc. So you saw a lot more highly trained, highly skilled special operations advisers in El Salvador because they were slotted into those MILGROUP staff slots. …So, probably at any one time, we had as many as 300 conventional and soft advisers working in-country at any one time, carrying out mobile training teams. Quite a bit more than when you were given the big 55 number. But you just have to understand the mechanics; it was no secret, it was just that people simply did not explore and know the right questions to ask.

FS: What about military limitations?
GW: The limitations that were placed upon the military adviser in the very early stages were that they would not carry long guns or assault rifles or things like that, and were restricted to essentially carrying only a sidearm, which at the time was either a .45 or a 9mm pistol. It was typical of the State Department policy process that if we didn’t look like we were in a war, then the other side would take it that we weren’t really there to be a in war.

…In 1982, when I first went into the country, we were provided with long guns, or assault rifles, by Salvadoran commanders who refused to be responsible for our safety out in the “training areas” or in the field, or going between the cuartel [military base] to the capital, [or] any kind of transportation or movement whatsoever. Simply because they knew what the reality of the war was for both themselves and for us out there. At that time I was working out of Sonsonate, and we were pulled out because of the Las Hojas massacre, and moved over to the Caballo Rio where the cavalry was down the street of Atlacatl [Battalion]. Certainly in 1983, when [Lt. Cmdr. Al] Schaufelberger was killed, we were at that time given permission through the MILGROUP commander by the State Department, the Embassy, whoever you want to cal it, to be fully armed.

Now [New York Times correspondent] Lydia Chávez, are you familiar with her? Lydia was probably one of the most gutsball reporters I have ever met down there, and the morning after Schaufelberger was killed, Lydia ran into myself and the Special Forces captain over at Estado Mayor [military headquarters]. We had two visiting military dignitaries with us, we were armed with an M-16 shotgun and submachine guns, and Lydia to her great credit, asked the question as she was staring at us in our vehicles. “What happened last night? Are you guys armed any differently?”

Well, we had managed to stuff everything that was short and ugly under the seat because we saw Lydia was coming. Lydia had a good reputation for ferreting things out like that, but one individual who should have known better, but didn’t, left his M-16 fully exposed on the back seat with a magazine in it. And being good Special Forces troopers, we immediately lied to the media and said, “No, although they just killed the director of security for the entire embassy, there’s no difference at all in our armed attitude.” And Lydia, with her photographer there, clearly saw that rifle and simply told us, “You guys take care of yourselves” and did not take pictures, which she said she could have, and did not report that. But we were dully armed immediately after Schaufelberger was killed.

As far as contact, in 1984, during the elections, we were under continuous fire from the FMLN because we were manning reporting sites all over the country in all the nice places like El Paraíso and Usultán. I was in Usultán then, and we took fire in the cuartel every other night. In ’84, you have to understand that the military base at Palmerola in Honduras served as an aviation launch platform for U.S. Air Force aircraft to include AC-130 gunships which flew rescue missions for us specifically, so that if we got hit in the cuartels or had to get out of the cuartels and go into an escape and evasion mode and had to get picked up either by rotary aircraft or be covered by AC-130s.

FS: Did the officers or military personnel involved get combat credit for these actions, but it was not made public? Is that correct?
GW: No, they don’t get credit if it’s not acknowledged that it’s combat. At the same time, we have advisers in El Salvador who were being paid hostile fire pay as early as 1981.

FS: Where did people come under fire in El Salvador, inside of cuartels or in the field?
GW: U.S. advisers down there came under fire most in the cuartels. As a matter of fact, some of the major battles that U.S. advisers were involved with took place in cuartels, but we came under fire in the field as well, and quite obviously came under fire in the urban areas, as Schaufelberger’s experience dictates. The thing that is forgotten here, thanks in part to the lack of coverage by the American media, is that El Salvador is a country that was taking part in a guerilla war, and anybody who studies anything about guerilla warfare knows that there are no safe havens. So we were subject to fire at any time, any place.

For example, where do you train people to do fire and maneuver things? Where do you train people how to patrol? Where do you train people how to use anti-tank weapons, anti-bunker weapons and things like that? In a place like El Salvador, you have to train them outside of the cuartel area, which means you have to go to the field, and you have to specifically find areas if at all possible where there are no or minimal inhabitants, which is difficult because it’s so intensely populated. Well, in other words, you’re out exactly where the guerillas are and they have a tendency to really kind of get a little P.O.’d when their property is invaded by folks like us.

FS: Were all these contact with the enemy outside cuartels reported to MILGROUP commanders in San Salvador?
GW: In every incident, to my knowledge, there was a very strict reporting system and it went up the chain of command up to the U.S. MILGROUP.

FS: When I was in El Salvador, the American Embassy only admitted, as late as right before the offensive in 1989, that only on three occasions had U.S. military advisers come under fire.
GW: There is a big difference in what the U.S. military advisers, who were conventional Army, Air Force, Marine, as well as special operations forces representing all the services, were required and trained to do, what they actually did, and what the State Department or the Embassy did with that information afterwards. So if that was your experience, all I can tell you is they did a very good job, because three times under fire–that’s pretty good. …That’s clearly not only a misrepresentation of the facts, but it’s a lie.

FS: When these individual members of the military testified before Congress and gave reports underestimating the level of engagement with the enemy, were they acting of their own volition, or on orders from superiors?
GW: …Was there an orchestrated, very carefully structured program of downplaying, misleading, misrepresenting, not quite giving the right answer if the precise question isn’t asked? Quite obviously, the answer is, yes, there was.

FS: From your perspective, why wouldn’t you want to let this rest? What is it that you feel the American military personnel in El Salvador are being cheated out of because of this policy?
GW: Well, we’re not letting it rest because it’s not the right thing to do…In today’s political and military politics, it would appear to be a very simplistic answer, but in a nutshell, approximately 4,500 or 5,000 American military personnel served in El Salvador over a 12-year period. To my knowledge, and certainly we’ve heard from a great many folks, and from what we’ve been able to see, we know that we are serving in a war. We had friends who were both wounded and killed in that war. We had a vital commitment that was handed to us to go down there and do the best job possible under extremely difficult diplomatic and wartime constrictions and restraints, and we did this job. To turn around and see that effort sullied by a formal attitude that there was no war…dishonors everything we though we were representing and involved in. And certainly, a [current] example of that is the U.N. human rights report, which essentially is not being clarified by the proper authorities in the government and is making the military personnel that were involved down there look somewhat like we were involved in things and training and teaching things that were not at all honorable, and that is not the case. What are we being cheated out of? Our just and due acknowledgement for a job well done.

FS: In terms of levels of engagement, are we talking dozens or hundreds?
GW: …[O]ver a 12-year period of time, [that] number is in the high hundreds to the low thousands. And I consider that a round fired where there was American military personnel in the area is coming under fire. [For example] in San Salvador when they were blowing the telephone and the power pole…you were under fire. So I would say, in that instance, American military personnel came under fire on an everyday occurrence.

FS: Have you any estimates, or perhaps the figures, on how many U.S. military personnel were killed in El Salvador?
GW: Fifteen were killed.

FS: You made a point earlier about human rights and some of the revelations that came out in the U.N. Truth Commission Report and you mentioned that this report somehow suggests that American military personnel were involved in things that cast them in a bad, dishonorable light. Could you explain what you meant by that?
GW: With respect to human rights, this needs to be made real clear, and this is one of the things that really is a sticking point for most of us who served down there, both Special Forces and conventional. We were mandated…to identify, to gather information, to root out those that possibly were involved in human rights violations,…who were actually taking part in death squad activities, in massacres, in any of the things that were mentioned in that report.

American advisers made every attempt to do this, often at risk to themselves, and in fact, we were, by 1984 and ’85, finding ourselves targeted by the extreme right for this kind of activity, as well as by the guerillas who were ticked off about our military involvement. Now, it was real easy to accept the guerillas trying to take us out, but it was a little difficult to accept that the folk we were supposed to be supporting in some cases were out for our scalps as well.

FS: And you were encouraging the Salvadorans not to commit violations according to the U.S. military policy on human rights?
GW: Well, you can’t lump the entire Salvadoran military into the same pot…We were to identify those Salvadoran military officers who were, in fact, very concerned with changing that policy, and were not taking part in, but were part of a system that had been involved in that kind of thing for years. And that’s endemic to that entire region. That’s historical fact, like it or not.

So we’d identify the senior officers within the military structure that you would want to preen, and to cultivate, and to bring to the forefront so you could replace the ones that were tainted, and at the same time, we were charged with training these young officers coming out of the officers school, the lieutenants, and the new and emerging Salvadoran non-commissioned corps, in the entire human rights process…[R]eporting did take place, and when my particular team was pulled out of Sonsonate, and pulled back in 1983 after Las Hojas was discovered, and those 70 peasants were discovered on my particular rifle range, we were held in check for ten days as a bargaining chip by the State Department to try to force the military structure to cough up the military personnel or the people responsible.[1]

Now, what seems to be the bone of contention here is not that American military personnel weren’t doing a hell of a job as far as gathering information, intelligence, and turning it over to the people responsible for evaluating it and taking further action, but how much of that was shared when questions were asked by the Congress or by human rights groups or by reporters. That is the big stumbling block as far as El Mozote was concerned. When that was brought to the forefront by the media, the State Department turned around and just about said it absolutely didn’t happen, [it] couldn’t find any evidence, you’re just trying to muck up this whole thing for us down here. As we find out now, it most certainly did happen.

FS: Were there any instances, for example El Mozote[2] or Las Hojas, or other cases of particular violations, where you were aware of information, or you personally or MILGROUP was aware of massacres that were then not made public? Or human rights violations or practices by members of the army which led to human rights violations which then were covered up in terms of specifics?
GW: We were aware of any number of things, not only on the Salvadoran Armed Forces side of the house, but on the FMLN’s side of the house. We photographed Salvadoran soldiers who were shot down at San Sebastian, San Vicente, Puente de Oro, the other side of San Miguel. Both sides committed some pretty heinous acts all in the name of the common good, I guess. The only way to answer that, I guess, is to say that we did a hell of a lot of reporting, and by 1987, from what I’ve been able to ascertain from letters I’ve been sent by people down there, after a while, our guys simply stopped reporting. And the reason that they stopped reporting it up through the chain is that they were reporting things that they felt were absolute violations, and were absolutely wrong, and they were not seeing any action taken.

It was up to the State Department to arrest those people or to investigate those at fault. Now, the diplomats will say “You have to understand it’s a long and involved process.” But for somebody who’s down there in the field and participating in the uncovering of these things, you see one body, or a group of bodies, and it’s pretty difficult not to say, “Why can’t you stop that now, with the information that we’ve provided for you?” And in fact, when you’re being targeted by the right, when you have to watch your front as well as your back, and you’re being told “Don’t worry, it’s been taken care of, just don’t bring it up again,” that takes a lot of the impetus out of the reporting. That’s unfortunately human nature.

FS: The reporting was being stopped because nothing was being done. But did earlier reporting include specifics–names, and dates, and facts?
GW: Absolutely. As best as we could ascertain them. You couldn’t go up to people and say 40 persons got themselves whacked over here because they were thinking of forming a workers’ union, and the landowner is not into that at all, so he asked his buddy the Colonel to send a squad over and take care of the problem. Because if and when you did that, it was real easy to find yourself on the receiving end of a grenade, or a bomb, or a rifle bullet. And so it was something that had to be done very carefully, very slowly, and our guys put themselves at tremendous risk to accomplish that, and then reported the information and then just saw it disappear into that great void.

FS: Specifically, to whom was this information reported?
GW: Any kind of combat field info all went up your immediate chain of command. If I was, say, at Usulutan and got something like that, I would report it up one step above myself–in most cases to US. MILGROUP. From there it would be channeled through the deputy commander, MILGROUP commander, and from there, directly to the Ambassador,…[ and] directly from the military, right into the hands of those charged with conducting our foreign policy in that country.

FS: Then it presumably would have gone on to Washington?
GW: And from there it would have gone directly on to Washington. And that’s a good point, too. Washington wanted to know what was going on in El Salvador, and did indeed know on an almost real time basis. In 1984, when had I had a tape recorder, I would have loved to have taped this one–the American advisory element in El Paraiso came under fire. An AC-130 gunship was scrambled from Honduras, and flown over El Paraiso to help pinpoint those guerrilla actions. This was all being monitored by the MILGROUP and the Embassy. Southern Command was called immediately and came on the line as well, and then a line went up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it was real interesting listening to all of these parties all over asking, “How are these five Americans, where are they, and what’s going to happen to them?” The interest level in Washington was really high. They knew at any time exactly what it was that was going on, where we were, and what we were doing, throughout the entire war.

FS: And then at a certain point, people decided it wasn’t worth trying to get this information, nothing was being done, and it was in fact dangerous to get it?
GW:It was very dangerous to get it, and it was just like you were feeding reports into this big report file, and if something was being done, it was taking an enormous amount of time, or it wasn’t really happening at all, because[the] bigger picture was intruding upon the immediacy of what you were seeing or hearing.

FS: So your point in terms of honor of the role of U.S. military people on the ground is that it is not that the revelations of the U.N. Truth Commission aren’t true. What you’re saying is it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ground that nothing was done; it was the fault of people higher up who didn’t do anything with the information. Is that correct?
GW: That’s correct.

Inset article:

War in Periods of Peace

During the Iran-Contra hearings, House chief counsel John Nields asked Lt. Col. Oliver North about a line in his notes referring to a “delicate stage of transition from ‘blank’ run operation to ‘blank’-run.”

Nields: Well you put in some blanks, you said “blank in two places, there’s nothing classified about either of those words and one of them is CIA.
North: Well.
Nields: And the other is Southern Command.

The operation referred to was El Salvador. In his interview, Walker shed some light on what North meant about a “delicate stage of transition” from a CIA- to Southern Command-run operation.

Greg Walker: The mandate for the Central Intelligence Agency upon its creation in, I believe, 1947 is that the Agency has responsibility for military operations during periods of declared peace. In other words, they are responsible and indeed can direct, run, operate in these kinds of conflicts totally legally. During those times of declared peace, Special Forces are made available, by law, to the Agency, which is why Special Forces has always been the advisory arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. That is no big secret. The only time that that changes is a period when war is no longer considered to be a peace time.

I know this seems contradictory, war being undertaken during periods of peace, but that’s when the transition goes from the Agency’s direct control to the American military’s direct control and when that happens, Special Forces, if they have been working with or under the auspices of the Agency, they flip-flop back under the control of the military and that I think is what you’re seeing in that testimony.

The early stages of the war were very much Agency-directed and -oriented, and as the war and our commitment expanded, as our assets in Panama through the US. Southern Command and in Honduras became more and more and more involved, control was taken out of the hands of the Agency and turned back over to the formal military through the United States Southern Command.

– –

1. The mostly indigenous peasants were executed at the Las Hojas fanning
cooperative in February 1983. An arrest warrant was issued for Col. Araujo in
1987, but never carried out. Col. Araujo was subsequently cleared of all charges
in a blanket amnesty issued by Pres. Jose Napoleon Duarte in October 1987.

2. The 1981 El Mozote massacre, in which the Salvadoran army killed hundreds
of unarmed villagers, was reported by Ray Bonner (New York Times) and Anna
Guillermoprieto (Washington Post). Embassy and State Department officials
denied the incident and after considerable pressure, Bomer was transferred off
the Central America beat and eventually left the Times. Eleven years later, the
U.N. Truth Commission report corroborated the accounts of the massacre and
the guilt of the Salvadoran army.