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Re: [casi] Background info : Iraq, laboratory of new methodes of counter-insurrection

Flash Back/Background info : Iraq, laboratory of new methodes of

So far, so bad - the historical track of "Textbook Repression"


CAQ - Covert Action Quarterly

Textbook Repression:
US Training Manuals Declassified

by Lisa Haugaard


Several recently declassified US military training manuals show how US
agents taught repressive techniques and promoted the violation of human
rights throughout Latin America and around the globe. The manuals provide
the paper trail that proves how the US trained Latin American and other
militaries to infiltrate and spy upon civilians and groups, including
unions, political parties, and student and charitable organizations; to
treat legal political opposition like armed insurgencies; and to circumvent
laws on due process, arrest, and detention. In these how-to guides, the US
advocates tactics such as executing guerrillas, blackmail, false
imprisonment, physical abuse, using truth serum to obtain information, and
paying bounties for enemy dead. Counterintelligence agents are advised that
one of their functions is "recommending targets for neutralization," a
euphemism for execution or destruction.

On September 20, 1996, the Pentagon released seven training manuals prepared
by the US military and used between 1987 and 1991 for intelligence training
courses in Latin America and at the US Army School of the Americas (SOA),
where the US trains Latin American militaries. The Bush administration
withdrew the manuals in 1991 because of belated concerns about their content
and conducted an internal investigation. The manuals, however, were kept
under wraps.

The Pentagon press release accompanying a selection of excerpts from the
manuals downplayed their significance, citing the conclusions of the 1991-92
investigation that "two dozen short passages in six of the manuals, which
total 1,169 pages, contained material that either was not or could be
interpreted not to be consistent with US policy." The SOA also played a
damage control game, describing the manuals as merely containing several
passages with "words or phrases inconsistent with US government policy." The
problem with the seven Army manuals, however, is not a few stray words but a
deeplyanti-democratic framework. Moreover, they were not the only ones.

In a separate quest for information on US connections to the training of
Honduran Battalion 316 that disappeared some 200 people in the 1980s, the
Baltimore Sun had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for US
training manuals used in Honduras. In January 1997, right after the
Baltimore Sun threatened to sue over lack of response to its FOIA request,
the US government released twoCIA manuals that contained even more heinous
material than the seven Army manuals.

Then, on March 6, the Washington Post ran a story revealing that the seven
Army manuals had even deeper roots. They were based on an older set of
training materials known as "Project X," written by US Army experts starting
in 1965. The Joint Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program used Project X to
train US allies in Vietnam, Iran, Latin America, and other parts of the
world. With this parentage established, it became irrefutable that the seven
Army manuals were not an aberration. Rather, they were but one part of a
consistent lending library on repressive techniques used by the United
States to train foreign militaries. Prepared by the US military and used
between 1987 and 1991 for intelligence training courses in Latin America and
at the SOA, the seven texts drew from lesson plans school instructors had
been using since 1982 and incorporated material going back to the 1960s. The
manualsdirectly contradict the often issued official excuse that SOA
graduates who perpetrated many of the worst massacres of the hemisphere were
"a few bad apples" who did not reflect school teachings or US policy.

They were released as the result of extensive public and congressional
pressure. The first official mention came in the president's advisory
Intelligence Oversight Board's June 1996 report on Guatemala, which was made
public in response to the high level ofpressure from human rights and
grassroots organizations. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), interested because
of his championship of a bill to close the SOA, then asked the
administration to declassify the manuals in their entirety.

The manuals' discovery has helped reinvigorate grassroots, religious, and
congressional efforts to close the US Army School of the Americas. It proves
on paper what so many have said for so long that US training contributed to
the devastating human rights violations in the region. Although Latin
American militaries were perfectly capable of violating human rights and
democratic principles without US sponsorship, the anti-democratic training
methods advocated by the US provided at the very least a green light for
repression. And for decades, the traffic was heavy. Techniques of control
contained in the manuals were actively adopted by Latin American militaries,
particularly in the 1970s and 1980s; in Chile's and Argentina's "dirty wars"
in which thousands of dissidents disappeared; bymilitary dictatorships in
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay; in the Central American wars, where tens of
thousands of civilians were killed; and in the Andean countries, where human
rights violations still abound. In most cases, the militaries being trained
not only suppressed armed rebellion but also repressed democratic, civic


The paper trail begins with the mysterious "Project X." Like the Army
manuals, the Project X materials "suggested militariesinfiltrate and
suppress even democratic political dissident movements and hunt down
opponents in every segment of society in the name of fighting Communism,"
according to the Washington Post.

At least some of these teaching materials were pulled from circulation by
the Carter administration, which was concerned they would contribute to
human rights abuses in Latin America. In 1982, the Reagan administration
asked the SOA to rush out a new counterintelligence course for Latin
American militaries. The instructor asked to develop the course, Capt. Vic
Tise, turned to Project X materials, stored at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and
updated them into lesson plans.

In 1987, the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade took the SOA lesson plans
and turned them into textbooks: Handling of Sources, Guerillas and Communist
Ideology, Counter- intelligence, Revolutionary War, Terrorism and the Urban
Guerilla, Interrogation, Combat Intelligence, and Analysis I. These manuals
were then used by US trainers in Latin Americaand distributed to Latin
American intelligence schools in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador,and Peru.
They came full circle back to the SOA in 1989 when they were reintroduced as
reading materials in military intelligence courses attended by students from
Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Mexico, Peru,and Venezuela. The US government estimates that as
many as 1,000 copies may have been distributed at the SOA and throughout
Latin America.

>From start to finish, six of the seven Army manuals are how-to-guides on
repressive techniques. Throughout their 1,100 plus pages, there are few
mentions of democracy, human rights, or the rule of law. Instead, there are
detailed techniques for infiltrating social movements,interrogating
suspects, surveillance, maintaining military secrecy, recruiting and
retaining spies, and controlling the population. While the excerpts released
by the Pentagon to the press are a useful and not misleading selection of
the most egregious passages the ones most clearly advocating torture,
execution, and blackmail they do not reveal the manuals' highly
objectionable framework. In the name of defending democracy, the manuals
advocate profoundly undemocratic methods. Just as objectionable as the
methods they advocate is the fundamental disregard for the differences
between armed insurgencies and lawful political and civic opposition an
attitude that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Latin American


The Counterintelligence manual, for example, defines as
potentialcounterintelligence targets "local or national political party
teams, or parties that have goals, beliefs or ideologies contrary or in
opposition to the National Government," or "teams or hostile organizations
whose objective is to create dissension or cause restlessness among the
civilian population in the area of operations." This text recommends that
the army create a "blacklist" of "persons whose capture and detention are of
foremost importance to the armed forces." It should include not only "enemy
agents" but also "subversive persons," "political leaders knownor suspected
as hostile toward the Armed Forces or the political interests of the
National Government," and "collaborators and sympathizers of the enemy,"
known or suspect.

Throughout, the manuals highlight refugees and displaced persons as possible
subversives to be monitored. They describe universities as breeding grounds
for terrorists, and identify priests and nuns as terrorists. They advise
militaries to infiltrate youth groups, student groups, labor unions,
political parties, and community organizations.

Even electoral activity is suspect: The insurgents "can resort to subverting
the government by means of elections in which the insurgents cause the
replacement of an unfriendly government official to one favorable to their
cause"; "insurgent activity" can include funding campaigns and participating
in political races as candidates.

One of the most pernicious passages, in Combat Intelligence, lists ways to
identify guerrilla presence. "Indicators of an imminent attack by guerillas"
include demonstrations by minority groups, reluctance by civilians including
children to associate with US or their local troops, celebrations of
national or religious festivals, or the presence of strangers. "Indicators
of control by guerillas" over a certain civilian population include the
refusal to provide intelligence to government forces or the construction of
new houses. Indications that insurgents are conducting psychological
operations include accusations of government corruption, circulating
petitions, attempts to discredit thegovernment or armed forces, calling
government leaders US puppets, urging youth to avoid the draft,
demonstrations or strikes, or accusations of police or army brutality. As a
helpful hint, this manual recommends drawing maps using different colors to
depict the civilian population as "loyal to the government," "ambivalent,"
"possibly loyal to the insurgents," and "areas controlled by the


The few allusions to legal and human rights considerations appear to have
been added after the fact or in a superficial manner. Mention of the Geneva
Convention is inserted at the beginning of Interrogation, while
Counterintelligence, when dealing with interrogation techniques, repeatedly
refers to the rights of the suspect. In most of the manuals, however,
discussion of rights is not integrated into the text or is contradicted in
other passages. In some cases, human rights conventions are distorted.
Readers are taught, for example, that an insurgent "Does not have a legal
status as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention,"implying that there
are no international conventions covering humane treatment.

In most of the discussions of techniques, however, legal considerations are
simply absent. Over and over, the manuals treat detention without noting
proper procedures for obtaining admissible evidence or for arresting or
bringing suspects to trial. There is no mention of warrants or the right to
contact an attorney or of any comparable local laws. Indeed, it is
recommended throughout that detainees be kept in isolation, often it isclear
from the descriptions in several manuals in clandestine jails. Interrogators
are advised to use false names. Few distinctions are made between the
treatment of armed guerrillas and civilians. At no time do the manuals state
that the person detained or arrested must first be suspected of having
committed a crime or even be told the reason for the arrest. The only
rationale needed for arrest or detention is that the intelligence agent
wants information the detainees may have.


Civil society and government, too, are often viewed simply as impediments to
military control. With no mention of the propriety of the practices, a
number of the manuals advocate controlling information through censorship as
well as by spying on and infiltrating civilian groups. In general, the
population is a source of information at best, an enemy force at worst. The
civilian government fares little better; it is one more entity to be
reported on or pushed aside. Ways to impose curfews, military checkpoints,
house-to-house searches, ID cards, and rationing are presented without
reference tolaws or the role of the legislature. Indeed, there is little
discussion of the proper relationship between a civilian government and
military authorities.

Much more effort is put into the role of the army in quashing revolutionary
tendencies. Several of the manuals teach militaries and intelligence
services how insurgencies develop and how to control them. The description
of the former is generally simplistic and dated, with few references to the
role officialrepression plays in fueling insurrection. The brief histories
of El Salvador and Guatemala, for example, in Terrorism and the Urban
Guerilla skip over repression, human rights violations, or problems in
democratic governance that contributed to the growth of revolutionary
movements. Insurgents are reduced to manipulators of popular discontent, in
thrall to Soviet-style Marxism.

While Combat Intelligence offers a more sophisticated explanation of the
underlying reasons for revolutionary movements such as
the strains created by rapid modernization, the existence of corrupt elites
and government repression neither this manual nor any other suggests steps a
civilian government might take as a political response to popular
discontent. There is no limitation on when to use military and
counterintelligence methods.


The two recently declassified CIA manuals make even more chilling reading.
The CIA had written KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation in 1963 for use
by US agents against perceived Soviet subversion. (KUBARK was the CIA's
codename for itself.) While it was not intended to train foreign military
services, its successor, Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual 1983,
which drew heavily on material in KUBARK, was used in at least seven US
training courses conducted in Latin American countries between 1982 and
1987, according to a June 1988 memo placed inside the manual. This 1983
manual originally surfaced in response to a June 1988 congressional hearing
which was prompted by allegations by the New York Times that the US had
taught Honduran military officers who used torture.The 1988 hearing was not
the first time such manuals had surfaced. In 1984, a CIA manual for training
the Nicaraguan Contras in psychological operations created a considerable

These two CIA textbooks deal exclusively with interrogation and devote an
entire chapter each to "coercive techniques." Human Resource Exploitation
recommends surprising suspects in the predawn hours, arresting,
blindfolding, and stripping them naked. Suspects should be held
incommunicado, it advises, and deprived of normal routines in eating and
sleeping. Interrogation rooms should be windowless, soundproof, dark, and
without toilets. The manuals do admonish that torture techniques can
backfire and that the threat of pain is often more effective than pain
itself. However, they then go on to describe coercive techniques "to induce
psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force
to bear on his will to resist." These techniques include prolonged
constraint, prolonged exertion, extremes of heat, cold, ormoisture,
deprivation of food or sleep, disrupting routines, solitary confinement,
threats of pain, deprivation of sensory stimuli, hypnosis, and use of drugs
or placebos.

According to the Baltimore Sun, "the methods taught in the 1983 manual and
those used by [the US-trained Honduran] Battalion 316 in the early 1980s
show unmistakable similarities." The paper cites the case of Ines Murillo, a
Honduran prisoner who claimed she was held in secret jails in 1983, given no
food or waterfor days, and kept from sleeping by having water poured on her
head every ten minutes.

Dismissive of the rule of law, Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual
1983 states the importance of knowing local laws on detention but then
notes, "Illegal detention always requires prior [headquarters] approval."
The manual also refers to one or two weeks of "practical work" with
prisoners as part of the course, suggesting that US trainers may have worked
with Latin American militaries in interrogating actual detainees. This
reference gives new support to the claims by Latin Americans held as
prisoners and by US nun Dianna Ortiz, tortured by the Guatemalan army in
1989, that US personnel were present in interrogation and torture rooms.

In 1985, in a superficial attempt to correct the worst of the 1983 manual, a
page advising against using coercive techniques was inserted and handwritten
changes were haphazardly introduced into the text. For example, "While we do
not stress the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of
them and the proper way to use them," has been coyly altered to, "While we
deplore the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them
so that you may avoid them." But the entire chapter on coercive techniques
is still included, again with some items crossed out. Throughout, the reader
can easily read the original underneath the "corrected" items. These
corrections were made in response to the 1984 scandal when the CIA training
manual for the Contras hit the headlines.

The second manual, KUBARK CounterintelligenceInterrogation, is clearly the
source of much of the 1983 manual; some passages are lifted verbatim. KUBARK
has a similar section on coercive techniques, and includes some even more
abhorrent elements, such as two references to the use of electric shock. For
example, one passage requires US agents toobtain "prior Head- quar- ters
approval ... if bodily harm is to be inflicted," or "if medical, chemical,
or electrical methods" are to be used. A third condition for obtaining prior
approval is, ominously, whited out.


Various administrations have tried to smooth the waters of public outrage
when training manuals were discovered the Nicaraguan Contra and Honduras
manuals in the 1980s, now the Army and CIA manuals with a combination of
spin control and cosmetic change. In late 1991, under the Bush
administration, the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence Oversight launched an investigation into the seven Army
manuals. The resulting report to the congressional intelligence committees
concluded that the manuals' authors and SOA instructors"erroneously assumed
that the manuals, as well as the lesson plans, represented approved
doctrine." When interviewed by the investigators, the manuals' authors
claimed that they believed intelligence oversight regulations applied only
to Americans and not to the training of foreign personnel in other words,
that US instructors could teach abusive techniques to foreign militaries
that they could not legally perform themselves.

The Bush administration ordered the retrieval and destruction of the
manuals, and the US Southern Command advised Latin American governments that
the handbooks did not represent official US policy. However, the whole
episode was treated as an isolated incident. The individuals responsible for
writing and teaching the lesson plans were not disciplined, nor were the
authors and instructors who believed teaching human rights violations was
consistent with US policy retrained.

In 1992, the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence Oversight did issue recommendations that "the Joint Staff
should establish a policy to ensure that intelligence and
counterintelligence training for foreign military personnel by Combatant
Commands is consistent with US and DoD policy," and that training materials
should go through proper channels for approval. However, these
recommendations were never enforced.


While none of the manuals was written or usedon the Clinton administration's
watch, the administration so far has failed to send a clear message
repudiating such training methods and to take decisive action to ensure that
such materials are never developed again. On February 21, 1997, the
Department of Defense's inspector general completed another investigation.
It admitted that in creating and using the seven army manuals "from 1982
through early 1991, many mistakes were made and repeated by numerous and
continuously changing personnel in several organizations from Panama to
Georgia to Washington, D.C." Without apparent irony, the report concludes
that there is no "evidence that a deliberate and orchestrated attempt was
made to violate DOD or U.S. Army policies."

The report claims that because these numerous US personnel did not know that
it was against US policy to train Latin American militaries to use threats
or force with prisoners, "neutralize" opponents, hold prisoners in
clandestine jails, and infiltrate and spy upon civilian organizations and
opposition political parties all techniques described in the manuals no
disciplinary action was deemed necessary. The report, which Rep. Kennedy
termed a "whitewash" and "hogwash," does not examine any systemic problem
that might have led to "numerous and continuously changing personnel" over a
ten-year period lacking a working knowledge of human rights. *26 Thus, the
report fails to assign either individual or collective responsibility for
training Latin American militaries to violate human rights and use
profoundly anti-democratic methods.

While the report concludes that the lessonplans and manuals somehow escaped
oversight and could not be read because they were in Spanish, Rep. Kennedy's
own investigation reveals these as mere dog-ate-my-homework excuses.
Kennedy's report states that SOA instructors sent their lesson plans to Fort
Huachuca and to at least two offices in Washington to be reviewed, although
the question of whether they were approved in Washington continues to be
disputed. Moreover, the materials were approved for use in English before
being translated into Spanish.

The report does demonstrate that little was done to implement the
recommendations stemming from the 1991 investigation. In three agencies to
which they were simply circulated as a memo, there was no record of it
having even been received. In three others, it was received but did not
result in any increase in oversight of foreign military and intelligence
training. However, the report merely calls for the memo to be reissued as a
"directive," rather than stimulating a serious discussion within the
military and setting up workable oversight mechanisms.

All of the investigations into the various sets of manuals have been
hampered by their basic premise: the disingenuous assumption that these
manuals did not represent official US policy and somehow slipped through the
cracks. But it was official US policy to train and arm repressive forces in
Latin America, Vietnam, and other developing countries. The manuals fit
squarely within that framework. The slow, piecemeal surfacing of these
manualsand the limited investigations at each point suggest that there may
be many other inappropriate training materials still in circulation.
Materials from the most intense days of the Cold War in the 1960s, which
should never have been created in the first place, kept on being repackaged
and reused despite a series of and scandals investigations that should have
forced a full-scale review. That these manuals were used until recently in
this hemisphere, however, is hardly shocking. They merely confirm what many
long knew about US support for repressive militaries in Latin America. They
prove that the United States not only provided the guns and the money for
repression; the United States also supplied the textbooks.

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