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Death Squads OK By Asman & Guest

Reported by Nancy - January 13, 2005 -

Earlier this week (1/10) on FNL there was an interview by David Asman that was so appalling I feel it deserves a post all its own.

At 12:44pm, citing the "Salvador option" article in Newsweek, David Asman interviewed Linda Robinson (US News & World Report, & author of "Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces"). Robinson denied the whole thesis of the Newsweek article, saying the situation was "just the opposite, the squads in El Salvador were opposing the death squads." Asman commented, "Incredible, you'd think Newsweek would check before" making charges like that [comment: this was in the context of numerous blurbs & segments about CBS/Memogate]. Robinson eventually admitted there was a "kernel of truth" to it, saying the US military is making an "effort to expand special forces training & advising" functions. She approvingly cited Afghanistan as an example of where the US military is doing "special forces training & advising" with some success. Asman said that the "kernel of truth is the only thing," so the "rest is just plain wrong, not true?" & Robinson said "Right." Asman then tried to explain that the US military is just trying to "protect Iraqis" & Robinson expanded on that, saying the "role [of the US military] is to work hand-in-hand with locals" such as Kurdish Peshmurga fighters & Shiite militia to get them up to a "professional" level. Asman ended with a promo for Robinson's book, saying "this book really does hail the good work being done."

General Comments: Where to begin? Are FNL viewers so ill-informed that they won't remember Iran-Contra? Perhaps they're simply so young that they won't have read about it yet in school? The US military's School of the Americas was infamous for training thousands of murderous thugs & setting them loose throughout South America; the "death squads" in El Salvador were just one example of US foreign policy at its worst. Here's a brief history from the School of the Americas Watch website:

The School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" (WHISC) is a military training facility established in Panama in 1946, ostensibly "to bring stability to Latin America." In 1984 the SOA was kicked out of Panama and was quietly resettled at Ft. Benning, GA. Here it operates at a cost to US taxpayers of millions of dollars annually. During its 60 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counter-insurgency techniques, interrogation tactics, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, and military intelligence.

Frequently dubbed the "School of Assassins," graduates have terrorized, tortured, raped, "disappeared," and massacred tens of thousands of Latin Americans. Their primary targets being educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, indigenous populations, and those who advocate for the rights of the poor.

Robinson is disingenuous at best, & dishonest at worst, to pretend that the "forces" the US trained in El Salvador were anything but the "deaths squads" so aptly described by the Newsweek writers. Further, her advocacy (& she *did* advocate, by the tone of approval in her comments) of the use of Kurds & Shiites to "hunt down" Sunnis is a direct call for civil war. She cites US support of opium-growing warlords in Afghanistan as a good thing. Last but not least, her so-called "secret history" is an *authorized* version, for which she apparently had the full cooperation of the military; you have to wonder just how "fair & balanced" a book it is.

As for Asman, predictably he was all flag-waving, gung-ho, & rah-rah. I wonder whether he ever actually served in the military, or if this is just a vicarious thrill for another chickenhawk? Staff bios on the foxnews.com website are -- how shall I put it? -- brief, & non-inclusive of little details like educational background & prior military service.

Then of course there's the "Fair & Balanced" issue. Why not also interview someone who's critical of US Special Forces ops? Or someone who's been on the receiving end of them? Perhaps a victim of the torturers trained at SOA?

You can read the original Newsweek article , or the Christian Science Monitor which has a summary plus links to related commentary & articles.