Flight of the Phoenix

The Salvador Option,” by Michael Hirsh and John Barry, Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/, 8 January 2005.

Learning from our success in destroying the communists of El Salvador and the Viet Cong (“Operation: Phoenix”), the Pentagon is thinking of reviving death squads.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported “nationalist” forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.

Our allies are clear

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen

As our the enemies

to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called “snatch” operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Good. Long live Iraqi democracy and feedom. Death to insurgents.