Monday, January 10, 2005

Death Squads, Iraq and El Salvador

The Newsweek article regarding the "Salvador Option," a Pentagon proposal to train paramilitary squads in Iraq to carry out kidnappings and possible assassinations, has received wide play around the world today. Everyone from Reuters to al Jazeera to The Guardian was running the story.

I'm interested in some of the reaction by people to the "revelation" that the U.S. had trained persons who participated in death squads in El Salvador. From the left, Democracy Now! runs an interview with Allan Nairn. Nairn recounts his interviews with Salvadoran military figures in the 1980's in which they told him that US military advisors were aware of and actively trained the death squads in techniques including torture. Nairn calls for US officials who participated in setting up the death squads to be prosecuted for murder and seeks the declassification of a 1984 Senate Intelligence Committee report which he says will establish the US involvement with the death squads.

From the right, Fox News commentators predictably jump all over Newsweek. Linda Robinson, a writer for US News & World Report, appeared on Fox News Live and declared that actual history was the opposite of what was portrayed in Newsweek. It turns out that US advisors were "fighting against the death squads" in El Salvador.

Finally, while I won't very often by citing the Wall Street Journal here, there was a cogent analysis in today's paper about why the model of elections in El Salvador in 1982 says nothing about the prospects for Iraq after the elections on January 30.

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