U.S. has a 45-year
history of torture

by A.J. Langguth, L.A. Times
May 5, 2009

A.J. Langguth in Vietnam

It is, no doubt, very difficult for most Americans to believe that their country is looked upon by millions and millions of people outside its borders mostly the poor of the earth as an OPPRESSOR nation; nonetheless, that's the truth of the matter AND THERE ARE VERY GOOD REASONS FOR THIS, reasons which are well known outside the borders of our country, as attested to by Sean MacBride, the former Foreign Minister of Ireland and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient:

"I came to understand that all the values that made me admire the American people were being eroded by the covert operations of the CIA and kindred secret bodies ... The survival of this great (nation) ... is now being gravely threatened by the covert criminal actions of the Central Intelligence Agency and its associate services ... Democracy and the rule of law cannot survive side by side with a state agency that engages in covert operations ranging from assassinations to levying mercenary armies to directing lethal biological weapons experiments and public health policies ... The whole concept of a secret government and army within a government is a menace to the democratic system."

That such sentiments are common OUTSIDE America's borders have been very carefully concealed from the American people by the elite media INSIDE our borders.

BUT WHAT IS EVEN MORE HORRIFYING IS THE PARTICIPATION OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH IN THE ATROCITIES THE UNITED STATES IS VISITING ON THE POOR OF THE EARTH. We URGE you to read our articles, "The Death Squads: Bringing In The Kingdom Of God Through Terror, Torture And Death," "The Horror Of John Dimitri Negroponte And Everything He Represents" and, finally, "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."

As President Obama grapples with accusations of torture by U.S. agents, I suggest he consult the former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle.

I first contacted Daschle in 1975, when he was an aide to Sen. James Abourezk of South Dakota, who was leading a somewhat lonely campaign against CIA abuses.

At the time, I was researching a book on the United States' role in the spread of military dictatorships throughout Latin America. Daschle arranged for me to inspect the senator's files, and I spent an evening reading accounts of U.S. complicity in torture. The stories came from Iran, Taiwan, Greece and, for the preceding 10 years, from Brazil and the rest of the continent's Southern Cone.

James Abourezk (left); Tom Daschle (right)

Despite my past reporting from South Vietnam, I had been naive enough to be at first surprised and then appalled by the degree to which our country had helped to overthrow elected governments in Latin America.

Our interference, which [has gone] on for decades, has not been limited to one political party. For example, the meddling in Brazil began in earnest during the early 1960s under a Democratic administration. At that time, Washington's alarm over Cuba was much like the more recent panic after 9/11. The White House was determined to prevent another communist regime in the hemisphere and was taking a strong interest in several anti-communist approaches, including the Office of Public Safety (OPS). [Please see our article on the overthrow of the Goulert government in Brazil, "Colombia: America's New Vietnam."]


The Office of Public Safety (OPS) was a US government agency, established in 1957 by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower ostensibly to train foreign police forces. Officially it was affiliated to USAID (US Agency for International Development). It was dissolved in 1974 after its connections to the CIA were revealed by the Church Committee and was linked to cases of torture, murder and "disappearances" in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay; its work continues today under the auspices of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the School of the Americas (SOA) which has now been renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation."

When OPS was launched under President Eisenhower, its mission sounded benign enough, but from the very beginning it was nothing more than a CIA "front" organization. Indeed, its seemingly genial director, Byron Engle, was a CIA agent, as was Dan Mitrione, its chief agent in Latin America. When Brazil seemed to tilt leftward after President Joao Goulart assumed power in 1961, the White House grew increasingly troubled and OPS took the lead to destabilize the Goulart's government.

Dan Mitrione (above left); also shown a finger crushing device, an electric shock device, and dental devices - all smuggled into Brazil and Uruguay by "diplomatic pouch" from the United States. Mitrione is the man who made torture a routine part of the CIA's operations throughout Latin America. He is quoted as having said: "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." He used homeless people for training purposes, who were executed once they had served their purpose. On July 31, 1970, the left-wing Tupamaros in Uruguay kidnapped Mitrione and an Agency for International Development associate, Claude L. Fry. Although the Tupamaros released Fry they proceeded to interrogate Mitrione about his past and the intervention of the U.S. government in Latin American. Mitrione was later found dead in a car. He had been shot twice in the head.

On March 31, 1964, encouraged by U.S. military attache Vernon Walters, Brazilian Gen. Humberto Castelo Branco rose up against Goulart. Rather than set off a civil war, Goulart chose exile in Montevideo. [Please see our article on Vernon Walters, "The Catholic / Evangelical Rapprochement" and we speak here more of the so-called "conservative wing" of the Catholic Church than we do of its so-called "liberal wing" please see our article, "Liberation Theology, the Vatican, and the CIA: Ghosts and Phantoms."]

Vernon Walters with Nixon in Brazil

Walters later told Nixon, "Too bad he didn't follow the advice we gave him when we were down there" by which he meant that Goulert should have "knuckled under" to U.S. demands.

The Brazilian people did not deserve what they got. The military cracked down harshly on labor unions, newspapers and student associations. The newly efficient police, drawing on training provided by the U.S., began routinely torturing political prisoners and even opened a torture school on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to teach police sergeants how to inflict the maximum pain without killing their victims.

One torture victim was Fernando Gabeira, a young reporter for Jornal do Brasil who was recruited by a resistance movement and later arrested for his role in the 1969 kidnapping of Charles Burke Elbrick, the U.S. ambassador (Elbrick was released after four days). Gabeira told me, he was tortured with electric shocks to his testicles; a fellow prisoner had his testicles nailed to a table. Still others were beaten bloody or waterboarded. When Gabeira's captors said anything at all, they sometimes boasted about having been trained in the United States.

An expose of American complicity in Brazilian torture prepared by the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo.

During the first seven years after Castelo Branco's coup, the OPS trained 100,000 Brazilian police, including 600 who were brought to the United States.

Students from all over the world were trained by OPS. One student from South Vietnam, Le Van An, later described what his instructors told him: "Despite the fact that brutal interrogation is strongly criticized by moralists, its importance must not be denied if we want to have order and security in daily life."

Brazil's political prisoners never doubted that Americans were involved in the torture that proliferated in their country. On their release, they reported that they frequently had heard English-speaking men around them, foreigners who left the room while the actual torture took place. As the years passed, those torture victims say, the men with American accents became less careful and sometimes stayed on during interrogations.

One student dissident, Angela Camargo Seixas, described to me how she was beaten and had electric wires inserted into her vagina after her arrest. During her interrogations, she found that her hatred was directed less toward her countrymen than toward the North Americans. She vowed never to forgive the United States for training and equipping the Brazilian police.

Flavio Tavares Freitas, a journalist and Christian nationalist, shared that sense of outrage. When he had wires jammed in his ears, between his teeth and into his anus, he saw that the small gray generator producing the shocks had on its side the red, white and blue shield of the USAID.


USAID (US Agency for International Development) has long been one of several government organizations used by the CIA as a "front" organization for its operations. CIA agents working with USAID have been involved in anti-democratic activities throughout the world, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Still another student leader, Jean Marc Von der Weid, told of having his penis wrapped in wires and connected to a battery-operated field telephone. Von der Weid, who had been in Brazil's marine reserve, said he recognized the telephone as one supplied by the United States through its military assistance program.

CIA Director Richard Helms once tried to rebut accusations against his agency by asserting that the nation must take it on faith that the CIA was made up of "honorable men." That was before Sen. Frank Church's 1975 Senate hearings brought to light CIA behavior that was deeply dishonorable.

Senators Frank Church (left) shown brandishing a weapon designed by the CIA to facilitate assassinations during the CIA oversight hearings which later became known as the "Church Committee Hearings." CIA Director Richard Helms (right), who claimed that the CIA was an "honorable" institution, was proved to be nothing more than a LIAR by the hearings.

Before Brazil restored civilian government in 1985, Senator Abourezk had managed to shut down a Texas training base notorious for teaching subversive techniques, including the making of bombs. When OPS came under attack during another flurry of bad publicity, the CIA did not fight to save it, and its funding was cut off.

Looking back, what has changed since 1975? A Brazilian truth and reconciliation commission was convened, and it documented 339 cases of government-sanctioned political assassinations. In 2002, a former labor leader and political prisoner, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was elected president of Brazil. He's serving his second term. [Please see our article, "Lies and Damned Lies: Not Discerning the Truth."]

Fernando Gabeira went home to publish a book about kidnapping the American ambassador and his ordeal in prison. The book became a bestseller throughout Brazil, and Gabeira was elected to the national legislature. In an election last October, he came within 1.4 percentage points of becoming the mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

But in our country, there's been a disheartening development: In 1975, U.S. officials still felt they had to deny condoning torture. Now many of them seem to be defending torture, even boasting about it.

A.J. Langguth is the author of Hidden Terrors: The Truth About U.S. Police Operations in Latin America.

We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank" insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned - a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners in the abject poverty that American corporations have imposed on the peoples and nations the American military machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles, "The Third World as a Model for the New World Order," Inside the American New World Order System" and "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]



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