Op-ed: 'U.S. Has a 45-year History of Torture'

As media members pressure Congress and the White House to prosecute Bush administration officials for enhanced interrogation techniques employed at the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, they present their case as if such practices began quite recently.

This is by no means surprising as the full grips of Bush Derangement Syndrome cannot be felt without either a complete revision of history or one totally ignoring everything that happened prior to January 20, 2001.

With this in mind, an op-ed published in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which accused one of the left's most-sacred golden idols, Robert F. Kennedy, of being involved in teaching torture techniques to Brazilian police officers, is sure to raise a few eyebrows (h/t Gary Hall):

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 Kennedy White House was determined to prevent another communist regime in the hemisphere, and Robert Kennedy, as attorney general, was taking a strong interest in several anti-communist approaches, including the Office of Public Safety.

When OPS was launched under President Eisenhower, its mission sounded benign enough -- to increase the professionalism of the police of Asia, Africa and, particularly, Latin America. But its genial director, Byron Engle, was a CIA agent, and his program was part of a wider effort to identify receptive recruits among local populations. [...]

When Brazil seemed to tilt leftward after President Joao Goulart assumed power in 1961, the Kennedy administration grew increasingly troubled. Robert Kennedy traveled to Brazil to tell Goulart he should dismiss two of his Cabinet members, and the office of Lincoln Gordon, John Kennedy's ambassador to Brazil, became the hub for CIA efforts to destabilize Goulart's government. [...]

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.

The author, A. J. Langguth, then detailed some of the tortures inflicted upon Brazilians apparently with the instruction of our OPS. Given their gruesome nature, they will not be shared:

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. Their instruction varied. Some OPS lecturers denounced torture as inhumane and ineffectual. Others conveyed a different message. Le Van An, a student from the South Vietnamese police, later described what his instructors told him: "Despite the fact that brutal interrogation is strongly criticized by moralists," they said, "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.

For the record, Langguth is currently a Professor Emeritus at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, School of Journalism. He is a former correspondent for LOOK magazine, the New York Times, and the New York Times Magazine.

As such, this is doubtful a conservative looking to alter the present discussion by accusing a sacred, liberal Democrat of far-worse practices than the Left and their media minions wish to prosecute Bush administration officials for.

On the other hand, given his years in the field as well as his background on this subject, it will be interesting to see if his op-ed makes it out of Los Angeles alive.

Stay tuned.

Foreign Policy War on Terrorism 9/11 Anti-Military Bias Guantanamo Bay Interrogation Techniques Los Angeles Times Robert F. Kennedy A. J. Langguth
Noel Sheppard's picture