Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

The Pentagon torturers

The name, short and typical, reminds of Texan rangers:  James Steele. Fighting in Vietnam during ten years of war, Steele received the usual promotions, took the appropriate courses and, in 1984, as a specialist in counter-insurgency, was sent to assist in the repression of the dictatorship in El Salvador. El Salvador is the most poignant testimony of human violence by the Empire in the American continent, and the world.

By Mauro Santayana

For over ten years - from October 1979 to June 1991 - the Salvadoran people were subjected to an ordeal that had not been recorded in history, with a view to its population, which was only 4,500,000 inhabitants. It is to remember that back in March 1980, the Christians of Latin America had their first martyr, Dom OscarRomero, killed when officiating a Mass in the small chapel of El Salvador. Much more than Thomas Beckett - Archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral in 1170 by political disagreements with King Henry I and 3 years later canonized by Alexander III - Oscar Romero was a martyr of Christianity.

The Vatican, under Wojtyla and Ratzinger would rather consider holy Jose Maria Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, and his companion, Franco, the tyrant of the Spanish people. The process of beatification of Archbishop Romero, on the initiative of Christians from El Salvador, is duly forgotten in the Vatican.

It was in El Salvador that Colonel James Steele stood out as an American "hero" of our time, advising the repressive forces of the dictatorship in the methods of dirty war, including the torture of political prisoners. He was sent to the country in 1984, at the height of the civil war and the alliance of the United States, under Reagan, with the extreme right in Central America, and served there for two years.

During this period, he participated with the famous Oliver North, in the smuggling of weapons to Nicaragua at Ilopango airport.

Back in the United States, in 1986, Steele returned to his routine tasks, until leaving the Army. But in 2003, his knowledge and experience in  El Salvador was recommend to Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense to Bush as indispensable in the "dirty war"against Iraq, and those  tactics were reconvened.

Steele was not subordinated to his natural superiors in Iraq, but rather directly to Rumsfeld. As a thorough investigation was conducted by peloGuardian, and released last week, General Petraeus, chief of military operations in Baghdad, instructed another retired colonel, James Coffman, to accompany Steele in his activities.

A report in the Guardian, with the participation of BBC Arabic, demonstrates that the Pentagon determined and was complicit in torture in Iraq. During his tenure there, Steele organized groups of Shiites against Sunnis and oversaw the secret detention centers for militants, in which torture was systematic. The two colonels guided and supervised interrogations by known methods: electric shocks, extracting fingernails, beatings to the genitals, impalement, stick-to-macaw.

In one of those secret centers, also maintained by secret funds, according to the testimony of General Muthader Iraqi al-Samari, was a 14 year old boy who was hanged to a column, with his hands tied above his head. The body was blue due to the numerous bruises caused by blows received.

James Steele is an example of the "heroism" for the American society of our time.

On the other hand, is an example of real redeeming dignity and heroism for the American people, the soldier Bradley Manning, who is being tried for the release of documents that showed, clearly, the perpetration of these and other crimes.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova