The political and economic problems afflicting the United States and its allies generate effects progressively more corrosive and self-destructive. From the bogus “war on terror” to fraudulent declarations on debt relief, they seem to flounder from one transparently desperate maneuver to the next. For the moment, poisoned by successive colonial interventions, their governments expect people to believe the absurd myth that they are defending “democracy” or the “homeland”.
The Guantanamo concentration camp, secret prisons at Diego Garcia and Bagram, and UK violations of European Human Rights law add detail to the broad pattern of events in Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. They all betray the essential sadism inherent in efforts by the US government and its allies to crush or control resistance. That brings into focus the ultimate purpose of Guantanamo, since from what ex-inmates have related it is clear the majority of the detainees there have nothing to do with “terrorism”.
Why Guantanamo and Posada Carriles?
That is not some terrible, muddle-headed bureaucratic mistake. The obvious purpose of the isolated torture camps at Guantanamo and elsewhere is to train torturers en masse for use against foreign and domestic resistance. For them, who they practice on is irrelevant.
Protecting the Cuban mass murderer Luis Posada Carriles falls well within overall US government policy based on State terrorism and torture. In contrast to the treatment of Posada Carriles, five brave Cubans remain imprisoned in the US on trumped-up espionage charges after exposing anti-Castro terrorist networks in Miami. While Posada Carriles is self-evidently a beneficiary of United States pro-terrorist policy, the five Cubans are equally clearly victims of its perverse injustice.
Much attention has focused on Posada Carriles’ role in the bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner in 1976. But little has been noted about his career as a torturer for Venezuelan governments allied closely with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. (1) The litany of his crimes throughout Latin America includes kidnappings, bombings, assassinations and torture -- all consistently supported by the United States government. The continuity of US protection of torturers and terrorists like Posada Carriles since World War Two is worth another look.
Saving Unit 731
In the aftermath of Japan's defeat in 1945, the US State War-Navy Coordinating Committee concluded that: “The value to the US of Japanese BW [bio-warfare] data is of such importance to national security as to far outweigh the value accruing from ‘war crimes’ prosecution. d) In the interests of national security it would not be advisable to make this information available to other nations as would be the case in the event of a ‘war crimes’ trial of Japanese BW experts.” (2) That decision to protect Japanese war criminals “in the interests of national security” so as to secure ascendancy in biological warfare research was part of a systematic effort by the US and its allies to recruit Japanese, German and other war criminals after 1945.
The Japanese scientists at Unit 731 practiced emergency surgical techniques on live prisoners of many nationalities without anesthetics. Their experiments on live prisoners -- including thousands of US and allied prisoners of war -- with infectious diseases like anthrax, typhoid, cholera and meningitis culminated in “field experiments” such as bombing the Chinese village of Congshan with bubonic plague. Tens of thousands of victims died agonizing deaths in the course of these “experiments”. For the US, it just added up to more valuable research for their armed forces, so they protected the Japanese scientists from prosecution.
Korea – “Our imperialism hasn't been a bad imperialism.”
The above quote of General Hodge, the commander of the US military government in Korea from 1945 to 1948, refers to a period in which he oversaw the murder and massacre of hundreds of thousands of Koreans resisting US occupation of their country. (3) The racist policy of imperialist State terror was executed under Hodge's orders by Japanese and quisling Korean war criminals recruited from Korea's wartime Japanese administration. In October 1948, US army officers allowed Japanese and Korean collaborators free rein to repress Korean army regiments who refused to take part in the massacres. Thousands were murdered, just as is happening now in Iraq with US-trained death squads targeting people suspected of ties to the resistance.
The policy of terror was continued during the Korean War. US Army General Ridgeway declared in 1951, “Shoot any civilian suspected of being a communist before they become prisoners.” (4) The massacres during the US occupation of Korea were the prelude to the gratuitous slaughter of civilians by United Nations forces throughout the Korean War.
The history of the use and protection of German, Japanese, and other war criminals by the United States and its allies is well documented. The careful treatment of Emperor Hirohito was emblematic. Particularly in Japan and South Korea, former war criminals were allowed to enter national politics. Expediency took precedence over justice. In any case, torture and terror have always been entrenched in the foreign policy and military practice of the US government and its allies.
Klaus Barbie -- linking Nazi and US terror
The case of Klaus Barbie is one of the most notorious examples of how the US government cynically used war criminals for its own purposes. After World War Two, Barbie escaped prosecution for the murder of over 4,000 thousand civilians and the deportation of over 7,000 Jews to concentration camps. In Lyon, France, where he eventually stood trial, Barbie was feared as a vicious sadist responsible for overseeing the arrest and torture of more than 14,000 resistance members -- “terrorists” in current US parlance.
With that track record, Barbie was recruited by the US authorities to work for them in US-occupied Germany. When the French authorities sought his arrest in 1956, the US government helped him escape to Bolivia where he assumed the name of Klaus Altmann. In the following decades, he came to work as an interrogator for repressive governments in Peru and Bolivia.
The 1970s was the era of Pinochet and Plan Condor, an international covert action program coordinated by the United States to attack dissident left-wing political groups in South America. It was the time of the Argentine “dirty war,” the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay, repression in Uruguay, and the Pinochet tyranny in Chile. Barbie was in his element. In Bolivia in 1980, he actively assisted the corrupt narcotics-based regime of General Meza Garcia take power. Klaus Barbie was finally extradited to France in 1983 and ultimately convicted in 1987 before dying in prison in 1991.
The pattern of US and allied government behavior towards individuals like Barbie and Posada Carriles, throughout multiple terrorist interventions around the world, could hardly be clearer. The US authorities and their allies value highly torturers and terrorists so long as their activities serve the desired ends. The Bush regime's current efforts to protect Posada Carriles, someone with a profile as a torturer and terrorist very similar to Klaus Barbie, are not an aberration. They are a tacit acknowledgement of a long-standing hypocritical norm.
toni solo is an activist based in Central America. He can be contact via www.tonisolo.net.
1) "Cronica de un terrorista del
imperialismo" by Modesto Emilio Guerrero,
www.argenpress.info, June 10th
2005. "Terroristas anti-cubanos: Escándalo Iran-Contras y otros crímenes,"
Prensa Latina, June 10th 2005.
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