During Washington's war against the population of El Salvador (my contributions), on January 27, 1982, New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner informed us:
Human Rights Watch observes:The New York Times: Massacre Of Hundreds Reported In Salvador Village
RAYMOND BONNER, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
The New York Times
January 27, 1982
MOZOTE, El Salvador - From interviews with people who live in this small mountain village and surrounding hamlets, it is clear that a massacre of major proportions occurred here last month.
In some 20 mud brick huts here, this reporter saw the charred skulls and bones of dozens of bodies buried under burned-out roofs, beams and shattered tiles. There were more along the trail leading through the hills into the village, and at the edge of a nearby cornfield were the remains of 14 young men, women and children.
In separate interviews during a two-week period in the rebelcontrolled northern part of Morazan Province, 13 peasants said that all these, their relatives and friends, had been killed by Government soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion in a sweep in December. 733 Victims Listed
The villagers have compiled a list of the names, ages and villages of 733 peasants, mostly children, women and old people, who they say were murdered by the Government soldiers. The Human Rights Commission of El Salvador, which works with the Roman Catholic Church, puts the number at 926.
In January 1981, the United States took over the training of the Salvadoran armed forces and the strategic planning of the war. At the Salvadoran High Command, U.S. Army combat and combat support majors and lieutenant colonels prosecuted the war operationally and with intelligence:The Atlacatl Battalion is an elite unit created, trained and equipped by the United States.
Almost from the start, the Atlacatl Battalion — "the first Salvadoran army battalion to be created from scratch by U.S. funding and training" — was engaged in the murder of large numbers of civillians.
-Clearly the wrong story for the United States..By Maj. Gen. Alfred A. Valenzuela and Col. Victor M. Rosello
Three mobile training teams (MTTs) of military advisers provided infantry, artillery, and military intelligence instruction. U.S. military advisers populated the entire ESAF from joint headquarters to brigades. Two officers (operations and intelligence) were assigned to each of the six ESAF infantry brigade headquarters in six geographical areas of the country. Personnel were also assigned to the ESAF artillery headquarters, the logistics center, and the national training center.
Their mission was to support their Salvadoran counterparts in establishing training programs and to assist in the military decisionmaking process and in staff and operational matters. In San Salvador, El Salvador's capital, U.S. Army combat and combat support majors and lieutenant colonels supported key ESAF joint staff elements while quietly and discreetly prosecuting the war operationally and with intelligence.
Shortly after this report, Bonner was dispatched to the Financial desk, where he labored for one year before taking a leave of absence to write a book about El Salvador. Upon returning to the Times, he first was sent back to the Financial desk, then later to the Metropolitan desk, a clear demotion. He resigned from the New York Times on July 3, 1984. Asked in an interview with Mark Hertsgaard why he had recalled Bonner from El Salvador in the first place, Abe Rosenthal, then-Managing Editor of the New York Times, explained:
For another account of Bonner's firing, see Mark Danner, "The Truth of El Mazote," New Yorker, December 6, 1993, pp. 50f. An excerpt (pp. 122-123):The general impression among me and some others was that Bonner was first-rate, but we were really screwing this guy, because he wasn't getting what you really need to be a reporter. You don't have to get it necessarily at the Times, but you have to have some background in reporting non-foreign affairs in order to be a foreign affairs reporter. You have to know how a paper runs, what a paper considers its standards, and so on.
Note that Rosenthal's most angry denial, which follows, conveniently sidetracks the central issue. Rosenthal declared (pp. 121-122):According to Rosenthal, Bonner was removed because he had never been fully trained in the Times' particular methods. Bonner, he said, "didn't know the techniques of weaving a story together. . . . I brought him back because it seemed terribly unfair to leave him there without training. . . ." But "training" was not the only issue -- for that matter, as Bonner pointed out to me, he had spent a good part of 1981 on the Metro desk -- and, at least in Rosenthal's case, the question of Bonner's "journalistic technique" seems to have been inextricably bound up with what the executive editor came to perceive as the reporter's left-wing sympathies. . . .
Several current and former Times employees (none of whom would speak for attribution) pointed to a scene in a Georgetown restaurant a few weeks after the El Mozote [massacre] story ran -- it was the evening of the annual Gridiron dinner -- in which Rosenthal criticized Bonner and angrily described the sufferings that Communist regimes inflict on their people.
See also, Robert Parry and Peter Kornbluh, "Iran-Contra's Untold Story," Foreign Policy, Fall 1988, pp. 3-30 at p. 6:At no time did anybody in the United States government suggest to me, directly or indirectly, that I remove Mr. Bonner. . . . Anyone who would approach the New York Times and suggest to me that I remove or punish a correspondent would have to be an idiot. To imply that a man who devoted himself to journalism would remove a reporter because of the U.S. government or the C.I.A., or whatever, is ridiculous, naïve, cruel, and slanderous.
The Footnotes for the Book: UNDERSTANDING POWERU.S. embassy officials boasted in 1982 that they had forced the New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner out of the country because of his unfavorable reporting on the Salvadoran government.