In the Name of Old Glory and the Good O’l USA
By Reinier Kanis
AMERICAN ATROCITIES ABROAD
BACKING UP THE CLOCK OF TIME (Continued)
Further evidence of American “Blowback” begin to surface in the deaths of in Buenos Aires and Santiago in the 70’s with the American Government backing military juntas.
The Americans in “Operation Condor,” in Salvador Allende in Chile (1973) saw the deaths of several thousand Americans.
American intervention going back as far as 1954 in Iran, and the American puppet state was born under a brutal dictator, Mohammed Mossadegh the Shah of Iran. This resulted in the “Blowback” of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Holding Americans for over a year, again it was told to American citizens, that they were dealing with today’s equivalent of an “axis of evil” and again Americans were just innocent targets.
The Americans still operate, mostly unknown the the American public a very interesting school.
US Army’s School of the Americas, founded in Panama in 1946 and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984 after Panamanian President Jorge Illueca called it “the biggest base for destabilization in Latin America” and evicted it. Its curriculum includes counterinsurgency, military intelligence, interrogation techniques, sniper fire, infantry and commando tactics, psychological warfare and jungle operations. In May 2000 the Clinton Administration sought to provide new camouflage for the school by renaming it the “Defense Institute for Hemispheric Security Cooperation” and transferring authority over it from the Army Department to the Defense Department.
The school has trained more than 60,000 military and police officers from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Among SOA’s most illustrious graduates are the dictators Manuel Noriega (now serving a forty-year sentence in an American jail for drug trafficking) and Omar Torrijos of Panama; Guillermo Rodrigues of Ecuador; Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru; Leopoldo Galtieri, former head of Argentina’s junta; and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. More recently, Peru’s Vladimiro Montesinos, SOA class of 1965, surfaced as a CIA asset and former President Alberto Fujimori’s closest adviser.
Our military operates the biggest arms sales operation on earth; it rapes girls, women and schoolchildren in Okinawa; it cuts ski-lift cables in Italy, killing twenty vacationers, and dismisses what its insubordinate pilots have done as a “training accident”; it allows its nuclear attack submarines to be used for joy rides for wealthy civilian supporters and then covers up the negligence that caused the sinking of a Japanese high school training ship; it propagandizes the nation with Hollywood films glorifying military service (Pearl Harbor); and it manipulates the political process to get more carrier task forces, antimissile missiles, nuclear weapons, stealth bombers and other expensive gadgets for which we have no conceivable use. Two of the most influential federal institutions are not in Washington but on the south side of the Potomac River–the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. Given their influence today, one must conclude that the government outlined in the Constitution of 1787 no longer bears much relationship to the government that actually rules from Washington. Until that is corrected, we should probably stop talking about “democracy” and “human rights.”
Now lets look at the Gulf War and the untold story of what happened there. Even though General McCaffery was decorated by the United States a four star Major General little did Americans know why. America is clearly guilty of war crimes on many occasions, below is just one example. The sad fact is the American Government is able to manipulate the trials of war crimes by other nations, but it is exempt from the same rules, and has the right to hide this all from the American public.
In June of 1990, as a two-star major general, McCaffrey was put in charge of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He was then forty-seven, and the Army’s youngest division commander. Two months later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and McCaffrey took the 24th’s tanks, guns, and more than eighteen thousand soldiers (eventually, there were twenty-six thousand) from its home base to Saudi Arabia in preparation for the Persian Gulf War. The 24th’s mission was to drive more than two hundred miles into Iraq — the famed “left hook” maneuver — and block the retreat of Iraqi forces from the war zone in Kuwait. In an account written after the war, U.S. News & World Report praised McCaffrey for leading what one officer called “the greatest cavalry charge in history.” More promotions came McCaffrey’s way, and he eventually earned four stars, the Army’s highest peacetime rank.
However, the untold story remains buried in American journals, and hidden from the public.
A few months after the division returned home, an anonymous letter accusing McCaffrey of a series of war crimes arrived at the Pentagon. It startled the Army’s top leadership and led to an official investigation into McCaffrey’s conduct of the war. The letter directly accused McCaffrey’s division of having launched the March 2nd assault without Iraqi provocation. A 24th Division combat unit was said to have “slaughtered” Iraqi prisoners of war after a battle. The letter was filled with information, including portions of what were said to be recorded communications between McCaffrey and his field commanders, that could have come only from the inner circle. The anonymous letter writer alleged that McCaffrey had covered up the extent of “friendly fire” casualties within his division, and claimed that he had chosen to award a combat badge to a close aide who had not served in a combat unit.
By midsummer of 1991, the 24th Division’s 1st Brigade had quietly investigated two earlier complaints at Fort Stewart about alleged atrocities, and determined that neither complaint had merit. The most serious allegation involved the shooting of prisoners by soldiers in the 1st Brigade. In one case, a soldier attached to a Scout platoon reported that more than three hundred and fifty captured and disarmed Iraqi soldiers, including Iraqi wounded who had been evacuated from a clearly marked hospital bus, were fired upon by a platoon of Bradley fighting vehicles. It was not known how many of the Iraqis survived, if any. The second accusation came from a group of soldiers assigned to the 124th Military Intelligence Battalion, whose senior sergeant claimed that on March 1st, the day after the ceasefire, he saw an American combat team open fire with machine guns upon a group of Iraqis in civilian clothes who were waving a white sheet of surrender. The precise number killed was not known, but eyewitnesses estimated that there were at least fifteen or twenty in the group, perhaps more. Neither alleged incident was reported by the 24th Division to the appropriate higher authorities, as was mandated by the Army’s operations order for the Gulf War.
The irony really is in the fact that what American citizens don’t complain about, Government officials close their eyes too. Why tell the truth if it might cause citizens to lose faith in their leaders? The following is a more detailed account of American violations that should be enough to make you sick to your gut.
John Brasfield had brought a small, inexpensive tape recorder to the Gulf and, while handling the radios on Lieutenant ALlen’s Humvee, routinely taped transmissions. He would ship some of the tapes home, he thought, and give his wife a glimpse of war. His tape recorder was running as Allen’s Humvee sped away from the prisoners, and from the bullets from the Bradleys’ machine guns. The recording, made available by Brasfield for this account, documents the young soldiers’ horror, anger, and, ultimately, resignation as the shooting went on. It’s not always clear who is speaking on the tape, amid the background noise of engines, radio squeals, and the crosscutting of situation reports, but James Manchester, after carefully listening to the tape, was able to distinguish his own voice in some of the exchanges, along with Kirk Allen’s and Brasfield’s. He also isolated the voice and call signs of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ware, the battalion commander.
“The lead company behind us is tearing up all those vehicles,” someone tells battalion headquarters as the recording begins. “I hope they understand what a Humvee looks Like,” he adds, referring to the indiscriminate firing in the direction of the Scouts.
A moment later, a Scout reports on the platoon radio net, “Twenty-five mikemike blowing approximately five hundred metres behind me with my ass end showing.” He’s telling Lieutenant Allen that machine-gun fire is trailing his Humvee. “You’re not supposed to be in that area,” Alien responds.
“There’s no one shooting at them,” another Scout says on the platoon net, referring to the Bradleys. “Why’d they have to shoot?”
Allen reports on Ware’s battalion net, “There’s shooting, but there’s no one there” — no combatants — “to shoot at.” Ware answers, “I understand,” and then asks a series of operational questions about maps.
Later, Manchester asks Allen, “Sir, what element is firing behind us?”
Allen: “I have no fucking idea.”
An unidentified Scout asks, “Why are we shooting at these people when they are not shooting at us?”
Brasfield: “They want to surrender…. Fucking armored vehicles [the Bradleys]. They don’t have to blow them apart.”
Sporadic firing continues. Someone asks Allen, “Why don’t you tell them, sir, that they are willing to surrender. Tell ’em that.” Someone else says, amid the noise,”It’s murder.”
Ware is on the radio when someone says, “We shot the guys we had gathered up.” Another voice interjects, “They didn’t have no weapons.” Ware calls for all firing to stop and then asks another question about routine battalion procedures.
“He heard it; he knew it,” Sergeant Mulig told me later, speaking of Ware. “But it didn’t register.”
James Testerman felt shame as he and his fellow-Scouts left the prisoners and fled. “I had fed these guys and got them to trust me,” he said. “The first two who came in were scared to death — afraid we were going to shoot them. We set them down and fed them M.R.E.s.” One of the Iraqis played the tough-guy role, Testerman went on. “He wouldn’t eat it — afraid we were going to poison him. So I took a bite of it, and gave it to him. The tough guy broke down, crying. I can only imagine what he thought” when the Bradleys “started shooting — that we were sending him to the slaughter.”
“You think about it,” he said. “All those people.”
Reading these full articles in full is highly recommended.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 10th 2003 so many of the links may be dead today.
Blowback (American Press)
The New Yorker
Overwhelming Force (American Press)