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The Salvadoran Option II

Whiskey bar

democracy_salvador_deadnuns.jpeg

November 20, 2005

They really ought to send John Negroponte back to Iraq. It would be just like old home week:

Baghdad's Medical Forensic Institute - the mortuary - is a low, modern building reached via a narrow street. Most days it is filled with families of the dead. They come here for two reasons. One group, animated and noisy in grief, comes to collect its dead. The other, however, returns day after day to poke through the new cargoes of corpses ferried in by ambulance, looking for a face or clothes they might recognise. They are the relatives and friends of the 'disappeared', searching for their men. And when the disappeared are finally found, on the streets or in the city's massive rubbish dumps, or in the river, their bodies bear the all-too-telling signs of a savage beating, often with electrical cables, followed by the inevitable bullet to the head.

It's apparent -- both from this story and from reports by human rights groups (note the date on that one) -- that the U.S. and U.K. embassies have been aware for some time that Iraq's Ministry of the Interior has been turned into what the old National Guard used to be in El Salvador, or the Presidential Intelligence Unit in Guatemala, or the National Directorate of Investigation in Honduras, which is to say: death squad central.

And it's more than a bit noteworthy that something like this was predicted -- boasted about, really -- by anonymous Pentagon sources earlier this year:

The Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administrationĺs 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. . . . One military source involved in the Pentagon debate . . . 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."

One of Sy Hersh's sources was a little more picturesque about it:

"Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?" the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. "We founded them and we financed them," he said. "The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's commando capabilities, said, "We're going to be riding with the bad boys."

Indeed. Not that the "bad boys" of SCIRI and the Badr Organization particularly needed any encouragement from Uncle Sam.

But now that the Salvadoran Option is up and running -- very smoothly, by all accounts -- one can wonder why the Americans suddenly changed their mind, and busted down the doors of one of SCIRI's secret prisons the other day.

Did things get out of hand, ala Abu Ghraib? (Ala the entire war, for that matter.) Or was the Death Squad Program-Related Activities Bureau ordered to switch gears, once the Finding a Political Solution to the Insurgency Department finally realized that sending Shi'a death squads out to torture and kill Sunni politicians, their bodyguards and their supporters was a bit counterproductive? These kind of bureacratic snafus happen.

Personally, I think it probably just dawned on the architects of the Salvadoran Option that while they thought they were riding with the bad boys, the real bad boys were out riding with the Iranian secret police, who don't need any Spanish lessons on how to run a dirty war.

And so now we have Iranian-backed Shi'a death squads hunting their political enemies through the slums of Baghdad under the pretext of fighting the insurgency, while Sunni Baathists (and/or their jihadist allies) blow up Shi'a mosques at prayer time under the pretext of fighting the American occupation.

Meanwhile, back here in the good old U.S. of A (the A is for assholes) the ruling party is reliving Joe McCarthy's glory years, while the leaders of the so-called opposition party try to hide their worthless carcasses behind an ex-Marine congressman who finally saw one too many broken bodies warehoused at Walter Reed and suffered a temporary fit of sanity, causing him to blurt out the ugly truth that the war is hopelessly lost. For which crime he will now be the subject of an ethics investigation by the same people who made Jack Abramoff an honorary member of the House Republican Caucus.

Truly, to quote Leonard -- the psychotic recruit in Full Metal Jacket -- we are in a world of shit.

Posted by billmon at November 19, 2005 11:24 PM


:: Article nr. 18037 sent on 21-nov-2005 01:44 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=18037

Link: billmon.org/archives/002340.html



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