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Rep. Rogers: Kidnapped Argentinian Babies Distract From Fight Against Al Qaeda

4:45 pm in Terrorism, Torture by Jeff Kaye

How nice that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican Congressman from Alabama Michigan, and 206 of his House GOP colleagues live in a country where political opponents are not disappeared, tortured, or murdered in the dead of night, their children stolen to be brought up by the very intelligence officers that disappeared them.

So maybe Rogers didn’t appreciate the criminal absurdity of his comments to the Washington Post on Friday May 13, after a House vote defeated a proposed amendment by Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY) on the declassification of U.S. intelligence files regarding the 1976 Argentine generals coup and the bloody seven year dictatorship that followed. According to the Post, Rogers “said declassifying them would distract U.S. spies from the fight against al-Qaida.”

A similar Congressional vote for declassification of documents related to Chile, in a 1999 amendment by Rep. Hinchey, which passed, led to the release of over 24,000 documents, and to accelerated investigations and prosecutions of state crimes in Chile. But the GOP, which voted largely on party lines to defeat the amendment on declassification of documents related to Argentina, made this vote into a bogus stand in support of the “war on terror.”

The vote comes only weeks after a trial has opened in Argentina, placing into the dock two former Argentine dictators, Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, for literally stealing babies during what has become known as Argentina’s “Dirty War.” A recently released document available via National Security Archive shows that the Chilean intelligence attaché to Buenos Aires estimated the number of dead and disappeared in Argentina as over 22,000 between 1975 and 1978 (original document PDF).

The Jurist summarized the baby stealing case against the dictators:

The two are accused in 34 separate cases of infants who were taken from mothers held in clandestine torture and detention centers, the Navy Mechanics School and Campo de Mayo army base. The case was opened 14 years ago at the request of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and includes as defendants five military judges and a doctor who attended to the detainees. The trial is expected to hear 370 witnesses and last up to a year. With the help of the Grandmothers’ DNA database, 102 people born to vanished detainees have recovered their true identities.

This is not the first trial of the criminal leaders of the former Argentine junta. Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was sentenced last year to life in prison for crimes against humanity. And just recently a former agent of the Argentine Secretariat of State Intelligence (SIDE), Miguel Angel Furci, was arrested and charged with human rights abuses, including kidnapping and torture. His trial starts this June. And there have been others brought up on charges and/or convicted as well.

The baby stealing charges are a particularly sickening part of the Dirty War history. As an AP story explained it, “the existence of babies belonging to people who officially no longer existed created a problem for the junta leaders.” So the solution was to falsify documents and arrange “illegal adoptions by people sympathetic to the military regime.” According to the indictment, there were hundreds of such “adoptions.”

American Complicity: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

The U.S. support for the Argentinian junta and Dirty War was part of a larger program known as Operation Condor, which operated throughout the Southern Cone, and was responsible for death squads and torture and a reign of terror throughout Latin America, as the right-wing operations spread northward into Central America in the 1980s.

Even though the U.S. government still seeks to hide documents implicating U.S. intelligence and other state agencies from complicity in the terrible crimes in Argentina, some documents have been released over the years. There’s a goodly collection of them at the National Security Archive website.

The documents include a formerly secret transcript of Henry Kissinger’s staff meeting during which he ordered immediate U.S. support for the new military regime, and Defense and State Department reports on the ensuing repression. The Archive has also obtained internal memoranda and cables from the infamous Argentina intelligence unit, Battalion 601, as well as the Chilean secret police agency, known as DINA, which was secretly collaborating with the military in Buenos Aires.

The documents record Washington’s initial reaction to the military takeover. I do want to encourage them. I don’t want to give the sense that they’re harassed by the United States,” Secretary of State Kissinger ordered his staff after his assistants warned him that the junta would initiate a bloodbath following the coup. According to the transcript, Kissinger’s top deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him two days after the coup that “we’ve got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long.”

Regarding that last quote, what Rogers actually said in full, according to the transcript (PDF) of Kissinger’s March 26, 1976 staff meeting, and following upon a discussion of how the regime would need U.S. financial support: “I think also we’ve got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long. I think they’re going to have to come down not only on the terrorists but on the dissidents of trade unions and their parties.”

Kissinger then tells Rogers, who suggests the U.S. might want to hold off on recognition of the junta, that he wants to “encourage” the generals: “I don’t want to give the sense that they’re harassed by the United States.” Rogers then rushes to assure him his reasoning wasn’t humanitarian, but simply that he was concerned about “public posture.”

The U.S. government is complicit in war crimes that have killed and tortured and disappeared many, many thousands of people, millions going back to Vietnam. But the U.S. population appears to be largely untouched by these crimes, insensate, living in fear, or complacent… it’s hard to say. In any case, those in this country, like Rep. Hinchey, and the many fine workers in human and civil rights organizations, will have to keep pounding on these issues.

Note: Eighteen Republicans did vote for Hinchey’s amendment, and seven Democrats voted against it. Twenty-three were listed as “Not Voting,” including, surprisingly, two liberal Democratic congresswomen from the Bay Area, Zoe Lofgren and Jackie Speier.

Making Guantanamo Permanent, and Other Portents

7:43 pm in Military, Terrorism, Torture by Jeff Kaye

A motley crew of Senate Republicans, joined by Sen. Lieberman, have introduced a bill to make Guantanamo a permanent “terrorist” prison. Once upon a time, this could have been dismissed as GOP posturing. But recent events suggest this is more likely a harbinger of the future fate of the US Naval prison, as President Obama has already pronounced that he will support indefinite detention of prisoners based on unchallenged U.S. executive fiat.

It’s hard to believe these GOP national security groupies, and their jester Lieberman, could really get this passed, much less signed by the President. But the ways things have been going, who would be ridiculed for thinking such things possible?

Human Rights First reports (H/T Barry Eisler):

Washington, D.C. — Legislation introduced today [11 May] in the Senate to force the Obama administration to declare Guantánamo a permanent prison for terror suspects will inspire America’s enemies and undermine the American justice system, a leading human rights group said.

U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Detaining Terrorists To Secure America Act” (S. 944) – legislation that would keep open the Guantánamo Bay terrorist detention facility for the detention and interrogation of current and future terrorism suspects. The legislation also permanently limits the transfer of detainees to foreign countries and prohibits funding for the construction of terrorist detention facilities within the United States.

A perpetual Guantanamo to match the indefinite detention policy enshrined by President Barack Obama is truly a sign of the debauched times in which we live, ruled by those whose lust for naked rule and capitalist gain are rarely hidden anymore. I presume, by the way, that the torture via isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, exploitation of fears, stress positions and drugs — all fine and “legal” thanks to the near-universal acceptance of the 2006 Army Field Manual on interrogation — will continue “forever” at Guantanamo as well.

The Terrorist Who Lived Happily Ever After — in Miami

I can tell you one person who will not be sent to Guantanamo, even though he was involved in bombing hotels and tourist spots in the 1990s. Luis Posada Carriles walked a free man out of a Texas courtroom last month, only weeks before another terrorist was shot in the head, “taken out” by the “heroes” of Seal Team Six. An article in the Mexican paper La Jornada, translated and reposted at The Nation. It was translated by Machetera/Tlaxcala describes more of Posada Carriles’ fascinating career:

In addition to working for the CIA, it’s worth recalling that Posada Carriles participated in the US-supported invasion of the Bay of Pigs; that he was an officer in the US Army and that in 1976 he moved to Venezuela to head the intelligence service in that country. That same year he was arrested after being accused of being the mastermind of the attack on the Cuban airliner, and escaped before facing a civil trial for what was at the time the worst terrorist act in the hemisphere. In 2001, he was arrested in Panama, for planning to kill Fidel Castro with 200 pounds of dynamite and C-4 explosives, in a university auditorium filled with students in 2000, but was pardoned by then–Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso in 2004, showing up a short time later in the United States. In 2005 he was arrested here, which led to the beginning of the process that ended last Friday in El Paso with his acquittal.

Posada Carriles walked on charges of immigration fraud and obstruction of justice, and not for any of his terrorist actions, for which he was never charged by American authorities. The U.S. ignores extradition requests to Venezuela. With the latest court decision, the ex-CIA terrorist can return to Miami and sip cocktails and be lionized by the anti-Castro crowd, and the host of SOF that live in southern Florida. It’s enough to make me fantasize about leading a Cuban team in the extrajudicial rendition of Posada Carriles back to Cuba, where he could face his victims in trial. (I can’t even allow my fantasies the vicarious bloodlust that many Americans seem to luxuriate in, by imagining my neat placement of a kill shot straight through the eyeball of a non-human, reviled villain, monster of all fantasies.)

Will the Obama administration and the pathetic Democratic Party supporters, who have set forth their belief in indefinite detention for those prisoners it deems “unlawful” enemy combatants, who have shown inordinate lust for murder as it tries to assassinate even U.S. citizens (Al-Awlaki), or blow up more and more “enemies” with Hellfire missiles from drone aircraft buzzing with death in the skies, will they hesitate to move against the U.S. population itself with terrorist prisons, indefinite detention for those deemed “terrorists”? Damn if we are not already more than half-way there now.

Torture is the new state religion. The arguments between those who find torture effective and those who find it ineffective are like the arguments between Catholics and Protestants in the seventeenth century, articulated with great passion and earnestness, but totally besides the point. Underlying the actual conflicts and debates is nothing more than a raw grab for power, as the U.S. seeks greater instruments of repression at home and abroad in the name of securing the world for U.S. plunder for the greater good of a small clique of corporations and a coterie of military men, academics, and spies that keep the wheels of the machine well-oiled and ready to strike.

Bravo, Senators Ayotte, Graham, Lieberman, Chambliss, Brown, and Rubio. You have brought the logic of the “war on terror” to its true purpose. You have struck at the heart of the matter, and like the loyal knights-errant of a previous era, your adventures bring back to the King matter for great celebration at the castle. I know you will be well-rewarded.