Reed Irvine - Editor
  March B, 1993  

ADVOCACY RIDES HIGH AT CBS

 THIS ISSUE:
  • ADVOCACY RIDES HIGH AT CBS
  • Bradley Flat Out Wrong
  • Insulting AIM
  • Classic Disinformation
  • The Good Guerrillas
  • Did We Save El Salvador?
  •  What You Can Do
  • Notes
  • Michael Gartner, the president of NBC News, recently lost his job because of his defense of the tactics of advocacy journalism, but advocacy journalism rides high at CBS. On March 14, 60 Minutes aired a classic example of it in a segment defending, of all things, a notorious practitioner of the art. The mission was to refurbish the tarnished reputation of Raymond Bonner, who, as correspondent for The New York Times in El Salvador in 1981-82 was so helpful to the communist rebels that the U.S. ambassador described him as one of their "tools."

    Ed Bradley and David Gelber, the correspondent and producer responsible for the infamous 1989 60 Minutes scare story on Alar and apples, teamed up to produce a segment titled "Massacre at Mozote." The message was that Bonner, who had helped promote the cause of the communist rebels in El Salvador while covering that country for The New York Times in 1981-82, had been unjustly criticized. The guilty critics were the American ambassador to El Salvador, Accuracy in Media, Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Here is Bradley's opening comment.

    "It was the end of 1981. Civil war was raging in El Salvador between left-wing guerrillas and the U.S.- supported Salvadoran government. Two American newspaper reporters and a photo journalist hiked up to a mountain village called El Mozote and found out that an elite battalion of U.S.-trained Salvadoran soldiers had massacred more than 700 unarmed men, women and children. When the massacre story appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Reagan administration, which wanted to continue shipping arms and money to the Salvadoran army, flat out denied it, and the State Department put a lot of heat on the reporters who discovered the massacre. But now, 11 years later, there is no longer much doubt about what happened at El Mozote. Several months ago a team of forensic anthropologists working for the United Nations, excavated a burial site at El Mozote. Even they were astonished at what they turned up."

    What they had turned up, one of the anthropologists said, were the remains of 146 victims, 131 of them children under 12 years old, in the village of El Mozote. Bradley said this was "just one of what are expected to be many burial sites." Bradley interviewed two villagers who told of seeing the troops wantonly kill noncombatants, including babies, and a former army lieutenant who claimed to have participated in the sweep of the area but had no first-hand knowledge of what transpired in El Mozote. On the basis of this evidence, Bradley asserted that the reporting done by Raymond Bonner and Alma Guilliermoprieto, of The Washington Post, had been "professional and accurate," discrediting their critics.

    Bradley Flat Out Wrong

    Accuracy in Media was included among those critics, along with Ambassador Deane Hinton, Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Bradley said Ambassador Hinton suggested that Bonner and Guilliermoprieto were "tools of a left-wing propaganda campaign." He said a Wall Street Journal editorial attacked Bonner as "overly credulous," and Time had run an article on March 24, 1982 which criticized him in a way not specified. Bradley's staff searched in two AIM Reports, which we sent at their request, for a quote that he could use to make us look bad. Flashing the AIM Reports on the screen, he said, "As for The New York Times' Ray Bonner, after the El Mozote story appeared, an ultra- right-wing media newsletter said he was worth a division to the communists in Central America." One of the reports was dated February 1982 and was titled "Savaging El Salvador." The one in which he found that quote was dated July.

    Titled "The Ray Bonner Division," it was indeed published after the El Mozote stories appeared--six months after. It was based on an analysis of 51 Bonner stories in The New York Times, showing how he had been a conduit for a broad range of rebel propaganda. The most glaring example was a story alleging that Green Beret military advisers had attended a torture-training session run by the Salvadoran military. The story was so bad that it was eventually repudiated by the Times and by Bonner himself.

    This same story was severely criticized in Time's March 24 article. Time also reported that some of Bonner's peers said that he was "readier to believe guerrillas than the government." It noted that women and children can be active participants in guerrilla warfare and charged that Bonner had underplayed that possibility in his report on the Mozote massacre. Obviously it would not have helped Bradley's case for Bonner to have discussed the specific criticisms made by either AIM or Time. 60 Minutes neglected to mention that AIM never disputed that noncombatants may have been killed at El Mozote. We did imply that Bonner's story exaggerated the number killed there. That still appears to be the case. Bradley carefully avoided calling the discrepancies in the numbers to the attention of his viewers. His interviews with the two eyewitnesses, a housewife named Rufina Amaya and a young man who was only 7 years old at the time, failed to touch on the number of people killed.

    Alma Guilliermoprieto reported in 1982 that Rufina Amaya claimed to have counted about 170 men and women being rounded up and taken off to be killed. She also said that Amaya told her that El Mozote had about 500 inhabitants. Bonner, using figures supplied to him by the guerrillas, reported that 482 noncombatants had been massacred in El Mozote. That would have left only about 20 survivors, based on Amaya's estimate of the population. Bonner added that "the peasants" had compiled the names of 733 persons murdered by the soldiers in El Mozote and the surrounding area. He also noted that the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador had put the total at 926.

    Bradley's assertion that "more than 700" had been massacred was simply the unverified rebel claim transmitted by the credulous Bonner. The heart of the case against Bonner was his willingness to report unverified information supplied by the rebels. The estimates of the victims were obviously very elastic. The guerrilla radio had announced on December 21 that 192 non-combatants had been killed at El Mozote, but on January 2 they upped the total to 472. Another 10 were added to the figure supplied to Ray Bonner. It appeared that no figure was too high for Bonner to accept and repeat without question, and Ed Bradley showed no interest in trying to reconcile the discrepancies or even call attention to them. Indeed, a statement by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Enders was edited to avoid raising doubts in the minds of viewers about the magnitude of the killing.

    Enders said: "There is no evidence at all to confirm that government forces systematically massacred civilians in the operation zone, or that the number of civilians killed even remotely approached the 733 or the 926 victims variously cited in the press. In fact, the total population of El Mozote canton last December is estimated locally at only 300, and there are manifestly a great many people still there."

    60 Minutes omitted the italicized words, which cast even more doubt on Bonner's numbers than the population estimate of 500 that Rufina Amaya gave to Guilliermoprieto in 1982. Contrary to Bradley's claim, Enders' statement was not a "flat out" denial that noncombatants had been killed. It was a claim that our government lacked evidence that the killing had been "systematic" or that it had been on the scale claimed by Bonner.

    Insulting AIM

    While we don't appreciate Ed Bradley's describing the AIM Report as "an ultra-right-wing media newsletter," we are happy to point out that as hard as he and his staff tried. they could find nothing inaccurate in our critique of the reporting on the El Mozote massacre. Ed Bradley's effort to insult AIM is not in the same league as Ben Bradlee's description of Reed Irvine as "a miserable, carping, retromingent vigilante," but they have one thing in common. The words we wrote that evoked these insults have stood the test of time. Ben Bradlee flipped because we charged that one of his editors was covering up Pol Pot's genocidal massacre in Cambodia, possibly because of left-wing sympathies. We didn't know at the time how far left the editor. Laurence Stern, was, but the truth came out a year later when he died and was eulogized by Fidel Castro's top spy in the U.S. and by such prominent lefties as I.F. Stone and Alexander Cockburn. Our evaluation of Raymond Bonner as being very helpful to the communist rebels in El Salvador also stands up very well.

    Classic Disinformation

    In addition to his report on the El Mozote massacre, which appears to have exaggerated the number of noncombatants killed, several of Bonner's stories in the Times in January 1982 fit the classic communist disinformation pattern. By that we mean (1) playing up real or invented atrocities by our own troops or those we are supporting in their resistance to the communists; and (2) portraying the communist rebels as genuine democrats or simple peasants who have no agenda beyond getting rid of their cruel oppressors and establishing a humane, democratic society.

    His tall torture tale is a good example. It charged that U.S. Green Berets in camouflage fatigues watched as Salvadoran militar3 personnel tortured a 13-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy suspected of being rebel sympathizers. Their lifeless bodies were allegedly dumped on the street in San Salvador. The uncorroborated story, which ran on page 2 on January 11, 1982, came from Antonio Gomez Montano, an army deserter living in Mexico.

    There were numerous flaws in the story which would have been detected if Bonner had checked it out. For example, U.S. military advisers in El Salvador were not allowed to wear jungle camouflage fatigues. Gomez claimed that U.S. Green Berets trained a helicopter parachute unit at Ilopango air base. No U.S. trainers worked with the parachute unit at Ilopango. There were only two Green Berets in El Salvador at the time and they were not assigned to Ilopango. He claimed his parents had been killed by the National Guard in May 1981, but records showed that his parents both died of natural causes long before that date. Gomez claimed to have deserted after escaping from the stockade at Ilopango, but his records showed he simply failed to return to duty after two days of leave.

    But even worse, evidence surfaced that Gomez had told a far more grisly story than the one Bonner submitted to the Times. Bonner's story said only that the Americans were present during the torture, but the January 1982 issue of Alert, a publication of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), said: "What The New York Times article fails to mention is that this soldier (Gomez), in a taped interview, directly implicates these 'trainers' in the tortures." Gomez was quoted as saying, "The officers who were teaching us were the American Green Berets...They began to torture this young fellow. They took their knives and stuck them under his fingernails. After they took his fingernails off, then they broke his elbows. Afterwards they gouged out his eyes. They then took their bayonets and made all sorts of slices in his skin all around his chest, arms and legs. Then they took his hair off and the skin of his scalp. When they saw there was nothing left to do with him, they threw gasoline on him and burned him..."

    Covert Action Information Bulletin, a publication put out by friends of CIA turncoat Philip Agee, discussed this story in its March 1982 issue, repeating the account of the torture of the boy and adding an even more horrifying description of the rape and torture of the 13-year-old girl. In this account a second boy was tortured but not killed in the process. He was allegedly thrown out of a helicopter over the ocean from a height of 14,000 feet. Gomez claimed that there were eight Green Berets in all participating in the torture session, according to CAIB.

    We sent these articles to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times and asked him to find out if Bonner had been told these more detailed stories and had toned down what he wrote for the Times, or if Gomez was telling different stories to different interviewers. We suggested Bonner's tapes of the interview with Gomez be checked. Vice chairman Sydney Gruson replied, "Bonner had not heard of Gomez having talked to other reporters. Specifically, he didn't know that Gomez had been claiming that American military advisers themselves were engaging in torture, and Gomez certainly never made that claim to Bonner...In my opinion, neither Bonner's competence nor his integrity is involved. My information, of course, comes from Bonner. I believe him." End of investigation.

    Leftists in Mexico had been peddling Gomez's story but had found no takers among American reporters until Bonner picked it up, eight months after Gomez's desertion. The Times eventually acknowledged that the story should not have been published, and Bonner agreed, writing in his 1984 book, Weakness and Deceit, "I now believe that I should not have written Gomez's account without seeking a second source to verify what he related .... I suspect now that he embellished what had happened, and I do not believe that the American advisers had been present as he described."

    The Good Guerrillas

    Attacking the El Salvadoran government and our own military with atrocity stories was only half the disinformation campaign. It was also important to portray the communist-led guerrillas in a heroic, non-threatening light. Bonner did just that in the series of three articles in the Times reporting on his expedition to Morazon province, guerrilla territory, The El Mozote massacre was one of these stories. The others denied allegations that El Salvador was under attack by terrorists using Soviet arms supplied by Cuba. The guerrillas that Bonner met convinced him that "theirs is an indigenous revolution spawned by decades of political and social injustice." He reported, "None of those questioned said they knew of anyone, including the senior commanders, who had been to Cuba or Nicaragua for training. 'It is an insult to say the Cubans and Nicaraguans are helping us,' a 27-year-old soldier said. 'We are campesinos. We can do it ourselves.'" A guerrilla leader was quoted as saying that as far as he knew, no arms from Cuba or Nicaragua had been received by the guerrillas. He claimed that they bought their arms on the market with funds obtained from "kidnappings, bank robberies and 'war taxes' imposed on businesses."

    The vision of revolutionaries providing schools and health care to peasants appeals to liberals. Bonner told his readers that "the guerrillas have set up schools for children, health clinics and hospitals, military schools and a radio station." He wrote: "The immense majority of the guerrillas are Christians, according to the Rev. Rogelio Ponseele, a 42-year-old Belgian-born Roman Catholic priest who has been in the mountains with the guerrillas and their families since Christmas Day 1980. He has baptized more than 200 of their children, he said. 'They are motivated by their Christian faith to try to bring democracy to El Salvador,' Father Ponseele said in an interview."

    He portrayed the guerrillas as popular idealists fighting corrupt government troops forced into the military or attracted by the pay. In his January 28 story, Bonner quoted a 19-year-old guerrilla platoon commander who said, "Even though the enemy has planes, bombs, more powerful weapons, and American advisers, we will win because we have the support of the people. The army soldiers are fighting 'because they are paid to, are obligated to.' The peasants are fighting because they want to."

    Did We Save El Salvador?

    There is abundant proof that the rebels in El Salvador received arms and money from Cuba and Nicaragua, but they also got advice and ideas. One of the lessons they learned from their communist comrades in other countries was the importance of halting the flow of Atnerican aid to the government they were seeking to overthrow.

    Ruben Zamora and Hector Oqueli, rebel spokesmen, explained this to New York Times reporter Philip Taubman. In Taubman's story, published February 26, 1982, Oqueli was quoted as saying, "We have to win the war inside the United States." Taubman wrote, "Their primary goal, the rebels said, was to overcome the pronouncements of the Reagan Administration that have portrayed the guerrillas as Soviet and Cuban puppets. The guerrillas began with the example of Vietnam. 'The American media, especially television, turned public opinion against the war,' said Mr. Zamora."

    "One step," Taubman explained, "was to invite American reporters in El Salvador to visit rebel strongholds in the countryside. These visits, which began late last year, generated a series of newspaper articles about the rebels and their supporters. At the same time, the leaders began to contact editorial writers at major American newspapers, hoping to persuade them to write more sympathetically about the insurgents."

    Bonner's classic disinformation/propaganda stories were valuable assets in that campaign. They were timed to appear in the weeks and days preceding the deadline for the president to certify that El Salvador was making sufficient progress in safeguarding human rights to qualify for continued aid. Bonner's El Mozote massacre story ran the very day that Reagan was to send that certification to Congress.

    Reagan understood the communist strategy. Moreover, he recognized that subjecting El Salvador to communist rule was not appropriate punishment for its shortcomings in the human rights area, nor was it in the best interests of the United States. He was determined to prevent the expansion of the communist beachhead that had been established in Nicaragua in 1979.

    As a result, Bonner and his allies in the media did not prevail. The New York Times pulled him out of El Salvador in August 1982. He had served there only 10 months, and his recall was clearly not the routine rotation the Times claimed it to be. The true story is described in detail in Joe Goulden's book Fit To Print: A.M. Rosenthal And His Times.

    Goulden, who wrote the book before he had any affiliation with Accuracy in Media, gives AIM credit for having alerted Arthur Sulzberger, the chairman of the New York Times Company, to the pronounced leftist slant of his paper's stories on Central America. He wrote: "The important point was that when Bonner's articles began to appear, AIM's criticisms had prompted Sulzberger to watch Central American coverage more closely."

    When The Wall Street Journal devoted its entire editorial space to a scathing criticism of the Times' coverage of Central America and Bonner's reporting in particular on February 10, Sulzberger, Goulden wrote, summoned executive editor Abe Rosenthal to his office and expressed concern about Bonner's reporting. Rosenthal was obliged to take a close look at what Bonner was writing. He went to El Salvador for an on-the-spot investigation, and the end result was that he decided Bonner had to go. It was none too soon.

    The Wall Street Journal reviewed the sorry record of American journalists misjudging the communists ever since the Ilolshevik revolution. It asked, "Are we going to have to watch the script replayed again in El Salvador, or can we in the press succeed in bringing some perspective to the story? By now we ought to realize that atrocities, some of them well documented, have been committed by both sides. We ought to recognize the exceeding improbability of a guerrilla success leading to anything but a Cuban-dominated regime....The press will have failed if, in the whirlpool of confusion, these realities are lost."

    The pitiful pile of bones unearthed at El Mozote and shown on 60 Minutes is a reminder of the brutality that often characterized the struggle to ward off the attempted communist takeover. But it doesn't compare with the huge mound of skulls in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a memorial to the world's worst holocaust since World War II. And some will remember that another New York Times reporter, Sydney Schanberg, after doing for the rebels in Cambodia what Bonner was trying to do for the rebels in El Salvador, had a story in The New York Times on April 13, 1975 under this headline: "Indochina Without Americans: For Most A Better Life."

    What You Can Do

    Send the enclosed cards or write your own letters to Laurence Tisch, Chairman of CBS, and David Gelher, producer of the 60 Minutes segment, "Mozote Massacre." A card is also enclosed which you may send to the editor of a paper or other publication of your choice.

    AIM REPORT is published twice monthly by Accuracy In Media, Inc., 1275 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, and is free to AIM members. Dues and contributions to AIM are tax deductible. The AIM Report is mailed 3rd class to those whose contribution is at least $22.95 a year and 1st class to those contributing $32.95 a year or more Non-members subscriptions are $35 (1st class mail).

    NOTES FROM THE EDITOR'S CUFF By Reed Irvine

    WE HAVEN'T GIVEN MUCH ATTENTION TO EL SALVADOR IN THE PAST TWO YEARS, but it is again prominent in the news. Soon after stories appeared about new evidence being unearthed verifying that a large number of civilians had been killed by the Salvadoran army at El Mozote, I heard 60 Minutes was interested in the story. I wasn't surprised. They love stories that make us and our allies look bad. For example, on Sept. 28, 1990, 60 Minutes reported a claim that we had killed as many as 4,000 civilians in our invasion of Panama, burying them in secret graves. Our military and Panamanian officials put civilian deaths at only 202. Stung by criticisms of its bash-America gullibility, 60 Minutes revisited this subject on Dec. 16, 1990. It abandoned the 4,000-death claim, but it reported that a human rights group in Panama put the number at 556, and it found a group in Costa Rica that put it at 2,000. Pete Williams, the Pentagon spokesman, acknowledged existence of mass graves--three of them containing a total of 169 bodies that had been buried because refrigerated storage was not available. Reporters had been present when most of these bodies were buried.

    THE PRODUCER OF THE 60 MINUTES SEGMENT ON EL MOZOTE TURNED OUT TO BE David Gelber. He's the fellow who produced the disastrous 60 Minutes reports on Alar and apples three years ago. Gelber, still smarting from AIM's devastating criticism of those programs, tried to smear AIM in his El Mozote segment. We tell in this report how he created the false implication that we accused Bonner of being worth a division to the communists in Central America just because of his El Mozote story. That was only one of several examples that we gave of Bonner's service to the communist cause in El Salvador. We go into detail about two more serious cases: (1) his phony story about U.S. military advisers attending a torture training session, and (2) his series portraying the guerrillas as Jeffersonian democrats. In addition, we cited numerous stories he had written about government human rights violations based on information obtained from radical groups. He didn't tell his readers about the political leanings of those groups. He also wrote stories pushing the rebel line that the March 1982 elections which impressively repudiated the rebels were fraudulent. Finally, he did stories that misrepresented the land reform program in El Salvador. One thing we did not do was deny that civilians may have been massacred at El Mozote. Neither did the other critics of Bonner cited by 60 Minutes, The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine.

    THIS REPORT SHOWS HOW 60 MINUTES USED ADVOCACY JOURNALISM TO DEFEND A notorious advocacy journalist. It focuses on the content of his reports, but Bonner hasn't hidden his sympathy for the rebel cause. On March 26, 1984 The Bridgeport Telegram reported a speech in which he attacked U.S. aid to the Salvadoran government, "which he claimed would otherwise fall to guerrilla fighters." He said the debate "should not be whether we can attain a military victory in El Salvador; the question should be why we are seeking it." Bonner said it wasn't necessary to support the Salvadoran government to keep the country from falling into communist hands. He had spent two weeks with the guerrillas and found that they knew nothing about communism. In a book he published in 1984, Bonner suggested that it was as wrong to say the Salvadoran rebels were getting help from the Soviet bloc as it was to say that the Vietcong were supported by North Vietnam. On Nov. 14, 1992, Bonner was asked on NPR if he felt he had been vindicated. He said, "Do you know what vindication is really important-- it is now with Alger Hiss. Now that's a vindication that really means something."

    "IRAQI WAR CRIMES ASSERTED BY U.S." WAS THE HEADLINE OVER A STORY IN THE New York Times on March 20. It was about a "long-awaited report" prepared by the U.S. Army about "serious war crimes" committed by the Iraqis during the Gulf War, including abuse of POWs and hostages, torture and killing of Kuwaitis and damaging the environment by releasing oil into the Persian Gulf and burning the Kuwaiti oil fields. The story, placed on page 3, was a single column, 15 inches long. It dealt mostly with the abuse of American POWs, but the last paragraph disclosed that "a torture center had been established in Kuwait City and that 1,082 Kuwaitis were killed by torture and execution during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The Washington Post had a much bigger and better story, 25 column inches across the top of the page, but it was page A18.

    THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE MY-LAI-HUE SYNDROME. THE next day, the Times carried a 65-column-inch story about human rights abuses by the government of El Salvador over the past 12 years under a two-column headline on page one that read, "How U.S. Actions Helped Hide Salvador Human Rights Abuses." The Washington Post devoted nearly a full page to a similar story. Its page-one headline read, "12 Years of Tortured Truth on El Salvador, U.S. Declarations During War Undercut by U.N. Commission Report." That is a reference to a 700-page U.N. report titled "Report of Commission on Truth in El Salvador." Both papers had devoted lengthy stories to this report earlier in the week, as did the Los Angeles Times. The L.A. Times demonstrated its affliction with the My Lai-Hue syndrome by running a lengthy rehash of My Lai on its op-ed page the same day that it devoted nearly a full page to the rehash of human rights violations in El Salvador. The My Lai article marked the 25th anniversary of that massacre. The 25th anniversary of the Hue massacre in February passed unnoticed, of course.

    IN THE EL SALVADOR STORIES THERE IS LITTLE MENTION OF ANY CRIMES COMMITTED by the communist rebels. The Washington Post noted that the Truth Commission had held the rebels responsible for the disappearance of some 300 Salvadorans and the killing of some 400, including 10 mayors. It said that the commission had held the rebels responsible for the killing of two American servicemen who were shot to death after their helicopter was downed in rebel territory on Jan. 2, 1991. None of the victims were named. The New York Times said only that the report said the rebels "considered it legitimate to physically eliminate people tied to military targets, traitors, informants and even political adversaries" and that the rebel leader, Joaquin Villalobos, "was criticized for a campaign of murders and kidnappings of rural mayors in the late 1980s." The L.A. Times said even less--only that the rebels had a program of "executing mayors." It didn't say how many had been murdered nor that 288 had been threatened with death if they didn't resign their posts. The Post alone mentioned the murdered U.S. servicemen.

    THE U.N. REPORT INDICATES THAT BONNER'S EL MOZOTE VICTIM NUMBERS OF 733 for the area and 482 for El Mozote alone were too high. According to The Washington Post, it put the area total at over 500 with over 200 in El Mozote alone. But The New York Times said, "One of the episodes most heavily investigated was the massacre of about 800 civilians in the eastern hamlet of El Mozote on Dec. 11, 1980." (sic) "In the report's most heavily documented case, the commission concludes that 'it is fully proven' that...soldiers moved through El Mozote 'deliberately and systematically killing its population of more than 200 men, women and children. The report draws on the exhumation last year of more than 140 skeletons, most of them children, from the ruins of the village parish house. The report says it is 'sufficiently proven' that the Atlacatl (battalion) and other units also massacred civilians in five other hamlets in the same sweep." The report obviously did not confirm the 800 figure, and the exhumations fall far short of confirming even the "over 500" figure. The rebel numbers used by Bonner for El Mozote were off by at least a factor of two if we accept the commission's estimate of over 200. Their numbers for the other five hamlets were probably inflated at least as much, making an area total of around 300 plausible.

    MAX SINGER, A VETERAN OBSERVER OF EL SALVADOR. ARGUES IN AN ARTICLE IN The Wall Street Journal of Mar. 18 that the attention being given to the U.N. report "diverts attention from the biggest crime: the war itself." The rebel group, the FMLN, set out to topple a revolutionary government that had instituted radical reforms and promised free elections. The FMLN was supported by Cuba and the Soviet bloc, not by the people of El Salvador. When free elections were held in March 1982, the FMLN threatened voters and burned buses and polling places. The people voted overwhelmingly against them. The FMLN continued its terrorist assaults, inflicting enormous suffering on the people by destroying their transportation and sabotaging their electric power as well as maiming and killing innocent people. This culminated in its insane 1989 attack on the capital. Singer wrote: "The attack against San Salvador made no effort to avoid civilian casualties, and it inevitably resulted in hundreds of innocent people being killed. It never had any chance of military success .... no one asked who was responsible for the deaths of the hundreds of innocent civilians killed in a hopeless attack by a defeated force after nine years of unpopular war against an elected government."

    WOULD THE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF TODAY IF WE HAD LET THE FMLN WIN? The Wall Street Journal gave this answer in its Mar. 18 editorial: "Take a look at Nicaragua."


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