by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Even while President Ronald Reagan publicly condemns the Salvadoran Death Squads, a paramilitary apparatus responsible for the deaths of thousands of Salvadoran leftists and peasants, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) continues to train, support, and provide intelligence to forces directly involved in Death Squad activity.

We now know that this involvement began over twenty years ago. Since the Kennedy administration, U.S. officials from the CIA, the Armed Forces, and the State Department have been responsible for:

— the formation of ORDEN, a paramilitary and intelligence network that grew into the Death Squads;

— the formation of ANSESAL, the elite presidential intelligence service that relied on Death Squads as “the operative arm of intelligence gathering” (according to a U.S. official);

— the enlistment of Jose Alberto Medrano, founder of both ORDEN and ANSESAL, into the CIA;

— supplying detailed surveillance information on Salvadoran individuals later murdered by Death Squads;

— training of ORDEN leaders in use of automatic weapons and surveillance techniques, and carrying some leaders on the CIA payroll.

Due to public outcry, President Reagan has denounced the Death Squads, yet CIA support, in the form of personnel training and intelligence gathering, continues.

This is in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which prohibits spending U.S. funds “to provide training or … financial support for … law enforcement forces for any foreign government, or any program of internal intelligence or surveillance on behalf of any foreign government.”

Thus, not only are the CIA’s ties with Salvadoran Death Squads immoral, they violate the letter of the law. If this information were widely disseminated, public outcry could force a reassessment of CIA policy in El Salvador, and help restore honesty in our government, beyond the rhetoric of freedom.


THE PROGRESSIVE, May 1984, “An Exclusive Report on the U.S. Role in El Salvador’s Official Terror: BEHIND THE DEATH SQUADS,” by Allan Nairn, pp 20-29.