Dana Priest, Washington Post
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
U.S. Army intelligence manuals used to train Latin American military
officers at an Army school from 1982 to 1991 advocated executions,
torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion against insurgents,
Pentagon documents released yesterday show.
Used in courses at the U.S. Army's School of
the Americas, the manual says that to recruit and control informants,
counterintelligence agents could use ?fear, payment of bounties for
enemy dead, beatings, false imprisonment, executions and the use of
truth serum,? according to a secret Defense Department summary of the
manuals compiled during a 1992 investigation of the instructional
material and also released yesterday.
A summary of the investigation and four pages of brief, translated
excerpts from the seven Spanish-language manuals were released last
night by the Defense Department, which recently has taken to making
controversial information available in the evenings, after the deadlines
of the prime-time network television news programs.
The Army School of the Americas, long located in Panama by moved in 1984
to Fort Benning, Ga., has trained nearly 60,000 military and police
officers from Latin America and the United States since 1946.
Its graduates have included some of the region?s most notorious human
rights abusers, among them Roberto D?Aubuisson, the leader of El
Salvador?s right-wing death squads; 19 Salvadoran soldiers linked to the
1989 assassination of six Jesuit priests; Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega,
the deposed Panamanian strongman; six Peruvian officers linked to
killings of students and a professor; and Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, a
Guatemalan officer implicated in the death of an American innkeeper
living in Guatemala and to the death of a leftist guerrilla married to
an American lawyer.
The Defense Department said the school's curriculum now includes
mandatory human rights training and it is an effective way to help
promote military professionalism in a region where that concept is still
?The problem was discovered in 1992, properly reported and fixed," said
Lt. Col Arne Owens, a Pentagon spokesman. ?There have been a lot of
great changes at the School of the Americas."
When reports of the 1992 investigation surfaced this year during a
congressional inquiry into the CIA's activities in Guatemala, spokesmen
for the school denied the manuals advocated such extreme methods of
operation, which were in violation of Army policy and law at the time
they were in use.
The 1992 investigation concluded the inclusion of the methods was the
result of bureaucratic oversight. "It is incredible that the use ...
since 1982 ... evaded the established system of doctrinal controls,"
said the report of the investigation, conducted by the office of the
assistant to the secretary of defense for intelligence oversight
"Nevertheless, we could find no evidence that this was a deliberate and
orchestrated attempt to violate DoD or Army policies."
The manuals were compiled by Army intelligence officials using "outdated
instructional material without the required doctrinal approval" from the
Army Intelligence School, the investigation report said.
The material was based, in part, on training instructions used in the
1960s by the Army's Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, entitled
"Project X." The 1992 investigation also found the manual was
distributed to thousands of military officers from 11 South and Central
American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and
Panama, where the U.S. military was heavily involved in
One manual, entitled "Handling of Sources," also "discloses classified
[informant] methodology that could compromise Army clandestine
intelligence modus operandi," the 1992 investigation found. Another
manual, entitled "Counterintelligence," contained ?sensitive Army
counterintelligence tactics, techniques and procedures."
The Defense Department yesterday said the 1992 investigators found two
dozen objectionable passages among the 1,169 pages of instruction. For
instance, the manual entitled, "Handling of Sources" says, "The CI
[counterintelligence] agent could cause the" arrest of the employees
[informants] parents, imprison the employee or give him a beating" to
On several occasions it uses the words "neutralization" or
"neutralizing," which was commonly used at the time as a euphemism for
execution or destruction, a Pentagon official said.
The manual on "Terrorism and the Urban Guerrilla" says that "another
function of the CI agents is recommending CI targets for neutralizing.
The CI targets can include personalities, installations, organizations,
documents and materials ... the personality targets prove to be valuable
sources of intelligence. Some examples of these targets are governmental
officials, political leaders, and members of the infrastructure."
The Defense Department continues to try to collect the manuals but, as
the 1992 investigation noted, "due to incomplete records, retrieval of
all copies is doubtful."
Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.), an advocate of closing the school,
said in a statement last night that the manuals "show what we have
suspected all along, that taxpayers' money has been used for physical
abuse." Kennedy said, "The School of the Americas, a Cold War relic,
should be shut down."