Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Death Squads: Salvador, Iraq, Where Next?

When John Negroponte found a spot in the occupation of Iraq, many of us shuddered, remembering what he’s done in Salvador. Now that he’s in charge of national security here, many more of us are shuddering. Between the death squads and the Patriot Act and Bush’s theory of unlimited presidential power, it’s about time to start looking out for big SUV’s with heavily tined windows….

[I don't know where I found the following post, but it's worth reposting. Apologies to anyone who wrote it...]

How's That Working Out For Ya'?

In 2005 the Salvadoran Option sounded like such a good idea:

Now, Newsweek has learned, the 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. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

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. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek.

Now, not so much:

It is akin to ethnic cleansing when men in a gas station queue can be grilled about their sectarian beliefs and removed as a result. When police commandos can enter your house in the middle of night, haul you off and the next your family knows, you're dead on the street. That can be factions within the government. Sometimes it's associated militias donning those uniforms for that night. U.S. military intelligence talks about ministries renting out their vehicles to death squads for the evening. It's also Sunni insurgents putting on military uniforms. Everybody is in this game, so to speak.
How's That Working Out For Ya'?

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