|Pentagon Investigation Concludes that Techniques in SOA Manuals were "Mistakes"|
In an announcement that seemed timed to get the least amount of press attention, the Pentagon's acting Inspector General, Russell Rau, said Friday (Feb. 21) that the Pentagon was right to absolve US officials of any responsibility for training of Latin American soldiers that included information about "motivation by fear, payment of bounties for enemy dead, false imprisonment and the use of truth serum." In the report, the Inspector General said that "mistakes" lead to the inclusion of "objectionable" information in manuals used to train Latin American soldiers and officers at the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The report concluded that "no deliberate and orchestrated attempt was made to violate Defense Department or U.S. Army policies" and therefore "further investigation to assess individual responsibility is not required." The report did not appear to indicate how these "mistakes" were made or who was responsible for them. The investigation by the Inspector General began in September 1996 after the Pentagon admitted that torture, execution, false imprisonment, extortion and other techniques were included in training manuals used at the SOA and by mobile training units in Latin America until 1991.
In response to the Inspector General's report, Representative Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), a long- time opponent of the SOA, said in a statement, "These manuals taught tactics that come right out of a Soviet gulag and have no place in civilized society." Rep. Kennedy introduced a bill in early February in the House of Representatives that would close the SOA (HR 611).
Since its creation in 1946, the SOA has trained nearly 60,000 Latin American soldiers and officers. SOA graduates include former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noreiga, El Salvador death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, and former dictators of Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. SOA graduates were also responsible for the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the El Mozote massacre, the Uraba massacre, and the assassination of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Vladimiro Montesinos, another graduate of the SOA and right- hand man of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, has been implicated as the leader of the Grupo Colina death squad responsible for numerous massacres in Peru.
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