George W. Bush’s “State of the Union” Address, January 28, 2003

 Part III


The US and Terrorists

In addition to the active support to the dictators and state terrorism, the US has given refuge to those involved in terrorist activities. Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch were involved in the bombing of a Cubana Airlines Flight 455 on October 6, 1976 killing 73 people on board. Among the killed were six young Guyanese students on their way to Cuba to study medicine and the entire Cuban Olympic fencing team. The National Security Archive on May 18, 2005 posted documents that show that the CIA had concrete advance intelligence, as early as June of 1976, on plans by Cuban exile terrorist groups to bomb a Cubana Airliner. According to another document posted by The National Security Archive, the FBI’s attaché in Caracas had multiple contacts with one of the Venezuelans who placed the bomb on the plane, and provided him with a visa to the US five days before the bombing, despite suspicions that he was engaged in terrorist activities at the direction of Luis Posada.

Luis Posada, a Cuban-born Venezuelan national and an opponent of Fidel Castro, was tried and convicted in Venezuela of organizing the bombing. After serving eight years in a Venezuela prison, he escaped on August 18, 1985. Both Luis Posada and Bosch have been given refuge in the US. Venezuela’s request for their extradition to face charges for the bombing of the Cubana Airlines has been rejected not only by successive US governments, but also by the US courts in violation of the US-Venezuela extradition treaty dating back to 1922. The US-Venezuela extradition treaty obligates the US to immediately extradite any Venezuelan national in the US, who has been indicted on murder charges in his (or her) home jurisdiction. Ironically, the US allowed Posada, a terrorist, to serve in the US Army. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant at Fort Benning, Georgia. Declassified CIA and FBI documents reveal the extent of Posada’s violent career: smuggling arms, running drugs, plotting coups, working with Augusto Pinochet’s dreaded secret police, and assisting in the Contra war against Nicaragua. When the FBI and the US Justice Department wanted to deport Posada as they perceived him a threat to the national security, President George H.W. Bush granted him a presidential pardon. This is a proof of the US hypocrisy of being a champion against terrorism. The US history has been consistently clear about its use of terrorists against its enemies and providing safe haven to some of them. Unashamedly President George W. Bush declared at the National Endowment for Democracy that “the United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support them, because they are equally as guilty of murder…(and) the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.” This not only convicts successive US administrations, but also characterizes the US as an “uncivilized” country. Unconsciously G.W. Bush was again right when he declared in the State of the Union on January 28, 2003 that “the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.”

US has a long record of supporting terrorist organizations to further its perceived strategic interests. After the downfall of the US supported dictator Shah of Iran, containing the influence of Iran in West Asia has become a major US foreign policy objective. In order to achieve this goal, the US is making use of several terrorist organizations to carry out covert attacks inside Iran. In April of 2007 the ABC News journalists Brian Ross and Christopher Isham reported that the US was funding a terrorist group Jundullah or Allah’s Brigade to carry out strikes inside Iran. According to them, its leader Abdul Malik Regi, a former Taliban member, was alleged to be involved in large-scale narcotics trafficking through Iranian exiles with connections in West Asia and Europe.

The Report of the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime points to the interlink between drug trafficking and terrorism. The CIA’s role in the expansion of opium cultivation in Afghanistan may be found in the book “Whiteout, the CIA, Drugs and the Press” by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn. Opium production has skyrocketed since the US occupied the country by toppling the Taliban regime in 2001. Opium cultivation steadily increased: 30,750 hectares of poppy in 2002, 61,000 hectares in 2003, 104,000 hectares in 2005, 165,000 hectares in 2006, and 193, 000 hectares in 2007 compared with 7,606 in 2001 under the ousted Taliban rule. While the Bush administration repeatedly claimed that it was committed to curbing the Afghan drug trade, statistics prove that the US occupation has served to restore rather than eradicate the drug trade. Afghanistan now supplies about 92 percent of the world’s illicit opium. Opium trade has a good market in US and Europe. Over 95 percent of the revenues generated by this lucrative contraband accrues to business syndicates, organized crime and banking and financial institutions. The benefit of drug trade to US and Europe is twofold: their banking and financial institutions receive billions of dollars annually; and by supporting poppy cultivation and drug trade they get the loyalty of terrorist organizations without much expenditure to buy that loyalty.  

 In February of 2007 Jundullah set off a bomb in the Iranian city Zahedan which killed at least eleven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Iranian state television showed the confession of an alleged perpetrator, Nasrollah Shamsi Zehi, that he was trained at a secret camp in Pakistan. Media reports suggest that the US is also supporting another extremist organization, Mujahideen-e-Khalq, for attacks against Iran. This organization was involved in the 1991 anti-Shia massacres in Iraq. It was designated as a global terrorist organization in 1997. Another terrorist organization that the US is using to carry out attacks against Iran is a Kurdish terrorist group, Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane, or Party of Free Life of Kurdistan.   

Training and Torture

The US through the CIA has maintained its presence and control by training military forces and police of other countries. The most prominent among the training schools is the School of the Americas. This was located in Panama from 1946 to l954 and later shifted to Fort Benning, Georgia. It still remains there. Its name was changed in 2001 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). This institute is the Defense Department’s main Spanish language training facility. It says that it trains civilian, military and law enforcement students and holds the promotion of democracy at the core of its mission. However, George Monbiot links this school to terrorism by giving details of its numerous atrocities. He contends that “the evidence linking the school to continuing atrocities in Latin America is rather stronger than the evidence linking the al-Qaeda training camps to the attack on New York.” Some of the alumni have been the most brutal military dictators and human rights violators in Latin America over the past five decades: Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua; Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina; Generals Hector Gramajo and Manuel Antonio Callejas of Guatemala, Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia, and the El Salvador death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson.

Training manuals used in courses cover methods of political control and interrogation that includes torture. The US torture training and technology has been spread among its client countries. It is alleged: “The US firms and agencies are providing CN and CS gas grenades, anti-riot gear, fingerprint computers, thumbscrews, leg-irons and electronic “Shock-Batons” among a huge flow of equipment, training, and technical support to the police and paramilitary forces most directly involved in the torture, assassination, and abuse of civilian dissidents.”

The US has not only been actively engaged in training paramilitary forces and police of other countries in torture, but also overtly and covertly supported it. As Philip Agee admitted, “I was myself involved in some of these activities. I worked, for example, with the police in Latin American countries, and they were often involved in torture. I remember one Sunday morning in the office of the chief of police during a state of siege in Montevideo. My boss, the CIA chief of station in Uruguay was present, along with the local army colonel in charge of anti-riot forces. We began to hear a low moaning coming through the walls and, at first, I thought it was a street vendor outside. But then it became clear that it was someone being tortured in another part of the building. As this horrible sound became louder and louder, the police chief told the colonel to turn up a radio in order to drown out the groans and screams.”

Commenting on the relationship between pain and language, Elaine Scarry says that extreme pain has the capacity to destroy a victim’s ability to speak: “Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned.” Teresa Godwin Phelps writes, “the torture victim is reduced to prelanguage screams and moans that are not heard or acknowledged by anyone.” For the torturer, torture is “the visible manifestation of power.” Through torture the torturer deconstructs and destroys the language of the victim and takes him/her back to the prelanguage stage of life. Through prolonged interrogation of the victim the torturer reconstructs the language of the victim, where the latter starts speaking the “language of the torturer”. By deconstructing and destroying the voice of the victim, the torturer reconstructs it and produces his/her voice (torturer’s voice) as the voice of the victim. In addition to that, through torture the torturer also sends a message to the victim that “he had the power as well as authority to recognize their (victims’) worthlessness and to decide their fate to the point of destroying them.”

Thus, dictatorships that do not have popular support use torture as a means to not only suppress the voice of opposition, but also deny victims their human dignity and worth. The Report of the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared notes: “After all, what else were these tortures but an immense display of the most degrading and indescribable acts of degradation, which the military government, lacking all legitimacy in power, used to secure power over a whole nation?”

Torture violates international law. The (non-binding) Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlawed it in 1948. The four 1949 Geneva Conventions then banned any form of “physical or mental coercion” and affirmed that detainees must at all times be treated humanely. Then in 1984, the UN Convention Against Torture became the first binding international instrument dealing exclusively with the issue of banning torture in any form for any reason.

However, the US has perceived its torture training and technology as a help in maintaining peace and democracy. Robert McNamara considered that the US was training soldiers and police of other countries as a democratizing force. However, Edward Herman retorts: “The 18 military coups in Latin America between 1960 and 1968 suggest the enormity of McNamara’s misperception of reality (or deception of Congress). There is a large body of evidence showing that U.S. training has given not the slightest nod toward either democratic values or human rights.” One can discern from reading McCoy’s expose’ of human torture committed by the US since 1950 that the US is far from being a champion of human dignity, freedom and rights.

Thus, Bush’s declaration in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003 that in the twentieth century the US with its allies had defeated “small groups of men (who were cruel and) seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world” unashamedly ignores the US’ history of support to dictators and terrorism. Through the years, even the corporate media has never bothered about the CIA’s functioning as a global terrorist organization, ousting democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and funding, training and equipping secret paramilitary armies, death squads and terrorist organizations.


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