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Albania, West Germany, Iran, the Soviet Union, Vietnam and elsewhere, many of the
fascists and collaborators who eluded punishment became American allies in setting up
new governments, trying to overthrow governments, fighting civil wars, suppressing the
left, gathering intelligence and manipulating electoral politics; indeed, many of them
eluded punishment because they became American allies.1

As late as 1988, there were a number of genuine pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic types from
Eastern and Central Europe in the Republican Party's National Republican Heritage
Groups Council. Several of these worthies were leaders of the George Bush presidential
cam-paign's ethnic outreach arm, the Coalition of American Nationalities, despite the fact
that their checkered past was not a big secret. One of them, Laszlo Pasztor (or Pastor) had
served in the pro-Nazi Hungarian government's embassy in Berlin during the war. This
had been revealed in a 1971 page-one story in the Washington Post.2 When this past was
again brought up in September 1988, the Republicans were obliged to dump Pasztor and
four others of his ilk from Bush's campaign.3

When lying down with unsavories has such a long heritage, for Washington to pretend
that it's no more than a temporary marriage of convenience to an (unfortunately)
unattractive bride, is an exercise that fails to rise above simplistic propaganda. What has
attracted the two sides to each other over the years has been a shared class consciousness,
manifesting itself in an abhorrence of progressive movements, or something called
"communism" or most anything or anyone seen as a threat to a mutually-desired status
quo. The lowly, crude Guatemalan lieutenant relishes hanging around the American stage
door more than gazing upon his country's Indian peasants. His Yankee drinking buddy is
convinced it's an act of duty to help him kill them.



CHAPTER 7 : Training New Unsavories

I have seen no evidence in my 24 years in Congress of one instance where because of
American military involvement with another military that the Americans have stopped
that foreign army from carrying out atrocities against their own people. No evidence,
none.

”Senator Tom Harkin (D.-Iowa), 1999 1


School of the Americas

The School of the Americas (SOA), an Army school at Fort Benning, Georgia, has been
beleaguered for years by protestors because so many of its graduates have been involved
in very serious human-rights abuses in Latin America, often involving torture and
murder. SOA insists that it teaches its students to respect human rights and democracy.
To examine this claim we must note that wars between nations in Latin America are
extremely rare. The question which thus arises is: Who are these military men being
trained to fight if not the army of another country? Who but their own citizens?

Over the years, SOA has trained tens of thousands of Latin American military and police
in subjects like counter-insurgency, infantry tactics, military intelligence, anti-narcotics
operations and commando operations. The students have also been taught to hate and fear
something called "communism", later something called "terrorism", with little, if any,
distinction made between the two, thus establishing the ideological justification to
suppress their own people, to stifle dissent, to cut off at the knees anything bearing a
likeness to a movement for social change which”although the military men might not
think in such terms”might interfere with Washington's global agenda.

Those on the receiving end of anti-communist punishment would have a difficult time
recognizing themselves from this piece of philosophy from an SOA class: "Democracy
and communism clash with the firm determination of the Western countries to conserve
their own traditional way of life."2 This reads as if dissidents came from some faraway
land, with alien values and no grievances that could be comprehended as legitimate by
the "Western" mind.

On New Year's Day 1994, peasants in Mexico's state of Chiapas staged a bloodless
takeover of nearby communities under the banner of the Zapatista National Liberation
Army. It was the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
took effect, as the Zapatistas were careful to point out. The Mexican military responded
brutally. As the conflict dragged on, to the NAFTA-powers-that-be in Washington the
situation threatened to be an embarrassing impediment to the peaceful implementation of
the trade agreement.

Whether by coincidence or not, as the Zapatista rebellion has continued to the present
day, the Mexican enrollment at SOA has proceeded accordingly. Here are the figures for
number of students: 1994 - 15; 1995 - 24; 1996 - 148; 1997 - 333; 1998 - 219.
Presumably, by 1998, Mexico had sufficient trained officers to be able to cut back,
although their enrollment number was still the highest of any country for that year. These
newly-honed SOA "professionals" have formed an "army of occupation", which has
militarized Chiapas, setting up camps from which they beat, terrorize, often murder, and
dislocate the indigenous population and inhibit free movement with roadblocks.

In September 1996, under continual insistence from religious and grassroots groups, the
Pentagon released seven Spanish-language training manuals used at the SOA until 1991.
A New York Times editorial declared:

Americans can now read for themselves some of the noxious lessons the United States
Army taught to thousands of Latin American military and police officers at the School of
the Americas during the 1980s. A training manual recently released by the Pentagon
recom-mended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting
the relatives of those being questioned.3

SOA graduates have led a number of military coups”so many that the Washington Post
reported in 1968 that the school was "known throughout Latin America as the 'escuela de
golpes' or coup school"4”and are responsible for the murders of thousands of people,
particularly in the 1980s, such as the Uraba massacre in Colombia; the El Mozote
massacre, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the rape and murder of four US
churchwomen and the Jesuit massacre in El Salvador; the La Cantuta massacre in Peru;
the torture and murder of a UN worker in Chile; and hundreds of other human-rights
abuses.

In the village of El Mozote, El Salvador, in December 1981, from 700 to 1,000 persons
were reported killed, mostly the elderly, women and children, in extremely cruel and
gruesome ways.5 Ten of the twelve soldiers cited for the massacre were SOA graduates.
In the slaying of six Jesuit priests and two others in November 1989, the UN Truth
Commission revealed that 19 of the 26 Salvadoran officers involved had been trained at
the SOA.6

The full scope of atrocities committed by SOA graduates will likely never be known
because members of Latin American militaries are generally above the law. It has been
rare that crimes by members of these militaries have been investigated, and rarer still that
the names of those suspected have been released.

The SOA has always claimed that it doesn't teach its students how to torture or how to
commit other human-rights abuses. When the truth was revealed by the release of the
training manuals, the SOA claimed that it had changed. But only one of 42 courses in the
1996 course catalogue”"Democratic Sustainment"”centers on issues of democracy and
human rights. In 1997, only 13 students took this course, compared with 118 who took
"Military Intelligence". The "mandatory human-rights component" of other courses
comprises only a very small portion of the total course hours. Former SOA human-rights
instructor Charles Call has reported that human-rights training is not taken seriously at
the school, comprising an insignifi-cant amount of students' overall training.7

Access

Why, in the face of decades of terrible publicity, increasingly more militant protests,
thousands of arrests, and sharply decreasing Congressional support, has the Pentagon
clung to the School of the Americas? What is it that's so vital to the military brass? The
answer may lie in this: the school and its students, along with a never-ending supply of
US military equipment to countries around the world, are part of a package that serves the
US foreign policy agenda in a special way. The package is called "access". Along with
the equipment come American technicians, instructors, replacement parts and more. Here
is the testimony before Congress of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Chief,
US Central Command (CENTCOM), in 1990.

Security assistance leads directly to access, and without access afforded by our friends we
cannot project U.S. military forces into [an] area and stay there for any appreciable length
of time...[If] our military assistance programs diminish, our influence will erode and we
will come to the point where we will have little or no ability to control the use of the
weapons or the escalation of hostilities...The second pillar of our strategy is presence. It is
the symbol of America's continued interest in and commitment to stability in the
region...The third pillar of CENTCOM's strategy is combined [military] exercises. They
demonstrate our resolve and commitment to the region. They foster increased
cooperation, and they enhance our ability to work with our friends in a coalition
environment."8

Thus it is that military aid, military exercises, naval port visits, etc.”like the School of
the Americas”means repeated opportunities to foster close ties, even camaraderie,
between American officers and foreign military personnel; and, at the same time, the
opportunity to build up files of information on many thousands of these foreigners, as
well as acquiring language skills, maps and photos of the area. In sum total: personal
connections, personal information, country data bases”indispensable assets in time of
coup, counter-coup, revolution, counter-revolution or invasion.

US military presence has, in effect, served the purpose of "casing the joint"; it also
facilitates selecting candidates, not just Latin Americans for SOA, but thousands of
military and police personnel from other continents who come to the US for training at
scores of other military schools; the process of access replenishes itself. It is not unusual
for the military-to-military contacts to thrive even while diplomatic relations between
Washington and the students' government are rather cool (in recent years, e.g., Algeria,
Syria and Lebanon)”another indication of the priority given to the contacts.9
Historically, as shown in this chapter and others, strong military' to-military ties have
tended to undermine civilian institutions and fuel human-rights abuses, particularly in
Latin America, where fledgling democracies are now trying to keep their militaries in the
barracks.

The equipment $ale$ that access leads to ain't bad either.

The New Improved School of the Americas

When Congress came close to ending funding for the school in fall 1999, the Defense
Department finally saw the writing on the wall. It announced in November that it was
planning on making major changes by spring 2000”making the focus less strictly
military and more academic; admitting civilian students as well as military; teaching
democratic principles, etc.; changing the name to the Center for Inter-American Security
Cooperation.

The question remains: Why keep the school at all? Are there not enough academic
schools here and in Latin America that fill the bill? Americans don't have free university
education. Why should we provide it for foreigners?

The answer appears to be the factor that the changes wouldn't affect”access; perhaps
new, improved access, inasmuch as in addition to military students, there will be access
to present and future political and civilian leaders as students.10

In any event, there will still be the numerous other military training facilities for
foreigners in the US, in addition to the extensive training the Pentagon carries out abroad.

Office of Public Safety schools

From the early 1960s until the mid 1970s, the US Office of Public Safety (part of AID),
operated The International Police Academy, at first in Panama, then in Washington. It did
for foreign police officers what the SOA did for the military. OPS provided training
abroad for more than a million policemen in the Third World, ten thousand of whom
were selected to come to Washington for advanced training. There may well have been
more serious human-rights abusers amongst the OPS police students than amongst the
SOA military graduates because of the former's closer and more frequent contact with the
populace. Moreover, most of the classes were held abroad, where the instructors could
feel less constrained than in Washington or Georgia about lecturing in a very militant
manner on "the communist menace" and the use of any means necessary to combat it.
Amongst the means sometimes taught was torture. (See "Torture" chapter.)

OPS provided the police with weapons, ammunition, radios, patrol cars, tear gas, gas
masks, batons and other crowd control devices; a class on Assassination Weapons”"A
discussion of various weapons which may be used by the assassin" is how OPS put it;
and instruction on the design, manufacture and employment of bombs and incendiary
devices, taught at the "bomb school" in Los Fresnos, Texas. The official OPS explanation
for the bomb courses was that policemen needed such training in order to deal with
bombs placed by terrorists. There was, however, no instruction in destroying bombs, only
in making them.11

When Congress abolished the Public Safety Program in 1975 in response to rising
criticism of this dark side of American foreign policy, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, with help from the FBI and the Defense Department, quietly stepped in
and continued the program.12 In various reincarnations, the program continues, just as
the School of the Americas made it to the 21st century.13

Brazil

The Escola Superior de Guerra (Higher War College), founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1949,
allowed the United States to foster relationships with Brazilian officers similar to those
with SOA students, while passing on a similar political mentality. Latin America
historian Thomas E. Skidmore has observed:

Under the U.S.-Brazilian military agreements of the early 1950s, the U.S. Army received
exclusive rights to render assistance in the organization and operation of the college,
which had been modeled on the National War College in Washington. In view of the fact
that the Brazilian War College became a rallying point for leading military opponents of
civilian populist politicians, it would be worth examining the extent to which the strongly
anti-Communist ideology”bordering on an anti-political attitude”was reinforced (or
moderated?) by their frequent contacts with United States officers.14

There was, moreover, the ongoing US Military Assistance Program, which US
Ambassador Lincoln Gordon described in a March 1964 cable to the State Department as
a "major vehicle for establishing close relationships with personnel of the armed forces"
and "a highly important factor in influencing [the Brazilian] military to be pro-US."15

Just weeks after this cable was sent, the Brazilian military overthrew a populist
government which was on Washington's hate/hit list.



CHAPTER 8 : War Criminals: Theirs and Ours

On December 3, 1996, the US Justice Department issued a list of 16 Japanese citizens
who would be barred from entering the United States because of "war crimes" committed
during the Second World War. Among those denied entry were some who were alleged
to have been members of the infamous "Unit 731," which, said the Justice Department,
"conducted inhumane and frequently lethal pseudo-medical experiments”on thousands
of...prisoners and civilians," including mass dissections of living humans.1 Oddly
enough, after the war the man in charge of the Unit 731 program”whose test subjects
included captured American soldiers”General Shiro Ishii, along with a number of his
colleagues, had been granted immunity and freedom in exchange for providing the
United States with details about their experiments, and were promised that their crimes
would not be revealed to the world. The justification for this policy, advanced by
American scientists and military officials, was, of course, the proverbial, ubiquitous
"national security."2

Apart from the hypocrisy of the Justice Department including Unit 731 members on such
a list, we are faced with the fact that any number of countries would be justified in
issuing a list of Americans barred from entry because of "war crimes" and "crimes
against humanity." Such a list might include the following:

William Clinton, president, for his merciless bombing of the people of Yugoslavia for 78
days and nights, taking the lives of many hundreds of civilians, and producing one of the
greatest ecological catastrophes in history; for his relentless continuation of the sanctions
and rocket attacks upon the people of Iraq; and for his illegal and lethal bombings of
Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, for his direction of the
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia with an almost sadistic fanaticism..."He would rise out of

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