<b>From Latin America to Abu Ghraib: Map of U.S. Pattern of Abuse Grows</b> Print
Washington - Torture of detainees, while shocking, is nothing new when it comes to Pentagon policy. For at least a decade, the U.S. Army trained Latin American soldiers in torture techniques and how to circumvent laws on due process, arrest and detention at the infamous School of the Americas.

?We see a consistent pattern of the Pentagon claiming to work for democracy,? says Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, ?while in their prisons and training centers, reports of torture and human rights abuses continue to surface.?

Recent reports of the torture of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib military prison near Baghdad are part of a larger pattern of abuse and torture at the hands of U.S. soldiers, U.S.-trained soliders, ?independent contractors? and intelligence agents around the world. U.S. Army intelligence manuals advocating torture were used for at least a decade to train Latin American soldiers at the SOA, renamed in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC.

The SOA/WHINSEC is a military training school where over 64,000 Latin American soldiers have been trained in combat skills and psychological warfare. SOA/WHINSEC graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities in Latin America.

In September of 1996, the Pentagon, under intense public pressure, released the classified training manuals used at the school. The Washington Post reported that the manuals promoted executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion (?U.S. Instructed Latins on Executions, Torture,? 9/21/96). The manuals recommended the imprisonment of family members of those who support ?union organizing or recruiting,? those who distribute ?propaganda in favor of the interest of workers,? those who ?sympathize with demonstrations or strikes,? and those who make ?accusations that the government has failed to meet the basic needs of the people.? The training manuals are available on the SOA Watch website.

Reports of abuse at the hands of U.S. and U.S.-trainied soldiers, from Latin America to Guantanamo Bay to Abu Gharib, continue to surface, and the Pentagon continues to distance itself from the abuses.

?As in Latin America, officials claim the soldiers involved in torture in Iraq are ?just a few bad apples,?? Bourgeois continued, ?but as instances of human rights violations continue to grow around the world, a much larger picture of systematic abuse becomes clear.?