This was posted in March 2008. One of the best pieces of news to come out of President-elect Barak Obama is that he will close down the Guantanamo detention center.
…As President George W. Bush’s administration attempts without luck to brush aside the colossal blunder in Iraq and how it poisoned and weakened the United States in its so-called war on terror, it’s pretty incredible that the US president recently vetoed a law that would have prohibited the use of “enhanced interrogation” methods like ”water boarding.”
Should it come to a surprise that many of these barbaric interrogation methods have their roots in many parts of the Third World thanks to the Central Intelligence Agency? In South America, the CIA carried out and supported political repression and the overthrow of elected civilian governments by military dictatorships.
It is also no secret that the Central Intelligence Agency trained security forces in the region in torture and interrogation techniques. There are striking and scary similarities today between what happened in Iraq and during Argentina’s so-called dirty war (1976-83), when some 30,000 people disappeared.
One of the torture methods that Argentinian security forces used was called el submarino, the submarine, an older version of water boarding. But despite having a different method, the aim of this form of torture is the same: to make the victim feel that he was drowning.
In some Argentinean detention centers, the water used in el submarino was filled with human excrement.
Inmates in Argentina were – like in Iraq and Afghanistan under U.S. custody – forced to wear hoods over their heads. In Argentina, a prisoner’s head was hooded so he couldn’t identify the torturer.
While times have changed and the enemy is far shrewder than what some Latin American countries faced during the cold war, there are scary similarities between the U.S.’ war against al-Qaeada and other Islamic fundamentalists and what happened in some Latin American countries.
After the military regime in Argentina steamrolled over left-wing guerrillas and other enemies of the junta, its excess and outlandish methods were so successful that it went beyond the junta’s wildest expectations. A dangerous sense of invincibility — like the Bush administration’s obsession with inconquerable military power – overtook Argentina’s military rulers.
It took, however, a colossal fiasco like going to war with Britain in 1982 over the Falkland Islands for the military to be humbled.
It’s naïve to believe the systemic torture carried out by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere are isolated events. I’m certain that these interrogation techniques used by the U.S. military can be found in many handbooks at Langley, VA.
In sum, the methods employed by Argentina’s junta during its war against “terrorism” were so barbaric that it ended up converting the de facto government into a state that practiced terrorism.
The United States has fallen into the same trap.