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Old 01-10-2005, 01:50 PM   #1
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Death Squads Are Us

Winning at all cost shouldn't be our policy. I'm ashamed of what this admin. has led us into.

http://207.44.245.159/article7645.htm

El Salvador-style 'death squads' to be deployed by US against Iraq militants

From Roland Watson in Washington

01/10/05 "The Times" -- THE Pentagon is considering forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.
Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter.

The plans are reported in this week’s Newsweek magazine as part of Pentagon efforts to get US forces in Iraq on to the front foot against an enemy that is apparently getting the better of them.

Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, was said to be one of the most vigorous supporters of the plan.

The Pentagon declined to comment, but one insider told Newsweek: “What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are. We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defence. And we are losing.”

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. Supporters credit the policy with calming the insurgency, although it left a bitter legacy and stirred anti-American sentiment.

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. In Argentina in the 1970s and Guatemala in the 1980s, soldiers wore uniform by day but used unmarked cars by night to kidnap and kill those hostile to the regime or their suspected sympathisers.

In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

It was in El Salvador that the United States trained small units of local forces specifically to target rebels.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, according to Newsweek, is to follow that model and direct US special forces teams to advise, support and train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shia militiamen to target leaders of the Sunni insurgency.

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.

The Pentagon refused to be drawn on the issue yesterday. “We don’t discuss specific future operations or specific tactics,” a spokeswoman said.

This week Gary Luck, a retired four-star general, will arrive in Iraq to review American policy in the country, looking particularly at the recruitment and training of Iraqi forces. The key to Washington’s exit strategy is the ability of Iraqi forces to take over security roles. The general has been asked by Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, to deliver an “ open-ended” review of how US aims can better be met.

His visit comes after two weeks of increased violence in Iraq in which scores of Iraqis and more than a dozen Americans have been killed in the run-up to the country’s elections.

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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Old 01-10-2005, 02:25 PM   #2
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Bringing back the death squads, aka The Salvador Option

"The Salvador Option
Quote:
" ... [T]he Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

...

"Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions.

...

"Shahwani also said that the U.S. occupation has failed to crack the problem of broad support for the insurgency. The insurgents, he said, "are mostly in the Sunni areas where the population there, almost 200,000, is sympathetic to them." He said most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won’t turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."
This is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

The moral decay of the Bush administration laid bare. We cannot let it happen again.
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Old 01-10-2005, 02:58 PM   #3
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Hmmm. The Pentagon is debating a strategy against the insurgents.

Should we discuss the effectiveness of this strategy? Should we discuss appropriate guidelines for implementing the strategy? Should we discuss ways to discourage public support of terrorism?

Or, should we scream "Salvadorian Death Squads!!!!" real loud?

Maybe we could simply invite the insurgent leaders to a multicultural sensitivity training down at the local YMCA. I'm sure they would show up, with open heart and minds ready to see the bigger world out there.


/endsarcasticrant
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:04 PM   #4
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American traditions,...i like them.
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:59 PM   #5
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I don't even know where to begin with this, really.

I remember reading about the four nuns that were killed in El Salvador. My college was doing a weekly Stations of the Cross called "Walking the Way with Contemporary Martyrs"--they were up alongside people like Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross--a Carmelite nun who was killed at Auschwitz because she had been born Jewish and later converted), Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero, and a lot of others. As I read the Newsweek article, I couldn't get that picture out of my mind--that my government supported the slaughter of those women, and others like them.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not starting a rant about how brutal the U.S. government is, because I know many other regimes are even more brutal. But I don't think that's an excuse, either. You just know these death squads will kill innocent people, and not just a handful, either. I don't see this ending well for the States if this policy is adopted--not in terms of the war itself, and not in the court of international opinion, as it were.

I wonder if these "death squads," if such a policy is implemented, will be trained at the School of the Americas (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). I know some sisters from the regional Sisters of Mercy community near me who have gone to the protests that are held down there (Fort Benning), and they have some amazing stories to tell--some people who go to protest are friends or relatives who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC "graduates." They've been trying to get the place shut down, but I certainly don't see that happening anytime soon--not under this administration.

To learn more about atrocities committed by SOA/WHINSEC "graduates" and to learn about SOAWatch, check out:

www.soaw.org

(Biased information? Maybe, but what kind of "nice" things can you say about the place?)
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Old 01-10-2005, 04:05 PM   #6
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From the UN Truth Commission's Report on El Salvador (1993):

Quote:

The Commission finds that death squads, often operated by the military and supported by powerful businessmen, land-owners and some leading politicians, have long acted in El Salvador and remain a potential menace. The Commission received testimony on more than 800 victims of death squads.

This problem is so serious that the Commission calls for a special investigation of death squads in order to reveal and then put an end to such activity. The Commission is especially concerned by the close relation between the military, hired assassins and extremists within the Salvadoran business community and some affluent families, who resorted to killing to settle disputes. This practice must end.

The Commission also is concerned that Salvadoran exiles living in Miami helped administer death squad activities between 1980 and 1983, with apparently little attention from the U.S. government. Such use of American territory for acts of terrorism abroad should be investigated and never allowed to be repeated.


(All emphases mine.)

Read the whole report at:

http://www.soaw.org/new/article.php?id=225

"Bullet the Blue Sky," indeed.
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Old 01-10-2005, 04:35 PM   #7
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I don't find anything wrong with tactics and strategies designed to destroy the terrorist leadership in Iraq or anywhere else for that matter. By killing or capturing the leadership of these terrorist organizations, an unknowable number of innocent lives are saved. The Terrorist will use any tactic to accomplish their goals and the coalition must make sure it is using all tactics that are capable of defeating terrorist that use the local civilian population to hide themselves and their operations.
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Old 01-10-2005, 05:14 PM   #8
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If as we are told to no end by those who oppose democracy that the US cannot win with its current tactics is considering all other options not a wiser course of action? I am not saying one thing or another about this particular plan or the way that the writer is staging it but constantly reevaluating tactics to adapt to a fluid situation is how the pentagon has managed to keep casualties so low (21 months of conflict and less than 2000 KIA is a substantially lower rate than that of most wars.
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:37 PM   #9
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Also why is it that guerrillas who kill people are called "insurgents" and compared to Minutemen when they're anti-American, and "death squads" when they're not?

p.s. The casualty count listed above does not include the 20,000 or so Iraqi civilians who have been killed or the many more wounded and crippled because it was in the context of the US millitary.
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Old 01-11-2005, 06:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
By killing or capturing the leadership of these terrorist organizations, an unknowable number of innocent lives are saved.
Read it again. Going after the terrorists is not the plan here. The plan is to go after the population at large, who are supporting the insurgents. This plan is designed to kill innocent people, not save them.
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Old 01-11-2005, 06:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Also why is it that guerrillas who kill people are called "insurgents" and compared to Minutemen when they're anti-American, and "death squads" when they're not?
What difference does it make?

But if you really think the comparison is apt, I say that's all the more reason to oppose this plan as firmly as possible.
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Old 01-11-2005, 06:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Maybe we could simply invite the insurgent leaders to a multicultural sensitivity training down at the local YMCA. I'm sure they would show up, with open heart and minds ready to see the bigger world out there.


/endsarcasticrant
Please, grow up.
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:27 AM   #13
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I guess self-righteousness cannot be questioned.....
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Old 01-11-2005, 09:37 AM   #14
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Okay, please can we stop this pettiness? This is an incredibly serious, sad issue, and I'd like to see some real debate on it instead of just name-calling.

Thanks.
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Old 01-11-2005, 10:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by strannix


Read it again. Going after the terrorists is not the plan here. The plan is to go after the population at large, who are supporting the insurgents. This plan is designed to kill innocent people, not save them.

I would say there are two parts to the draft plan:

1. Eliminating insurgent leaders

2. Creating a cost for those who support them.

Obviously, the second point needs far more detail in how it will be applied. Indiscriminate killing of innocents does not appear to be what is contemplated.

What should happen to those who directly support insurgent/terrorist leaders? The people who supply the weapons? The people who transport the weapons? The people who hide the killers?
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