The School Of The Americas Is Still Exporting Death Squads

South American militaries have been sending soldiers to the U.S. for “ethics” and “human rights” training for years, but history shows that many of these alumni go on to become notorious torturers and murderers, not defenders of peace.
By @walzerscent |
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    Students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and students from the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School conduct a joint assault on a simulated narcotics camp during a field training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)Students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly School of the Americas) and students from the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School conduct a joint assault on a simulated narcotics camp during a field training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

    RABAT, Malta — In 2009, just a year before Sebastián Piñera became president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet approved the training of 211 Chilean recruits at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA).

    Between 1999 and 2010, Chilean governments sent a total of 1,205 recruits to the school, with Bachelet remaining at the helm of cooperation with the U.S.-based institute that has graduated scores of alumni involved in human rights violations under Chile’s dictatorship era from 1973 to 1990.

    Despite the macabre reality inflicted upon Chileans during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, the Concertación governments of the center-left, allegedly embarking upon a democratic future for Chile, retained ties with the school that produced torturers such as Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko, who, according to torture survivors, never concealed his identity while subjecting his victims to brutality.

    Bachelet’s father, Gen. Alberto Bachelet, who was loyal to socialist president Salvador Allende, was tortured to death by the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (the National Intelligence Directorate, also known as DINA). Bachelet herself was detained and tortured by DINA, later fleeing into exile and returning back to Chile in 1979.

    Under Bachelet’s first presidency (2006-2010), Chilean cooperation with the U.S. expanded, especially following her one-year stay at Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington, D.C., which provided the prelude to Bachelet’s military and surveillance investment. Socialism quickly eroded into opportunism, with the country’s first female president emphasizing Pinochet’s legacy of oblivion as she extended diplomatic maneuvers to former DINA torturers, even praising generals allegedly involved in the torture that contributed to her father’s death.

    Piñera also sent recruits to train at WHINSEC and furthered U.S. military collaboration in 2012 by opening a military training center at Fort Aguayo in Concón, Chile.


    From the SOA to WHINSEC

    Established in 1946 in Panama, the SOA was responsible for training over 64,000 South American soldiers, many of whom later became notorious torturers and murderers in death squads. According to former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca, the SOA was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.”

    Expelled from Panama in 1984, the SOA relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia, and was renamed WHINSEC in 2001, allowing for an apparent termination of the previous program through dissociation. In reality, however, WHINSEC retained its SOA foundations and the U.S. Department of Defense has shielded the institute from criticism and outcry with regard to the school’s historical link to human rights violations.

    In its mission statement, WHINSEC claims to have been founded upon the Charter of the Organization of American States and pledges to “foster mutual knowledge, transparency, confidence, and cooperation among the participating nations and promote democratic values, respect for human rights, and knowledge and understanding of U.S. customs and traditions.”

    These values, according to WHINSEC’s website, are imparted through a three-lesson Ethics Program, as well as the Democracy and Human Rights Program — the latter dealing with “the universal prohibitions against torture, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.”


    A far cry from protecting human rights

    CIA and U.S. Army manuals detailing torture techniques translated into Spanish and utilized by the SOA are a far cry from anything containing human rights protections. Indeed, as SOA Watch explains, “These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations.”

    The manuals, written in the 1950s and 1960s, “were distributed for use in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru, and at the School of the Americas between 1987 and 1991.” Indeed, in-depth research and testimony from torture survivors relay more than just a depiction of torture practiced by SOA graduates in South America during dictatorship eras, such as Chile under Pinochet. Sadistic torture practiced upon detainees at Abu Ghraib is also reflective of the CIA torture manuals and torture previously carried out on detainees in South America.

    Since 2000 and the renaming of the SOA, other crimes linked to SOA graduates have come to light.

    Col. Byron Lima Estrada was convicted in June 2001 of murdering Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi following the publication of a report insisting the Guatemalan army was responsible for the murder of almost 200,000 people in the civil war that took place from 1960 to 1996.

    Two SOA graduates, Venezuelan Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez and Gen. Ramirez Poveda, were involved in the failed 2002 coup against President Hugo Chávez. According to SOA Watch, Otto Reich, then-assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, was “appointed as a WHINSEC board of visitor member to ‘oversee’ democracy and human rights curriculum, as well as operations at the school.” Reich was also deeply involved in the planning of the coup against Chávez.

    In 1999, Bolivian Captain Filiman Rodriguez had been found responsible for the kidnapping and torture of Waldo Albarracin, director of the Bolivian Popular Assembly of Human Rights. In 2002, Rodriguez was accepted for a 49-week officer training course at WHINSEC.

    In May 2014, a detailed report by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Colombia-Europe-U.S. Human Rights Observatory highlighted U.S. military assistance to Colombia between 2000 and 2010. According to the report, which studies extrajudicial killings committed by the Colombian Army Brigades, U.S. intelligence assistance to Colombia “supported units that had adopted a strategy conducive to extrajudicial killings.”

    Colombia requires its officers to undergo training at WHINSEC. The 2014 report states that out of 25 Colombian graduates from 2001 to 2003, 12 had either been charged with “a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.”

    It should be remembered that Plan Colombia, signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton, was translated into “moral and political support” by Colombian Gen. Mario Montoya. Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. assistance was considered a factor which influenced the staggering total of 5,673 extrajudicial killings — all of which occurred with impunity, lack of judicial mechanisms, rewards for the murders and the role of national leaders such as Montoya providing a safety net for those complicit in the atrocities.

    As regards WHINSEC in Colombia, an academic on the Board of Visitors is quoted in the report as stating, “So if a student of mine leaves an ethics class and engages in criminal activity does that make me or my university liable for her activity?”

    This attitude summarizes the lack of accountability surrounding WHINSEC. The dissociation from the school’s history under its original name — the SOA — is merely a premise for distancing the institution from the atrocities committed by its students and graduates.

    History, however, tells a different story. While WHINSEC continues to emphasize what it describes as a commitment to human rights by citing a mere eight hours of instruction in the subject, research, such as the report on Colombia’s extrajudicial killings, reveals a reality that goes beyond the cosmetic reforms employed by the institution.

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    • James Wherry

      WINSEC, or the School of the Americas has never been creating or exporting “Death Squads.” This is a hoax. By contrast, Iran IS exporting terrorism in its new “School of Terrorism.”

      “Iran Builds New Terror Centers As US Stalls On Terrorist Designation”

      By Capital Flows, May 23, 2017

      Wes Martin, Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin served as the first senior antiterrorism officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq.

      It is heartening that the Trump Administration is considering officially designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO). For several years, a faction of the IRGC, the Qods Force, has held this title. That its parent organization has eluded designation by the U.S. State Department defies logic, especially considering the Government of Iran has long since been recognized by the U.S. as the number one nation-state sponsor of terrorism. It is high time to reflect this reality in policy; with every day that the U.S. stalls, a sophisticated training corps run by the IRGC churns out a new batch of elite fighters aimed at destabilizing the region and sowing terror worldwide.

      This past month, the leading Iranian opposition group, MeK, exposed fourteen terrorist training camps being run in Iran by the IRGC. Compared to the ad-hoc Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) training programs of the 1960s and 70s, these state-of-the-art IRGC training camps could be hailed as the “Ivy Leagues of terrorist education.”

      Supporting this objective, the IRGC shows signs of ramping up full-spectrum terrorist training. The curriculum includes religious indoctrination, bomb making and emplacement, suicide bombing, assassination, kidnapping, fundraising, black market opportunities, basic structure-engineering, avoiding detection from law enforcement, sleeper cell operations and everything else possible to destroy western civilization. The IRGC is already benefiting from fifteen years of battle-damage assessments of attacks on and by American forces in Iraq. Furthermore, the Iraqi army has passed on to the IRGC all the training it received from the American military.

      Unlike typical academia, graduates of the IRGC School of Terrorism will not walk down the aisle, accept their diplomas, and go out on their own into the world to find employment. Their permanent employer will be
      the government of Iran. Whether they are sent to combat to further enhance their skills or be placed into sleeper status until activation at a later date, only death will release them from their contractual obligations.

      Just as the PLO trained terrorist operatives from other nations, such is the function of these IRGC operations. The ultimate battlegrounds in the War on Terrorism will be Western Europe and North America. Avenues of approach have already been embedded through porous borders and covert extremist plots. Attacks will become more complex, more deadly, and will involve multiple cells attacking several targets at the same time.

      As the senior antiterrorism officer for all coalition forces in Iraq, I witnessed the advanced technology the Qods Force and the IRGC was providing to our Shia and Sunni adversaries. Because Iran totally subscribes to the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” we were on the receiving end of research and development coming out of Iran’s weapons laboratories.

      In light of this overwhelming threat, many wonder why the State Department continues to stall on an official terrorist designation for the IRGC. Unfortunately, the Department’s track record shows that its FTO list
      has become more as a political tool than an accurate portrayal of threats to the United States and its citizens. Case and point is the on-going willful failure to assign terrorist status to Iraqi rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi
      Army despite the overwhelming evidence that his organization killed hundreds of American service members in Iraq and pledges to kill more.

      State Department finally recognized that Iran was advancing its nuclear weapons development program when Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), the primary resistance organization to Tehran’s religious fundamentalists, exposed the covert operation to the world. Instead of condemning the regime, State Department’s solution was to negotiate. For a promise from Iran to cease the nuclear development operations, the Obama Administration agreed to ease
      sanctions and release $150-billion in frozen assets.

      Lifting of the sanctions was a political victory for Iran. Pressure from the Iranian population was reduced and Tehran proved its ability to out-negotiate Washington. The $150-billion windfall has been quickly put to use. Iran has been able to provide more funding and weapons to the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. The nuclear weapons research has not stopped in Iran any more than it stopped in North Korea following its nuclear weapons negotiations with the Clinton Administration.

      Terrorist organizations determine when and where they will attack. They only have to be successful part of the time. As subjects of the attacks, we must continuously keep our defenses up. As proven by previous administration’s failure to properly address the rise of ISIS, denying the intensity of a problem allows it to grow. It is time for President Trump to mandate that the State Department designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard
      Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and to treat it accordingly.

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    • Martin Edwin Andersen

      Please also see, “Unpunished U.S. Southern Command role in ’09 Honduran military coup” @

      I was personally present at a closed door meeting at the William Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies where senior officials advocated Argentine dirty “war” techniques (torture, murder) for Mexico.

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    • Grad Cuypers

      Literally the problem for the DOJ is that if @GuusjA is guilty, then the DOJ has to arrest the entire financial community, because all the DOJ or CFTC has to do is pull up a Trading Dom (Depth of Market) price ladder in anything from bonds, oil to S&P 500 futures and spoofing and many other volume based manipulative trading practices are regularly occurring right out in the open on a large scale.

      K2: “Ik leef nog. Misschien is dit een teken dat ik iets bijzonders met mijn leven moet doen.”—Jonge-vrijwilligers-helpen-in-Nepal.dhtml

      ZeroHedge: “A Global Deleveraging Crisis Is at Our Doorstep”.

      Dit is echter niet de insteek van de ‘gecontroleerde paradigma-wisseling’ naar het systeem ‘Leven en Laten Leven’. Het EU-parlement is namelijk nog steeds niet geïnformeerd dat de onderhandelingen tussen de EU en de VS over TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) eigenlijk gaat over ‘de timing’ met betrekking tot het officieel uitrollen van de ‘Logica van de 1’.

      Immers de interactie tussen Yanis Varoufakis en de duitse minister van financiën Wolfgang Schäuble wordt nu door het personeel van hotel GradjA getoetst aan de ‘Logica van de 1’ en dan zal netwerk Juncker de VN inlichten over …!?!?!?

      • Twee gerenommeerde Duitse denktanks (onderzoeksinstituten Ifo en de Bertelsmann Stichting) hebben gewaarschuwd voor de gevolgen, wanneer het Verenigd Koninkrijk zich gaat terugtrekken uit het systeem ‘Liegen om te Leven’.

    • Aimadigithat

      Drones are great.
      They follow the terrorist to his home and then blow up the whole family.
      That is better than killing only the terrorist, cos the islamic extremist indoctrination starts right after birth and so even for the children there is no hope for becoming a normal human being.
      Drones are great.

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    • Death to these Yankee Death Schools!!!

    • Robert Munro

      School of the Americas………..Security training for thugs of the Rothschild Cartel

      • dubinsky

        Munro….. big-time lunatic bigot

        and Depends wearer.

    • dubinsky

      just about a high school level essay.

      says zilch about what’s happening today

      • Robert Munro

        Hasbara-boy, School of the Americas is the training academy for the thugs of YOUR principal employers – the Rothschild Cartel – which owns the Central Banks of both Peru, Chile and the United States, among MOST other countries – EXCEPT those that are under attack by the United States.