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CIA and School of the Americas

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Media Monitors Network

CIA and School of the Americas

Posted: November 26, 2001

by Raymond Ker

America’s evil actions in the past are backfiring on its own citizens today. The Taliban and bin Laden were the creation of the CIA who in 1979 recruited the most vicious and radical fundamentalist fanatics from Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Muslim countries and utilized the enormous budget allocated by the US Administration to train, arm and finance them. Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor during that era, admitted that the intention was to unleash the mojahedin on the Russians who were supporting the government in Afghanistan. This furthered the Americans’ Cold War agenda but resulted in the destruction of Afghanistan. It also illustrates the shear inhumanity, racism and stupidity of US foreign policy.

These terrorists soon became autonomous of their US masters and almost immediately started pursuing their own fundamentalist vision in North Africa (assassination of Anwar Sadat), Middle East, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kashmir, SE Asia, etc. And then, finally, the World Trade Centre.

There are several reasons why have they turned on their American masters in such a spectacularly horrific way. The first really sore point is their perception that the holiest sites of Islam have been defiled because of the establishment of permanent US military bases in Saudi Arabia. This has been a recurring theme of bin Laden’s broadcasts on the Al-Jazeera TV channel. Another major reason for their anger is the incessant bombing of Iraq and the embargo which has resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children from malnutrition and lack of medicines, and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians. US support for the brutal totalitarian regimes in Arab and Muslim countries which viciously thwart any democratic or progressive economic reforms is also high on the list of grievances. Osama referred to “a long series of crusader wars against the Islamic world” from the occupation of Palestine by the British, US support for the Zionist occupation and excesses in Palestine, to the assault on Bosnia.

This pattern of CIA activity can be traced throughout the Third World and can be extrapolated ad nauseam but is seen most graphically in Latin America.

Most people are fairly familiar with the exploits of the CIA over the past half-century but few know a great deal about the terrorist training camp in Fort Benning, Georgia, named euphemistically: the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation – WHISC. It was formed in Panama in 1946 and named the School of the Americas (SOA) in 1963 under John F. Kennedy. It was then moved to Georgia in 1984 under terms of the Panama Canal Treaties.

This delightful venue has trained 60,000 Latin Americans from whose ranks were spawned the most vicious torturers, homicidal maniacs, state terrorists and despots, who have terrorized and perpetrated genocidal warfare against the civilian populations of Central and South America for five decades. These are the front-line troops enforcing the US “full spectrum dominance” in the economic, political and military arenas. This includes the death or disappearance of 200,000 Guatemalans and innumerable other atrocities. In Colombia 2 million have been displaced and thousands are still reliving the horrors of their torture – not surprising since, with 10,000 graduates from the SOA, Colombia is the school’s largest customer and has the worst human rights record on the continent. This is underpinned by the $1.3billion US-funded aid package of which 75% is lavished on the Colombian security forces. The El Salvadorean truth and reconciliation commission found that more than two thirds of the worst human rights violators were graduates cum laude of the School of the Americas, while the Guatemalan Truth Commission Report stated that 93% of human rights violations were perpetrated by the military or death squads linked to the SOA, rather than by insurgents. The record shows that these model students also turned up in the security apparatuses of the murderous dictators of this tragic continent: Noriega(Panama), Galtieri(Argentina), Pinochet(Chile), Rodriguez(Ecuador), Fujimori and Alvarado(Peru). But this is still happening today: Human Rights Watch only last year implicated seven of the School’s darling graduates who were directing the exploits of the paramilitary torturers and murderers in Colombia who have American support and succour.

And what a fascinating spectacle the world was treated to when in 1996 the US Administration was compelled to reveal seven of the School’s diabolical training manuals which outlined interrogation techniques including torture, blackmail and execution. In January 2001, when the School of the Americas’ colours were pinned to the mast, the House of Representatives’ fancy footwork merely entailed renaming it WHISC, effectively defeating a bi-partisan amendment to close the school by a narrow 10-vote margin, and it was business as usual. Paul Coverdell, the Georgia Senator, labeled this a “cosmetic” change while protesters chanted: “New name, same shame”. The School has more aptly been dubbed School of Assassins by Eric Robison who is currently on a hunger strike while serving a 6-month sentence for protesting on the premises. Another hunger striker drew attention to the irony of George W Bush’s call for all-out war against those who ‘inspire, support and finance’ terror when he has not closed down his School. Hardly any mention was made in the mainstream media of the scrupulously non-violent protest on 19 November by 10,000 at the entrance to Fort Benning, when 3,600 of these crossed the line onto base property as part of a solemn funeral procession honouring those killed by SOA graduates. Many were arrested and also face 6-month sentences.

Now what do you think the Bush administration’s response would be to a demand from Latin American countries to extradite the trainers at WHISC for complicity in gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity?

This brutality is becoming more endemic in the new millennium: The US Administration now plans to ‘unleash’ the CIA to perpetrate political assassinations, torture and a string of human rights violations (as though they ever refrained from these dastardly deeds!); “physical interrogation” (read: torture) is recommended by the venerable Newsweek magazine; and George W Bush orders the institution of military tribunals for suspected terrorists in camera and without a jury.

But there is also a corresponding urgency noted in activists and civil society to confront and reverse this cynical trend. If the enormous untapped energies of the billions, especially in the Third World, can be focused in this area a miracle will unfold in the current century.

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