School of Americas taught torture and murder

Wednesday, October 16, 1996

On September 20, the US Defense Department released documents showing that from 1982 to 1991 the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) trained Latin American military officers with US Army intelligence manuals advocating the blackmail, torture and murder of insurgents.

The documents consist of a summary of a 1992 Pentagon investigation and four pages of excerpts translated from the manuals, which are in Spanish. The manual entitled Handling Sources says counterintelligence (CI) agents "could cause the arrest of the employee's [informant's] parents, imprison the employee or give him a beating" to coerce cooperation.

The manual on Terrorism and the Urban Guerrilla says, "... another function of CI agents is recommending CI targets for neutralizing. The CI targets can include personalities, installations, organizations, documents and materials ... the personality targets prove to be valuable sources of intelligence. Some examples of these targets are governmental officials, political leaders, and members of the infrastructure." "Neutralizing" is a euphemism for assassination.

Founded in 1946, the School of the Americas was based in Panama until 1984, when it was moved to Fort Benning, Georgia. Some 60,000 Latin American officers have been trained there, including Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, deposed Panamanian leader General Manuel Antonio Noriega, and Colonel Julio Roberto Alpirez, a Guatemalan implicated in the murders of US citizen Michael DeVine and guerilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez.

The Pentagon told Congress about the manuals in 1991, but the issue resurfaced this year during Congressional investigations into US intelligence activities in Guatemala. At that time the Pentagon denied that the manuals had advocated such extreme measures.
[From Weekly News Update on the Americas, 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY, 10012, USA; email]