The Assassinated Press

Dan Mitrione Deserved to Die!!
US Torture Swept Under the Rug
Dan Mitrione, America’s Norman Rockwell of Torture

The Assassinated Press

Often the U.S. cables released by Wikileaks tell less than half of the story. Take for example the cable from the US embassy in Uruguay entitled ‘EX-GUERRILLA’S INVOLVEMENT IN US BUSINESS DEAL’ classified by Charge D’Affaires James D. Nealon.

In the Summary Nealon states “It has recently come to our attention that a promising counter-trade deal between the GOU and U.S. firm General Electric (GE) includes the key participation of a nefarious former Tupamaro guerrilla named Henry ENGLER Golovchenko. Engler was credibly implicated in the 1970 murder in Uruguay of then-USAID Security Advisor Daniel Anthony Mitrione. As far as we can ascertain from old sensitive reporting, Engler was not a participant in the actual execution of Mitrione, but he is reported to have ordered the execution and provided the weapons used to kill him…”

But nowhere in his cable does Nealon state what Dan Mitrione’s real role in Uruguay was. Mitrione was an OPS officer for the USAID who presided over numerous sessions of torture and murder and expanded kidnapping and torture techniques instructing, supplying and encouraging the Uruguyan military and police to use such techniques to wipe out egalitarian and indigenous movements. Nealon makes no mention of Mitrione’s bloody role much less the US’s brutal role in propping and up and supporting a murderous authoritarian regime in Uruguay.

So lets’ set the fucking record straight. Below find an excerpt from Bill Blum’s book Killing Hope. The excerpt is entitled, ‘Uruguay 1964-1970 Torture as American as Apple Pie.’ Dan Mitrione and the US figure prominently in the narrative of torture and violence. Nealon’s bullshit cable follows the excerpt from Blum.

From Killing Hope by William Blum

<“The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.”

The words of an instructor in the art of torture. The words of Dan Mitrione, the head of the Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Montevideo. Officially, OPS was a division of the Agency for International Development, but the director of OPS in Washington, Byron Engle, was an old CIA hand. His organization maintained a close working relationship with the CIA, and Agency officers often operated abroad under OPS cover, although Mitrione was not one of them. OPS had been operating formally in Uruguay since 1965, supplying the police with the equipment, the arms, and the training it was created to do. Four years later, when Mitrione arrived, the Uruguayans had a special need for OPS services. The country was in the midst of a long-running economic decline, its once-heralded prosperity and democracy sinking fast toward the level of its South American neighbors. Labor strikes, student demonstrations, and militant street violence had become normal events during the past year, and, most worrisome to the Uruguayan authorities, there were the revolutionaries who called themselves Tupamaros. Perhaps the cleverest, most resourceful and most sophisticated urban guerrillas the world has ever seen, the Tupamaros had a deft touch for capturing the public’s imagination with outrageous actions, and winning sympathizers with their Robin Hood philosophy. Their members and secret partisans held key positions in the government, banks, universities, and the professions, as well as in the military and police.

“Unlike other Latin-American guerrilla groups,” the New York Times stated in 1970 “the Tupamaros normally avoid bloodshed when possible. They try instead to create embarrassment for the Government and general disorder.” A favorite tactic was to raid the files of a private corporation to expose corruption and deceit in high places, or kidnap a prominent figure and try him before a “People’s Court”. It was heady stuff to choose a public villain whose acts went uncensored by the legislature, the courts and the press, subject him to an informed and uncompromising interrogation, and then publicize the results of the intriguing dialogue. Once they ransacked an exclusive high-class nightclub and scrawled the walls perhaps their most memorable slogan: “O Bailan Todos O No Baila Nadie — Either everyone dances or no one dances.”

Dan Mitrione did not introduce the practice of torturing political prisoners to Uruguay It had been perpetrated by the police at times from at least the early 1960s. However, in surprising interview given to a leading Brazilian newspaper in 1970, the former Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, Alejandro Otero, declared that US advisers, and in particular Mitrione, had instituted torture as a more routine measure; to the means of inflicting pain they had added scientific refinement; and to that a psychology to create despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and telling the prisoners that it was his family being tortured.

“The violent methods which were beginning to be employed,” said Otero, “caused an escalation in Tupamaro activity. Before then their attitude showed that they would use violence only as a last resort.”

The newspaper interview greatly upset American officials in South America and Washington. Byron Engle later tried to explain it all away by asserting: “The three Brazilian reporters in Montevideo all denied filing that story. We found out later that it was slipped into the paper by someone in the composing room at the Jornal do Brasil.” Otero had been a willing agent of the CIA, a student at their International Police Services school in Washington, a recipient of their cash over the years, but he was not a torturer. What finally drove him to speak out was perhaps the torture of a woman who, while a Tupamaro sympathizer, was also a friend of his. When she told him that Mitrione had watched and assisted in her torture, Otero complained to him, about this particular incident as well as his general methods of extracting information. The only outcome of the encounter was Otero’s demotion.

William Cantrell was a CIA operations officer stationed in Montevideo and ostensibly a member of the OPS team. In the mid-1960s he was instrumental in setting up a Department of Information and Intelligence (DII), and providing it with funds and equipment. Some the equipment, innovated by the CIA’s Technical Services Division, was for the purpose torture, for this was one of the functions carried out by the DII.

“One of the pieces of equipment that was found useful,” former New York Times correspondent A. J. Langguth learned, “was a wire so very thin that it could be fitted into the mouth between the teeth and by pressing against the gum increase the electrical charge. it was through the diplomatic pouch that Mitrione got some of the equipment he needed in interrogations, including these fine wires.”

Things got so bad in Mitrione’s time that the Uruguayan Senate was compelled undertake an investigation. After a five-month study, the commission concluded unanimously that torture in Uruguay had become a “normal, frequent and habitual occurrence inflicted upon Tupamaros as well as others. Among the types of torture the commission’s report made reference to were electric shocks to the genitals, electric needles under the fingernails, burning with cigarettes, the slow compression of the testicles, daily use of psychological torture … “pregnant women were subjected to various brutalities and inhuman treatment” … “certain women were imprisoned with their very young infants and subjected to the same treatment.”

Eventually the DII came to serve as a cover for the Escuadron de la Muerte (Death Squad), composed, as elsewhere in Latin America, primarily of police officers, who bombed and strafed the homes of suspected Tupamaro sympathizers and engaged in assassination and kidnapping. The Death Squad received some of its special explosive material from the Technical Services Division and, in all likelihood, some of the skills employed by its members were acquired from instruction in the United States. Between 1969 and 1973, at least 16 Uruguayan police officers went through an eight-week course at CIA/OPS schools in Washington and Los Fresnos, Texas in the design, manufacture and employment of bombs and incendiary devices. The official OPS explanation for these courses was that policemen needed such training in order to deal with bombs placed by terrorists. There was, however, no instruction in destroying bombs, only in making them; moreover, on at least one reported occasion, the students were not policemen, but members of a private right-wing organization in Chile. Another part of the curriculum which might also have proven to be of value to the Death Squad was the class on Assassination Weapons- “A discussion of various weapons which may be used by the assassin” is how OPS put it. Equipment and training of this kind was in addition to that normally provided by OPS: riot helmets, transparent shields, tear gas, gas masks, communication gear, vehicles, police batons, and other devices for restraining crowds. The supply of these tools of the trade was increased in 1968 when public disturbances reached the spark-point, and by 1970 American training in riot-control techniques had been given to about a thousand Uruguayan policemen.

Dan Mitrione had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in Montevideo. In this room he assembled selected Uruguayan police officers to observe a demonstration of torture techniques. Another observer was Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, a Cuban who was with the CIA and worked with Mitrione. Hevia later wrote that the course began with a description of the human anatomy and nervous system Soon things turned unpleasant. As subjects for the first testing they took beggars … from the outskirts of Montevideo, as well as a woman apparently from the frontier area with Brazil. There was no interrogation, only a demonstration of the effects of different voltages on the different parts of the human body, as well as demonstrating the use of a drug which induces vomiting-I don’t know why or what for-and another chemical substance. The four of them died.

In his book Hevia does not say specifically what Mitrione’s direct part in all this was but he later publicly stated that the OPS chief “personally tortured four beggars to death with electric shocks”.

On another occasion, Hevia sat with Mitrione in the latter’s house, and over a few drinks the American explained to the Cuban his philosophy of interrogation. Mitrione considered it to be an art. First there should be a softening-up period, with the usual beatings and insults. The object is to humiliate the prisoner, to make him realize his helplessness, to cut him off from reality. No questions, only blows and insults. Then, only blows in silence.

Only after this, said Mitrione, is the interrogation. Here no pain should be produced other than that caused by the instrument which is being used. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” was his motto. During the session you have to keep the subject from losing all hope of life, because this can lead to stubborn resistance. “You must always leave him some hope … a distant light . “

“When you get what You want, and I always get it,” Mitrione continued, “it may be good to prolong the session a little to apply another softening-up. Not to extract information now, but only as a political measure, to create a healthy fear of meddling in subversive activities. “

The American pointed out that upon receiving a subject the first thing is to determine his physical state, his degree of resistance, by means of a medical examination. “A premature death means a failure by the technician … It’s important to know in advance if we can permit ourselves the luxury of the subject’s death.”

Not long after this conversation, Manual Hevia disappeared from Montevideo and turned up in Havana. He had been a Cuban agent-a double agent-all along.

About half a year later, 31 July 1970 to be exact, Dan Mitrione was kidnapped by the Tupamaros. They did not torture him. They demanded the release of some 150 prisoners in exchange for him. With the determined backing of the Nixon administration, the Uruguayan government refused. On 10 August, Mitrione’s dead body was found on the back seat of a stolen car. He had turned 50 on his fifth day as a prisoner.

Back in Mitrione’s home town of Richmond, Indiana, Secretary of State William Rogers and President Nixon’s son-in-law David Eisenhower attended the funeral for Mitrione, the city’s former police chief. Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis came to town to stage a benefit show for Mitrione’s family.

And White House spokesman, Ron Ziegler, solemnly stated that “Mr. Mitrione’s devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere.’

“A perfect man,” his widow said.

“A great humanitarian,” said his daughter Linda.

The military’s entry into the escalating conflict signaled the beginning of the end for the Tupamaros. By the end of 1972, the curtain was descending on their guerrilla theater. Six months later, the military was in charge, Congress was dissolved, and everything not prohibited was compulsory. For the next 11 years, Uruguay competed strongly for the honor of being South America’s most repressive dictatorship. It had, at one point, the largest number of political prisoners per capita in the world. And, as every human rights organization and former prisoner could testify, each one of them was tortured. “Torture,” said an activist priest, “was routine and automatic.” No one was dancing in Uruguay.

In 1981, at the Fourteenth Conference of American Armies, the Uruguayan Army offered a paper in which it defined subversion as “actions, violent or not, with ultimate purposes of a political nature, in all fields of human activity within the internal sphere of a state and whose aims are perceived as not convenient for the overall political system.” The dissident Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, summed up his country’s era of dictatorship thusly: “People were in prison so that prices could be free.”‘

The film “State of Siege” appeared in 1972. It centered around Mitrione and the Tupamaros and depicted a Uruguayan police officer receiving training at a secret bomb school in the United States, though the film strove more to provide a composite picture of the role played by the US in repression throughout Latin America. A scheduled premier showing of the film at the federally-funded John F. Kennedy Arts Center in Washington was canceled. There was already growing public and congressional criticism of this dark side of American foreign policy without adding to it. During the mid-1970s, however, Congress enacted several pieces of legislation which abolished the entire Public Safety Program. In its time, OPS had provided training for more than one million policemen in the Third World. Ten thousand of them had received advance training in the United States. An estimated $150 million worth of equipment had been shipped to police forces abroad. Now, the “export of repression’ was to cease.

That was on paper. The reality appears to be somewhat different.

To a large extent, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) simply picked up where OPS had left off. The drug agency was ideally suited for the task, for its agents were already deployed all over Latin America and elsewhere overseas in routine liaison with foreign police forces. The DEA acknowledged in 1975 that 53 “former” employees of the CIA were now on its staff and that there was a close working relationship between the two agencies. The following year, the General Accounting Office reported that DEA agents were engaging in many of the same activities the OPS had been carrying out.

In addition, some training of foreign policemen was transferred to FBI schools in Washington and Quantico, Virginia; the Defense Department continued to supply police type equipment to military units engaged in internal security operations; and American arms manufacturers were doing a booming business furnishing arms and training to Third World governments. In some countries, contact between these companies and foreign law enforcement officials was facilitated by the US Embassy or military mission. The largest of the arms manufacturers, Smith and Wesson, ran its own Academy in Springfield Massachusetts, which provided American and foreign “public and industrial security forces with expert training in riot control”.

Said Argentine Minister Jose Lopez Rega at the signing of a US-Argentina anti-drug treaty in 1974: “We hope to wipe out the drug traffic in Argentina. We have caught guerrillas after attacks who were high on drugs. The guerrillas are the main drug users in Argentina. Therefore, this anti-drug campaign will automatically be an anti-guerrilla campaign as well.

And in 1981, a former Uruguayan intelligence officer declared that US manuals were being used to teach techniques of torture to his country’s military. He said that most of the officers who trained him had attended classes run by the United States in Panama. Among other niceties, the manuals listed 35 nerve points where electrodes could be applied.>

And NEALON’s cable:

07MONTEVIDEO287 2007-03-20 19:07 2010-12-14 21:09 SECRET Embassy Montevideo


DE RUEHMN #0287/01 0791934
P 201934Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2017


¶B. 04 STATE 135930

Classified By: Charge D’Affaires James D. Nealon for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

¶1. (C) This telegram contains an action request for the Department in paragraphs 1 and 6.

¶2. (S) Summary: It has recently come to our attention that a promising counter-trade deal between the GOU and U.S. firm General Electric (GE) includes the key participation of a nefarious former Tupamaro guerrilla named Henry ENGLER Golovchenko. Engler was credibly implicated in the 1970 murder in Uruguay of then-USAID Security Advisor Daniel Anthony Mitrione. As far as we can ascertain from old sensitive reporting, Engler was not a participant in the actual execution of Mitrione, but he is reported to have ordered the execution and provided the weapons used to kill him. The Embassy had been helping to broker the triangular deal among GOU ministries and the U.S. company, but upon learning of Engler’s recent return to Uruguay and his planned prominent role in the project, we see his presence as an outright show stopper. Embassy seeks the Department’s guidance on how best to proceed and whom to inform on this delicate matter. End Summary.

Counter-trade Deal
¶3. (C) Over the past few months, the Embassy has been helping to facilitate a creative deal worth $12 million between General Electric and the GOU’s ministries of Health, Energy and Agriculture. Under the terms of what amounts to a creative counter-trade agreement, GE would provide some of its sophisticated medical equipment to a Uruguayan cancer center in exchange for Uruguayan commodities such as rice, cement and wood chips. GE Trading would then sell the commodities on the world market. The deal would be a first for GE in Latin America and could pave the way for future even larger deals — possibly including power generation plants. The project is well-advanced and was highlighted during the recent POTUS visit to Uruguay. But the problem (as we recently found out) is that Henry Engler is now a contracted advisor for GE who would play a prominent role in the medical portion of the project.

Brief Background
¶4. (S) On July 31, 1970 Daniel Mitrione, USAID Public Safety Advisor, AmEmbassy Montevideo, was driving from home to work when his vehicle was intercepted and hit by another vehicle. Mitrione’s police driver was disarmed. The kidnappers forced Mitrione out of his vehicle and a struggle ensued. Mitrione was shot in the thorax and kidnapped by Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional-Tupamaro (MLN-T) terrorist. Mitrione was transported to a “People’s Jail” where his wound was treated by the kidnappers (two of whom were medical students). The Tupamaros demanded the release of 150 jailed comrades. The police engaged in a massive manhunt and arrested an additional 20 Tupamaro suspects. Three other U.S. Embassy officials were kidnapped in the same time frame (Rosenfeld, Jones and Fly). At some point during his ordeal Mitrione was allegedly castrated by Antonio Mas Mas, a medical student who later disappeared and may have died. On August 10, Mitrione was shot by Mas Mas and his body was left in a stolen car.

Henry ENGLER Golovchenko
¶5. (S) Engler was imprisoned during the Uruguayan military dictatorship, spending some 13 years in captivity. According to police records, he was a member of the MLN Executive Committee from 7 August 1970 until March 15, 1972. Engler was arrested on 17 August 1972, and remained in captivity until he was amnestied by President Sanguinetti in 1985. (Comment: We do not know if Engler was actually convicted of Mitrione’s murder. End Comment.) According to open sources, Engler was responsible for the military section of the 15th (MLN-T) column and helped plan the Mitrione kidnap and assassination. Engler was not involved in the assassination itself but provided some or all of the weapons to Mas Mas. After his 1985 release, Engler moved to Sweden and completed medical school there.

¶6. (S) Engler is believed to be a Swedish citizen. He is presently Medical Director of the PET Center at the Uppsala University in Sweden. He travels widely in Europe, and according to the Uruguayan press, may be nominated for a Nobel prize in medicine for his pioneering work in combating Alzheimer’s disease. He apparently now works with General Electric and will manage a medical project at Hospital de Clinicas in Montevideo. In 2004, Embassy Montevideo attempted to reopen the investigation into Mitrione’s murder, but the request was denied (reftels).

¶7. (S) We have been spreading the message that the U.S. favors good relations with governments in the region that respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights, regardless of their political label. We also regularly interact with Tupamaros who represent a significant portion of the Frente Amplio government. However, we draw the line in dealing with individuals who were credibly involved in the kidnapping or murder of American citizens such as Dan Mitrione. Despite the promising aspects of the GE/GOU counter-trade deal, we think the Embassy should distance itself from this project and discreetly inform the interested parties that the reason is the involvement of Dr. Engler, no matter how much he has tried to rehabilitate his image. Our other main concern is that we do not wish to reopen old wounds from the Cold War any more than is necessary. This is because we have worked very hard to establish an excellent bilateral relationship with a pragmatic left-leaning government that for the most part eschews violence. Embassy requests the Department’s guidance on how best to proceed and whom to inform in this delicate matter. End Comment. Nealon>


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