IN SEARCH OF HIDDEN TRUTHS

An Interim Report on Declassification by the National Commissioner

for Human Rights in Honduras

 

  

Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza

and

Susan C. Peacock

 

 

HONDURAS, C.A.

 

  

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The publication of this report is the result of a team effort by numerous individuals and organizations worldwide, who continue to work together to unveil the truth about human rights abuses in Honduras. The National Commissioner fo r Human Rights is profoundly grateful for all the multifaceted support which the has received in his declassification efforts.

The Program on Peace and International Cooperation of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation merits special words of appreciation for the generous research and writing grant which it extended to the Commissioner. The MacArthu r Foundation grant enabled the Commissioner to pursue, compile and analyze human rights information available in the United States, primarily declassified U.S. government documents, and to publish our account of the process.

Technical support provided by the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has greatly enhanced the Commissioner's capacity to manage massive amounts of human rights information. Senior Associate Stephen A. Hansen deserves special words of commendation for the design and successful implementation of a sophisticated system of full text databases.

The warm hospitality which the National Security Archive has extended to the Commissioner's U.S.-based researcher has been pivotal to our documentation efforts. The Commissioner is grateful to Senior Analysts Kate Doyle and Peter Kornbl uh, and to all the Archive staff for sharing their considerable expertise in the procurement and analysis of declassified documents as a source of human rights information.

The family of Father James Carney has been diligent in conducting their own investigation of the circumstances of his death. Their willingness to share the information which they have compiled over the past decade has been most helpful.

The research assistance of Jack R. Binns, Alexander Hernández, Adam Isacson, the Latin America Working Group, Father Joseph E. Mulligan, CELS, SOA Watch, the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Osiris Villalobos, and Gwen Wilbur is gratefully acknowledged.

The work and dedication of Xiomara Bú, Yovanny Argueta and Elia Ruth Velásquez, Paul Jeffery and Sally Hanlon in the translation and editing of the report is appreciated. All those on the staff of the National Commissioner who provided support in the elaboration of this report are to be thanked.

 

 

 

PRESENTATION

"You shall know the truth, and the truth will

make you free."

The words from the Gospel according to John are emblazoned in the foyer of CIA headquarters outside of Washington, D.C. Indeed, basic human freedoms and the process of discerning the truth are linked. Knowledge of the truth is a lib erating force.

The right to know the truth is a human right. It is also a fundamental principle of democracy. In a true democracy, citizens know what their government has done in their name, and can hold authorities, both elected and non-elected, acco untable when injustice, corruption and abuses are perpetrated.

The National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, believes that piecing together the truth and documenting the often tragic events in Honduras' recent past will strengthen democracy. When that which was h idden is made known, when that which was done in the dark is brought to light, when truth-tellers speak and act with courage, only then can we ensure that the basic human rights of all Hondurans are respected. The transformation of Honduras into a more de mocratic society lies in our people's spirit, ability and will to know and confront the terrible truth of a legacy of human rights violations.

It has been four years since the Commissioner published The Facts Speak for Themselves, a preliminary report on human rights abuses which occurred in Honduras in the 1980s. Since that report was issued, the Commissioner has conti nued to document past abuses and to support the Public Ministry's efforts to prosecute and convict those responsible. The Commissioner's human rights investigations are ongoing and multifaceted. Truth-seeking and truth-telling require diligence, persisten ce and perseverance.

This report focuses on one particular aspect of the Commissioner's investigation--the critical effort to gain access to formerly secret, "declassified" documents from the U.S. and Argentinian governments as an important source of human rights information. This information from foreign governments supplements that attained in Honduras from those who were eyewitnesses to abuses, survivors of clandestine detention and torture, and former members of the Honduran military.

The report is divided into three sections:

1. A description of the efforts to obtain human rights information from the U.S. and Argentinian governments;

2. An analysis of some of the information which has become public in the case of the disappearance and presumed death of Father James Francis Carney;

3. Reflections on the efforts to date to obtain human rights information, and recommendations for continued follow-up.

As Carlos Roberto Flores prepares to assume leadership as the President of Honduras, the National Commissioner for Human Rights publicly recommits himself to work with him and his administration to document and disclose the truth about human rights abuses, past and present.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

In Search of Hidden Truths is the second interim report of the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras. The report focuses on a fundamental and simple right: the right to know the t ruth. It addresses a sensitive and controversial topic -- the declassification of foreign government documentation which contains information regarding Honduran human rights abuses in the 1980s. These abuses include the disappearance of more than 184 peop le, among them a U.S. citizen, Father James Francis Carney, known in Honduras as "Padre Guadalupe."

The National Commissioner, otherwise known as the Human Rights Ombudsman, is a position created by the Honduran constitution. The current Commissioner, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, has been gathering evidence from victims as well as perpet rators of human rights abuses that took place during the 1980s. As a critical supplement to their eyewitness testimony, over the last four years, the Commissioner has sought documentation from Honduras, as well as two other countries involved in the strif e during that period: Argentina, and, most importantly, the United States, which was heavily involved in Honduran security operations during the Contra war against Nicaragua.

In Honduras, the Commissioner's office discovered that government documents are simply "desaparecidos" -- disappeared like so many human rights victims. As in the majority of Latin American nations, Honduras has no clear laws to preserv e State archives nor any legal process for public disclosure of internal records. Honduran citizens, unfortunately, do not, at this time, have the legal right to gain access to internal information about the activities of their own government officials. C onsequently, efforts by the office of the National Commissioner to recover relevant Honduran documents relating to multiple past abuses of human rights have proven fruitless. After considerable investigation, the Commissioner was able to identify the loca tion of an archive in the military intelligence offices in Tegucigalpa. When investigators arrived, however, the file cabinets were empty. For reasons of space, they were told, military files are burned every five years.

To establish the historical record, therefore, obtaining documents from the two foreign governments which collaborated closely with the Honduran military during the 1980s has become critical for this human rights inquiry. Commissioner V alladares formerly requested the cooperation of Argentina, and subsequently traveled to Buenos Aires in October 1996. Since Argentinian agents had worked closely with the Honduran high command and trained Nicaraguan Contras on Honduran soil in the early 1 980s, the office of the Commissioner believed that Argentinian documents might yield hard information from that era. Regrettably, the government of Argentina has to date produced only a slim file of responsive material.

The United States, which has the most advanced archival and freedom of information system in the world, offered the best opportunity and hope for uncovering hard historical documentation on Honduras' violent past. During the Reagan admi nistration, the CIA, Pentagon, and other U.S. intelligence agencies worked closely with the Honduran military. A June 1995 expose in The Baltimore Sun revealed the extensive CIA role in the creation and training of Battalion 3-16 -- the Honduran mi litary unit primarily responsible for many of the human rights atrocities in the 1980s -- as well as documents on U.S. knowledge of abuses. In the United States, The Sun series generated several internal CIA investigations, which centralized hundre ds of relevant documents, and a CIA Inspector General's report on the agency's relationship to the Honduran military.

Chapter I describes the extensive, protracted effort by the Commissioner's office to secure access to this important pool of clearly relevant documentation. The administration of Bill Clinton, which has previously authorized the declass ification of significant records on El Salvador and Guatemala, promised its support in several diplomatic letters. President Clinton himself pledged in December 1997 that key CIA documents would be released "by the end of the year."

Some documents were declassified: The State Department released over 2,500 pages of cable and memoranda which officials stated reflected a thorough search of its files; the Defense Department released 34 records but has renewed its sear ch for more records; the CIA released 36 documents on the case of Father Carney and 94 documents on five other Honduran cases.

The ongoing process to obtain U.S. documents has, however, proven exceedingly frustrating. Far more has been promised than has actually been produced. The CIA, for example, has yet to release the recent report of its own Inspector Gener al. Many of the documents that have been released are either irrelevant to the specific requests of the Commissioner, or, as in the case of CIA records, are almost entirely deleted.

The censored pages are a metaphor -- the excised sections of text are black, as are the violations which remain hidden.

The United States government agreed to help the Commissioner because it understood that the transition to strong civilian rule necessitates a comprehensive rendering of the past. Indeed, this inquiry is part of the broader process of co nsolidating democracy which is now occurring in Honduras. This process is full of hopes and dreams, but it is overshadowed by the memory of events of the last decade -- events which remain unresolved in the national consciousness. In the conclusions of The Facts Speak For Themselves, a preliminary report on disappeared persons which he published in 1993, the Commissioner stated, "It is necessary to speak the truth and to do justice. Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible only after the truth i s known."

It is urgent that the truth be known so this process can continue unabated. The Human Rights Commissioner has made this urgency known to U.S. authorities; and this report is intended to reiterate the need for the Clinton administration' s support for the declassification of documentation on human rights violations in Honduras. Despite inexplicable delays, the Commissioner continues, in good faith, to hope and expect that release of the documents will be forthcoming in the near future.

*** *** ***

The report is structured around three chapters, and comprehensive appendices which contain the full texts of declassification requests, diplomatic correspondence, and a chronology of the Commissioner's four-year effort to obtain human r ights documentation from the U.S. and Argentinian governments.

Chapter I provides an introduction to the U.S. declassification process, including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It identifies the legal process and outcome of several major FOIA inquiries on Honduras -- filed by the family of Father James Carney, The Baltimore Sun, and former Ambassador Jack Binns. Chapter I also explains the government-to-government requests for access to internal documentation, and provides a status report on the information obtained to date.

Chapter II provides an analysis of the documentation obtained on the case of Father James Carney. The documents cover Operation Patuca -- the Honduran military effort to track and eliminate an insurgency group with which Carney was trav eling at the time of this disappearance. This chapter reviews the multiple explanations, contained in the documents and other evidence, of the circumstances of Father Carney's death.

Chapter III summarizes the Commissioner's key considerations and recommendations for continuing work by his office and other Honduran government officials.

The report concludes with brief observations on the paramount importance of a honest and open excavation of history, including recent U.S. history, to the Honduran transition to a full and accountable democratic state.

 

 

 

Chapter I

DESCRIPTION OF THE

DECLASSIFICATION PROCESS

 

Conducting an investigation of human rights abuses which took place in the past is like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle has many pieces, which must be located and configured so that it can be solved. In human rights i nvestigations, information must be gathered from a variety of sources -- eyewitness testimonies, legal documents, exhumations, etc. -- in order to piece together the truth about the events which took place. The investigations of the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras are an example of this.

Documents from the U.S. government, which have been "declassified" and made available publicly, are one important source of information for Honduran human rights investigators. They may help provide a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in historical human rights cases. Nonetheless, they alone will not give a full picture of the crimes which were committed.

The U.S. government is a meticulous record-keeper. It has clear regulations which guide what information is recorded, how it is safeguarded, and whether or not it is available to the public. The world can be certain that, when perceived U.S. interests are at stake, that government will gather and systematize reams of information.

During the decade of the 1980's, there was significant U.S. involvement in Honduras and in the neighboring countries of Central America. The U.S. government compiled detailed records on happenings throughout the Central American region. Disclosures at the Iran-Contra hearings, to the Truth Commission in El Salvador, and in conjunction with the Intelligence Oversight Board investigation on Guatemala give one a sense of the type and scope of information collected routinely by the U.S. The re is no doubt that U.S. government files contain ample information about Honduras, and that some of it would be extremely helpful to human rights investigators.

For this reason, over the years a number of declassification requests have been submitted to the U.S. government for human rights information on Honduras. These declassification requests fall into two broad categories, those made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and those made government-to-government. This chapter describes the declassification process in detail and gives the status of each request which has been presented to date.

 

A. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

(FOIA) REQUESTS

The original Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1966 by the U.S. Congress and went into effect in 1967. It established, for the first time, a statutory right of access by "any person" to records of federal agencies of the U.S. government. The FOIA attempted to control government secrecy by establishing requirements for the public disclosure of information.

The FOIA's underlying premise was that all federal agency records must be accessible to the public unless a specific exemption is made. Section 552(b) listed nine exemptions which permit U.S. government agencies to withhold access to re cords requested under the FOIA. These exemptions appear in Appendix D of this report.

Since its enactment, the FOIA has been amended three times. The amendments have dealt primarily with administrative issues and the scope of exemptions. Administrative deadlines were set by which FOIA requests must be processed, or a req uester has standing to sue. Agencies were instructed to charge only the actual costs involved in the search for and subsequent copying of documents responsive to a request. Instances in which these processing fees were to be waived were specified. The pri nciple of "segregable portion" was established whereby, even when some portion of material is exempt, the remainder must be released.

The FOIA included several requirements about agency denials which were intended to facilitate appeals. FOIA requesters must exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit to attempt to obtain records.

To date, three FOIA requests have yielded human rights information on Honduras. The first was submitted by several U.S. citizens to petition for information on the circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of one individual, Father James Carney. The second request was made by a newspaper, The Baltimore Sun. This request sought information from a set time period, while at the same time pursuing documents on specific issues and individuals. The third request was filed by a form er U.S. diplomat and presidential appointee, Jack R. Binns, for documents generated during his years as Ambassador to Honduras. The declassification process for each of these requests is examined in some detail.

 

THE CARNEY FAMILY REQUEST:

Since Father James Francis Carney, also called "Padre Guadalupe", disappeared in Honduras in September, 1983, his family has persisted in their efforts to determine his fate. Virginia Carney Smith sent an initial hand-written reques t for information on her brother's case to the U.S. government in October, 1983, shortly after learning that Fr. Carney was missing.

Declassified State Department cables between headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa indicate that the request was received. It was assigned the FOIA Case Identification Number 8303036, and initial steps were taken to process i t.1 However, Smith received no communication from the U.S. government concerning the request, and no documents were forthcoming.

Given the government's lack of responsiveness, family members (Maureen Frances Carney, Virginia Carney Smith, Eileen Carney Connolly, John Patrick Carney, and W. Joseph Connolly) filed a FOIA request on August 25, 1984 through their att orney, Peter A. Schey. Their FOIA request sought information from the following U.S. government entities:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Department of State (DOS)

Department of Justice - Office of Legal Policy (DOJ-OLP)

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Department of the Army (ARMY)

Department of the Navy (NAVY)

Department of the Air Force (AIR FORCE)

National Security Agency (NSA)

Department of Defense (DOD)

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

This request was assigned the FOIA Case Identification Number 8403222. The documents which the Carney family received in response to their FOIA request, and their contents, are described in more detail in Chapter II.

Nonetheless, the U.S. government denied the release, in full or in part, of more than 300 documents in response to the Carney family FOIA. The agencies claimed that the "national security" and "foreign policy" exemptions of the FOIA all owed the withholding of information.

Of all the U.S. government agencies, the CIA was the least forthcoming in its response to the Carney family. In response to the petition to release any documents indicating "the involvement or non-involvement of personnel from the Centr al Intelligence Agency ... in the 'debriefing' or interrogation of Padre Guadalupe in Honduras in August or September 1983," the CIA stated that "the fact of the existence or non-existence of any documents which would reveal a confidential or covert CIA c onnection with, or interest in, those items of your request ... is classified." The CIA further clarified that by denying the plaintiffs' request, they were "neither confirming nor denying that any such documents exist."2

Of the responsive documents that did surface during the CIA's review, 118 were withheld in their entirety and fourteen in part under the FOIA exemptions. CIA information contained in one FBI document was also denied.

Under the terms of the FOIA, the Carney family continued to pursue the release of documents which had been withheld. On their behalf, their lawyer filed administrative appeals with the various agencies, arguing that information had been improperly exempted. In these appeals, the Carney family requested Vaughn indexes. A Vaughn index is a detailed list of withheld documents correlated to the exemptions which are claimed by a U.S. government agency to justify the withholding.

The appeals process yielded very little substantive information. The family's appeals to the DOJ-OLP, NSA, DIA and NAVY were denied outright. The appeals to CIA, DOS and ARMY resulted in the release of additional information: in some ca ses entire documents were released, and in other instances portions of documents were released.

At this point, all administrative remedies for the Carney family's FOIA request had been exhausted without a satisfactory outcome. Thus, on February 4, 1988, the family filed a complaint for injunctive relief under the FOIA and the Priv acy Act. The suit sought (1) to enjoin U.S. government agencies from withholding records they requested under the FOIA, and (2) to compel the release of improperly withheld records to the family. All the agencies listed on the initial FOIA request were na med as defendants.

The lawsuit was brought in the federal district court in the central district of California in Los Angeles. Honorable Mariana R. Pfaelzer was the U.S. District Court Judge initially assigned to the case. In the course of the proceedings , either the District Court or the parties voluntarily dismissed the NAVY, AIR FORCE, NSA, OLP and DOD as defendants.

With defendant CIA, 53 documents were in dispute. The CIA claimed either national security information, internal agency rules or inter-agency or intra-agency memorandum exemptions for all of these documents. (See Appendix D, on F OIA exemptions.) In response to the litigation, the CIA filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in which it argued that the family ("the plaintiffs") had never clearly articulated its claim that information had been improperly withheld. The family then filed both a Motion in Opposition to the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and a Motion for In Camera Review and Injunction, asking that the judge personally review the documents in dispute in her chambers before making a determination.

On February 28, 1991, U.S. Magistrate Judge Venetta S. Tassopulos concluded that "there is no basis to grant plaintiffs" request for in camera review of withheld documents." She further found "that the defendant has successfully establi shed that the withheld information is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the FOIA."3 She recommended that the CIA Motion for Summary Judgment be granted, ruling against the Carney family.

Despite the diligent pursuit of relevant information by Fr. Carney's family over so many years, some in the U.S. government had earlier made the determination that the case was closed. A declassified handwritten note on an August 19, 19 85 telephone conversation stated outright: "Fr. Carney case transferred to POL 6 months ago -- case is dead. Front office does not want the case active ... we aren't telling that to the family!!"4 In the face of such resistance, the persistence of the fam ily of Fr. Carney in their quest for the truth regarding the fate of their brother is truly admirable.

 

THE BALTIMORE SUN REQUEST

John Carroll, editor of The Baltimore Sun, was intrigued by a wire service report about the The Facts Speak for Themselves, the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner's preliminary report about forced disappearances in tha t country. He instructed reporters Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson to investigate. They pursued the story for 14 months, an unusual commitment for a North American newspaper. The Sun published a prize-winning, four-part series in June, 1995 to report its extensive findings of U.S. knowledge of, and complicity in, human rights violations in Honduras.

As part of its information-gathering efforts for that series, The Baltimore Sun filed a FOIA request on May 26, 1994. The Sun request covered the period from 1979 through April, 1994. It included:

Any and all information related to the origin, structure, members and functions of Battalion 316; any and all information relating to assistance and training provided by the United States government and others to members of Battalion 31 6, and any all (sic) information relating to possible human rights violations committed by members of Battalion 3-16.

It specifically requested any and all information on the case of Inés Consuelo Murillo, a young Honduran lawyer who survived 80 days in illegal detention, and on the activities of two Honduran military personnel, Gen. Gustavo Alv arez Martínez and Major Ricardo Zuniga Morazán. The request also sought, "All documents and information requested by Dr. Valladares."5

Almost a year passed, and no documents were surfaced in response to The Sun's FOIA request. The newspaper grew impatient. It hired the law firm of Baker & Hostetler, and threatened to sue the CIA to obtain documents. The very next day a packet of fourteen declassified documents was delivered to The

Sun.

More time elapsed. Then, on January 24, 1997, the CIA delivered two training manuals to The Baltimore Sun in response to the newpaper's request. The two manuals were titled: Human Resources Exploitation (1983) and Kubark Counteri ntelligence Interrogation (1963).

 

AMBASSADOR BINNS' REQUEST

Jack R. Binns was the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from October 10, 1980 until October 31, 1981. Now retired from the U.S. Foreign Service, he is writing his memoirs. In order to ensure the accuracy of his recollections, Binns wanted to review the documents, classified and unclassified, which had passed in and out of the Embassy during his tenure as Ambassador.

Binns first sent a letter to the State Department requesting information on August 12, 1995. Later he learned of the mandatory presidential review provision (22 CFR 171.25) of the FOIA. As former presidential appointees, Binns and other former U.S. Ambassadors are given special dispensations vis-`a-vis access to government records from their time of service. The State Department permitted Binns to read and take limited notes on classified documents from the period of his ambassadorship. After this perusal of the documents, Binns submitted a FOIA request to the State Department on October 27, 1995, which focused exclusively on his time in Honduras. (See Appendix A, for the full text of the FOIA request.)

Binns' FOIA request (Case Control No. 9600652) was handled in an expedited fashion because of his status as a former presidential appointee. On August 22, 1996, he received a formal response to his request. At that time, the State Depar tment released a number of documents to Binns, most of which were cables which had been exchanged between the Embassy in Tegucigalpa and headquarters in Washington, D.C. While the cables covered a broad range of subjects some valuable human rights informa tion has been gleaned from them.

At the same time, Binns was informed that some documents were being entirely or partially withheld, and that others required inter-agency coordination before a decision on release could be made. It was unclear exactly which documents we re in question or how many there were.

Therefore, on August 27, 1996, Binns requested a listing of those documents which had been withheld under provisions of Executive Order 12958, so that he might file an appeal. (See Appendix D, for explanation of FOIA exemptions.) When the FOI Office informed Binns that "policy" precluded them from providing him with such a list, he found this to be "extraordinary, if not completely bizarre."6

In his subsequent appeal dated October 11, 1996, Binns observed that given "the fact that I already know the number and general subject matter of all documents in question, the Department's refusal to release this information seems to s erve no purpose other than to obstruct the requestor's ability to appeal decisions to withhold documents."7 Given this situation, Binns submitted 24 single-spaced pages listing the number and title of each cable which had been withheld, as well as an infe rred description of the content and his argument as to why each should be released. The specificity of the appeal was truly impressive.

Ambassador Binns' appeal was successful. The Appeals Review Panel ruled in his favor and the previously withheld documents were released to him.

 

 

B. GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT REQUESTS

The FOIA mandated that "any person" may submit a request for the declassification of information to the U.S. government. "Any person" has been interpreted by the U.S. courts (Stone v. Export-Import Bank of the United States, 1977 an d 1978) to include foreign citizens, foreign governments and corporations. Thus, the Honduran government or a Honduran citizen may file a FOIA request.

Honduran government officials carefully weighed the option of filing a FOIA and decided not to pursue it due to time constraints. FOIA requests are handled on a first-come-first-served basis in the order in which they are received. Give n the tremendous backlog of FOIA requests, it is not uncommon to wait several years for a response.

Honduran government officials required a more expedited response than the FOIA would provide. Time was of the essence in the conduct of their investigations. It was felt that several years was too long to wait to attain human rights inf ormation.

There is historical precedence for prompt U.S. response to government-to-government requests. Such requests are generally expedited and handled more quickly than FOIA requests.

Given the urgency of obtaining information for on-going human rights investigations and for the prosecution of rights violators, Honduran government officials opted to submit government-to-government requests to the United States and to Argentina. The requests were made by two Honduran government entities, the National Commissioner for Human Rights and the Public Ministry.

 

THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER'S REQUEST

The National Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Leo Valladares, made his initial request for human rights information from the U.S. government on November 15, 1993 to aid in the preparation of The Facts Speak For Themselves, a preliminary report on the forced disappearance of persons in Honduras. The response from the U.S. government was positive. In a December 8, 1993 letter to U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, President Bill Clinton indicated: "We are willing to assist Dr. Valla dares. However, it is not feasible to review all the reporting on Honduran human rights matters since 1980 for material related to the 140-plus disappearance cases, as Dr. Valladares has so far requested." The Commissioner was asked to narrow his request.

On December 21, 1993, Dr. Valladares submitted a second, more focused request to the U.S. government. Valladares gave then U.S. Ambassador William Pryce a letter to which was appended a "List of Questions on Topics About Which Informati on Is Requested from the United States Government." This list included questions on general topics and on specific human rights cases. Again, the Clinton administration expressed a willingness to cooperate, but indicated that the request list was still to o broad.

Valladares presented a third, profoundly abridged declassification request to Ambassador Pryce on August 1, 1995. Information was requested on: (1) six human rights cases; (2) General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez; and (3) on Battalio n 3-16. This request for human rights information was directed to six U.S. government agencies -- the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Army, the National Security Council, and the Department of State. The text of this request is contained in Appendix A of this report.

 

PUBLIC MINISTRY REQUESTS

Government-to-government declassification requests were also submitted by officials of Honduras' Public Ministry in June, 1995. On the thirteenth of that month, Attorney General Angel Edmundo Orellana Mercado wrote a letter to Ambas sador Pryce. Dr. Orellana notified the U.S. government that Honduran human rights investigators were giving priority to the case of the forced disappearance of Fr. James Carney. He formally requested information concerning that case from the State Departm ent and other government agencies. (See Appendix A, for the text of this letter.)

Two days later, Sonia Marlyna Dubón de Flores, then the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, delivered a detailed request to Amb. Pryce. Her request focused on nineteen points related to five areas: (1) CIA involvement in Hondura s; (2) Battalion 3-16; (3) the Department of Special Investigations; (4) specific military-police operations; and (5) the intelligence and counterintelligence activities of several Honduran citizens. Human rights information was also requested on the case s of Miguel Francisco Carías, Father James Francis Carney, Roger Samuel González, and Nelson MacKay Chavarría. (See Appendix A, for the text of this request.)

 

 

C. U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

The Clinton administration took steps to process the three government-to-government requests from Honduras. John Hamilton, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, was designated to coordinate the d eclassification of human rights information on Honduras across the different government agencies. Hamilton constituted and convened a Working Group on the Honduras declassification comprised of representatives from the various agencies. In addition, the C IA formed its own Honduras Working Group in response to the declassification requests.

Since the submission of the requests, the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner has been in regular contact with U.S. government officials. He has inquired repeatedly about the status of the declassification, urging the accelerated review of records and the expeditious release of responsive documents. Dr. Valladares has made five trips to Washington, D.C. to raise the issue face-to-face with presidential advisers, agency officials, and members of Congress. These efforts are documented in t he "Chronology" found in Appendix B of this report.

The U.S. government has consistently promised that the government-to-government requests are being treated seriously, and that more human rights information will be released "very soon." These assurances have an empty ring when one exam ines the actual track record of the U.S. government in delivering the requested information. In reality, the response has been excruciatingly slow, and the amount of substantive human rights information gleaned from the documents released to date has been bitterly disappointing. This reality becomes poignantly evident in the following section of this report, which examines the actual information which has been yielded by the government-to-government requests to date. The response of each U.S. agency is no ted.

U.S. Department of State (DOS)

The U.S. State Department released three separate batches of declassified documents to Honduran government authorities, giving the DOS the distinction of being the U.S. government agency that has been most responsive to the Hond uran government-to-government requests. This is not saying much when one considers the actual information received. Many of the documents were already in the public domain, or they contained very little human rights information specific to the government- to-government petitions.

On September 15, 1995, the first batch of DOS information, consisting of six documents, was handed to Dr. Valladares by Mr. John Hamilton. The documents turned over were already in the public domain and had already been obtained and scr utinized by the Human Rights Commissioner. They had been released previously to either The Baltimore Sun or the family of Father James Carney in response to their FOIA requests.

The second set of DOS documents, released in February, 1996, contained about 600 pages concerning the case of Father James Carney. Again, the bulk of this material had been previously released to Carney's family in response to their FOI A request. The information consisted mostly of cables exchanged between the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa and State Department officials in Washington, D.C.

The third set of DOS documents, released on September 5, 1996, contained 2,033 pages. Again, the documents were primarily cables. They dealt with a wide range of subject matter (election campaigns, corruption involving AID-funded projec ts, the defection of Army Colonel Leonides Torres Arias, etc.).

The State Department has indicated that all the documents which are responsive to government-to-government requests from Honduras have now been released from this U.S. agency. Although the released documents do make mention of General A lvarez, Battalion 3-16, and the six individual cases outlined in the declassification request of the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, they contain little human rights information which is responsive to the specifics of the petition.

Even though the utility of the declassified DOS documents is limited, they do provide a few clues which have helped increase the understanding of the context of human rights violations in Honduras. In the case of documents on General Al varez, for example, it is interesting to know what he said to visiting Congresspersons from the United States or in response to journalist's questions at press conferences. This is important background information, but it is less helpful than concrete inf ormation on Alvarez's involvement in cases of human rights violations, or his connections to the Battalion 3-16 death squad, or his relationship with Argentina's armed forces.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)

Of all of the U.S. government agencies, the DOD has been the least forthcoming in its response to the Honduran government's declassification requests. A total of 34 heavily excised documents were made available on March 13, 1997 . At the time, it was unclear whether or not this would be all the DOD material released. Therefore, on June 10, 1997, Dr. Valladares wrote a letter to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs, Maria C. Fernández-Greczmiel, seeking cla-rification. He queried: "Will more documents be forthcoming from the DOD which are responsive to my request, or have I already received all the documents that you intend to release? If more documents are 'in the pipeline', as you say, please s pecify a date by which I might expect to receive them." (See Appendix C, for the full text of this letter.)

In her June 18, 1997 response to Dr. Valladares, Fernández-Greczmiel stated:

... after making an initial submission of documents, the Department of Defense initiated another comprehensive survey involving all major agencies within DOD to determine if there were additional documents which were responsive to your request. This process is still underway.

We anticipate receiving the results of that search soon, but it is difficult to predict the exact date as to when and what documents will be available. Please be assured that this process is being expedited as much as possible, and I am hopeful that we can make this submission to you, through the State Department by early July. (See Appendix C, for the full text of this letter.)

The early July date has come and gone. Months have passed without any additional communication from DOD as to the status of their declassification effort. Most recently, in December, Clinton himself indicated in a letter that the releas e of DOD documents would take place "by year's end." Indeed, 1997 has come and gone.

In addition, Dr. Valladares was advised early on that U.S. Army and National Security Council documents would be processed through the Pentagon. No document recognizable as having originated with either of those two entities has been tu rned over thus far.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The CIA has released two batches of documents in response to the declassification requests from the Honduran government. The first consisted of 36 documents (124 pages) related to the Carney case, and a "Summary of CIA Documents on Father Carney." The release occurred on March 13, 1997.

A second batch of 97 CIA documents (313 pages) were turned over on August 29, 1997. This information focused on the remaining five human rights cases involving Honduran citizens which were included in the Commissioner's request. The doc uments are excessively excised. They contain more information on the organization and activities of leftist groups in Honduras than they do on the kidnappings, illegal detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings which occurred in the individual cases in question. It is the latter information that Honduran human rights investigators urgently seek to obtain.

The CIA has delayed the release of Honduran human rights information despite clear target dates which have been laid out by President Clinton himself. On June 13, 1997, in a letter to 51 Members of Congress, Clinton wrote that the: "CIA expects to release any human rights-related material on General Alvarez by early September and on Battalion 3-16 by late November."

 

In December, 1997, Clinton wrote another letter, indicating that the release of the same material would take place "by year's end." Again, these dates have passed without any explanation to Honduran authorities.

 

 

D. REQUEST TO ARGENTINA

In addition to the Honduran government-to-government requests which have been made to the United States, human rights information also has been sought from the Argentinian government. This is because Argentina was heavily involved i n military operations and training within Honduran territory during the period in question.

In May, 1996, Argentinian President Carlos Saúl Menem visited Honduras. During this visit, in response to questions from the Honduran press, Menem expressed a willingness to turn over documents in the possession of his government concerning human rights matters in Honduras, particularly the terrible practice of the forced disappearance of persons.

On September 2, 1996, Dr. Valladares followed up by sending an official letter of request to Menem. The Commissioner asked that Menem "order the respective authorities of your country to put at our disposition all documentation, be it a lready public or still considered secret ("classified"), with the objective of determining what occurred in Honduras." (See Appendix A, for the full text of the letter.) Information was requested on six topics:

 

1. The presence of Argentinian military officers in Honduras between 1980 and 1990;

2. Arms sales and counter-insurgency training to the Honduran security forces;

3. The Argentinian role in the organization and training of the Nicaraguan "Contras" (the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, FDN, and other known groups) in Honduran territory;

4. The nature of the Tripartite Agreement between Argentina, Honduras and the United States (1981) to support and promote the Nicaraguan "Contras" with an operational base in Honduras;

5. The responsibility of various military and intelligence entities for the coordination of Argentinian military operations in Honduras; and

6. The funding of Argentinian military activities in Honduras.

(See Appendix A, for the complete text of this request.)

After receiving no response from the Argentinian authorities, Dr. Valladares travelled to Buenos Aires in mid-October, 1996 to meet with various officials to inquire about the status of the petition. He was told by the Argentinian Sub-s ecretary for Human Rights Alicia Pierini that no official documents exist about past repressive military operations in Honduras. Pierini emphasized that "we also seek to reconstruct the historical truth about the tragic National Security Doctrine."8

Fortunately, Dr. Valladares did not go away totally empty-handed. During that visit, he was given a thin packet of documents and photographs, the majority of which relate to Rafael López Fader's activities in Honduras with the Ni caraguan "Contras." López Fader had been charged for his participation in the kidnapping and extortion of Osvaldo Fabio Sivak in Argentina. In his defense, López Fader argued that he could not possibly have committed the alleged crime becaus e, at the time that it occurred, he was in Honduras performing a secret mission. López Fader testified that, while operating as a secret agent of the Argentinian army in Honduras, he used the pseudonym "Raúl Enrique Martínez."

Although this implies Argentinian involvement in secret missions in Honduras, a practice which was probably documented extensively, no further information has been received. In fact, since last autumn, there has been no further response by the Argentinian government to the Commissioner's information request.

 

 

Notes

 

1 "Freedom of Information Act Request No. 8303036 from Virginia Smith," DOS Unclassified Cable #306596 from U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. to U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279701, 1/30 /96), Document E9, October 27, 1983, 2 pp. and "[F]reedom of Information Act Request No. 8303036 from Virginia Smith on Father Carney," DOS Unclassified Cable #015634 from the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279701, 1/30/96), Document E22, January 18, 1984, one page.

2 "Complaint for Injunctive Relief under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act," United States District Court for the Central District of California, Civil Action No. 88 00602 MRP Kix, February 4, 1988, p. 12.

3 "Report and Recommendations (Central Intelligence Agency)," U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. CV 88-0602-MRP(T), p. 63.

4 Handwritten Note on Telephone Conversation with Lincoln Benedicto, DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279712, 02/02/96), Document C189, August 19, 1985, page one.

5 "Documents on Disappearance of Father Carney," DOS Limited Official Use Cable #151003 from the Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 9527970 3, 02/02/96), Document E92, pp. 2-3.

6 Letter from Jack R. Binns to the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Chairman, Appeals Review Panel, U.S. Department of State, October 11, 1996, p. 1.

7 Ibid, pp. 1-2.

8 "Reconocen haber intervenido en 'guerra sucia'", El Pregonero (Washington, D.C.), October 24, 1996, p. 16.

  

 

 

Chapter II

THE CARNEY CASE: AN ANALYSIS OF

INFORMATION FROM DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS

 

The forced disappearance of a person is a terrible crime. The fate of each "desaparecido", or disappeared person, is forever shrouded in mystery. Loved ones pray and worry and grieve and fear the worst. They must endure the pain of loss and uncertainty. There are no mortal remains to lay to rest. In Honduras, 184 cases of disappearances have been documented by the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras.

Father James Francis Carney is one of the 184 disappeared of Honduras. The case of Fr. Carney is illustrative because the U.S. government has declassified more information on this particular case of forced disappearance that on any othe r. This is due to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the fact that Fr. Carney is the only U.S. citizen among the disappeared. Loved by many humble, hard-working peasants and hated by some of Honduras' most powerful men, Fr. Carney was an outspoken public figure in that country for almost two decades. Over more than a decade, numerous overtures by relatives and Jesuit colleagues to both the Honduran and U.S. governments to try to determine Fr. Carney's fate have helped to keep this case in the public eye.

The declassified material related to the Carney case, examined in this chapter, illustrates of the type of information contained in U.S. government documents which is of interest to Honduran human rights investigators. In addition, this chapter identifies information gaps and questions raised by the declassified documents that have yet to be resolved, and makes recommendations as to how to proceed with the investigation of this particular case.

WHO WAS FATHER CARNEY?

James Francis Carney was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 28, 1924. From 1943 to 1946 he served in the United States Army, stationed primarily in France and England. After World War II, he returned to the United States, where i n 1948 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Florissant, Missouri, to study for the priesthood. Ordained in 1961, he was assigned to a Jesuit mission in Honduras where he served for almost twenty years. Father Carney, known to Honduran peasants as "Padre Gua dalupe," became a naturalized Honduran citizen in September, 1974 and subsequently renounced his U.S. citizenship.

On November 17, 1979, Carney was expelled from Honduras by the military government of General Policarpo Paz García. A State Department telegram from that period indicates that Carney was "considered somewhat controversial by the GOH [Government of Honduras] because of his strong feelings about social justice, and his work with campesinos."1 Shortly thereafter, in a diplomatic note dated November 24, 1979, the Honduran government informed the U.S. Embassy that Carney's Honduran ci tizenship had been revoked.

Despite the petitions of the official Church hierarchy and 25,000 signatures of lay persons, Fr. Carney's attempts to legally re-enter Honduras were refused. He became the parish priest of San Juan de Limay in the Province of Esteli, Ni caragua.

In July of 1983, Fr. Carney crossed from Nicaragua into Honduras with a small guerrilla column of the Central America Revolutionary Workers Party (Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores Centroamericanos - PRTC) led by Dr. José Ma ría Reyes Mata. Before accompanying this group as their chaplain, he submitted his resignation to the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Carney disappeared some time in mid-September 1983. Multiple versions of his death have surfaced. Some involve serious allegations of complicity by Honduran military officials and U.S. personnel. For example, Florencio Caballero, a former member of the 316th Military Intelligence Battalion, testified that Honduran soldiers captured Carney and other PRTC guerrillas in a military operation named "Patuca". Carney was then taken to El Aguacate, a supply base of the Nicaraguan "Contras," where he was interrogated. He was subsequently thrown to his death from a helicopter. Caballero revealed that the orders for Carney's disappearance came from the Chief of the Honduran Armed Forces General Alvarez Martínez during a planning meeting for the so-called "Patuca Operation." According to Caballero, North America personnel, including one man he knew only as "Mr. Mike", were present at that meeting when Alvarez ordered his men to kill Carney after interrogating him.

DECLASSIFICATION REQUESTS FILED

The U.S. government has received both Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and government-to-government requests for human rights information regarding the case of Fr. Carney.

As part of their investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death, Fr. Carney's siblings submitted FOIA requests in October, 1983 and August, 1984. Their hypothesis that the U.S. government must have information on the Carney ca se had been reinforced by conversations at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Indeed, a declassified telegram recounts the very first visit of Carney's relatives to the U.S. Embassy on September 28, 1983, noting that: "EMBOFFS [Embassy officials] ASSURED TH AT GOVERNMENT OF HONDURAS WOULD HAVE TOLD EMBASSY OF ANY INFORMATION HELD ON FATHER CARNEY."2

Over the past decade, Carney's family has been untiring in its quest for information on the case. Investing considerable time and financial resources, they exercised their right of access to U.S. government information to the fullest ex tent possible under the FOIA. This process is described in detail in Chapter I of this report.

In addition to the Carney family FOIA request, three government-to-government declassification requests have been submitted which specifically mention of the Carney case. The first two originated in the Public Ministry of the Republic o f Honduras.

On June 13, 1995, Honduran Attorney General Edmundo Orellana Mercado directed a letter to then-U.S. Ambassador William T. Pryce which explained that the investigation of the Carney case was a priority for the Office of the Special Prose cutor for Human Rights. Dr. Orellana went on to ask: "That all of the information that lies in the Department of State and other Governmental Offices about the forced disappearance of Father Carneige (sic) be given to us." (See Appendix A, for the full text of this letter.)

Two days later, then-Special Prosecutor for Human Rights Sonia Marlyna Dubón de Flores sent a second, more specific request to Amb. Pryce for U.S. information on nineteen different topics. Among these topics, Ms. Dubón pet itioned for: "Reports and documents of the CIA with respect to the death of the Jesuit priest of North American nationality JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEIGE (sic), known as 'Padre Guadalupe." (See Appendix A, for the full text of this letter.)

The Carney case was also one of the six cases about which Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza requested U.S. information in a formal petition which was personally presented to Amb. Pryce on August 1, 1995. The Commissione r sought: "All the records concerning the disappearance of Father JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEY, known as 'FATHER GUADALUPE." (See Appendix A, for the full text of these request.)

THE PRTC GUERRILLAS

AND THE PATUCA OPERATION

Fr. Carney served as a chaplain to a group of fewer than one hundred men and women belonging to the Central America Revolutionary Workers Party (PTRC) that crossed by foot from Nicaragua into Honduras on or about July 19, 1983. Carn ey's presence with the group is confirmed in diary entries of the group's leader, Dr. José María Reyes Mata, who chronicled the journey of the guerrillas through a mountainous region of Honduras.3 When Reyes Mata was killed by Honduran soldi ers, his diary was retrieved, though several pages were missing. An English translation of the diary, prepared by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), has been declassified by the CIA. The diary makes several references to a "Mario," the name which is known to be Fr. Carney's pseudonym. The August 15 entry notes that:"... Mario, the one who was presumed to be the weakest of all, had reached the ravine about 600 meters from the camp."4 This is the last mention of Mario in the text of the diary .

The PRTC group was considered a serious threat to Honduras' national security. "The infiltration from Nicaragua of a Cuban-trained guerrilla force into a remote region of Honduras" was characterized as "the most significant internationa l security threat of 1983" in a 1988 report on an investigation for the CIA Inspector General. The report declared: "The guerrilla infiltration was disturbing evidence that Havana and Managua were intent on introducing guerrilla war to Honduras."5 A full- scale military operation was mounted against the PRTC group.

Passages from formerly secret U.S. documents provide a partial response to key questions regarding the destiny of the PRTC guerrillas, among them: When did the Honduran military begin to monitor the movements of the PRTC guerrillas? Whe n did the Honduran military become aware of Fr. Carney's presence with the PRTC group? How were PRTC guerrillas treated by the Honduran military upon their capture or desertion? To what extent was there U.S. involvement in the detection, tracking and elim ination of the PRTC group? What did employees of the U.S. government know about the welfare and whereabouts of Fr. Carney, and when did they learn it?

Detection of PRTC guerrillas

On August 1, 1983, two PRTC guerrillas deserted near the town of Catacamas and turned themselves in to the Honduran army. According to a declassified State Department telegram: "WHEN GOH [Government of Honduras] FIRST BECAME AWA RE OF THE GROUP'S PRESENCE IN HONDURAS, BY THE ARRIVAL OF TWO DESERTERS AT CATACAMAS ON AUGUST 1, THEY SHARED THIS INFORMATION WITH U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE OFFICE. THE U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE OFFICE DID NOT HAVE INFORMATION PRIOR TO THIS DATE REGARDING THIS GRO UP'S PRESENCE IN HONDURAS."6 Immediately after the deser-ter's appearance, the Honduran military mounted the "Patuca Operation" in order to locate, capture and eliminate the PRTC guerrillas.

On August 4, 1983, the Honduran Army's Patuca Task Force arrived in Nueva Palestina, Olancho, to set up its headquarters and to launch the counter-insurgency mission. The very next day, U.S. Army Rangers from Fort Lewis, Washington, wer e parachuted into Olancho. They remained there until August 16, participating in what the Pentagon called a "simulated counterinsurgency operation" with Honduran forces.7 This was all part of larger U.S.-Honduran military exercises which were described as follows in a declassified trip report of the Investigations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Big Pine II (Ahuas Tara II) lasted from August 1983 to February 1984. This exercise, in which approximately 6,000 U.S. Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force personnel participated, included an amphibious landing by a marine amphibious unit o n the north coast, a combined field training exercise of Honduran units and U.S. Army Special Forces in a counterinsurgency exercise in a remote area of Honduras, and a combined artillery exercise of the division artillery from the 101st Airborne Division and the Honduran army.8

Thus, a significant numbers of U.S. forces were present in Honduras for the duration of the Patuca Operation.

U.S. reporting on the operation

Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents indicate that the U.S. military closely monitored the Patuca Operation. The DIA reported in meticulous detail on intelligence gathered on the PRTC group and on its modus o perandi. Intelligence reports included:

the name, pseudonym, rank and place of origin of all guerrillas (ie. deserters and those still at large);

the dates and locations at which guerrillas deserted or were captured, wounded or killed;

the organization and exact size of the guerrilla group;

the demographics and morale of the guerrilla group;

the location of those guerrillas still at large;

the types of training received by the guerrilla group;

the quantities of supplies (arms, equipments and food) that the guerrillas were carrying;

the location and contents of arms caches; and

the inventory of equipment, documents, tape recordings, weapons, etc, captured from the guerrillas.

The DIA documented the participation of the following Honduran military units in the operation:

Special Forces Squadron;

Company of the 5th Infantry Battalion;

Company of the 9th Infantry Battalion; and

Company of the 16th Infantry Battalion.9

Declassified documents also indicate that it is likely that interrogators from the 316th Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB), more commonly known as Battalion 3-16, participated in the Patuca Operation. A declassified document from th e Pentagon described the organization and functions of the 316th MIB and observed:

Because the MIB has access to a great deal of information it has the further responsibility to support the Special Forces Battalion and the Cobras. The Special Operations Squadron acts as the coordinator for all required support such as communications, intelligence, and planning, and can provide personnel, if necessary. In addition, the MIB now appears to be the primary agency to conduct interrogations of captured or detained subversives.10

Exchange of intelligence information

Shortly after Carney's disappearance, on September 28, 1983, his relatives visited the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa for the first time. A declassified cable reporting on the visit indicated that, "EMBOFFS [Embassy Officials] DENI ED U.S. HAD GIVEN GOH [Government of Honduras] INTELLIGENCE TO BE USED IN OLANCHO OPERATION." Later, the same cable mentioned that "EMBOFFS ALSO NOTED TO FAMILY THAT FAMILY'S ESTIMATE OF EXTENT OF USG [United States Government] INFLUENCE WITH GOH WAS EXCE SSIVE, AND COUNSELED FAMILY TO BE MINDFUL IN MEETINGS WITH GOH OFFICIALS THAT HONDURAS WAS INDEED A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY."11

However, two months later, U.S. Embassy comments on the report issued by the Carney family on their investigation into the fate of their brother stated:

HONDURAN MILITARY REGULARLY SHARE INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION. BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THESE DUTIES AND AS BOTH A PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL SECURITY PRECAUTION, DEFENSE ATTACHES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO BE PUBLICLY IDENTIFIED AS THE SOURCE OF ANY OFFICIAL INFORMATION.12

Such apparent contradictions fuel speculation about the exact role of U.S. military advisors and CIA agents in the Patuca Operation. How genuine was the U.S. government concern that Honduras' sovereignty be respected?

Activities of U.S. military advisers

Several formerly secret documents make passing reference to the presence of U.S. military personnel. For example, one update on counter-guerrilla operations in Olancho indicated:

... ON 13 SEP 83, 9 MORE GUERRILLA DESERTERS WERE PERSONALLY OBSERVED BY DAO [Defense Attaché Office] MEMBER TO HAVE BEEN REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES FOR AN HOUR.13

Other documents point to much more direct U.S. participation in the operation. In a December 7, 1983 letter to Carney's family, the State Department stated that:

During the Honduran military's operation against the guerrillas, the U.S. Defense Attache assisted in debriefing the guerrillas. This is a normal aspect of a military intelligence sharing relationship such as presently exists between th e U.S. and Honduras. The U.S. Defense Attaché has no recollection of hearing that a United States citizen was part of the guerrilla group.14

It appears that U.S. personnel also assisted with psychological operations targeted at the civilian population in the region where the PRTC group was operating. One intelligence report indicates that two guerrilla deserters were videota ped, stating that:

ON 25 AUG, SANCHEZ AND COLINDRES CUT A TAPE IN THE ARMED FORCES PUBLIC RELATIONS STUDIO, CALLING ON THEIR COMRADES TO GIVE UP. THE MESSAGE WAS COPIED AND SENT TO OLANCHO WHERE IT WAS BROADCAST FROM VEHICLES AND A FAH [Honduran Air Force ] CESSNA 85 MODIFIED WITH AN AMPLIFIER AND LOUDSPEAKER.15

Later in the text, it is acknowledged that:

DAO [Defense Attaché Office] MEMBERS SUPPLIED THE QUESTIONS FOR THE SANCHEZ-COLINDRES SESSION, AND SAW THEM GIVEN TO THE PAIR FOR THE FIRST TIME AS THE TAPE ROLLED. THE ENCLOSED COPY IS THE UNCUT VERSION, WHICH WILL BE EDITED SOM EWHAT BEFORE BEING RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC.16

Notations at the end of the report show that copies of the videotape were forwarded to the DIA in Washington, D.C. Where is that videotape today? Does it contain human rights information which might be helpful in determining the fate of Fr. Carney and other PRTC guerrillas? If so, why has it not been released to the Honduran authorities?

U.S. awareness of Carney's presence

The U.S. government has consistently claimed that it was unaware of Carney's presence with the PRTC group until the Patuca Operation was almost over. A section of a declassified telegram subtitled "Embassy Awareness of Carney's Involvement," explained that:

LOCAL NEWSPAPERS BEGAN REPORTING ON THE OLANCHO OPERATION ON AUGUST 16. ON AUGUST 19 SOME DETAINEES WERE REPORTED AS SAYING THAT ... THERE WAS ANOTHER CATHOLIC PRIEST KNOWN AS MARIO WITH THE GROUP.... THE PAPER REPORTED THAT THE INTELLI GENCE SERVICES HAD IDENTIFIED THIS OTHER PRIEST AS PADRE GUADALUPE (SIC) (EL HERALDO). ... NEXT REFERENCE TO PRIEST(S) WITH THE GROUP CAME OUT ON SEPTEMBER 10 (LA PRENSA, EL HERALDO) REPEATING SOME OF ABOVE AND INDICATING THAT PADRE GUADALUPE WAS CANADIAN , ACCORDING TO THE GUERRILLAS. ON SEPTEMBER 15 LA TRIBUNA CARRIED ON PAGE 12 ARTICLE REGARDING OSTENSIBLE CAPTURE OF REYES MATTA AND ESCAPE OF USC [United States Citizen] CARNEY AS MENTIONED IN FAMILY REPORT. ... EVEN AT SEPTEMBER 19 PRESS CONFERENCE PADR E GUADALUPE WAS NOT REFERENCED TO AS USC. ... EMBASSY STAFF DID NOT MAKE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE PRIEST QUOTE PADRE GUADALUPE END QUOTE AND USC JAMES CARNEY UNTIL SEPTEMO (sic - SEPTEMBER) ARTICLES WERE PUBLISHED. WE DID NOT NOTE REFERENCE IN SEPTEMBER 15 ARTICLE IN LA TRIBUNA UNTIL SOME TIME AFTER PUBLICATION. ARTICLE WHICH MENTIONED CARNEY IS LOCATED ON PAGE 12 AND REFERENCE TO CARNEY BURIED IN LAST PARAGRAPH. EMBASSY STAFF MEMBERS, REMEMBERING HIS 1979 EXPULSION FROM HONDURAS, PICKED UP U.S. CITIZENSHIP POSSIBILITY IMMEDIATELY ON PUBLICATION OF NEWSPAPERS SEPTEMBER 20 AND FROM THAT POINT ON EMBASSY MONITORING OF SITUATION FROM PERSPECTIVE OF POSSIBLE INVOLVEMENT OF USC BEGAN. DEFENSE ATTACHE HAS NO RECOLLECTION OF HEARING OF USC INVOLVEMENT IN DEBRIEFIN G OF DETAINED GUERRILLAS PRIOR TO THAT DATE. IT SHOULD THEREFORE BE CLEAR WHY EMBASSY ACTION ON THIS CASE WAS NOT INITIATED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 20.17

If, indeed, the U.S. government did not detect Carney's presence with the PRTC group, earlier clues were overlooked. For example, an August 30, 1983 cable from the Office of the U.S. Defense Attaché in Tegucigalpa to the DIA in W ashington, D.C. listed the pseudonyms and real names of all PRTC guerrillas. This list included an entry which read: "MARIO (POSSIBLY PRIEST. NAME IS EITHER FAUSTO MILLA OR GUADALUPE AND IS THOUGHT TO BE 60-65 YEARS OLD)."18

The claim of the U.S. Defense Attaché that interrogations of PRTC deserters in August and September by Honduran military officials did not surface information about Fr. Carney's pre-sence with the guerrilla group is a bit difficu lt to accept. Indeed, doubt has been cast on this claim by Ronald Glass, a former Assistant Army Attaché who accompanied the Defense Attaché in August, 1983, during the questioning of PRTC deserters. In a May, 1997 interview with one of Fr. Carney's Jesuit colleagues, Glass asserted: "The deserters spoke of an American priest who was with them. ... We might even have had information about him before we left Tegucigalpa to go out there."19

Treatment of suspected guerrillas

U.S. personnel in the field characterized the treatment of guerrilla deserters as humane, and noted: "THE GUER[R]ILLA DESERTERS SAID THEY WERE GRATEFUL TO THE HO [Honduran] ARMY FOR TREATING THEM WELL, FEEDING THEM, AND ALLOWING THEM TO SLEEP."20

Perhaps deserters received better treatment than captured guerrillas. Declassified documents contain references to the fate of captured guerrillas which are quite worrisome. For example, in a November 11, 1983 letter to Carney's relativ es, General Alvarez Martínez, Commander and Chief of the Honduran Armed Forces, explained:

The other six detainees who were not interviewed by the Connolly-Carney family were participating during those days in patrol operations with the Patuca Task Force, as guides to find arms caches. To our surprise, those individuals, in w hom much confidence had been placed, tried to escape as a group at dawn on October 3, 1983, endangering the life of all the elements of the patrol and causing a skirmish in which they lost their lives.21

One would assume that the captured guerrillas were unarmed, and guarded by a number of Honduran soldiers. Given this, "a skirmish" resulting in the death of each and every one of the guerrillas seems implausible. The circumstances surro unding the death of these captured guerrillas should be investigated further.

Another report prepared by U.S. Army Captain Ronald L. Glass and approved by U.S. Air Force Colonel Dale W. Bollert, is sketchy, but raises additional human rights concerns. It gives the names and pseudonyms of six more captured guerril las and then states matter-of-factedly that:

THERE HAVE BEEN MIXED SIGNALS BETWEEN HO INTEL [Honduran Intelligence] AND DIN [National Directorate of Investigations] ON THE 'CAPTURED' STATUS OF THESE SIX INDIVIDUALS. ANOTHER ACCOUNT SUGGESTS THAT THEY ARE NOT IN CUSTODY OF DIN, BUT WERE IDENTIFIED AND ESCAPED. IF THEY ARE IN CUSTODY OF DIN, THE VALUE OF DEBRIEFING COULD BE SIGNIFICANT AND IT MAY SERVE HO [Honduras] PURPOSES TO KEEP THE INDIVIDUALS IN A SAFE HOUSE AND KEEP THEIR STATUS IN DOUBT.22

Were suspected guerrillas held in illegal detention without being formally charged? Is "escape" a euphonism for the fact that they were killed in a premeditated fashion? Did U.S. personnel from the Office of the Defense Attache assist i n the debriefing of these individuals? The Commissioner fails to see how it might have served Honduras to keep the status of detained persons in doubt, unless, of course, this is a recommendation that these suspected guerrillas "disappear." The fate of th ese individuals should be investigated.

Use of U.S. helicopters

On September 9, 1983, five UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters of the 101st Aviation Battalion from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were observed flying over eastern Honduras. On September 20, 1983, CBS News was told by North American officers close to the Patuca Operation that "the Blackhawks were transporting Honduran troops into the combat area and running reconnaissance flights for them."23 The Pentagon denied that report.

Later, the State Department outlined the official U.S. government version of events in a letter to Carney's family, stating:

On September 9, five U.S. helicopters transported 50 Honduran troops from Dulsuna to a location northeast of Dulce Nombre de Culni. Both points are within the province of Mosquitia Gracias a Dios department, which neighbors Olancho depa rtment. As part of an air mobility training exercise, U.S. helicopters which were operating in the area to carry relief supplies to refugees were also authorized to carry out the Honduran government's request that Honduran 5th Battalion soldiers be transp orted to Wanpusirpi. The intention of the Honduran government was to later employ these soldiers to prevent the guerrillas from escaping along the lower Patuca River to the Mosquitia region. Those Honduran soldiers did not participate in combat activity a gainst the guerrillas. They were 150 kms distant from the Cordillera Entre Rios region in Olancho where the skirmishes took place.24

This version, if true, would exonerate U.S. forces from direct involvement in the combat which occurred on September 9th. But, its veracity is unclear. An article published in The Nation magazine cited an unidentified senior Hond uran military officer who was close to General Alvarez as insisting that U.S. military advisers "played a command and control role in the counterinsurgency sweep, relaying information by radio to ground troops."25

Finally, the Honduran Army Officer in Command of the Patuca Task Force dismissed allegations of any sort of U.S. involvement in the combat area. At a press conference on September 19, 1983, he stated:

THIS IS A HONDURAN PROBLEM. IT WAS CREATED BY HONDURAS AND HONDURANS ARE THE ONE FIGHTING IT. WE DON'T HAVE U.S. ADVISERS OR TROOPS WORKING WITH THE PATUCA TASK FORCE. THIS OPERATION WAS PLANNED BY OUR HIGH COMMAND AND HAS BEEN CARRIED OUT BY HONDURAN TROOPS. THERE ARE NO AMERICANS ADVISING US. WE DON'T HAVE ANY U.S. EQUIPMENT OR HELICOPTERS HERE. ALL THE RESOURCES THAT WE ARE USING IN THIS AREA BELONG TO THE HONDURAN ARMY. THE U.S. TROOPS IN THE COUNTRY ARE INVOLVED IN BIG PINE II. THE RE ARE NO NORTH AMERICANS IN THIS AREA. THIS IS AN OPERATIONAL COMBAT AREA. THE MANEUVERS ARE BEING HELD ELSEWHERE.26

Given the evidence from declassified documents and other sources, we know this to be a blatant lie.

CIA involvement

The CIA has emphatically denied its involvement in the Patuca Operation. A 1988 report on a CIA Inspector General's investigation stated:

OGC [Office of the General Counsel] found no information which suggested active Agency involvement in the planning or execution of the Honduran military's counterinsurgency efforts against the Honduran guerrilla group which Fr. Carney a ccompanied into Honduras from Nicaragua. ... Our conclusion is that the Agency only learned of Fr. Carney's fate after the fact, and had no prior knowledge of his presence in the guerrilla group and no involvement in his disappearance.27

THE TESTIMONY OF FLORENCIO CABALLERO

A former Honduran Army Sergeant, Florencio Caballero Bonilla, was one of the primary sources of information about the Carney case and other cases of human rights abuses. Caballero deserted from the Honduras military intelligence app aratus in June, 1986 and later shared eyewitness testimony in a number of different fora, some public and some confidential. This section examines Caballero's testimony and the U.S. government's response in relation to the Carney case.

In 1987, Carney family members made contact with Caballero and went to interview him in Canada where he had sought political asylum. Caballero told the Carney family that the orders to kill Fr. Carney and PRTC guerrilla leader Dr. Jos&e acute; María Reyes Mata came directly from General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez. Caballero indicated that U.S. personnel, including a CIA agent known as "Mister Mike," were present at the briefing by General Alvarez. This testimony contradicts o fficial statements that U.S. personnel were unaware of Carney's involvement with PRTC until the Patuca Operation was winding down.

Since he was posted at Nueva Palestina, Caballero said that he personally had not seen Fr. Carney. Nonetheless, he claimed to have heard second-hand that Fr. Carney was captured and taken to El Aguacate, a camp near Catacamas, Honduras operated by the CIA for the Nicaraguan "Contras." Caballero claimed that CIA and Pentagon instructors, who were training the Contras, were present at El Aguacate during Fr. Carney's detention there. Caballero informed the family that Fr. Carney was subseq uently tortured, and then thrown "out of a helicopter alive" over the Honduran jungle.

Caballero said that he did look at a dairy and some religious artifacts which had belonged to Fr. Carney. He indicated that the diary was later turned over to Capt. Chávez Hernández, who was the second-in-command of Battal ion 3-16 after Major Alexander Hernández.

In January, 1988, Caballero testified before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica in the historic case which the family of Angel Manfredo Velásquez Rodríguez brought against the Governmen t of Honduras.

Caballero also shared his testimony with journalist James LeMoyne, who quoted him extensively in an article entitled "Testifying to Torture" which appeared in the New York Times Magazine on June 5, 1988. Regarding the Carney case , "Florencio Caballero said he interrogated an American priest, Father James Carney, who supported guerrilla warfare and was captured along with a group of 96 rebels who had infiltrated into Honduras from Nicaragua after training in Cuba. Mr. Caballero sa id Father Carney and nearly 70 of the captured guerrillas were executed."28 Did Caballero see and interrogate Fr. Carney or not? This discrepancy needs to be clarified.

The magazine article also provided details about Caballero's claims of receiving CIA training:

'I was taken to Texas with 24 others for six months between 1979 and 1980,' Mr. Caballero told me. 'There was an American Army captain there and men from the C.I.A. The chief C.I.A. instructor was Mr. Bill.' ...

In Texas, said Mr. Caballero, the Americans 'taught me interrogation, in order to end physical torture in Honduras. They taught us psychological methods -- to study the fears and weaknesses of a prisoner. Make him stand up, don't let hi m sleep, keep him naked and isolated, put rats and cockroaches in his cell, give him bad food, serve him dead animals, throw cold water on him, change the temperature'.

'When I returned to Honduras, I was trained in assaults, bombs and explosives by Americans, Chileans and Argentines,' Mr. Caballero recalled. 'Then I joined an intelligence unit as an interrogator. We seized and investigated subversives .' Occasionally, an American C.I.A. agent visited the hidden jail where he worked, Mr. Caballero says, and was given edited interrogation reports on prisoners.29

Caballero's allegations of CIA wrongdoing put forth in the LeMoyne article sparked a flurry of U.S. government investigations. On June 9, 1988, the Inspector General of the CIA ordered an investigation of the allegations which appeared in the article. A week later, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) called CIA Deputy Director for Operations Richard Stolz to a closed door hearing on CIA capacitation of Honduran interrogators and the training manuals used. After this heari ng and two closed door sessions with SSCI staff on June 14 and 17, 1988, the Committee agreed to suspend further questions pending completion of the Inspector General's investigation. Though the exact date is still secret, at some point in this process SS CI staff members interviewed Caballero.

Though significant portions of the information are still blacked out, some of the printed material from these investigations has now been partially declassified. Parts of the transcripts of the SSCI Committee hearing and the staff's int erview with Caballero were released to The Baltimore Sun in March, 1995, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Segregable portions of an August 24, 1988 memorandum to the CIA Inspector General on the subject of the "Investigation of New York Times Article's Allegations of CIA Involvement with Honduran Officials Accused of Human Rights Abuses" were released in August, 1997.

CIA Training

Declassified documents reveal considerable confusion within the U.S. government about whether or not Caballero received CIA training, and if so when.

The Inspector General's findings in 1988 refuted Caballero's testimony. On page 3 of the memorandum it is reported that:

We found no record of CIA training of Hondurans (or anyone else) in Texas during the time frame reported [1979-1980]. ... [excised] There is no mention of Sgt. Caballero elsewhere in CIA records until he began giving interviews and test ifying to alleged human rights abuses.30

However, later that same document discusses the interrogation of Inés Consuelo Murillo, a young Honduran lawyer and suspected subversive who was being held without charges in clandestine detention. It accounts, as follows, the ar rival of a temporary duty officer, sent by the CIA to assist with Murillo's interrogation:

The TDY [temporary duty] officer was introduced by DCOS [Deputy Chief of Station] to the two Special Unit questioners. One of them was the 'Rony' whom Ms. Murillo alleges tortured her and whom he previously had met during his trip to Sa n Pedro Sula. The TDY officer considered 'Rony' to be the most intelligent and capable of the Honduran HRE [Human Resource Exploitation] personnel with whom he worked. ['Rony' is identified in the LeMoyne article as Marco Tulio Regalado, who is listed in CIA records as a classmate of Caballero].31

A June 3, 1988 Spot Report issued by the CIA in anticipation of the publication of the LeMoyne article, had indicated:

Florencio Caballero received human resource training (debriefing techniques) sponsored by the CIA during 8 February - 13 March 1984. (The dates in the article 1979-80 are incorrect.) We have no evidence to substantiate that he participa ted in death squad activities or that he tried to conceal these alleged activities from the CIA. The Agency was not aware of his involvement in such activities. [excised]32

The entire second page of the Spot Report is blacked out.

Yet, later that same month at the SSCI hearing, CIA official Stolz testified:

Caballero did indeed attend a CIA human resources exploitation or interrogation course [excised] from February 8th to March 13th, 1983. To date, we have found no record of any CIA training for him [excised] We have checked with the Depa rtment of Defense and they have no record either.

The course in question [excised] was given by [excised] The course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by two weeks of practical exercises which included the questioning of actual prisoners by the students.33

< /DIR>

Did Florencio receive CIA training or not? If so, in what year? 1983 or 1984?

Based on Caballero's own recollections and information from other sources, the Commissioner surmises that the 1983 dates for the CIA training are the accurate ones. If indeed this is the case, Caballero would have completed his training in interrogation on the day after Inés Murillo's arrest. It seems plausible, therefore, that "practical exercise" might have involved questioning her, something which Caballero has acknowledged doing. Moreover, in this eventuality, Caballero would have successfully completed his interrogation training prior to the launching of the Patuca Operation and the "disappearance" of Fr. Carney. It would corroborate parts of Caballero's testimony, making it conceivable that he was in a position to know abou t Carney's welfare and whereabouts.

U.S. refutes Caballero

Since Caballero's testimony first became public, the U.S. has downplayed it and has questioned its accuracy.

Prior to the publication of LeMoyne's New York Times Magazine article, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Fred C. Ikle wrote Senator Tom Harkin:

Regarding the allegations of murders being carried out by Honduran military personnel, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras has investigated the charges and found them to be unsubstantiated allegations based chiefly on the testimony of one pers on, Florencio Caballero. In addition, several USG [United States government] agencies have reviewed their records and similarly found no evidence to corroborate the charges made by Mr. Caballero.34

A deposition of Caballero's sworn testimony was taken by representatives of the Honduran Public Ministry's Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights in Toronto, Canada, in November, 1996. This is the last testimony given by Caba llero prior to his death in July, 1997. This testimony will remain sealed until introduced as evidence in Honduran court.

 

CHRONOLOGY OF MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF CAUSE OF CARNEY'S DEATH

In addition to Florencio Caballero's testimony, several other versions which account for Fr. Carney's death have been put forward. These multiple versions are presented in this section in chronological order.

On September 14 and 15, 1983, Honduran press reports stated that the Honduran Armed Forces had, with the assistance of U.S. military advisors, surrounded and captured a number of PRTC guerrillas in Olancho, among them Fr. Carney and Dr. José María Reyes Mata. These reports further stated that Fr. Carney died of gastrointestinal illness and that an autopsy was performed on his body. The next day, on September 16, 1983, the Honduran military denied these reports.

On September 19, 1983, a press conference was held at Nueva Palestina, Olancho, at which Fr. Carney's religious vestments, a wooden chalice, and his Bible, were laid out for reporters to inspect. The commander of the Honduran Army's Pat uca Task Force, Major Leonel Luque Portillo, announced that Fr. Carney had died in the jungle of starvation. Military spokesmen later retracted that explanation, saying that Fr. Carney's death could not be confirmed.

A few days later, however, on September 22, 1983, an U.S. Embassy telegram to the State Department contained several other versions. It reported:

The Embassy has received as yet unconfirmed reports that Carney was shot and killed during the armed encounter with the Honduran Armed Forces.35

The same text relayed an update that:

As telegram was being drafted, Embassy learned from ranking GOH [Government of Honduras] military officials that Carney was not involved in the armed encounter with GOH forces on Sept. 18 and could well still be alive. During interrogat ion one of the captured guerrillas stated that he last saw Carney suffering from severe malnutrition and did not think that Carney would live. At present, GOH cannot confirm Carney's death and his whereabouts are unknown.36

At a press conference in Mexico City in October, 1983, the Christian Human Rights Commission of Honduras stated that one of the "deserters" present at the September 19th Honduran Armed Forces press conference, Oswaldo Castro, had told h is family that two U.S. advisors, Lt. West Blank, in charge of U.S. intelligence at the "Contra" base at El Aguacate, and Major Mark Kelvi, second in command, were present at the interrogation of Fr. Carney. Castro reportedly claimed that the interrogatio n took place in underground cells at El Aguacate which were used to store war materials. Castro is also reported to have stated that General Alvarez participated directly in various interrogation sessions before the prisoners were killed. After Castro and five others were killed while trying "to escape", his family turned over the information to the Christian Human Rights Commission. His untimely death meant that members of the Carney family were never able to personally meet with and interview him as the y had with fifteen other guerrilla deserters.

A declassified memorandum indicates that in 1984 at least one Congressman met with unnamed CIA officials to be briefed on the probable cause of Fr. Carney's death. Rep. William S. Broomfield was advised that: "[excised] he could assure Mr. Broomfield that the CIA had nothing whatsoever to do with the priest's demise."37

Despite such straightforward statements to the Congressman, Carney's family did not receive an official response from the CIA regarding his fate until four years later. On April 7, 1988, then Director of Central Intelligence William Web ster wrote:

I am satisfied that the Central Intelligence Agency was not involved in Father Carney's disappearance and apparent death. It appears from the information available to me that Father Carney most likely perished in the Honduran jungle fro m starvation and exposure to the elements. While we do not know exactly what became of Father Carney, I want to assure you that we have no evidence or information that he was tortured or murdered.38

A couple months later, on June 16, 1988, at closed Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings on CIA training of Honduran interrogators, the one and only question about the Fr. Carney case was directed by now U.S. Secretary of Def ense William Cohen to CIA Deputy Director of Operations Richard Stolz:

SENATOR COHEN: ... Can the CIA confirm the manner and death of Father Carney?

MR. STOLZ: No sir. We understand -- we do not know the answer to that. I spoke to Ambassador Negroponte briefly Tuesday and again yesterday and the best information that anyone seems to have is that he probably died of -- that a number of them were released and they were in the jungle somewhere and died. But I don't know anything further than that. I do not know that he was killed by any Honduran authorities. We just don't know.39

The transcript of the hearing indicated that Stolz was not pressed to elaborate on his vague, rambling response.

A four-page summary that the CIA prepared to accompany its release of Carney-related documents in March, 1997 delineates three possible scenarios concerning his fate. The first, "commonly accepted version" is "that Father Carney was not captured but died from severe malnutrition."40 This version is based on guerrilla debriefings and on the contents of the Reyes Mata diary.

The summary goes on to state, "A second version, that Father Carney was captured then killed by Honduran military, cannot be ruled out given recent reporting which indicates Honduran military units captured and executed a number of insu rgents."41 This version is partially drawn from the testimony of Florencio Caballero.

The third version presented by the CIA is far and away the most provocative and disturbing. It posits that Carney "was killed by the Honduran military, but adds that he was tortured and then dismembered." The CIA asserts that this versi on is "uncorroborated" and "based on second-hand information from a left-wing activist with a particular political agenda."42

On August 29, 1997, the CIA released a heavily redacted document entitled "Review and Findings of the Honduras Working Group." Though 25 of 37 pages were denied in full and the date of the document is blacked out, it appears to have bee n drafted in late 1996 or early 1997. Despite all the black ink, it is the best summary available in the public domain of the CIA's current analysis of the Carney case. The CIA's Honduras Working Group noted that:

Some reports suggest it is possible that Carney -- as the Honduran military has claimed since 1983 -- starved in the jungle. Other information casts doubt on the Honduran military's explanation and makes it difficult to rule out the pos sibility that the Honduran military captured Carney, along with insurgent leader Reyes Mata and the other guerrillas, and interrogated and killed him. At the same time, there is not reporting to suggest that CIA was involved in Carney's disappearance or d eath.43

While the CIA still vehemently denies its own involvement in the Carney case, it is significant that the Agency does now acknowledge that the Honduran military may have played a role in his death.

 

U.S. GOVERNMENT INFORMATION RECEIVED

Over the years, the U.S. government has declassified documents concerning the disappearance of Fr. Carney in a piecemeal fashion. This section chronicles the release of these documents and analyzes their content.

The first information on the Carney case was declassified prior to the submission of the Honduran government's requests in 1995, in response to the FOIA requests and subsequent lawsuit by the Carney family. Though documents were release d by the DOS, CIA, USIS, DOD and ARMY, the bulk of the material received originated from the State Department.

In early 1995, in addition to the Carney family efforts, The Baltimore Sun FOIA request yielded two new documents that made reference to the Carney case.

The very first set of declassified documents given to Honduran authorities by the U.S. government were handed to Dr. Valladares by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs John Hamilton on September 15, 1995 in Washington, D.C. All of these documents contained information about the Carney case. Dr. Valladares' initial excitement quickly abated, however, upon discovery that all of the documents had been declassified previously. The Commissioner had already ob tained them from The Baltimore Sun and from Carney's relatives, and had already scrutinized them for human rights information.

In February 1996, the State Department released 588 pages on the Carney case in response to the Honduran government requests. Again, much of that DOS material had been released earlier to Carney's family and had already been examined by Honduran human rights investigators.

On March 10, 1997 the CIA and the Department of Defense (DOD) delivered 126 and 3 pages respectively of new information regarding the disappearance of Fr. Carney to members of his family. Later than same week, the same documents were al so handed over to Honduran government officials.

The CIA and DOD documents released were heavily censored. Significant portions of the documents were blacked out. Only fragments of the text of most documents were made public.

The amount of material contained in this much-awaited release was bitterly disappointing. The DOD declassified a grand total of four paragraphs, contained in two documents (#6 and #7). Neither document is dated, but both appear to have been written in 1995. The title of Document #6, "Honduran Armed Forces -- Human Rights and Corruption," was particularly tantalizing for human rights investigators, but all but one paragraph of the two pages was entirely blacked out.

It is inconceivable that the DOD has only four paragraphs of releasable material in their files on the Carney case. An October 26, 1996 memo from Ralph B. Novak at the DOD to Donald McConville at the DOS indicated that 260 boxes of mate rial were being searched for material responsive to the Honduran government's declassification requests. (See Appendix C, for the complete text of the memo.) Were there no other documents about the Carney case in these boxes? Or, did the DOD decide not to release other Carney documents which surfaced during their search? If the latter is the case, it would be helpful for the Honduran government to be informed in general terms as to why it was determined that so much material could not be released.< /P>

The CIA's March, 1997 release of information consisted of 36 documents (126 pages) on Fr. Carney. Unfortunately, once again these documents contained very little new human rights information. Much of the information had already been obt ained by Honduran human rights investigators. For example, the CIA "declassified" its correspondence with Carney family members. It also released several 'open source' documents containing the texts of wire reports and articles which had appeared in the p ress.

Although the 36 documents released by the CIA contained little new information, several discrepancies were discovered. Three of the 36 documents given to the Honduran government had already been given to the Carney family in June, 1985 as a result of their FOIA appeal to the CIA.44 When the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner carefully scrutinized both versions of the documents he found that in 1997 some of the dates were excised, whereas in 1985 the Carney family was apprised of the dat es. He also found that, in some instances, less material was excised in 1997 than in 1985, so a few lines of text did become public for the first time.

The usefulness of the CIA documents to human rights investigators was diminished by the fact that, frequently, even the date of the document was excised. Further, most of the documents with disclosed dates were from the 1990s. There is a dearth of documents from the 1983 period immediately surrounding Carney's disappearance/death. Document #H1-4 in the March 1997 CIA release is the only 1983 document which addresses the Carney case directly. The other 1983 documents share either the tex t of press accounts of the Carney case or the CIA's analysis of their content. Why hasn't human rights information from the 1980s been released?

From the documents released, it is clear that, in the 1990s, the CIA went back and re-interviewed "sources" which they had contacted a decade earlier. Yet, the documents reporting on the initial 1980s interviews with the same sources ha ve not been released. Why not? Obviously the information contained in the earlier documents would be fresher and more accurate, given that sources will experience memory loss as time elapses.

On August 29, 1997, the CIA released another set of 94 documents to Honduran officials. Two documents (H2-93 and H2-94) in that set make mention of the Carney case. In both instances, the bulk of the information on Fr. Carney remains ce nsored. The text of Document H2-94, "Review and Findings of the Honduras Working Group [excised]," contains a section entitled "Father Carney and Reyes Mata [excised]." Only a fraction of this section, parts of six paragraphs on two pages, was disclosed. Entire pages of the section were denied in full.45 Portions of four paragraphs of Document H2-93 concerning Fr. Carney were disclosed.46

The CIA has released a total of 38 documents which contain information on the Carney case to the Honduran government. It is difficult to believe that the CIA has divulged all the pertinent human rights information in its possession. If, in the course of the CIA's search for material responsive to the Honduran government requests, documents about the Carney case surfaced which were not subsequently released, on what basis were they withheld?

The CIA Inspector General Fred Hitz recently completed a two-year investigation into CIA activities in Honduras in the 1980s. Lamentably, the September 5, 1997 report on this investigation is classified.47 Without a doubt, this report c ontains human rights information about the Carney case and other issues which is responsive to pending Honduran declassification requests. It is a diplomatic affront that none of its findings have yet been shared with the Honduran government.

The paucity of documents and the abundance of black ink belies the U.S. government's clear reluctance to release human rights information on the case of Fr. Carney. Why is there so much resistance to providing this information to Hondur an authorities and to the U.S. public?

 

 

NOTES

1 "GOH Allegedly Deports Jesuit Priest," Unclassified telegram #06554 from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 9527970 7, 1/31/96), November 20, 1979, Document C1I, one page.

2 "Welfare and Whereabouts Case of Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #10766 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Vallada res by Mr. John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, September 30, 1983, p. 4.

3 Alternative spellings of Mata and Matta are found in U.S. government documents.

4 Foreign Broadcast Information Service translation to English of guerrilla diary, CIA Carney Declassification, 3/97, Document H1-23, date unknown, p. 18.

5 CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-93, Memorandum to the CIA Inspector General on "Investigation of New York Times Article's Allegations of CIA Involvement with Honduran Officials Accused of Human Rights Abuses," August 24, 1988, p. 7.

6 "Welfare and Whereabouts Case: Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #12515 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Valladare s by Mr. John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, November 14, 1983, p. 7.

7 "The U.S. in Honduras: Mysterious Death of Fr. Carney," by George Black and Anne Nelson, The Nation, p. 83.

8 Central America Trip Report of the Investigations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, El Salvador - Gilman Declassification (8/94), 1984, p. 11.

9 "(U) IIR 6 841 0259 83/UPDATE ON OLANCHO COUNTER-GUERILLA OPERATIONS - 13 SEP 83," Priority Telegram #10020 from the Office of the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washing ton, D.C., DIA Carney Family Declassification, Serial IIR 6 841 0259 83, September 14, 1983, p. 1.

10 "Honduran Intelligence Organization," DOD Declassification, 3/97, Document #4, date excised, p. 4.

11 "Welfare and Whereabouts Case of Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #10766 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Vallad ares by Mr. John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, September 30, 1983, p. 5.

12 "Welfare and Whereabouts Case: Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #12515 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Valladar es by Mr. John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, November 14, 1983, p. 5.

13 "(U) IIR 6 841 0259 83/UPDATE ON OLANCHO COUNTER-GUERILLA OPERATIONS - 13 SEP 83," Unclassified Telegram #10020 from the Office of the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Wa shington, D.C., DIA Carney Family Declassification, Serial IIR 6 841 0259 83, September 14, 1983, p. 2.

14 DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279701, 1/31/96), Document E33B, Letter to Drs. Eileen and Joseph Connolly from David L. Hobbs, December 7, 1997, pp. 2-3.

15 "(U) IIR 6 841 0242 83/FOLLOW-UP ON GUERRILLA DESERTERS," Unclassified Telegram #09347 from the Office of the Defense Attaché in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., SERIAL: (U) IIR 6 841 0242 83, August 30, 1983, p. 8.

16 Ibid, p. 9

17 "Welfare and Whereabouts Case: Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #12515 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Valladar es by Mr John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, November 14, 1983, pp. 8-9.

18 "(U) IIR 6841 0242 83/FOLLOW-UP ON GUERRILLA DESERTERS," DOD Telegram #09347 from the Office of the Defense Attaché in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., SERIAL: (U) IIR 6 841 0242 8 3, August 30, 1983, p. 4.

19 "Clinton Should Help Find Missing Jesuit," by Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., Detroit Sunday Journal, June 15, 1997, p. 13.

20 "(U) IIR 6841 0242 83/FOLLOW-UP ON GUERRILLA DESERTERS," Unclassified Telegram #09347 from the Office of the Defense Attache in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., SERIAL: (U) IIR 6 841 0242 83, August 30, 1983, p. 8.

21 Letter to Mrs. Virginia Smith from Mr. David L. Hobbs of the U.S. Department of State Citizens Emergency Center, DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279709, 02/01/96), Document C132, Unclassified letter, January 9, 1984, p. 2.

22 "(U) IIR 6 841 0259 83/UPDATE ON OLANCHO COUNTER-GUER[R]ILLA OPERATIONS - 13 SEP 83," Priority Telegram #10020 from the Office of the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Was hington, D.C., DIA Carney Family Declassification, Serial IIR 6 841 0259 83, September 14, 1983, p. 2.

23 "The U.S. in Honduras: Mysterious Death of Fr. Carney," by George Black and Anne Nelson, The Nation, p. 83.

24 DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279701, 1/31/96), Document E33B, Letter to Drs. Eileen and Joseph Connolly from David L. Hobbs, December 7, 1983, p. 3. A slightly more detailed account of the U.S. helicopter transport of Hond uran soldiers appears in "Welfare and Whereabouts Case: Father James Francis Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," Unclassified Telegram #12515 from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., Document given to Dr. Leo Valla dares by Mr John Hamilton on September 15, 1995, November 14, 1983, pp. 8-10.

25 "The U.S. in Honduras: Mysterious Death of Fr. Carney," by George Black and Anne Nelson, The Nation, p. 84.

26 "Honduras: Officer Details Antiguerrilla Actions in Olancho PA201708," Unclassified Cable from FBIS CHIVA CHIVA to FBIS in Washington, D.C., DIA Carney Family Declassification (4/86), September 20, 1997, page 1.

27 CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-93, Memorandum to the CIA Inspector General on "Investigation of New York Times Article's Allegations of CIA Involvement with Honduran Officials Accused of Human Rights Abuses," Augus t 24, 1988, pp. 23-24.

28 "Testifying to Torture", by James LeMoyne, New York Times Magazine, June 5, 1988, p. 46-47.

29 Ibid, p. 62.

30 CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-93, Memorandum to the CIA Inspector General on "Investigation of New York Times Article's Allegations of CIA Involvement with Honduran Officials Accused of Human Rights Abuses," Augus t 24, 1988, p. 3.

 31 Ibid, pp. 17-18.

32 CIA Carney Declassification (3/97), Secret Spot Report: New York Times Magazine Article by James Lemoyne Entitled, "The Honduran Army's Death Squad: How Much Did the U.S. Know?," Document H1-15, June 3, 1988, page 1.

33 Honduran Interrogation Manual Hearing, The Baltimore Sun Declassification, United States Senate, Transcript of Proceedings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Top Secret, June 16, 1988, p. 14.

34 DOD Declassification, 3/97, Document #2, Secret NOFORN Letter from Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Fred C. Ikle to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, July 6, 1987, pp 1-2.

35 "Death Case of Father James Carney AKA Padre Guadalupe," DOS Unclassified Cable #10309 from U.S. Ambassador Negroponte at the Embassy in Tegucigalpa to the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., DOS Carney Declassification (Case ID: 95279201, 1/31/96), Document E4, September 22, 1983, page 2.

36 Ibid, pp. 3-4.

37 "Meeting with Congressman William S. Broomfield (R., MI) Concerning the Death of Father James Carney in Honduras," Memorandum For The Record, CIA Carney Family Declassification, 6/85, Document #5, March 13, 1984, pp. 2-3.

38 CIA Carney Declassification, 3/97, Letter from CIA Director to Drs. W. Joseph and Eileen Connolly, Document H1-14, April 7, 1988, one page.

39 Honduran Interrogation Manual Hearing, The Baltimore Sun Declassification, United States Senate, Transcript of Proceedings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Top Secret, June 16, 1988, pp. 18-19.

40 "Summary of CIA Documents on Father Carney," CIA Carney Declassification (3/97), March 4, 1997, p. 1.

41 Ibid, p. 2.

42 Ibid, p. 2.

43 "Review and Findings of the Honduras Working Group," CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-94, date excised, p. 14.

44 Documents H1-2, H1-4 and H1-13 from the set of CIA documents released to the Honduran authorities in March, 1997, were previously declassified for the Carney family as Documents #2, #3 and #8 respectively in June, 1985.

45 "Review and Findings of the Honduras Working Group," CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-94, date excised, pp. 14-17.

46 CIA Honduras Declassification (8/97), Document H2-93, Memorandum to the CIA Inspector General on "Investigation of New York Times Article's Allegations of CIA Involvement with Honduran Officials Accused of Human Rights Abuses," Augus t 24, 1988, pp. 22-24.

47 Letter from U.S. Senator Carl Levin to Ms. Virginia Smith, November 3, 1997, page one. The date of the 1997 report of the CIA Inspector General is unclear. Senator Levin's letter gives two different dates, September 5 and August 27.< /P>

 

 

Chapter III

REFLECTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 

A. THE DECLASSIFICATION PROCESS

The sluggish and cumbersome nature of the declassification process has been a bitter disappointment for Honduran human rights investigators. Honduras had anticipated an expedited response to the government-to-government requests for declassification that it submitted to the United States and to Argentina. At this point, much valuable time has elapsed since the requests were submitted, and both the quantity and content of the human rights information obtained has been less than satis factory.

In retrospect, the FOIA might have been the better route for the Honduran government to use for its classification requests with the U.S. government. The FOIA may be slower in producing information, but it does mandate agency response t o declassification requests within specific time frames.

With a government-to-government request, the U.S. government determines whether or not a request is expedited, and how much time elapses between the submission of a request and the release of information.

Another disadvantage of a government-to-government request is that there is no right to appeal when U.S. government agencies choose not to declassify information. The Honduran government may make a request, but, by necessity, the declas sification process itself is controlled entirely by the U.S. government. The U.S. government determines whether or not information will be released.

Political will on the part of the U.S. government greatly influences the processing of government-to-government requests. Honduras has now waited patiently for more than four years for the release of human rights information. And, the m aterial released to date has not fulfilled the Honduran government's expectations that the U.S. government would respond in "good faith" to its requests. Nevertheless, the Commissioner and other Honduran government officials will continue their efforts re lated to the declassification process.

 

B. INVESTIGATION OF THE CARNEY CASE

It is important to clarify and reiterate that the Commissioner's declassification request targeted "human rights information" about the specific circumstances surrounding Carney's disappearance. Was he captured, interrogated, tortur ed, and killed? If so, by whom?

The Commissioner seeks information which will help identify the perpetrators of human rights violations. Notwithstanding the comparatively large number of documents declassified about the Carney case, the human rights information obtain ed has been scant, fragmented and vague. While the declassified documents do provide useful background on the context in which Fr. Carney disappeared, the crux of the Commissioner's request has gone unanswered. The U.S. government has yet to release detai led information about what happened to Fr. Carney, which might help to determine who was responsible for any criminal acts which occurred.

The Commissioner suspects that human rights information is indeed contained in the heavily excised documents which have been turned over to Honduran government officials. The numerous excisions hinder the ability of human rights investi gators to discern the truth about what really happened to Fr. Carney and other disappeared persons.

The efforts of the Commissioner and other human rights investigators are further frustrated by the fact that the U.S. government exempts from release all text that would divulge the identity of the sources of the information. When one i s not privy to sources, it is difficult to evaluate and weigh the relative credibility and reliability of information contained in declassified documents. This situation is particularly troublesome, for a number of declassified documents contain contradic tory information or multiple versions of an event.

The Commissioner recommends that the following actions be taken to continue the investigation of the "disappearance" of Fr. Carney.

1. Insistence on the declassification of the CIA Inspector General's report

The classified report of the Inspector General of the CIA, issued in September 1997, on the nature of the Agency's relationship with the Honduran military in the 1980s is a key document for human rights investigators. In contacts wi th the U.S. government, all Honduran government officials, from the President on down, should emphasize the import of the declassification of this and other human rights information on the cases of Fr. Carney and other disappeared persons.

2. Identification of Honduran military who participated in "Operation Patuca"

The Commander-in-Chief, President Carlos Roberto Flores, should order the compilation of a list of all Honduran military-commanders, officers, foot soldiers, and helicopter pilots -- who took part in Operation Patuca and provide it in a timely fashion to the Commissioner and to the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights. These human rights institutions should then locate and interview those on the list for possible information about Fr. Carney and other disappeared persons.

3. Utilization of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The documents received by the Honduran government on the Carney case, particularly those from the CIA and the DOD, were heavily excised. FOIAs should formally be filed on key CIA and DOD documents, including those entirely or partia lly denied to the Honduran government and to the Carney family. By formally resubmitting these requests, decisions by these agencies to withhold information can be appealed through an established process.

 

C. FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Demand greater commitment by the Honduran government: The new administration of President Carlos Flores should commit itself to support Honduras' democratic institutions, by urging the various U.S. government agencies to fulf ill their commitments and to stop mocking the institutions or people who have requested human rights information in good faith.

Overhaul the conceptualization of national security: National security interests cannot go against the principles and values of human rights which become incarnate in a democracy.

Draft legislation which will allow Honduras to guarantee its citizens' right to information: Appropriate mechanisms and regulations should be legislated to guide the declassification of information in Honduran government files. T his legislation should delineate the scope of valid national security interests as well as their limits, so that the moment of transgression is clear. This legislation should be given careful consideration, given our experience with the Freedom of Informa tion Act (FOIA) in the United States, which has exemptions are so broad that they give government officials the freedom to conceal information.

The Honduran citizenry in general should struggle against impunity, demanding that Honduran government officials speak the truth.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Around the world, nations are examining their pasts in order to secure a strong and peaceful future. From South Africa to Eastern Europe to Central America, countries in transition have instituted truth commissions and judicial inqu iries to fully investigate prior human rights atrocities and lay them legally and/or morally to rest. Even established democracies such as Switzerland, Canada, and the United States are excavating the buried records of darkened histories in order to recti fy and reconcile the past with the present.

This process reflects an internationally recognized precept: real democracy must be grounded in the citizens' knowledge of the truth. The emotional wounds of the past, for both victims and society at large, cannot be healed a full airin g of a history that all too often remains hidden in secrecy. The right to information is a fundamental human right, and a pillar of democratic life.

As Honduras completes its transition from years of military rule to a strong democratic state, it has recognized the need for inquiry and reconciliation in this process. Egregious human rights violations were committed by military agenc ies during the 1980s. To redress these criminal actions and strengthen Honduran democracy, in the 1990s two new institutions were created: the Public Ministry, charged with criminal investigations and prosecutions; and the National Commissioner for Human Rights, or Ombudsman, who receives citizen complaints and investigates human rights violations. Officials of both institutions are determined to investigate the human rights violations which occurred in Honduras during the decade of the eighties.

Pursuing this investigation in Honduras is extraordinarily difficult. Witnesses and victims continue to be intimidated, making it hard to obtain oral testimony and evidence; the Honduran military, not surprisingly, has been less than co operative and official government files have been destroyed.

Honduran investigators, therefore, turned to the United States. During the Reagan administration, the U.S. played a unique, and at times dominant, role in Honduras; therefore the U.S. has a unique historical knowledge of the events that transpired during that era. Beginning four years ago, the Public Ministry and the National Commissioner for Human Rights presented multiple petitions to the U.S. government for the declassification of key documents in U.S. national security archives that relate to human rights abuses in Honduras.

As summarized in this report, the results of the declassification requests submitted by the Public Ministry and the National Commissioner for Human Rights have not been as successful as had been hoped. More than 3,000 pages have been tu rned over by the United States to Honduran authorities, but many of them do not contain human rights information about the topics and cases included in the requests. Many of the documents, including those released on the case of Father James Carney, a U.S . priest working in Honduras, are so heavily censored as to contain no information whatsoever. Beneath these blacked out pages is information that might enable the families of Father Carney and of other disappeared persons to draw conclusions about the ex act circumstances of their deaths.

While there is no doubt that the CIA, the Pentagon, and other U.S. agencies have numerous classified records relating to Honduran intelligence operations and the human rights violations that were committed, the most important of those d ocuments have not been provided. In particular, the Commissioner is anxious to see the CIA Inspector General's report, completed in the summer of 1997, which reviews the agency's intricate collaboration with Battalion 3-16--the intelligence unit primarily responsible for the atrocities of the 1980s. President Clinton promised that this report, and other relevant CIA records, would be declassified before the end of 1997. It has yet to be made public.

The Commissioner continues to believe in the Clinton administration's good faith and its sincere committment to assist Honduras' inquiry into human rights abuses--even if that means declassifying secret documents that may shed light on U.S. knowledge of, and possible role in, those violations. The continuing need for full U.S. assistance to this process cannot be overemphasized.

Declassification of human rights documentation will contribute to Honduras' indispensable need to uncover the past and reconcile it with the present. Access to U.S. records will:

* unveil long hidden truths to the Honduran people;

* identify those responsible for abuses;

* assist the continuation of judicial investigations; and,

* close a painful chapter in the recent history of Honduras.

The peoples of Honduras and the United States share a common belief in the principles of democracy--that respect for individual dignity and human rights is inviolate, that government must be accountable to the public. The right to infor mation is not only a major safeguard against official impunity, but a fundamental necessity in a society that has experienced the type of violence and turmoil that befell Honduras in the 1980.

For that reason, the National Commissioner for Human Rights is committed to pursuing this investigation to its conclusion. Although the search for truth and justice is a protracted and painful process, it is necessary to reestablish the citizenry's trust in the institutions of the Honduran state, and to foster the moral and political health of the nation. It remains the Commissioner's fervent hope and expectation that the United States will make the fullest possible contribution to this process and meet its avowed commitment to human rights and democracy in Honduras.

 

 

APPENDIX A:

TEXTS OF

DECLASSIFICATION

REQUESTS

 

 

13 June 1995

Public Ministry, Republic of Honduras, Oficio No. FDH/220/95, one page.

Translation of Letter to U.S. Ambassador from the Attorney General of Honduras

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., June 13, 1995.

Oficio No. FDH/220/95

Your Excellency Mr. Ambassador:

I have the honor of addressing you on this occasion in reference to the investigations which the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights is carrying on concerning cases of the forced disappearance of persons which occurred in our country during the decade of the 80's.

Among the cases which have been prioritized is that of Mr. JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEIGE, a priest of North American nationality, most well-known as 'Father Guadalupe', who disappeared after being captured together with Doctor Reyes Mata at the beginning of the month of December, 1983, after entering the country from Nicaragua. With the purpose of obtaining evidence to support our work, we are undertaking investigations and other activities related to the matter, and it is in that sense that we direct ourselves to you with the goal of politely requesting, that all of the information that lies in the Department of States and other Governmental Offices about the forced disappearance of Father Carneige (sic) be given to us.

We consider that the information that you might turn over to us will contribute to the investigative process and will give greater validity to our intention to take corresponding judicial actions.

I thank you beforehand for the attention to that which is requested, at the same time taking advantage of the occasion to reiterate to you testimony of my consideration and respect.

Attentively,

[signature]

EDMUNDO ORELLANA MERCADO

Attorney General of the Republic

YOUR EXCELLENCY MR.

WILLIAM T. PRYCE

EXTRAORDINARY AND PLENIPOTENTIARY AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

HIS OFFICE

 

 

15 June 1995

Public Ministry, Republic of Honduras, OFICIO NO. FEDH-0223-95, 3 pp.

Translation of Letter to U.S. Ambassador Pryce from the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.

June 15, 1995

 

Mr. Ambassador:

I have the honor of addressing you on this occasion to request your valuable collaboration, in reference to directing a petition to the Department of State, of the United States of America, to obtain the declassification of information about Forced Disappearances that it might finally lead us to the historical truth we search for.

We permit ourselves to ask you on this occasion for specific and concrete information concerning the following:

a. From 1982 to 1986, who was the person or who were the persons who worked in the leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency from Honduras.

b. What concrete activities did the CIA carry out in our country.

c. What Hondurans used to work jointly with the CIA agents.

ch. What CIA officials participated in the sessions for the interrogation of detained persons.

d. What Honduran officials were trained in this type of activities?.

e. Who ordered and for what reasons the capture of citizen NELSON MACKAY CHAVARRIA?

f. Reports about arms shipments in Honduras.

g. Concrete information about the organization, administrative and operational structure of the Battalion 3-16; as well as news about its members from the last years of the decade of the seventies until 1986.

h. Command structure inside the Honduran Armed Forces with respect to Battalion 3-16.

i. What role was performed by Papi RAINBOW BAUM with respect to the cases of the Honduran citizens NELSON MACKAY CHAVARRIA and MIGUEL FRANCISCO CARIAS?

j. Who funded the activities of Battalion 3-16 and those of the Counterinsurgency, Intelligence and military Counterintelligence?

k. Participation of Honduran citizens ROBERTO SUAZO CORDOVA, OSWALDO RAMOS SOTO, GUSTAVO ADOLFO ALVAREZ MARTINEZ, WALTER LOPEZ REYES, JUAN BLAS SALAZAR MEZA, SEGUNDO FLORES MURILLO, CANALES NUÑEZ, BILLY FERNANDO JOYA AMENDOLA, LUIS ALFONSO DISCUA ELVIR, DIMAS CARBAJAL GOMEZ, DANIEL BALI CASTILLO, JUAN EVANGELISTA LOPEZ GRIJALBA, JUAN RAMON PEÑA PAZ, JOSE ISAIAS VILORIO, MARCO TULIO REGALADO HERNANDEZ, HUMBERTO REGALADO HERNANDEZ, MARIO ASDRUBAL QUIÑONEZ AGUIL AR, SANTOS INOCENTE BORJAS, LUIS ALONZO MORAN MOREL, JOSE INES GRADIZ TURCIOS, PIO FLORES GODDY, JOSE BLAS PEÑA PAZ, JULIO CESAR FUNEZ ALVAREZ, and Mrs. DEBORA DE MOSS in the activities of the counterinsurgency or with any activities related to intelligence and counterintelligence which had as their goals the physical elimination of persons.

l. Names of Honduran business people who incited, supported, funded and participated in distinct cases of forced disappearances.

ll. Data about the training received by Honduran soldiers and deserters of the Battalion 3-16 FAUSTO CABALLERO, FLORENCIO CABALLERO, JOSE BARRERA MARTINEZ.

m. Names of the officials who were in command of the Department of Special Investigations, also known as the Special Forces of the Public Security Force, in the years from 1982 to 1989.

n . Names and dates of the officials who were in command of the unit called the Prisoner Guard located in the El Manchén neighborhood of the city of Tegucigalpa during the years of 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

ñ. Original reporting from the Military-Police operation which took place on July 8, 1982 in the Florencia Sur neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, as well as the names of the officials that directed and were in command of that operation .

o. Original reporting from the Military-Police operation which took place as a result of the fire at the Consulate of the United States of America in the city of Tegucigalpa in the month of April of 1988, as well as the names of the officials that directed and were in command of that operation. In addition, information concerning the forced disappearance of the Honduran citizen ROGER SAMUEL GONZALEZ.

p. Reports and documents of the CIA with respect to the death of the Jesuit priest of North American nationality JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEIGE, known as "Padre Guadalupe."

Expressing gratitude in advance for your valued collaboration, I sign my name reiterating my respect and regard for you.

Attentively,

[signature]

SONIA MARLYNA DE FLORES

Special Prosecutor for Human Rights

Your Excellency Mr.

WILLIAM T. PRYCE

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador

of the United States of America.

 

 

31 July 1995

National Commissioner for Human Rights, 2 pp.

Letter to the U.S. Ambassador in Tegucigalpa from

Dr. Leo Valladares

National Commissioner for Human Rights

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., July 31, 1995

Your Excellency Mr. Ambassador:

I have the honor of addressing your excellency in order to solicit your collaboration in obtaining from your government information leading to the clarification of human rights violations which occurred in our country in the past decade .

The information we are soliciting is of transcendental importance for the investigations we are undertaking and will help drive forward the judicial processes begun by the Special Prosecutor on Human Rights.

Our work is framed within the context of the fight against impunity and is vital for the consolidation of democracy and peace in Honduras.

We believe that in this request we are responding to the Clinton Administration's demand when we submitted our first request in December of 1993 that we be more precise regarding the documents we are requesting. For this reason we have classified the key topics in three categories:

1. Documentation concerning six cases of "disappearances".

2. Documentation concerning General Alvarez Martinez.

3. Documentation concerning Battalion 3-16.

In order to be more precise we have permitted ourselves to list U.S. government agencies in whose archives one can find the documentation we are requesting. Also, where possible, we have indicated periods and dates during which informat ion was produced.

In relation to the information from the Department of State and the CIA, we desire to make note that we do not seek to obtain wire stories, speeches given by Hondurans nor reproductions of articles from Foreign Broadcast Information Ser vice (FBIS). What we really want is to find new information which will permit us to discover the truth surrounding the human rights violations committed in our country in the past, and in so doing identify those responsible.

Similarly, we are not interested in knowing from the CIA about methods or sources of intelligence, rather we are looking for CIA reports, detailed finished intelligence about military and paramilitary organizations, and about the indivi duals who are responsible for the human rights abuses.

Attached you will find a detailed information petition, with a copy of two newspaper articles which refer to this information.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity, Mr. Ambassador, to express through you my sincere appreciation for the support received in our work from the Clinton Administration as well as from numerous members of the United States Senate a nd the House of Representatives.

 

I take this occasion to reiterate to you my high respect and esteem.

[signature]

Leo Valladares Lanza,

National Commissioner for Human Rights

 

 

31 July 1995

National Commissioner for Human Rights, 8 pp.

Declassification Request to the U.S. Government

THE REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS MADE BY THE NATIONAL COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES

KEY TOPICS:

I. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING SIX CASES OF "DISAPPEARANCES".

II. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING GENERAL ALVAREZ MARTINEZ.

III. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING BATTALION 3-16.

I. THE CASES OF DISAPPEARANCES

We are requesting finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, reports, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical material, and any and all other documents referring to six cases of disappearan ce which took place in Honduras at the beginning of the eighties.

Specifically we request information about the following:

1. All the records concerning the disappearance of TOMAS NATIVI GALVEZ.

A professor and union leader, Nativí was taken from his wife's home and disappeared by six masked men shortly after midnight on June 11, 1981. His colleague and union partner, FIDEL MARTINEZ, was also captured. Nativí's wi fe, Bertha Oliva, identified Captain Alexander Hernández as one of the men that participated in the kidnapping; the rest were agents of the DNI. The Nicaraguan Ricardo "Chino" Lau could also have been involved.

2. All the records concerning the disappearance of JOSE EDUARDO BECERRA LANZA.

Becerra Lanza was disappeared from the center of Tegucigalpa the first of August 1982 by agents of the DNI. Years later, a member of the Nicaraguan Contras who had worked in Tegucigalpa admitted in a press interview that he had particip ated in the assassination of the young student. He revealed that Captain Alexander Hernández handed him Becerra Lanza with instructions that he should be executed and disappeared. He revealed that Hernández told him that the orders came from General Alvarez Martínez. Becerra Lanza was assassinated and his body buried somewhere between Tegucigalpa and Choluteca.

3. All the records concerning the disappearance of GERMAN PEREZ ALEMAN.

Pérez Alemán was disappeared August 18, 1982. Six well-armed men abducted the union leader in broad day light from a busy street in Tegucigalpa. A highway safety patrol car followed the vehicle into which Pérez Alem án had been forced and overtook the abductors. Second Lieutenant Flores Murillo exited the first vehicle and identified himself as a G-2 agent, thus halting pursuit by the patrol car. According to a former member of the Battalion 3-16, the abductor s then brought Pérez Alemán to Támara, where the unit regularly held prisoners in clandestine detention. On May 29, 1983 the Honduran Permanent Mission in Geneva informed the U.N. Working Group that, according to the documents provide d by the Armed Forces of Honduras, the DNI was carrying out an investigation of the case. The Honduran government again informed the U.N. Working Group August 31, 1983 that it was conducting an investigation. The investigations did not produce results.

4. All the records concerning the disappearance of INES CONSUELO MURILLO SCHWADERER.

On March 13, 1983, lawyer and political activist Inés Murillo Schwaderer was disappeared from the city of Choloma by members of Battalion 3-16. Her kidnappers took her to a clandestine detention center in San Pedro Sula where she was severely tortured. After more than a month, Murillo was transferred to a military installation near Tegucigalpa. The beatings and abuse continued. During her incarceration, Murillo recognized Second Lieutenant Marco Tulio Regalado Hernández am ong her torturers. She also heard the voice of a North American visitor, called "Mr. Mike" by the Hondurans. (According to the testimony given before Congress in 1988 by CIA Deputy Director for Operations RICHARD STOLZ, a CIA official did visit Murillo in her cell during her detention by the 3-16). On May 31, Murillo's status was officially acknowledged and she was transferred to the DNI in the capital. The DNI, through its chief Maj. JUAN BLAS SALAZAR MEZA, assumed responsibility for her detention even t hough Military Intelligence had abducted, interrogated and tortured her. After Murillo's detention was publicized, she was transferred to a state prison, "CEFAS", where she stayed for 13 months until her liberation on July 5, 1984.

5. All the records concerning the disappearance of Father JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEY, known as "FATHER GUADALUPE."

A North American priest working in Central America, Father Carney (Father Guadalupe) crossed the border from Nicaragua to Honduras in July of 1983 with a small guerrilla column led by José María Reyes Mata. According to te stimony supplied by Florencio Caballero, a former member of Battalion 3-16, Honduran soldiers captured the guerrilla band in a military operation named "Patuca". Carney was then taken to the Contra supply base in El Aguacate, interrogated and thrown to hi s death from a helicopter. Caballero revealed that the orders for the Carney's disappearance came from the Chief of the Armed Forces Alvarez Martínez during an earlier planning meeting of the so-called "OPERATION PATUCA." According to Caballero, No rth American personnel were present at the planning meeting, including one man he knew only as "Mr. Mike", when Alvarez ordered his men to kill Carney and Reyes Mata after their interrogation.

6. All the records concerning the disappearance of GUSTAVO ADOLFO MORALES FUNEZ.

An economist and former union leader, Gustavo Morales was disappeared March 18, 1984, and forced into a blue van by several armed men. Supreme Court Magistrate Luis Mendoza Fugon and a FUSEP agent, who kept guard at the Ministry of Fore ign Relations, were eyewitnesses of the kidnapping which occurred in the center of Tegucigalpa. Numerous petitions for writs of habeus corpus were presented in the days following Morales' detention but were not useful. Even though Mendoza reported what he had seen to the press, no authority requested that the Supreme Court of Justice make an official statement. This case was taken before the UN Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances.

 

II. GENERAL GUSTAVO ALVAREZ MARTINEZ

We are requesting finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, papers, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical material, and any and all other documents referring to the General of the Hondur an Army Gustavo Alvarez Martínez, from 1980, when he was Chief of Public Security Force (FUSEP), until March 1984, when he was expelled as Chief of the Armed Forces of Honduras.

Specifically we request:

1. All the records concerning General Alvarez's work gathering information about "subversive" movements in Honduras from 1980 to 1984. All records which mention Alvarez in reference to the use of kidnapping, disappearance and torture ag ainst "subversive" groups or individuals, and in reference to violations of human rights, extra-legal operations, activities of death squads and the maintenance of clandestine jails. Records concerning the appointment of Alvarez as the Chief of the Hondur an Armed Forces in 1982. All records on General Alvarez's creation, in 1982, of the Military Intelligence Unit known as "Battalion 3-16" and records which mention connections between the General and the 3-16 through 1984.

2. All records discussing connections between General Alvarez and the Argentinean Armed Forces from 1980 to 1984. Records of a request Alvarez made to the Argentine Military to train Honduran police forces in 1980 when he was chief of F USEP, and of Alvarez's establishment -- with Argentina's assistance -- of an anti-subversive unit within the FUSEP called the "Special Operations Unit" (Comando de Operaciones Especiales--COE). Also, any records concerning ongoing connections between the Argentine and the Honduran militaries until and including 1984.

3. Any and all records which mention General Alvarez in reference to the specific disappearances of Tomas Nativí Gálvez (June 11, 1981), Jose Eduardo Becerra Lanza (August 1, 1982), German Pérez Alemán (Augus t 18, 1982), Inés Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer (March 13, 1983), Father James Francisco Carney known as Father Guadalupe (July 1983), and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Funez (March 18, 1984).

4. All records pertaining to the barracks coup against General Alvarez Martínez in March 1984 by then Vice President of Honduras General Walter López Reyes.

III. BATTALION 3-16:

We are requesting finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, papers, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical material and any and all other documents generated by the United States governme nt agencies between 1979 through and including 1984, about the Battalion 3-16, a unit of Military Intelligence established to monitor and destroy "subversive" organizations and individuals in Honduras.

Furthermore, we request all documents which refer to the institutional precursors of 3-16. They are the "Group of 14", a special intelligence unit composed of members of the Honduran military, founded in 1979 and dissolved in 1982; and of the "Group of 10", a group which existed for some months in 1982 before the 3-16 was created later that year.

Specifically we request:

1. All records concerning the origins, structure, planning operations, training, and members of the Group of 10, Group of 14 and Battalion 3-16 from 1979 through and including 1984. All records which mention Battalion 3-16 and the other groups in reference to the use of kidnappings, disappearances, and torture against "subversive" organizations and individuals, and in reference to human rights violations, extrajudicial operations, death squad activities and the maintenance of clandestin e jails.

2. Any and all records which mention the Battalion 3-16 and/or its predecessors in reference to the specific disappearances of Tomas Nativí Galvez (June 11, 1981), José Eduardo Becerra Lanza (August 1, 1982), German P&eacu te;rez Alemán (August 18, 1982), Inés Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer (March 13, 1983), Father James Francisco Carney known as Padre Guadalupe (July 1983), and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Fúnez (March 18, 1984).

3. All records concerning the following individuals who were members of the Battalion 3-16, of its precursors, or of other special anti-subversive units of the Armed Forces of Honduras or of the police:

Juan López Grijalva (G-2)

Alexander Hernández (Battalion 3-16)

Oscar R Hernández (Battalion 3-16)

Segundo Flores Murillo (G-2)

Juan Ramón Peña Paz (Battalion 3-16)

Florencio Reyes Caballero (Battalion 3-16)

José Barrera Martínez (Battalion 3-16)

Marco Tulio Regalado Hernández Lara (Battalion 3-16)

Mario Asdrúbal Quiñonez (Battalion 3-16)

Ciro Pablo Fernández C. (Battalion 3-16)

Carlos Peralta (Group of the 14)

Luis A. Discua Elvir (Battalion 3- 16)

Luis Alonso Villatoro Villeda (Battalion 3-16)

Billy Fernando Joya Améndola (Battalion 3-16)

Vicente Rafael Canales Nuñez (Battalion 3- 16)

Marco Tulio Ayala Vindel (Battalion 3-16)

Jordi Ramón Montañola (Battalion 3-16)

Inocente Borjas Santos (Battalion 3-16)

Juan Blas Salazar (DNI)

 

 

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

We request that the government of the United States look in the archives of the following agencies for documents concerning the three topics already cited:

I. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

We specifically request that this agency search the following components and offices:

- Directorate of Intelligence, Office of African and Latin American Analysis

- National Foreign Assessment Center, Office of Political Analysis

- National Intelligence Officer for Latin America

- Office of Legislative Liaison

- Office of the Inspector General

- CIA Station, Tegucigalpa

Furthermore, we request that the Agency look for finished intelligence, notes, reports, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, policy papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents created durin g the period from 1979 to and including 1984, inclusive, related to various additional topics.

Specifically we request:

1. All the records concerning the training and equipment provided by the CIA to Battalion 3-16 and its predecessors, including training given in conjunction with the Argentine Armed Forces at a camp in Lepaterique, Honduras. Documents s hould include an interrogation manual created by the CIA for Honduras in 1983, as well as a "revised" version created later. Documents should also include a CIA Inspector General report in 1988 on the CIA's training of the Honduran Armed Forces.

2. A copy of the 1986 letter written by CIA Director William Casey to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describing human rights in Honduras, and discussing connections between the National Directorate of Investigations (DNI) a nd "ELACH", a right-wing death squad.

3. All records generated by the Agency in response to, or related to, an article in the New York Times Magazine written by James LeMoyne June 5, 1988. This article discussed the CIA's role in the training of the Honduran military in int errogation techniques.

4. All records generated by the Agency related to a June 1988 hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. At this hearing the Deputy Director for Operations, Richard Stolz, testified about the CIA's knowledge of a 1983 " Honduran Interrogation Manual".

5. A copy of the memorandum written by the CIA to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on July 10, 1989, entitled, "Inquiry into Honduran Interrogation Training".

II. Department of Defense (DOD)

Specifically we request that this agency search the following components or offices:

- Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ASD/ISA), Inter American Affairs

- Joint Staff, J-2, Western Hemisphere Division

- Joint Staff, J-3, Western Hemisphere Division

- Joint Staff, J-5, Western Hemisphere Division

- U.S. Southern Command, Quarry Heights, Panama

- U.S. MilGp, Tegucigalpa

- Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-B), Soto Cano Air Force Base, Honduras

Furthermore, we request that the Agency look for finished intelligence, notes, reports, cables, memoranda, policy papers, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents created durin g the period from 1979 to and including 1984, concerning one additional subject.

Specifically we seek:

**All the records produced in relation to the Department of Defense investigation into human rights abuses by the Honduran Security Forces. Articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post cited the 1986 investigatio n. We attached copies of these articles.

III. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:

- Directorate for Research, Western Europe/Latin America Division

- DIADIR-5

- Defense Intelligence Officer for Latin America

- Central American Joint Intelligence Team (CAJIT), Washington, D.C.

- Defense Attache Office, Tegucigalpa

IV. United States Army

We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:

- Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence

- Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (ODCSOPS), Politico-Military Division, Western Hemisphere Regional Desk

- Deputy of the Army Inspector General

- U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), including the Army Foreign Intelligence Activity

- 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Group of the Special Forces, Fort Bragg, NC

In particular, we request the report of the visit made on April 22, 1984 to Battalion 3-16 by the Director of the School and Center for Military Investigation of the United States, General Sydney T. Weinstein.

V. National Security Council (NSC)

We specifically request that this agency search the following component or office:

- Restricted Inter-Agency Group (Central America)

VI. State Department (DOS)

We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:

- State Department Central Files

- Bureau of Intelligence and Research

- U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa

- Other U.S. embassies, when appropriate (Argentina, Mexico)

Furthermore, we request that the agency look for finished intelligence, notes, reports, studies, cables, memoranda, policy papers, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents crea ted during the period from 1979 to and including 1984, inclusive, concerning additional subjects.

Specifically we request:

1. Copies of all drafts and versions of the annual reports on human rights reports produced by the U. S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa from 1980 to and including 1984.

2. All records concerning the temporary disappearance of the journalist Oscar Reyes and his wife Gloria on July 8, 1982. After their abduction by military personnel, Ambassador Negroponte discussed the case with General Alvarez Mart&iac ute;nez, and the couple was eventually freed.

3. All records generated in response to the press conference held in Mexico in August 1982 by Colonel Leonidas Torres Arias, the ousted Chief of Intelligence of the Honduran Armed Forces. Torres Arias discussed the operations of Battali on 3-16 in great detail, including the unit's connection with various cases of disappearances.

4. All records concerning an October 1983 meeting held in the U. S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa between Scott Thayer, a political officer, and members of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).

5. All records concerning the Special Commission to Investigate Claims of Disappearances in Honduran Territory established June 14, 1984 by General Walter López, Chief of the Armed Forces. The documents should include those gener ated in response to the release of the Commission's report on October 17, 1985.

6. All records produced in response to, or relating to, an article of The New York Times Magazine written by James Lemoyne June 5, 1988. The article discussed the role of the CIA in the training of the Honduran Army in interrogat ion techniques.

7. All records concerning the verdict handed down in July 1988 by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, finding the go-vernment of Honduras guilty for the disappearance of Angel Manfredo Velásquez Rodríguez.

 

27 October 1995

Jack R. Binns, 2 pp.

Declassification Request to the U.S. State Department from

Ex-Ambassador Jack R. Binns.

October 27, 1995

Ms. Margaret P. Grafeld

Director, Office of Freedom of Information,

Privacy and Classification Review

Room 1512, N.S.

Department of State

Washington, D.C. 20520-1512

Dear Ms. Grafeld:

I wish to request access to certain Department of State records, specified below, pursuant to 22 CFR 171.25. In consideration of being granted access to these records, I the undersigned certify that:

A. I, Jack R. Binns, am a former Presidential appointee, having been confirmed by the Senate and having served in the Department of State as a Presidential appointee.

B. I agree to safeguard from unauthorized disclosure any classified information made available to me by the Department of State and to observe all statutes and regulations relating to safeguarding of such information.

C. I authorize the appropriate officials of the Department of State to review any notes and manuscripts I may have for the purpose of determining whether they contain any information that warrants classification in the interest of natio nal security.

D. I agree that any classified information will not be further disseminated in any manner without the express permission of the Department of State.

This request is for access to selected official cables that I personally drafted while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, during the period October 1980 to October 1981, plus one additional Department of State cable sent to the Emb assy in Tegucigalpa. The latter cable contained my instructions, as Ambassador, from the Department; it was transmitted in late September/early October of 1980. I believe it was sent in a restricted distribution channel.

I am seeking access to this material in order [to] assist [in] the writing of a book dealing with my experience as Ambassador during that period. I do not plan to use a research assistant.

A list of Tegucigalpa cables that I drafted and wish to review is enclosed. This listing, based on my personal chronological file, shows both the (Tegucigalpa) cable number and subject. I believe that these cables are still available in the Department's computerized holdings, which should minimize delays in meeting this request.

Unlike many of those who seek access pursuant to 22 CFR 171.25, I live some distance form Washington. To allow me to arrange travel, I would ask that after reviewing this request you advise me of approximately when the requested materia l will be available for review. As that timeframe nears, I would further request that you provide me with at least 30 days advance notice, so that we are able to schedule a date certain when I may begin the requested review.

In the event you should wish to reach me by telephone, my number is [deleted for privacy reasons]. Thank you for your cooperation and consideration of this request. I am aware of the backlog of FOIA, congressional and other special requ ests your office is dealing with, as well as the impact continuing reductions in Department funding are having on everyone. I certainly do not envy you.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Jack R. Binns

Encl: Listing of requested cables

 

02 September 1996

National Commissioner for Human Rights, Oficio No. 495 DC/96, 3 pp.

Letter from Dr. Leo Valladares to Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem

Oficio No. 495 DC/96

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, September 2, 1996

Mr. President:

The National Commissioner of Human Rights, the Ombudsman created by the Constitution of Honduras and elected by the National Congress, is a figure similar to the Defender of the People in Argentine legislation. The principal mission of the National Commissioner is to be watchful of respect for human rights and to strengthen the functioning of the State of Law.

In fulfillment of this mission, the National Commissioner elaborated in 1993 a provisional report about disappearances in Honduras, "The Facts Speak for Themselves", that documented 184 cases of the forced disappearance of persons and h eld the State, through its officials, responsible.

This report was turned over in an opportune way to the Attorney general of the Republic and, the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights launched criminal processes against those presumed responsible, some of which at this moment are fugiti ves.

As part of the investigations the Government of the United States was requested to declassify documents that contain information regarding the violation of human rights in Honduras, during the past decade. At present some documents have been received and it is hoped that many more will be forthcoming.

Clear evidence exists of the participation, in Honduras, of officials belonging to the Argentine Armed Forces in the training and advising of the executors of this terrible practice of the forced disappearance of persons, is spelled out in the aforementioned report about the disappeared in Honduras.

Mr. President, the facts which we are investigating are tremendously painful and have produced deep wounds in Honduran society. The only way to heal these wounds is to unveil the truth and with it do justice.

To do this, and to clarify the responsibility of the Honduran authorities in these matters, very respectfully, we request that you order the respective authorities of your country to put at our disposition all documentation, be it alrea dy public or still considered secret ("classified"), with the objective of determining what occurred in Honduras.

Concretely we ask for information about the following topics:

1. The presence of Argentine military officers in Honduras between 1980 and 1990:

a) Characteristics of the Argentine military mission in Honduras during that period.

b) Name, rank and specific activity of the military personnel, civilians (intelligence) and Argentine police assigned to Honduras.

c) Coordination with the authorities and forces of Honduran security.

d) Coordination with the CIA and with other entities of the government of the United States of America.

2. Arms sales and counter-insurgency training to the Honduran security forces:

a) Sale of military supplies by "Fabricaciones Militares" to Honduras.

b) Details of the training offered to Honduran security personnel.

c) Argentine role in the organization of elite counterinsurgency units and Honduran paramilitary groups.

3. The Argentine role in the organization and training of the Nicaraguan "contras" (the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, FDN, and other known groups) in Honduran territory:

a) Name and rank of military and intelligence personnel assigned to said operation, their period of service and a description of their activities.

b) Data about the Argentine High Command in charge of the operation.

c) Data about the training camps established with Argentine participation in Honduran territory.

4. The nature of the Tripartite Agreement between Argentina, Honduras and the United States (1981) to support and promote the Nicaraguan "Contras" with an operational base in Honduras:

5. Coordination of Argentine military operations in Honduras. Responsibility of:

a) "Jefatura II" (Intelligence) of the chief commander of the Army.

b) Intelligence Battalion 601 (Army).

c) Argentine Chancellery and its Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

d) Military Institutes.

e) Ministry of Defense.

f) "Fabricaciones Militares"

g) Secretariat of State Intelligence (SIDE).

6. The funding of Argentine military activities in Honduras.

a) Transfer of funds to Honduras earmarked for the "Contras".

b) Links with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Mr. President, we do not doubt that you will be attentive to this petition as you said you would before the press during your visit to Honduras, last May, and will place at our disposition, to be turned over to Honduran authorities, the documentation that referred to the previously detailed cases, and thus to determine the responsibility of our authorities of that time, with which we will close this terrible page of Honduran history, and this can only be achieved knowing the truth, that will make us free, and will give strong support to our democratic process.

I take advantage of this opportunity to express to you Mr. President, evidence of my highest regard and respect.

[signature]

LEO VALLADARES LANZA

National Commissioner for Human Rights

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX B

CHRONOLOGY OF THE HONDURAN

DECLASSIFICATION PROCESS

 

1993 NOVEMBER 15: Initial letter from Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras, to then U.S. Ambassador William T. Pryce requesting U.S. government information for a prelimina ry report on human rights abuses in Honduras.

1993 NOVEMBER 23: Letter from five U.S. Senators and three Representatives to U.S. President Bill Clinton states: "... Dr. Valladares has officially requested access to all information the Government of the United States may have on this issue through our Embassy in Tegucigalpa. ... we urge you to make available any relevant facts and documents as soon as possible."

1993 DECEMBER 8: Letter from Pryce to Valladares indicates: "If you could provide us the names of the victims in the cases ... it would greatly facilitate our ability to provide you with whatever relevant information might be fou nd in the archives of the Government of the United States."

1993 DECEMBER 18: Letter from Clinton to Senator Clairborne Pell, indicates: "We are willing to assist Dr. Valladares. However, it is not feasible to review all the reporting on Honduran human rights matters since 1980 for materi al related to all the 140-plus disappearance cases, as Dr. Valladares has so far requested ... Preliminary checks indicate that the Department of State's holdings of possibly responsive documents amount to well over 2,000 for the period 1981-84 alone."

1993 DECEMBER 20: Letter from 46 members of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus to then Honduran President Rafael Leonardo Callejas notes: "... Commissioner Valladares Lanza is completing a report on the cases of disappear ed persons in Honduras. We wish to express our support for this initiative which will provide information and answers about the plight of disappeared persons in Honduras."

1993 DECEMBER 21: Follow-up letter from Valladares to Pryce to which is appended a "List of Questions on Topics About Which Information Is Requested from the United States Government". There are questions on general topics and on specific human rights cases.

1995 AUGUST 1: Valladares hand-delivers a detailed declassification request to Pryce in Tegucigalpa. The request has been narrowed to six cases of "disappearances" (Fr. James Francisco "Guadalupe" Carney, Tomás Nativ&iacut e; González, José Eduardo Becerra Lanza, German Pérez Alemán, Inés Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Fúnez), General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez and Battalion 3-16. It is directed to the: Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Army, National Security Council, and Department of State.

1995 SEPTEMBER 12: Six Senators and two Representatives send a letter to President Clinton indicating that: "The commissioner's new request appears reasonable and it is our hope that it will yield a prompt response."

1995 SEPTEMBER 15: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with John Hamilton, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter- American Affairs, who turns over a packet of documents which had previously been declassified and r eleased to The Baltimore Sun or to the family of Father Carney (FOIA Case #840322).

1995 SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Senate Amendment No. 2722 reads: "It is the sense of the Congress that the President should order the expedited declassification of any documents in the possession of the United States Government pertainin g to persons who allegedly 'disappeared' in Honduras, and promptly make such documents available to Honduran authorities who are seeking to determine the fate of these individuals."

1995 SEPTEMBER 28: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Richard Feinberg at the National Security Council.

1995 OCTOBER 12: Then Executive Secretary Kenneth Brill at the U.S. State Department sends a memorandum to other government agencies which requests "cooperation and assistance" in responding to the Honduran requests "for U.S. gov ernment documents pertaining to disappearances and other human rights abuses which occurred in Honduras in the early 1980's."

1996 FEBRUARY: Officials of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa release 588 pages of State Department documents on the case of Fr. Carney.

1996 MAY 29: Letter to Pryce from Valladares expresses eagerness: "to learn the status of our declassification request to other U.S. government agencies. To date, I have had no communication from the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the U.S. Army or the National Security Council (NSC) regarding the declassification of information in response to our request. Any help which the State Department could provide in ascertaining the status of our requests with the various agencies would be most appreciated. Concretely, it would be extremely helpful to us to know the process which each agency has put in place to respond to our request, and how much longer we might anticipate waiting for the release of those documents."

1996 MAY 31: Letter from four Members of Congress to William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, and John M. Deutch, Director of Central Intelligence, urges those agencies "to declassify documents in as broad a manner as possible and as quickly as possible", and expresses the belief "that U.S. documents should be declassified as quickly as possible because the information they contain could play an important role in efforts by the Hondurans to strengthen civilian institutions."

1996 JUNE 13: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Hamilton at the State Department; Maria C. Fernández-Greczmiel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs; and Lee S. Strickland, Chief of Info rmation, Privacy and Classification Review Division, CIA.

1996 JUNE 14: Valladares addresses a Congressional Human Rights Caucus Staff Briefing on "Declassification and the Struggle to Stop Impunity in Honduras."

1996 JUNE 15: Letter from Valladares to Strickland at the CIA clarifies in writing his position on topics which they discussed at their meeting two days earlier.

1996 SEPTEMBER: Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa turn over 2,033 pages of State Department documents.

1996 SEPTEMBER 30: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Hamilton. No one at CIA is available to meet with Valladares.

1996 OCTOBER: Letter from Strickland to Valladares states that: "During the past week, I have discussed with our Executive Director the documents pertaining to Father Carney and can advise that the redaction process is complete a nd the documents are in the final stage of coordination. Once the coordination and approval by the Executive Director has been completed, copies of these documents will be sent to you. Furthermore, I can advise you that our Honduran Working Group has comp leted their task of locating relevant material and a decision on addressing this material is currently being considered by our Executive Director."

1996 OCTOBER: Memorandum from Ralph B. Novak, Deputy Director, Inter-American Region, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense to Donald McConville, Office Director, ARA/CEN, Department of State reports: "To date we have sear ched 140 boxes of documents covering the period in question: there are 120 additional boxes to be brought in from our archives and surveyed before the requirement can be completed. We are proceeding as expeditiously as possible, and at the current rate of search should complete the requirement no later than 31 December 1996."

1996 DECEMBER 3: Letter to Clinton from 34 Members of Congress "to request the expeditious and complete declassification of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights violations in Honduras."

1996 DECEMBER 5: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with State Department officials and with Fernández-Greczmiel at the Department of Defense. No one at CIA is available to meet with Valladares.

1997 JANUARY 7: In response to the December Congressional letter Clinton indicates that: "The Department of Defense is in the final stages of its review and declassification responding to Dr. Valladares' request, and expects to c omplete work shortly. The Central Intelligence Agency is also close to releasing its documents related to the Father Carney disappearance."

1997 MARCH 13: The CIA releases 126 pages, consisting of 36 documents related to the Carney case and a "Summary of CIA Documents on Father Carney". The Defense Department releases 34 documents responsive to the entire Honduran re quest, clarifying that: "This is an initial submission; it is expected that an additional submission will be made in the near future." Most of the CIA and DOD documents are heavily excised.

1997 APRIL 1: Honduran Foreign Minister speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about declassification during a meeting in Washington, D.C.

1997 MAY 7: Valladares addresses a Congressional Staff Briefing on "The CIA in Honduras" sponsored by the Center for International Policy.

1997 MAY 13: Letter from 51 Members of Congress to President Clinton requests that he "instruct the relevant agencies, namely the DOD and the CIA, to expedite the declassification and release of documents on all of the subjects i dentified by Mr. Valladares, by an agreed upon date."

1997 MAY 22: Honduran President Carlos Roberto Reina in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. states: "Dr. Valladares' valiant efforts to discover the truth about past human rights abuses, and bring th e perpetrators to justice, have been a major contribution to human rights, the rule of law and democracy itself. His efforts have been only partially successful, however, because much of the available evidence is in the possession of the United States gov ernment. While President Clinton has committed to sharing this evidence with us, and some documents were provided, some U.S. government agencies -- especially the CIA -- have refused to declassify their documents concerning human rights abuses by Honduran government officials during the 1980s. I intend to raise this issue with U.S. Government officials during my meetings in Washington this week."

1997 MAY 23: President Reina meets at the White House with Thomas F. McLarty, Counselor to the President and Special Envoy for the Americas.

1997 JUNE 13: Clinton's letter in response to the May Congressional letter gives target dates for the CIA and the Department of Defense release of documents responsive to Dr. Valladares' request and for the completion of a classi fied report on CIA activities in Honduras by the CIA Inspector General.

1997 JUNE 18: Fernández-Greczmiel of the Department of Defense informs Valladares of her hope that: "we can make this submission to you, through the State Department by early July."

1997 AUGUST 27: The CIA Inspector General's classified report on the CIA's relationship with the Honduran military is given to the Intelligence Committees of the U.S. Congress.

1997 AUGUST 29: The CIA releases 94 documents [313 pages] on the five human rights cases involving Hondurans which were included in the Valladares request. Most of the documents are heavily excised. They contain more information on the organization and activities of leftist groups in Honduras than they do on the kidnappings, illegal detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings in the individual cases in question.

1997 SEPTEMBER 25: The Human Rights Information Act (S.1220) is introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Christopher Dodd to require the Administration to declassify U.S. documents on human rights in Honduras and Guatemala. This legislation would require government agencies to review for declassification within 120 days all documents regarding human rights abuses in response to these governments' requests. The bill mandates that an existing declassification appeals panel be broad ened to include two members suggested by human rights and academic organizations. It mandates that the identity of an individual involved in human rights abuses may to be withheld because he was a U.S. intelligence asset.

1997 OCTOBER 8: The Human Rights Information Act (H.R. 2635) is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Lantos.

1997 OCTOBER 29: Senators Richard Shelby (Chair) and J. Robert Kerrey (Vice Chair) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence send a letter to the Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet requesting the declassification to the maximum extent possible of the recent CIA Inspector General's report on Honduras. The letter asks that Tenet report back to the Committee within four weeks on his intentions regarding declassification of the Inspector General report and on his resp onse to the recommendations in the report.

1997 DECEMBER 1: Letter from Clinton to Morton Halperin, Chair, Advisory Board, Center for National Security Studies, indicates that documents from the CIA and the Department of Defense which are responsive to Dr. Valladares' req uest will be released "by year's end" and specifies that the CIA release "will include the Inspector General's report".

 

 

 

APPENDIX C

CORRESPONDENCE ABOUT THE

DECLASSIFICATION

 

 

12 September 1995

Congress of the United States, Washington, DC 20515, 2 pp.

Letter to President William J. Clinton from Members of the U.S. Congress

September 12, 1995

The Honorable William J. Clinton

President

The White House

Dear Mr. President:

We urge you to support the work of Honduras' National Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza. Dr. Valladares has done commendable work thus far in his investigations into Honduras' human rights legacy and merits U.S. as sistance in his continuing efforts.

Many of us wrote to you in November 1993 in support of Dr. Valladares' during his research for his preliminary report on the "disappearances" in Honduras, The Facts Speak for Themselves. The report is the Honduran government's mo st significant effort to disclose the truth about human rights abuses. At that time, we requested that you "make available any relevant facts and documents as soon as possible." Dr. Valladares submitted a written petition in December 1993, but was told th at the scope of the request was overly broad.

It is our understanding that Dr. Valladares narrowed his request and resubmitted it to the U.S. embassy in Honduras in a August 1, 1995 letter. The commissioner's new request appears reasonable and it is our hope that it will yield a pr ompt response.

The government of Honduras is making a serious effort to reduce the influence of the Honduran armed forces in civilian affairs. In July, the government indicted eleven current and former military personnel for their alleged responsibili ty in kidnapping and torture during the 1980s. Honduras has thus become one of the few countries in Latin America actively seeking to prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses committed against civilians.

We believe that recent press reports regarding the CIA's role in Honduras, if accurate, increase the responsibility of the United States to assist the present government of Honduras in clarifying the truth about the past. The series rev ealed that the CIA financed, equipped and trained Battalion 316, the Honduran military intelligence unit behind dozens of unsolved disappearances, documented cases of torture and political assassinations.

We support Honduran efforts to move the country out of an era of violence, secrecy and government impunity toward a stronger and more democratic society. We believe the United States government can help in this critical transition. By f ulfilling Dr. Valladares' request for declassification, the Administration has the opportunity to clarify the past, contribute to the investigation of key human rights cases and assist in the strengthening of civilian institutions in Honduras.

We respectfully request that you move promptly to declassify and make available to Dr. Valladares the documents he seeks.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Sen. Clairborne Pell Rep. Lee H. Hamilton

Sen. Christopher Dodd Rep. Robert G. Torricelli

Sen. Tom Harkin Rep. Joseph Moakley

Sen. Edward Kennedy

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy

Sen. Paul Simon

 

 

20 September 1995

U.S. Senate Amendment No. 2722, Congressional Record, pp. S13935-S13936.

HONDURAS

(Purpose: To state the sense of the Congress that the Administration should expeditiously declassify documents relating to Hondurans who were allegedly "disappeared," and for other purposes)

At the appropriate place in the bill, insert the following:

SEC. HONDURAS

(a) FINDINGS. -- The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) In 1981, a secret Honduran army death squad known as Battalion 316 was created. During the 1980's Battalion 316 engaged in a campaign of systematically kidnapping, torturing and murdering suspected subversives. Victims included Hond uran students, teachers, labor leaders and journalists. In 1993 there were reportedly 184 unsolved cases of persons who were allegedly "disappeared." They are presumed dead.

(2) At the time, Administration officials were aware of the activities of Battalion 316, but in its 1983 human rights report the State Department stated that "There are no political prisoners in Honduras."

(b) DECLASSIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS. -- It is the sense of the Congress that the President should order the expedited declassification of any documents in the possession of the United States Government pertaining to the persons who allege dly "disappeared" in Honduras, and promptly make such documents available to Honduran authorities who are seeking to determine the fate of these individuals.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the amendment that I am sponsoring on behalf of myself, Senator Dodd and Senator Sarbanes, calls on the administration to declassify documents relating to individuals who were disappeared in Honduras during the 1980's.

There is considerable evidence that in 1981, a secret Honduran army death squad was created with the knowledge and assistance of the American Government. It was known as Battalion 316, and during the 1980's it engaged in a campaign of s ystematically kidnapping, torturing and murdering suspected subversives. These were labor organizers, human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, students and teachers. The majority of them were engaged in activities that would be lawful in any democrac y.

At that time, the American Embassy, which had ample reason to know about these activities, denied them. Even today, U.S. officials who were stationed there claim not to know.

But the fact is that as many as 184 people remain unaccounted for who may have been disappeared, and the Honduran Government, to its credit, has undertaken to determine their fate.

Regrettably, the U.S. Government has not done all it could to assist in this effort. In fact, it has been unhelpful. For that reason, consistent with a letter sent this week to the President by Senator Harkin, myself, and several other Senators, this amendment calls on the administration to promptly make documents in its possession which pertain to these allegedly disappeared individuals available to Honduran authorities. I understand this amendment is acceptable to the other side.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as I indicated, I am unaware of any problems with the amendments that have just been submitted to the desk on this side.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I advise my friend from Kentucky that there are no objections on this side. They have been cleared for adoption.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the amendments en bloc.

So the amendments (Nos. 2710 and 2714 through 2722) were agreed to en bloc.

Mr. McCONNELL. I move to reconsider the vote.

Mr. LEAHY. I move to lay that motion on the table.

The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.

 

 

Department of State

Washington, D.C.

October 12, 1995

MEMORANDUM TO:

ANDREW D SENS

Executive Secretary

National Security Council

WARREN A. UTHE

Executive Secretary

Defense Intelligence Agency

COL. ROBERT R. MCALEER, USMC

Executive Secretary

Department of Defense

RICK E. YANNUZZI

Executive Secretary

Central Intelligence Agency

YVONNE M. HARRISON

Executive Secretary

Department of the Army

SUBJECT: Request from Honduran Government Human Rights Ombudsman for United States Government Documents Relevant to Human Rights Investigations

The Department of State hereby requests the cooperation and assistance of the addressee agencies in responding to a July 31, 1995, request from Dr. Leo Valladares, head of the Honduran National Commission for Human Rights, for U.S. gove rnment documents pertaining to disappearances and other human rights abuses which occurred in Honduras in the early 1980's.

The Department of State wishes to be as forthcoming as possible in response to this government-to-government request. The Commission headed by Dr. Valladares is a governmental institution, created by presidential decree in 1992. Hondura n legislation subsequently established the Human Rights Commission on a permanent basis. Dr. Valladares is a presidential appointee.

We ask addressee agencies to locate responsive documents; for the purpose of this request, "responsive documents" include only those originated by the retrieving agency -- other agency material need not be produced. Each agency should r eview documents keeping in mind the need to protect classified information, privacy interests, and other governmental privileges. The Department proposes to provide releasable documents to Dr. Valladares as they become available through our embassy in Teg ucigalpa. Agencies should also be advised that released documents may find their way into the public domain.

Also transmitted with this memorandum are two separate requests from the Office of the Attorney General of Honduras. These are:

-- a June 13, 1995, letter from Honduran Attorney General Edmundo Orellana seeking all information in the files of U.S. government agencies concerning the disappearance of U.S. citizen Father James Francs Carney in September 1983; and

-- a June 15, 1995, request form Sonia Marlyna de Flores, Special Prosecutor for Human Rights (within the office of the Attorney General), seeking information about CIA operations and contacts with Honduran officials, disappeared person s, arms trafficking, Battalion 316, and other matters.

In its August 1995 interim response to the requests from the Attorney General's office, the Department noted with respect to the June 15 request that as a matter of long-standing policy, the United States Government does not comment on U.S. intelligence activities overseas. At the same time we expressed our willingness to provide documents that may be responsive as they become available as a result of existing FOIA requests. Similarly, we ask that agencies bear these requests in mind as they search for documents responsive to the Valladares request, and to indicate to us which documents to be released to Valladares would also be responsive to the requests from the Attorney General's office. We are not asking other agencies to develop re plies to questions posed in the Special Prosecutor's June 15 request. We anticipate that an NSC-chaired inter-agency working group in Central American document issues will meet in the near future to coordinate the U.S. response. We request a reply to this memorandum by November 15 estimating the number and type of responsive documents that might be releasable and when they could be provided to the State Department.

The point of contact in the Department of State for this matter is ARA/CEN Office Director John R. Hamilton. Backups are Deputy Director Gary Maybarduk and Desk Officer Lynn Allison. They may be reached by telephone (202)647-4010; fax ( 202)647-2597; secure phone (202)647-1831 or 647-0083, secure fax 647-0905 (in the ARA frontoffice).

Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

[signature]

Kenneth C. Brill

Executive Secretary

 

 

29 May 1996

National Commissioner for Human Rights,

Oficio No. 280-DC/96

English translation of a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Honduras William T. Pryce from Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza

Tegucigalpa M.D.C., May 29, 1996.

Mr. Ambassador:

I have the pleasure of writing you to express my gratitude for the efforts which you, and others at the U.S. Department of State, have made to respond in a rapid and effective fashion to the declassification request which I submitte d to you on July 31 last year.

My conversations with you and with John Hamilton have filled me with hope in that you both informed me that the Department of State is working expeditiously to complete the declassification of documents. One example of that effort h as been the recent release of documents that you gave us about the case of Father James Carney, which aided our efforts to ensure that Honduran government authorities, especially the judges who are studying the cases, can unveil the truth about human righ ts violations which occurred in Honduras in the decade of the 80's. The State Department's willingness to release documents as they are declassified, instead of waiting until all documents are processed, greatly facilitates our efforts, and this is very i mportant because there are still many more documents to be declassified, as President Clinton said in the letter that he wrote on DECEMBER 18, 1993 to Senator Clairborne Pell: "Preliminary checks indicate that the Department of State's holdings of possibl y responsive documents amount to well over 2,000 for the period of 1981-84 alone."

The Comisionado Nacional is eager to learn the status of our declassification request to other U.S. government agencies. To date, I have had no communication from the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), the Department of Defense (D.O. D.), the Defense Intelligence Agency (D.I.A.), the U.S. Army or the National Security Council (N.S.C.) regarding the declassification of information in response to our request.

An help which the State Department could provide in ascertaining the status of our requests with the various agencies would be most appreciated. Concretely, it would be extremely useful to us to know the process which each agency has pu t in place to respond to our request, and how much longer we might anticipate waiting for the release of those documents. It would also be extremely useful to have the names of officials within those agencies with whom we could communicate directly about our petition.

As I await news from you, I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound gratitude to all persons in the U.S. government who are supportive of our efforts in Honduras to strengthen democracy through the promotion and defense of hu man rights.

LEO VALLADARES LANZA

National Commissioner for Human Rights

 

MR.

WILLIAM T. PRYCE

AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

HIS OFFICE.

cc: John Hamilton, U.S. Department of State.

Jeffrey H. Smith, The Central Intelligence Agency.

Judith A. Miller, U.S. Department of Defense.

William Allard, The Defense Intelligence Agency.

James F. Dobbins, The National Security Council.

William T. Coleman, U.S. Army.

 

 

31 May 1996

United States Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515-1005, one page.

Letter to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John M. Deutch from Members of the U.S. Congress.

May 31, 1996

Mr. John M. Deutch

Director

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Mr. Director:

We are writing regarding the request by the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Leo Valladares, to declassify U.S. documents on six specific human rights cases, and any information available on the CIA-trained military Battalion 3-1 6 and its founder General Alvarez Martínez.

We believe that U.S. documents should be declassified as quickly as possible because the information they contain could play an important role in efforts by the Hondurans to strengthen civilian institutions. Therefore, we were very plea sed that President Clinton asked that this request be expedited and that the State Department has begun to release documents.

We want to encourage the Central Intelligence Agency to declassify documents in as broad a manner a possible and as quickly as possible. It is important the United States play a supportive role in ensuring that possible human rights vio lations be investigated thoroughly so that justice may prevail.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Sincerely,

John Lewis

Member of Congress

Tom Lantos

Member of Congress

Esteban Torres

Member of Congress

Peter De Fazio

Member of Congress

 

 

31 May 1996

United States Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515-1005, one page.

Letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry from Members of the U.S. Congress.

May 31, 1996

Mr. William J. Perry

Secretary

The Department of Defense

The Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Perry:

We are writing regarding the request by the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Leo Valladares, to declassify U.S. documents on six specific human rights cases, and any information available on the CIA-trained military Battalion 3-1 6 and its founder General Alvarez Martínez.

We believe that U.S. documents should be declassified as quickly as possible because the information they contain could play an important role in efforts by the Hondurans to strengthen civilian institutions. Therefore, we were very plea sed that President Clinton asked that this request be expedited and that the State Department has begun to release documents.

We want to encourage the Department of Defense to declassify documents in as broad a manner a possible and as quickly as possible. It is important the United States play a supportive role in ensuring that possible human rights violation s be investigated thoroughly so that justice may prevail.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Sincerely

John Lewis

Member of Congress

Tom Lantos

Member of Congress

Esteban Torres

Member of Congress

Peter De Fazio

Member of Congress

 

 

15 June1996

National Commissioner for Human Rights, one page.

Letter to Mr. Lee S. Strickland of the Central Intelligence Agency from Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza.

June 15, 1996

Mr. Lee S. Strickland

Chief--Information, Privacy and Classification

Review Division

The Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20505

Dear Mr. Strickland:

I wish to thank you formally for your willingness to meet with me this week to discuss the status of The Central Intelligence Agency's response to the Honduran government's request (August 1, 1995) for the declassification of documents which can help us discover the truth about human rights violations which took place in the 1980s.

It pleased me to learn that Mr. Deutsh is interested in human rights and that the C.I.A. has dedicated resources to the Honduras declassification. In our meeting I mentioned that I, as National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, am making a good faith effort to seek the truth and end impunity. I know that the C.I.A. will also act in that spirit. Consequently, I am confident that the redaction and release of relevant documents will occur as quickly as possible.

There is one topic of conversation from our meeting which I wish to clarify. You mentioned the existence of some documents which summarize other documents. I reinterate that the Honduran civil authorities are interested in receiving the most detailed and complete information possible in response to our request. I wish to receive entire redacted documents, even when they touch on other topics not relevant to Honduras.

It would, nonethless, be helpful for the Honduran government to receive the summaries, as a complement to the other more detailed information. Under no circumstances would I want summaries to be substituted for entire redacted documents .

As the declassification process proceeds, I look forward to further communication with you.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza

Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos

cc. John Hamilton, U.S. Department of State

 

 

25 June 1996

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, Department of Defense, International Security Affairs.

Letter to Rep. John Lewis from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs Maria C. Fernández-Greczmiel.

Honorable John Lewis

House of Representatives

229 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515-1005

25 JUN 1996

Dear Congressman Lewis;

This is in reply to your recent letter to Secretary Perry regarding the request by the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Leo Valladares, to declassify U.S. documents on six specific human rights cases and any information available on military Battalion 3-16 and its founder, General Alvarez Martinez.

The U.S. Government is considering his request as a government-to-government request in order to expedite the declassification process. I met with Dr. Valladares on June 14, 1996, to explain our complete support for his efforts.

I shared with Dr. Valladares that we are locating files in our archives that may contain relevant material and will soon have on board a detailee who can begin the meticulous examination of our documents. I concur with your judgment tha t our Government support the Government of Honduras's efforts in ensuring that possible human rights violations are thoroughly investigated so that justice may prevail.

Thank you for your encouragement of DOD's efforts to respond to Dr. Valladares's request.

Sincerely,

Maria C. Fernandez-Greczmiel

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Inter-American Affairs

 

 

11 October 1996

Handed to Dr. Leo Valladares by U.S. Ambassador Creagan on October 31, 1996 in U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, The Central Intelligence Agency.

Letter to Dr. Leo Valladares from Lee S. Strickland, Information and Privacy Coordinator of the C.I.A.

Dr. Valladares

Honduran Human Rights Commissioner

Dear Dr. Valladares:

I am sorry that I was unable to meet with you during your visit to Washington, D.C., September 28-October 5. I tried to rearrange my schedule to include a meeting with you. However, due to my involvement in several other critical ma tters, I was unable to change my schedule.

Please be assured that the issue concerning human rights abuses in Honduras continues to be of major concern to this Agency. During the past week, I have discussed with our Executive Director the documents pertaining to Father Carne y and can advise that the redaction process is complete and the documents are in the final stage of coordination. Once the coordination and approval by the Executive Director has been completed, copies of these documents will be sent to you.

Furthermore, I can also advise you that our Honduran Working Group has completed their task of locating relevant material and a decision on addressing this material is currently being considered by our Executive Director.

I will be in further contact as decisions are reached. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Lee S. Strickland

Information and Privacy Coordinator

cc:

Mr. John Hamilton

Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

 

21 October 1996

The Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. 20505

Letter to Rep. John Lewis from the CIA's Director of Congressional Affairs John H. Moseman.

21 October 1996

The Honorable John Lewis

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Lewis:

Thank you for your letter of May 13, 1996, regarding Agency cooperation with Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Leo Valladares. We are pleased to confirm that we have been in touch directly with Dr. Valladares and are working to dec lassify relevant documents as quickly and broadly as possible. This

policy is consistent with the United States Government's concern for human rights and the need to protect legitimate national security information.

Sincerely,

[signature]

John H. Moseman

Director of Congressional Affairs

 

 

26 October 1996

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense.

Memorandum for Donald McConville at the U.S. Department of State from Ralph B. Novak, Deputy Director of the Inter-American Region of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the U.S. Depart ment of Defense.

MEMORANDUM FOR: Donald McConville

Office Director, ARA/CEN

Department of State

SUBJECT: Records Search Request, Interim Reply

This is in reference to State Memorandum dated 12 October 1995. Subject: Request from Honduran Government Human Right Ombudsman for United States Government Documents relevant to Human Rights Investigation. To date we have searched 140 boxes of documents covering the period in question: there are 120 additional boxes to be brought in from our archives and surveyed before the requirement can be completed. We are proceeding as expeditiously as possibly, and at the current rate of search s hould complete the requirement no later than 31 December 1996.

[signature]

Ralph B. Novak

Deputy Director

Inter-American Region

 

 

03 December 1996

U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Human Rights Caucus, 4 pp.

Support Declassification of U.S. Documents Regarding Human Rights Violations in Honduras

December 3, 1996

The Honorable William J. Clinton

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request the expeditious and complete declassification of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights violations in Honduras.

During the early 1980's, the U.S. sent millions of dollars to the Honduran military as a bulwark against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and against the guerrillas in both El Salvador and Guatemala. The U.S. built and operated mi litary bases, airfields and sophisticated radar systems on Honduran territory. Numerous joint military exerciseswere conducted. The U.S. government also helped to establish, train and equip Battalion 3-16, military unit which was responsible for the kidna pping, torture, disappearance and murder of at least 184 Honduran students, professors, journalists, human rights activists and others in the 1980's.

The Honduran people still do not know the truth about the human rights violations which plagued their country during this period. The perpetrators of human rights abuses enjoy the impunity afforded by secrecy. Not only do their crimes r emain unpunished, but they continue to occupy positions of power and influence in Honduras. Human rights investigations conducted by civilian authorities have been thwarted by a dearth of information within Honduras. The Honduran military claims to have b urned all files from the period in question.

On August 1, 1995, the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza submitted a request to the U.S. government for the declassification of information relating to six specific human rights cases, as well as documents per taining to Battalion 3-l6 and Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez. In response, the U.S. Department of State sent a memorandum by Exec. Secretary Kenneth Brill, dated October 12, 1995, to other executive intelligence agencies, requesting their support and coope ration on these declassification issues. Unfortunately, only the Department of State has declassified any documents. We commend the State Department for its efforts to cooperate with Dr. Valladares' request. However, the first sets of these documents were already in the public domain, and the 586 pages released in March of 1996 related in their entirety only to Father James Carney. Recently, the Department of State declassified another 2,033 pages, currently under review by Dr. Valladares and his staff. N one of the other agencies addressed in Dr. Valladares' request have responded.

You responded to a similar request from El Salvador in 1993, by sending a letter to congressional leaders on June 7, 1993, expressing your Administration's willingness to cooperate with the El Salvador Truth Commission. Your action resu lted in the declassification of some 12,000 documents from the Department of State, Department of Defense and the CIA within six months.

The democratic process in Honduras is fragile, and impunity is not a building block for democracy. Those who have operated with impunity in the past are resisting efforts to promote attitudes and build structures which guarantee basic r ights and freedoms for all Honduran citizens. By declassifying our files, we can bring an end to this situation and clear the way to prosecuting those individuals who are guilty of human rights atrocities.

We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Tom Lantos

John Edward Porter

Jose Serrano

William Clay

Howard Berman

Jim McDermott

Joseph Kennedy

Barney Frank

Peter DeFazio

Sidney Yates

Robert Torricelli

Melvin Watt

John Olver

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Martin Meehan

Elizabeth Furse

John Lewis

Cynthia McKinney

Constance Morella

Lane Evans

Luis Gutierrez

Jesse Jackson

Steven Schiff

Esteban Edward Torres

Jerry F. Costello

William O. Lipinski

Richard J. Durbin

Eleanor Holmes Norton

John Conyers, Jr.

Louise McIntosh Slaughter

Harris W. Fawell

Zoe Lofgren

Bob Franks

Vic Fazio

 

 

07 January 1997

The White House, 2 pp.

Letter to each of the 34 Members of the U.S. Congress who signed the 3 December 1996 letter from President Bill Clinton.

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

January 7, 1997

Dear [Name of Representative]:

Thank you for your letter requesting expeditious and complete declassification of U.S. documents pertaining to human rights violations in Honduras.

In order to clarify events of the 1980's, and in response to requests from the Honduran government, we have encouraged agencies to conduct an expedited review and declassification of documents regarding human rights violations in Hondur as. As you note, the Department of State has reviewed and declassified in full or in part over 500 documents relating to the 1983 disappearance of Father James Carney, various other human rights cases, the activities of two former Honduran military office rs and Battalion 316, a disbanded military intelligence unit. Honduran Human Rights Ombudsman Leo Valladares, who originally requested the declassification, has subsequently expressed his appreciation for U.S. efforts to make these documents available.

The Department of Defense is in the final stages of its review and declassification responding to Dr. Valladares' request, and expects to complete work shortly. The Central Intelligence Agency is also close to releasing its documents re lated to the Father Carney disappearance. CIA continues to review other aspects of the human rights situation in Honduras in the 1980's. My Administration is committed to sharing with Honduran authorities all appropriate information about past human right s cases, taking into account the complexity and sensitivity of the documents in questions

Beyond our commitment to share U.S. Government documents that might illuminate the events of the 1980's, we continue to encourage efforts by Honduran President Reina to end the tradition of military impunity that created the climate for human rights abuse. Recent charges of illegal detention and attempted murder against several current and former military officers and the conviction of an active duty colonel for drug trafficking are signs that the rule of law has begun to apply to all H ondurans. We also have ongoing USAID and Justice Department projects to improve the administration of justice and professionalize criminal investigation in Honduras. By strengthening Honduras' justice system, these projects will further our shared human r ights objectives.

We believe human rights in Honduras are much improved over the situation of the 1980's, although problems of arbitrary detention and vigilante justice obviously remain. By working with the Reina government to advance reform and doing wh at we can to aid the investigation of past abuses, we aim to achieve further improvements.

Sincerely,

[signature -- Bill Clinton]

The Honorable [Name of Representative]

 

 

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515-3701

13 May 1997

Members of the U.S. Congress, 5 pp.

Letter to President Bill Clinton from Members of the U.S. Congress

May 13, 1997

The Honorable William J. Clinton

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are again writing concerning the declassification and release of documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Honduras during the 1980's.

While we welcome your commitment to encourage all relevant U.S. agencies to conduct an expedited review and declassification of documents regarding human rights violations in Honduras, we remain concerned that, as of this date, the only agency that has declassified a significant number of documents and made them available to the Government of Honduras is the Department of State.

The Department of Defense, which is supposed to be "in the final stages of its review and declassification," has declassified only 34 documents. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has

declassified only 36 documents, all of which are related to the case of Father James Carney's disappearance. This is far from sufficient. The request for declassification presented by Honduran Human Rights Ombudsman Leo Valladares cover s documents pertaining to five specific cases in addition to that of Father Carney, as well as documents concerning General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez and Battalion 3-16. We have received no indication as to when, or whether, the DOD or the CIA will declass ify its documents on these subjects.

We continue to believe, along with Dr. Valladares and Honduran government, that declassification and release of these documents to the Government of Honduras is necessary to strengthen democracy in that country. Those who have opera ted with impunity in the past are resisting efforts to promote the climate and structures that will guarantee basic rights and freedoms for all Honduran citizens. By declassifying our files, we can bring an end to this situation and clear the way to prose cuting those individuals who are guilty of human rights violations.

We request, Mr. President, that you instruct the relevant agencies, namely the DOD and the CIA, to expedite the declassification and release of documents on all of the subjects identified by Mr. Valladares, by an agreed upon date.

In addition, we believe it would be beneficial for you to meet with President Reina during his visit to Washington the week of May 19-23, when he will receive an award from American University for his lifelong commitment to human rights . It is important for you to hear directly from him how critical it is for the requested documents to be released to his government.

We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

John Edward Porter

John Olver

William Lipinski

Alcee Hastings

Martin Meehan

Bobby Rush

Tom Lantos

Lloyd Doggett

James McGovern

Cynthia McKinney

Connie Morella

Sam Farr

Howard Berman

Peter Visclosky

Louise McIntosh Slaughter

Marcy Kaptur

Bob Franks

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Elizabeth Furse

Pete Stark

John Conyers

Sherrod Brown

Robert Underwood

John Lewis

Lynn Rivers

Melvin Watt

William Clay

Sidney Yates

Luis Gutierrez

Patrick Kennedy

Thomas Petri

Peter DeFazio

Joseph Kennedy

Ronald Dellums

Glenn Poshard

George Brown

Phil English

Jose Serrano

Jerry Costello

James Oberstar

Carolyn Maloney

Vic Fazio

Esteban Torres

Matthew Martinez

Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Walter Capps

Rod Blagojevich

Jim McDermott

Lynn Woolsey

David Price

Michael McNulty

 

 

10 June 1997

National Commissioner for Human Rights, Ref. 258-DC/97.

Letter to María C. Fernández-Greczmiel from Dr. Leo Valladares

Ms. María C. Fernández-Greczmiel

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for

Inter-American Affairs

U.S. Department of Defense

fax. 703-695-8404

Dear Ms. Fernández-Greczmiel:

I write today to request written clarification as to the status of the declassification of documents responsive to the my request, which was dated July 31, 1995.

As you are aware, to date I and other Honduran authorities have received only 34 documents from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), most of which are heavily redacted. These thirty-four were released to us in March 1997.

Will more documents be forthcoming from the DOD which are responsive to my request, or have I already received all the documents that you intend to release? If more documents are "in the pipeline", as you say, please specify a date by w hich I might expect to receive them.

Your prompt response to my inquiry is requested, as this clarification may influence the strategy for our on-going human rights investigations.

Thank you for your attentiveness to this matter.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Dr. Leo Valladares

cc. John Hamilton

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-

American Affairs

 

 

13 June 1997

The White House, Washington, D.C.

Letter to each of 51 Members of the U.S. Congress from President Bill Clinton

Dear Representative [Name]:

Thank you for your letter regarding declassification and release of documents regarding human rights abuses in Honduras during the 1980's. I had several conversations with Honduran President Reina during my recent summit meeting with Ce ntral American leaders and came away impressed by his commitment to the consolidation of democracy and defense of human rights in Central America.

As I noted in my previous letter, backing for regional efforts to protect human rights and democracy is at the core of U.S. policy towards Central America. The First Lady and Secretary Albright emphasized this point during the San Jos&e acute; summit when they visited the offices of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights. We are also supporting regional efforts to balance justice and national reconciliation by conducting expedited declassification reviews of U.S. documents bearing on past human rights violations.

Your letter asks in particular about documents originating with the CIA and the Department of Defense. Regarding the five individuals named in the request of Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares, the CIA expects to complete its review and release of documents by mid-July. Regarding Dr. Valladares' broader request for information on CIA activities in Honduras, including support for the military and intelligence services, the Administration will consider for release documents on General Alvarez and Battalion 316 that pertain to human rights violations. This release will not include any materials that could be expected to cause damage to national security. CIA expects to release any human rights-related material on General Alv arez by early September and on Battalion 316 by late November. The Department of Defense is conducting its own survey to identify any additional materials that are responsive to the Honduran government's request beyond the collection of 34 documents relea sed earlier this year. This should be completed by the end of June.

As you may know, the CIA Inspector General has formed a team to address several questions raised by the internal Working Group established to review CIA activities in Honduras. This investigative team is currently reviewing CIA document s and interviewing current and former U.S. Government employees with a view to completing its classified report on the investigation this month. The Inspector General's report will be shared with the appropriate committees of Congress.

I believe these efforts are in keeping with the spirit of your letter and are consistent with my Administration's commitment to sharing with Honduran authorities all appropriate information about past human rights case, bearing in mind the complexity and sensitivity of the documents in question.

Sincerely,

[Signature - Bill Clinton]

 

Washington, D.C. 20515-2008

18 June 1997

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 2400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-2400, one page.

Letter to Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza from Maria C. Fernández-Greczmiel

June 18, 1997

Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza

National Commissioner of Human Rights

The Government of Honduras

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Dear Dr. Valladares:

This is in response to your request for an update on the search, declassification and submission of Department of Defense (DOD) documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Honduras. As you know, after making an initial submission of documents, the Department of Defense initiated another comprehensive survey involving all agencies within DOD to determine if there were additional documents which were responsive to your request. This process is still underway.

We anticipate receiving the results of that search soon, but it is difficult to predict the exact date as to when and what documents will be available. Please be assured that this process is being expedited as much as possible, and I am hopeful that we can make this submission to you, through the State Department by early July.

Thank you for your patience and concern regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

[signature]

María C. Fernández-Greczmiel

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Inter-American Affairs)

cc. John Hamilton, Department of State

 

 

The White House, Washington, D.C.

Letter from U.S. President Bill Clinton to Morton Halperin, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Center for National Security Studies.

December 1, 1997

Dear Mort:

Thank you for your letter on behalf of the Center for National Security Studies and other international organizations about the further declassification of materials relating to human rights abuses in Latin America. I appreciate the gro up's recognition of our efforts to make progress on this issue, particularly through the Intelligence Oversight Board's "Report on the Guatemalan Review," and the earlier declassification of documents on human rights abuses in El Salvador.

Your letter asks in particular about the recent request from Guatemala's Historical Clarification Commission for U.S. assistance and about the status of the declassification and release of documents regarding human rights abuses in Hond uras.

As you know, my Administration strongly supports the work of Guatemala's Historical Clarification Commission and is committed to helping the Commission fulfill its mission. The United states was the first nation to step forward with sig nificant financial support, prompting others to follow. We have made available to the Commission over 7,000 documents related to human rights cases in Guatemala from 1954 to the present that were declassified as part of earlier document reviews. We are al so carefully reviewing the Commission's request for additional documents. Representatives of the National Security Council staff and the State Department met with Coordinator Christian Tomuschat on November 12 to discuss the Commission's priorities and ho w we could provide appropriate and useful information in the limited time available. We will be as responsive as possible, consistent with current declassification guidelines, to assist the Commission in carrying out its important duties.

I can also report further progress on the release and declassification of documents regarding human rights abuses in Honduras. We are committed to sharing with Honduran authorities all appropriate information about past human rights cas es, taking into account the complexity and sensitivity of the documents in question. Additionally, the CIA completed its review of the five individuals named in the request of Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Leon [sic] Valladares and released a second group of documents in late August. We also agreed to consider releasing documents pertaining to human rights violations requested by Dr. Valladares on General Alvarez and Battalion 316. CIA will release human rights-related material on General Alvarez in the next few weeks and on Battalion 316 by year's end. The latter will include the Inspector General's report. The Defense Department has concluded its efforts to identify additional materials that would be responsive to the Honduran government's request beyond its earlier release. As a result, the Defense Department expects to have a second group of documents ready for release by year's end.

Thank you for your continuing interest in this important matter. Please feel free to share this response with the distinguished representatives of the other organizations who joined you in writing to me.

 

Sincerely,

[signature - Bill Clinton]

Mr. Mort Halperin

Chair, Advisory Board

Center for National Security Studies

Gelman Library, Suite 701

2130 H Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20037

 

 

APPENDIX D

TOOLS FOR INTERPRETING DECLASSIFIED

DOCUMENTS

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

CLASSIFICATION CATEGORIES FOR U.S. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

C Confidential

LOU Limited Official Use

NF No Foreign Nationals

NOFORN No Foreign Nationals

S Secret

U Unclassified

UNCLAS Unclassified

 

EMBASSY ABBREVIATIONS

ADCM Acting Deputy Chief of Mission

ADMIN Administrative Officer or Section

AGR Agricultural Officer or Section

AID Agency for International Development

AMB Ambassador

AMEMBASSY American Embassy

ASST Assistant

CAO Cultural Affairs Officer

CG Consul General

CLO Community Liaison Officer

COM Commercial Officer

CONS Consular Officer

CT Country Team

DAO Office of the Defense Attache

DATT Defense Attache

DCM Deputy Chief of Mission

DS Diplomatic Security Officer or Bureau

E/CO Economic and Consular Officer

ECON/COM Economic/Commercial Officer

ECON Economic Officer or Section

ECON REP Economic Sector Representative

EMBOFF Embassy Officer

FSN Foreign Service National

FSO Foreign Service Officer

IO Information Officer

ISM Information Systems Manager

MED-NUR Medical Unit Nurse

MILATT Military Attache

MILGP or MILGRP Military Group

PERS SECY Personnel Secretary

PAO Public Affairs Officer

POLOFF Political Officer

RSO Regional Security Officer

USAID DIR U.S. Agency for International Development Director

USAID DEP U.S. Agency for International Development Deputy Mission

 

GENERAL

ACNUR Spanish Acronym for United Nations High Commission on Refugees

AFB Air Force Base

A/LA CIA Office of African and Latin American Analysis

AMCIT American Citizen

AP Associated Press

APR April

AR Argentina

ARA Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, U.S. Department of State

ASAP As Soon As Possible

ASD Assistant Secretary of Defense

ASST Assistant

ATA Anti-Terrorism Assistance

AUG August

BN Battalion

BR Brazil

BSST Border Surveillance Training Team

BT End of a Military Communication

CA Central America

CAL Calibre

CALFFAA Armed Forces Logistical Support Center

CAP Central America and Panama

CAS Controlled American Source

CASC Assistance to Citizens

CCOP Coordinating Committee of Popular Organizations

Comite Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares

CDEC Combined Document Exploitation Center

CDR Commander

CHRON Chronology

CI Chile

CI Counterintelligence or counterinsurgency

CIA Central Intelligence Agency

CICA Competition in Contracting Act

CINC Commander in Chief

CINCSO Commander in Chief, Southern Command

CINCSOUTH Commander in Chief, Southern Command

CIT Citizenship

CMD Command or Commander

CMT Comment

CNTR Center

CO Colombia

COB Close of Business

CODEL Congressional Delegation, from Washington

COIN Counterinsurgency

COMJTF-B Commander Joint Taskforce Bravo

CONGREL Congressional Relations

COS Chief of Staff or Chief of Station

CP Communist Party

CTRY Country

CU Cuba

DAO Defense Attache Office

DCI Director of Central Intelligence

DCOS Deputy Chief of Station

DDCI Deputy Director of Central Intelligence

DDO Deputy Director of Operations

DEA Drug Enforcement Agency

DEPT Department

DFA Department of Foreign Affairs, of a country

DI CIA Directorate of Intelligence

DIA Defense Intelligence Agency

DIN Dirección de Investigaciones Nacionales

DIR Director

DISSEMS Disseminations

DNI Directorate of National Investigations

DO CIA Directorate of Operations

DOB Date of Birth

DOCS Documents

DOD Department of Defense

DOI Date of Information

DOLS Dollars

DOPB Date and Place of Birth

DP Displaced Persons

DSAA/CONGREL Defense Security Assistance Agency/ Congressional Relations

ECON Economic

ENCL Enclosure

EO Executive Order

ES El Salvador

ESAF El Salvador Air Force

EXDIS Distribution by the Executive Secretriat on a strict need-to- know basis

FAH Honduran Air Force

FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation

FBIS Foreign Broadcast Information Service

FI International Front

FMLH Morazanist Front for the Liberation of Honduras

FMS Foreign Military Sales

FOIA Freedom of Information Act

FONMIN Foreign Minister

FPR-LZ Popular Revolutionary Forces-Lorenzo Zelaya

FR Father

FRG Federal Republic of Germany

FS Foreign Service

FSLN Sandinista Front for National Liberation

FUSEP Public Security Forces

FUTH Unitary Federation of Honduran Workers

FY Fiscal Year

FYI For Your Information

G-1 Chief of Personnel, Armed Forces General Staff

G-2 Chief of Intelligence, Armed Forces General Staff

G-4 Chief of Logistics, Armed Forces General Staff

GAO Government Accounting Office

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GE West Germany

GNP Gross National Product

GOCR Government of Costa Rica

GOES Government of El Salvador

GOG Government of Guatemala

GOH Government of Honduras

GON Government of Nicaragua

GOP Government of Panama

GOV Government of Venezuela

GOVT Government

GP Group

GRN Revolutionary Government of Nicaragua

GT Guatemala

HAF Honduran Armed Forces

HFAC House Foreign Affairs Committee

HO Honduras

H.O. Human Organization

HOAF Honduran Armed Forces

HPSCI House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

HQS Headquarters

HRE Human Resource Exploitation

HUMINT Human Intelligence

IA Inter-American

ICA International Communications Agency (pre USIA)

ICITAP International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program

IG Inspector General

IIR Intelligence Information Report

IMET International Military Education and Training

IMF International Monetary Fund

INF Infantry

INFO Information

INS Immigration and Naturalization Service

INTAFF International Affairs

INTEL Intelligence

IPTF International Police Task Force

IS Internal Security

ISA International Security Affairs

IT Italy

J-2 Chief of Intelligence, Armed Forces Joint Staff

JAN January

JAO Joint Administrative Section

JCS Joint Chiefs of Staff

JRG Revolutionary Junta of the Government of El Salvador

JUN June

JUL July

KIA Killed in Action

LA Latin America

LBS Pounds

LIMDIS Limited Distribution to officers, offices, agencies or chiefs of mission with a need-to-known

LOI Letter of Intent

MAAG Military Assistance Advisory Group

MAP Military Assistance Program

MAR March

MCAP Military Capabilities

MFA Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MGMT Management

MI Military Intelligence

MIB Military Intelligence Battalion

MIL Military

MIL IN Military Intelligence

MINFIN Finance Minister

MINGOV Minister of Government

MOD Minister of Defense

MOPS Military Operations

MPL Popular Liberation Movement

MTT Military Training Team

MUR Unitary Revolutionary Movement

MX Mexico

NCA Nicaragua

NCO Non-commissioned Officer

NFI No Further Information

NGO Non-Governmental Organization

NHAO Nicaragua Humanitarian Assistance Office

NIACT Night action, action required by recipient at any hour of the day or night

NON-COMS Non-commissioned Officers

NSC National Security Council

NODIS No Distribution

NU Nicaragua

NWRMC Northwestern Regional Military Command

O/A On or about

OAS Organization of American States

OCA Office of Congressional Affairs

OCC Occupation

OCT October

OFDA Disaster Relief Office of U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C.

OGC Office of the General Counsel

OIG Office of the Inspector General

OLP Office of Legal Policy

OP Operation

OPS Operations

OSD Office of the Secretary of Defense

OSD/LA Office of the Secretary of Defense/Latin America

PA Privacy Act

PARA Paragraph

PBH Pass By Hand

PCH Communist Party of Honduras

PCMLH Communist Marxist Leninist Party of Honduras

PE Peru

PEP Personnel Exchange Program

PGOV Internal Government Affairs

PHUM Human Rights

PINR Intelligence

PINS National Security

PLT Platoon

POL Political

PREL External Political Relations

PROP Propaganda and Psychological Operations

PRTC Central American Revolutionary Worker's Party

PSYOPS Psychological Operations

Q Question

QTE Quote

REL... This information has been authorized for release to...

REP Representative

RO Ranking Officer

RPT Report or Repeat

S-1 Chief of Personnel, Special Security Forces

SAIC Special Agent In-charge

SECDEF Secretary of Defense

SECSTATE Secretary of State

SEP September

SEPTEL Separate Telegram

SESO Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Station

SF BN Special Forces Battalion

SIGINT Signals Intelligence

SP Spain

SPEC IN Special Instructions

SPS San Pedro Sula

SQD Squad

SQDN Squadron

SSCI Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

STAFFDEL Staff Delegation

SUBJ Subject

TBD To Be Determined

TDY Temporary Duty

TEGUCI Tegucigalpa

TELCON Telephone Conversation

TOR Time of Receipt

TOT Time of Transmission

TW Taiwan

UN United Nations

UNHCR United National High Commission on Refugees

UNK Unknown

UNQTE End of Quote

UPI United Press International

UR Uruguay

URP People's Revolutionary Union

USAF U.S. Air Force

USAID U.S. Agency for International Development

USC U.S. Citizen

USCINCSO U.S. Commander in Chief of the Southern Command

USD/P Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

USG U.S. Government

USIA U.S. Information Agency

UY Uruguay

VE Venezuela

VOA Voice of America

VOLAGS Voluntary Organizations

/W Washington Office of U.S. Agency

WASHDC Washington, D.C.

WIA Wounded in Action

WNINTEL Intelligence Sources or Methods Involved

YRS Years

 

MILITARY RANKS

BG Brigadier General

BGEN Brigadier General

CAPT Captain

COL Coronel

GEN General

LT Lieutenant

LT INF Infantry Lieutenant

LTC Lieutenant Colonel

LTCOL Lieutenant Colonel

MAJ Major

SGT Sergeant

TTE Lieutenant

 

 

CLASSIFICATION LEVELS

TOP SECRET: "... information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe. "

SECRET: "... information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe."

CONFIDENTIAL: "... information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe."

Source: Executive Order No. 12958, Section 1.3(a)(1-3), April 17, 1995.

 

EXEMPTIONS TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA -- 5 U.S.C. SECTION 552 b)

1. National Security Information: The FOIA does not apply to matters that are:

a. "specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and

b. are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive Order."

The Executive Order currently in effect is No. 12958 on Classified National Security Information. It was issued by President Clinton on April 17, 1995, and became effective on October 17, 1995. It delineated both substantive and procedu ral criteria for withholding national security information. It revoked the previous Executive Order No. 12356 which was issued by President Reagan on April 2, 1982.

2. Internal Agency Rules: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency."

3. Information Exempted By Other Statutes: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "specifically exempted from disclosure by statute" other than the FOIA, provided that such statute:

a. "requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or

b. establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld."

4. Business Information: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential."

5. Inter- and Intra-Agency Memoranda: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency."< /P>

6. Personal Privacy: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "personnel and medical and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

7. Law Enforcement Records: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information:

a. could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,

b. would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,

c. could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,

d. could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and in the c ase of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency, conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source,

e. would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or

f. could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual."

8. Records of Financial Institutions: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regul ation or supervision of financial institutions."

9. Oil Well Data: The FOIA does not apply in matters that are: "geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells."

Source: Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws, edited by Allan Robert Adler, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 122 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, tel. 202-544-1681, Nineteenth Edition 1995, 55 1 pp.

 

 

 

APPENDIX E

EDITORIALS

 

09 October 1995

The New York Times

The Truth America Owes Honduras

 

11 October 1995

The Los Angeles Times

America's Dirty Hands in Honduras

 

23 December 1995

The New York Times, p. 16

Unfinished Business In Honduras

 

03 March 1996

The New York Times, p. A18

Curbing Central America's Generals

 

12 June 1996

The Baltimore Sun

Let the U.S. Come Clean on Honduras

 

25 June 1996

The Washington Post, p. A16

In Pursuit of Rights Violators

 

09 August 1996

The National Catholic Reporter

Still need for truth-telling on Central America

 

10 October 1996

The New York Times

Keeping Promises to Honduras

 

20 January 1997

La Tribuna

Declassification and Impunity

.

28 January 1997

The Baltimore Sun

U.S. ABUSES IN HONDURAS

** CIA training manual: The Sun forces release of handbook describing torture techniques. 

 

5 August 1997

The New York Times

History That Remains Hidden

 

  

16 November 1997

The Miami Herald

What Happened To Him?

 

 

 

APPENDIX F

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Facts Speak for Themselves: The Preliminary Report on Disappearances of the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras, translation by Human Rights Watch/Americas and the Center for Justice and I nternational Law (CEJIL), July 1994, 271 pp., available for US$15 from Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017-6104, tel. 212-986-1980.

"The File on Father Carney", BBC Documentary, available for free loan for private showings from Drs. Eileen and Joseph Connolly, 214 S. Meremac Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105, tel. 314-863-7267, fax. 314-863-7263.

Los Hechos Hablan Por Si Mismos: Informe Preliminar Sobre Los Desaparecidos en Honduras 1980-1993, National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras, January 1994, 496 pp., Editorial Guaymuras, Apartado Postal 1843, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, C.A., tel. 37-5433, fax. 38-4578.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws, edited by Allan Roberto Adler, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 122 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, tel. 202-544-1681, Nineteenth Edition 1995, 551 pp.

National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights web site at: http://www.conadeh.hn

The National Security Archive web site at: http://www.seas.gwu.edu/nsarchive

"Open The Files: A Chance to Aid Demilitarization in Honduras", by Adam Isacson and Susan Peacock, International Policy Report (September 1997), Center for International Policy (CIP), 1755 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 2003 6, tel. 202-232-3317, fax. 202-232-3440, email: cip@igc.apc.org, US$1.50, available online at the CIP web site at: http://www.ciponline.org

Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, Pursuant to Public Law 236, 103rd Congress, S. Doc. 105-2, 114 pp., available online at the Government Printing Office's web site: http://www.access.gpo.gov/ int

To Be A Christian Is ... To Be A Revolutionary: The Autobiography of Father James Guadalupe Carney, Harper & Row, 1985, 473 pp., available for US$8.00 from Drs. Eileen and Joseph Connolly, 214 S. Meremac Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105, tel. 314-863-7267, fax. 314-863-7263.

"Unearthed: Fatal Secrets," by Ginger Thompson and Gary Cohn, Special Report, The Baltimore Sun, June 1995, tel. 410-332-6800, US$3.95.

Using the Freedom of Information Act: A Step By Step Guide, The American Civil Liberties Union, 122 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, tel. 202-544-1681, US$3. Tel. (202) 994-7213