On September 20, 1996, under intense public pressure, the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals that were used at the School of the Americas for years. These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations. A Washington Post article by Dana Priest broke the story.
The release of these manuals proved what SOA Watch, thousands of Latin Americans and numerous human rights organizations had been saying for years: that U.S. taxpayer money had been used for the teaching of torture and repression.
Material from CIA and Army manuals written in the 1950’s and 1960’s was incorporated into these seven Spanish-language training guides. More than a thousand of these manuals were distributed for use in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru, and at the School of the Americas between 1987 and 1991. An inquiry was triggered in mid-1991 when the US Southern Command evaluated the manuals for use in expanding military support programs in Colombia.
In March 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney received an investigative report on “Improper Material in Spanish-Language Intelligence Training Manuals.” Classified SECRET, the report noted that five of the seven manuals “contained language and statements in violation of legal, regulatory or policy prohibitions” and recommended they be recalled. The memo is stamped: “SECDEF HAS SEEN.”
The National Security Archive ran released their declassified documents dealing with all of the manuals in May 2004, after the Abu Ghraib scandal put torture at the hands of U.S. and U.S.-trained soldiers back in the news.
Lisa Haugaard of the Latin America Working Group wrote an instrumental piece about the manuals in 1997. Read her article, “Textbook Repression: U.S. Training Manuals Declassified” here.
U.S. Army Training Manuals used at the SOA
- Manejo de Fuentes: PDF
- Contrainteligencia: PDF
- Guerra Revolucionaria e Ideología Comunista I y II: PDF
- Terrorismo y Guerrilla Urbana I y II: PDF HTML
- Interrogacion: PDF
- Inteligencia de combate: PDF
- Analisis I: PDF