America: Torture, War And Terror
Latin American dictators like Augusto Pinochet, Ernesto Gisel, Hugo Banzer, Alfredo Stroessner and Rios Montt are but a fraction of the murderers that America nurtured. Currently, another notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is being harbored from justice by the U.S. In 1976, Carriles bombed a Cuban airliner murdering seventy-three people
[Speaking Truth To Power]
So, President Bush has admitted what some of us have surmised all along: that senior Administration officials including Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, John Ashcroft, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell all debated the use of specific torture techniques, then, sanctioned them.
This admission came in light of an ABC News interview where Bush stated "Yes, I am aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."
In these high-level discussions "enhanced interrogation techniques" like sleep deprivation and water-boarding were, apparently, "approved" for use against terror suspects.
For some time now, it's been known that this Administration has encouraged torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. Also, the Administration outsourced terror globally by using "extraordinary rendition" where suspects are flown to "black sites," which are secret detention centers, in allied countries in Europe and the Middle East.
According to a June 2006 report from the Council of Europe, an international organization know for its expertise regarding matters of public international law and legal human rights standards, nearly a 100 people have been kidnapped by American intelligence agencies in Europe and "rendered" to "black site" countries.
This wretched reality exposes American foreign policy hypocrisy in this so-called war on terror. How can American politicians talk about exporting "democracy" and "freedom" when it engages in the most inhumane behavior?
We now know that the psychopathic, sadistic methods employed in Abu Ghraib are also being used at Guantanamo Bay. Yet, the torture conducted in "black site" countries raises another troubling layer to this outrage. The clandestine nature of these operations makes it hard to evaluate the true scope of the cases of torture by "rendition."
The revelation that Bush White House officials are engaging in torture in this so-called war on terror should come as no surprise. After all, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in January, 2002, wrote a memo in which he opined that Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was "quaint" and that protections against torture under Article 3, against Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters should be ignored. He also wrote a Presidential Order authorizing the use of secret military tribunal for suspects.
The fact that America is torturing, perhaps mostly innocent people, should spur the outrage of Americans. Ask yourself the following: Who and where are these people? How many of them have been proven to have participated in anything related to terror? Where are the convictions that should have been secured based on information obtained from the torture?
Americans often delude themselves into the fanciful notion that they are a "freedom loving" people who have only the best intentions for others. This is dangerous; our best protection is to continue asking government the tough questions.
How can America export "democracy" and "freedom" when the U.S. still can't provide it for all its citizens? America's history of "freedom" was built on the bones of millions of massacred Native Americans, the survivors of whom are now forgotten, and America's superpower economy was enriched by the blood, sweat and tears of African-Americans.
In fact, America’s main export has always been terror. America's military industrial complex is a major driving force in the numerous wars America gets involved in. Moreover, America has exported terror in other ways. Latin America is an insightful example.
Since the era of the Monroe Doctrine, which declared that North America considered Latin America her backyard, the U.S. has continually destabilized and thwarted democracy and freedom in Latin America. This won't be admitted by politicians, which, illuminates the putrid state of Washington where none of the presidential candidates has spoken of how the torture that America has exported to Latin America is relevant to the issue of immigration.
Latin American politics is moving to the left. The rise of Bolivia's Eva Morales and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who has channeled the spirit of Cuba's Fidel Castro in standing up to American hegemony, signals that people there are tired of right-wing despots propped up by Washington.
White House and Washington politicians for years have exported torture to Latin America by training many of the most dictatorial elements at the infamous School of the Americas-now euphemistically called The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation-located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The names of Latin American politicos who "trained" there reads like a who's who of despots.
From Argentina, there was Leopolo Galtieri who presided over Batallon de Inteligencia 601, which was active in Operation Condor and the Dirty War. During the Dirty War, in Argentina from 1976-1983, this special military intelligence unit carried out state-sponsored terrorism against dissidents in Argentina, mostly, during the reign of Washington-backed dictator Jorge Videla. During the Dirty War 30,000 people "disappeared."
El Salvador's Roberto D`Aubuisson was another "graduate" of the "school." Nicknamed "Blowtorch Bob," for his penchant at using blowtorches as a terror tool, D`Aubuisson was the leader of the dreaded Salvadoran Death Squads that killed thousands, especially during the Salvadoran Civil War 1980-1992.
Then there is Peru's Vladimiro Montesinos who led a Peruvian death squad named Grupo Colina, which operated as part of former right-wing President Alberto Fujimori's National Intelligence Service. Among Grupo Colina's crimes is the La Cantuta Massacre where nine university students and a university professor were "disappeared."
Another "student" of the "school," Raul Iturriaga was the Deputy Director of DINA, the Chilean secret police. Iturriaga aided General Manuel Contreras who was part of Operation Condor, a clandestine joint operation between South American countries to torture and kill leftist activists.
Latin American dictators like Augusto Pinochet, Ernesto Gisel, Hugo Banzer, Alfredo Stroessner and Rios Montt are but a fraction of the murderers that America nurtured.
Currently, another notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is being harbored from justice by the U.S. In 1976, Carriles bombed a Cuban airliner murdering seventy-three people.
So, how can America fight terror while supporting torture?
Shouldn't presidential candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama be made to clearly define their views on torture?
Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News’s Editorial Board
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