Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Death Squads

A lot of bloggers were dismayed in April when Dubya selected John "Death Squads" Negroponte to be our next proconsul in Iraq. Here's what I wrote at the time:

Charming man. Charming. Perhaps Qusay's woodchipper is still lying around somewhere.

What a surprise to find out that death squads are now in the works for Iraq.

...NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report "utterly gratuitous.")

"Gratuitous" my ass.

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Gosh, this all worked so well in central America, let's do it again! And once again the Bushies prove that those who do not learn from history - and they do not, not surprising for an administration whose President firmly believes that the earth is 6,000 years old - are condemned to repeat it.

But there's a difference this time - an important one. Angry central Americans never conducted terrorist operations in the US in reprisal. Angry Muslims, on the other hand, do.

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