America??ôs Amnesia

Rothschild, Matthew

America's Amnesia By Matthew Rothschild Illustration by Michael Zaharuk When Veronica de Negri first saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, she happened to be writing her testimony for...

...history, it is anything but...
...Or give up seeing themselves as ethical...
...A third category requiring prior approval was whited out...
...William Blum, author of Rogue State, confirms the role of the U.S...
...Then there was an entire U.S...
...They all were there when I was hanging from my hands, and they were asking questions and laughing...
...At the beginning, I thought I'd never make it out of there alive," he says...
...officer who professionalized the work of the torturers and ultimately was captured and executed by the Tupamaros in Uruguay...
...Apples do not torture...
...In Latin America, where the technique was commonplace, it was called "el submarino ." "That U.S...
...You could hear the screaming...
...Matthew Rothschild is Editor of The Progressive...
...Dr...
...If Americans were to truly acknowledge (let me emphasize that word 'truly') what is being done in their name, they would have to change the way they live and remember, work and play" he says...
...The U.S...
...They don't want to see" the involvement of the United States in torture over the years...
...Amnesty International said, "This would be a clear case of torture," and it added that "water submersion is a technique that has been used by countries notorious for their use of torture," including Indonesia under Suharto, the Congo under Mobutu, and Chile under Pinochet...
...Oscar and Gloria Reyes were two victims of the Honduran torturers...
...government has been complicit in the torture or murder of hundreds of thousands of people...
...officials in Honduras concealed evidence of human rights abuses," the Sun reported...
...On May 13, The New York Times reported that CIA interrogators used this same "water-boarding" technique on Al Qaeda operative Khalid Shaikh Mohammed...
...torture instructors have often gone by the manual...
...At the U.S...
...Since the 1950s, the United States has used torture as policy first in the war against communism and now in the war against terrorism...
...Who instructed neophyte guards and interrogators in these techniques...
...Navy's schools in San Diego and Maine during the 1960s and 1970s, students were supposedly learning about methods of 'survival, evasion, resistance, and escape' which they could use," he writes...
...There were at least seven of these army interrogation manuals, which were kindly translated into Spanish for the Latin American military officers who were attending...
...My mother was tortured and disappeared in Guatemala in 1971," he says...
...And it reminds him of the horrors he was subjected to...
...law, the CIA continued to "provide training, support, and intelligence to security forces directly involved in death squad activity," Nairn wrote...
...We are the beneficiaries of an empire, and the empire rests on a number of props that we don't care to look at," he says...
...During the Reagan Administration, in violation of U.S...
...From the 1960s through the 1980s, Guatemalan security forces, notably the Army unit called G-2, routinely tortured 'subversives,'" he writes...
...The Chilean American writer Ariel Dorfman calls such historical amnesia a "false innocence" and explores its roots...
...ambassador to Iraq...
...The Abu Ghraib scandal "is nothing new," she says...
...They used electrical shock on my body and my genitals, and they hanged me by my hands and were hitting me almost all night long...
...I witnessed the whole abduction...
...The only difference between this kind of conduct now and in the past is that there wasn't somebody with a digital camera back then keeping track of what was going on," says Kornbluh...
...It has been happening for decades...
...That kind of abuse was what I lived in Chile under Pinochet," says de Negri, who came to the United States twenty-seven years ago...
...Oscar and Gloria Reyes are two plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Justice and Accountability against a former Honduran colonel they implicate in their torture...
...This is a systemic approach to dealing with other people and other nations: the abuse of human rights, the rapes, the torturing, this goes on in many countries that the U.S...
...government in El Salvador set up two official security organizations that killed thousands of peasants and suspected leftists over the next fifteen years," Nairn wrote...
...If we had photographs of what our so-called allies in Honduras and El Salvador and Chile were doing, based on training they had received from us in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the American public would have been even more horrified," says Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C This was torture by proxy, but it was at the direction of Washington...
...And torture has been, and I'm afraid will continue to be, one of the tools...
...Meanwhile, President Bush has appointed Negroponte to be the U.S...
...Juan Romagoza was one of those victims...
...A friend of mine in the Brazilian military told me of the kinds of things going on, and when I chastised the Brazilians for doing that, he said, 'Come on, you know who's teaching us.'" "This is an open secret," says Alex Taylor, an informal spokesperson for the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, which Sister Dianna Ortiz, a victim of Guatemalan torture herself, helped found...
...The School of the Americas trained more than 8,000 Salvadoran soldiers, Father Bourgeois says...
...It's very repulsive...
...Determined to avoid questions in Congress, U.S...
...This has been happening behind your eyes for many years...
...De Negri left Chile with her family in 1977, but her son Rodrigo Rojas went back almost a decade later...
...For Taylor, who was born in Guatemala, the issue is personal...
...The book focuses on Dan Mitrione, the U.S...
...They told us, too, they were trying to soften us up...
...It was so bad that she had permanent damage to her ovaries and she had to have a hysterectomy...
...citizens have forgotten about-or never heard about- two other human rights scandals there...
...The first was entitled "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation, July 1963...
...interrogators or their proxies have been subjecting prisoners to 'water-boarding' and other forms of mock drowning is alarming," says William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA...
...I was a child of nine when this happened...
...personnel used in Iraq and Afghanistan...
...And how can the United States pursue this blind policy that is so inhuman and arrogant, that assumes one person is worth more than another...
...That effort was called the Phoenix Program, which ended up killing more than 20,000 Vietnamese, by the CIAs own count...
...I had electroshock," she says...
...Eleven bloody ears spilled out...
...Many of them, most notoriously Roberto d'Aubuisson, were involved in torture and assassinations...
...The United States helped the Guatemalan military with the techniques of torture," he says...
...ambassador, he testified, "I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras...
...But it is also true that too many people are willingly blinding themselves to truths that are looking them in the face...
...About 75,000 Salvadorans were killed, most by members of the Salvadoran armed forces...
...Romagoza and two other plaintiffs won a civil lawsuit brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability against two senior Salvadoran generals, Jos?© Guillermo Garc?­a and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who had come to live in Florida...
...Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields...
...We should not look at it as an isolated thing...
...The second manual, entitled "CIA, Human Resource Exploitation Manual-1983," repeated passages verbatim from the first one and instructed interrogators "to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space, and sensory perception"-tactics that U.S...
...Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers," The Blade reported...
...has supported and financed...
...Then they put me in front of a tree and gave me a fake execution...
...De Negri was detained in 1976...
...advisers...
...Early in the 1960s, during the Kennedy Administration, agents of the U.S...
...Blum also notes in that book that some of the more lurid activities at Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan were not new...
...But it wasn't a big surprise to me," he says...
...There were North Americans with the high-ranking Salvadoran military officers," he says...
...It is entirely functional to the sort of empire that the United States has become," he says...
...Discarding this tool may not be easy, says Dorfman...
...Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves," the paper said...
...The CIA advised, armed, and equipped the G-2, which maintained a web of torture centers...
...We see a real close connection between the torture we're reading about in Iraq and the torture that has been connected with the School of the Americas," he says...
...Langguth is the author of Hidden Terrors, which chronicles the U.S...
...I was raped not just by the torturers but with a mouse...
...One participant barged in on a dinner that a lieutenant was having and "dumped a dirty bag on the table...
...These were not a few bad apples...
...They used electric shocks in every possible way and rape with instruments with sticks and poles and all kinds of things, and then they shot me in the arm while I was there...
...From Greece to Iran to Indonesia to Vietnam and throughout Latin America, the U.S...
...The CIA organized, trained, and financed an army unit called Battalion 316, The Baltimore Sun reported in 1995...
...She recognizes that "the torturers in my case were Chilean," but she blames Washington for helping to overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973, for supporting Pinochet, and for training Chilean torturers...
...Romagoza was awarded $20 million...
...There was even a bounty and a "contest between the Phoenix advisers to see who could rack up the biggest body count," he writes...
...These manuals, which were widely used, gave instruction on false imprisonment, blackmail, beatings, torture, and assassination...
...The American public needs to educate itself about how widespread it's been...
...A. J. Langguth agrees that torture is an integral part of being an empire...
...It "used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations...
...That was probably the most terrible moment I had...
...The defendant has denied any involvement...
...advisers...
...When you look at the last fifty years of U.S...
...I saw people being killed...
...Memory is a prerequisite for morality...
...He was participating in a national strike on July 2, 1986, when he was arrested, badly beaten, and set on fire and burned alive by Pinochet's forces," she says...
...military...
...One CIA officer assigned quotas of assassinations for officers to fulfill, Douglas Valentine writes in The Phoenix Program...
...In the long run, the United States must see the dignity and value of all human life...
...involvement in torture in Brazil and Uruguay in the 1960s and early 1970s...
...A. J. Langguth was "stunned and repulsed" by the pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib...
...On my wife, they used electrical shock in her vagina...
...Interrogations conducted under compulsion or duress are especially likely to involve illegality and to entail damaging consequences" for the CIA...
...It is true that the media does not serve up enough analysis and information to allow people here to judge what is happening...
...My Lai still lingers in the American memory as the single most abhorrent act of barbarism by the U.S...
...These organizations, guided by American operatives, developed into the paramilitary apparatus that came to be known as the Salvadoran death squads...
...In 2002, Dr...
...Father Roy Bourgeois is the founder of SOA Watch, which has been campaigning to shut down the School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, for the past fourteen years...
...One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings...
...He is reluctant to talk in more detail about this trauma, but he assigns a lot of the blame to Washington...
...A former student, Navy pilot Lieutenant Wendell Richard Young, claimed . . . that students were tortured into . . . masturbating before guards, and, on one occasion, engaging in sex with an instructor...
...The idea that we have no past history of torture is amnesia," says William Blum...
...Imagination cannot reach the reality...
...In light of the controversy over the legal status of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, the following passage from one of the manuals is particularly relevant...
...U.S...
...These were real soldiers at the School of the Americas and Iraq that we trained in the techniques of torture...
...I was beaten up...
...How can people do that...
...Therefore prior approval" is required "if bodily harm is to be inflicted" and "if medical, chemical, or electrical methods or materials are to be used...
...unit in 1967 that "left a trail of atrocities," with possibly hundreds of civilians as its victims...
...The CIA put out at least two manuals on torture, according to the National Security Archive...
...I first heard about our policies in torture when I was in Brazil in the '70s," Langguth says...
...Asked about the abuses in Iraq, he says he feels "a tremendous sadness...
...It's as if it goes on and on," he says...
...And it is the lack of memory that struck many of the people I talked to for this story...
...America's Amnesia By Matthew Rothschild Illustration by Michael Zaharuk When Veronica de Negri first saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, she happened to be writing her testimony for the Chilean commission investigating human rights abuses during the regime of Augusto Pinochet...
...I was kicked and beaten up and kept naked and blindfolded, and I was bound and hung up by my hands...
...There were a lot of people being tortured that night...
...The United States likes to see itself with a halo on its head, and whenever a revelation like Abu Ghraib or My Lai surfaces, U.S...
...I'm a survivor of that policy...
...The manual delineates "the principal coercive techniques of interrogation," which include "deprivation of sensory stimuli through solitary confinement or similar methods, threats and fear, debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, narcosis, and induced regression...
...he would choke, gag, retch, and gurgle as he experienced the sensation of drowning...
...Americans are "very na??ve," she says...
...It says that "the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers and other modifying devices will be on hand if needed...
...At these schools, Blum says, students were introduced to a "torture device called the 'water board': the subject strapped to an inclined board, head downward, a towel placed over his face, and cold water poured over the towel...
...embassy in Honduras, led at the time by Ambassador John Negroponte, knew about the human rights abuses but covered it up...
...The insurgent "does not have a legal status as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention," it says...
...Prisoners were tortured and executed-their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs...
...I suffered terrible physical mistreatment...
...military in Vietnam, many U.S...
...The most infamous manuals were the ones that the School of the Americas used between 1987 and 1991...
...It kidnapped, tortured, and killed hundreds of Hondurans...
...citizens tend to shrug it off as an anomaly...
...effort that was based on torture and assassination...
...Even the vocabulary carried an echo...
...Romagoza, now the executive director of La Clinica del Pueblo in Washington, D.C., is adamant about the presence of U.S...
...One of these was brought to light by the Toledo Blade in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series last year that exposed the brutality of the Tiger Force, a U.S...
...Investigative reporter Alan Nairn, writing in the May 1984 issue of The Progressive, revealed that the ties between the United States government and the brutalizers of El Salvador were deeper than mere attendance at the School of the Americas...
...The authors of this manual were aware of the illegality of these methods...
...The United States also was actively involved in torture and assassination in Honduras in the early 1980s...
...On July 8, 1982, some military people went to our home, ransacked it, detained us, and brought us to the torture house," Oscar Reyes recalls...
...These manuals are available at the National Security Archive website, www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv...
...Negroponte has denied involvement, and during his confirmation hearing before the Senate for his post as UN...
...Detained for two months at the end of 1980 and the beginning of 1981, Romagoza says he was tortured in the presence of U.S...

Vol. 68 • July 2004 • No. 7


 
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