Wikileaks has released a sensitive 219 page US military counterinsurgency manual. The manual, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004), may be critically described as "what we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places". Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, history making.
The leaked manual, which has been verified with military sources, is the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense or FID.
FID operations are designed to prop up a "friendly" government facing a popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the governments being supported ("In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.")
The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances) the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of subterfuge and "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures more palatable.
The content has been particularly informed by the long United States involvement in El Salvador.
In 2005 a number of credible media reports suggested the Pentagon was intensely debating "the Salvador option" for Iraq. . According to the New York Times Magazine:
The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, with which it has often been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war beginning in 1980. The cost was high - more than 70,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it. According to an Amnesty International report in 2001, violations committed by the army and associated groups included ''extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings, 'disappearances' and torture. . . . Whole villages were targeted by the armed forces and their inhabitants massacred.'' As part of President Reagan's policy of supporting anti-Communist forces, hundreds of millions of dollars in United States aid was funneled to the Salvadoran Army, and a team of 55 Special Forces advisers, led for several years by Jim Steele, trained front-line battalions that were accused of significant human rights abuses.
The same article states James Steele and many other former Central American Special Forces "military advisors" have now been appointed at a high level to Iraq.
In 1993 a United Nations truth commission on El Salvador, which examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil war, attributed 85 percent of the abuses to the US-backed El Salvador military and its paramilitary death squads.
It is worth noting what the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert E. White (now the president for the Center for International Policy) had to say as early as 1980, in State Department documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:
The major, immediate threat to the existence of this government is the right-wing violence. In the city of San Salvador, the hired thugs of the extreme right, some of them well-trained Cuban and Nicaraguan terrorists, kill moderate left leaders and blow up government buildings. In the countryside, elements of the security forces torture and kill the campesinos, shoot up their houses and burn their crops. At least two hundred refugees from the countryside arrive daily in the capital city. This campaign of terror is radicalizing the rural areas just as surely as Somoza's National Guard did in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the command structure of the army and the security forces either tolerates or encourages this activity. These senior officers believe or pretend to believe that they are eliminating the guerillas. 
Selected extracts follow. Note that the manual is 219 pages long and contains substantial material throughout. These extracts should merely be considered representative. Emphasis has been added for further selectivity. The full manual can be found at US Special Forces counter-insurgency manual FM 31-20-3.
DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means. This determination was made on 5 December 2003. Other requests for this document must be referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DTD-SFD, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28310-5000.
Destruction Notice: Destroy by any method that must prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.
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