Foreign Policy News Stories
Fiercest Aerial War in America is Unreported in U.S. Press
SYNOPSIS: While the President of El Salvador, Jose Napoleon
Duarte, boasted about the decline in death squad killings, the
people of El Salvador were victims of the most intense saturation
bombing ever conducted in the Americas.
From June 1984, when the U.S. provided Duarte with the largest
air force in Central America, the Salvadoran Air Force dropped
over 3,000 tons of U.S.-made bombs on civilian populations, causing
more than 2,000 deaths. Between January and mid-March of 1985,
there were more than 105 attacks on civilian populations. These
missions were often directed by U.S. military leaders. Investigative
journalist Alexander Cockburn asked, "How is it that over
the past two years the United States has been organizing, supplying,
overseeing and in many cases actually executing the heaviest bombing
and most ferocious aerial war ever seen in the Americas and not
one coherent report of the extent, viciousness, or consequences
of this campaign has ever appeared in any major U.S. newspaper
Cockburn reported the aerial war was responsible for most
of El Salvador's 500,000 internal refugees and for many of the
750,000 refugees out side the country's borders. More than one-fifth
of the Salvadoran population of five million became refugees-a
higher percentage than the corresponding figure in South Vietnam
at the height of that war.
Patrick M. Hughes, director of Refugee Legal Services, in
Laredo, Texas, wrote Project Censored to say, "The most outrageous
omission in the press is the refusal to report the bombing campaigns
in El Salvador."
UPDATE: Two weeks after Alexander Cockburn wrote the 1985
source article about the El Salvador aerial war, he reported that
he watched for news of the bombing in The New York Times, The
Washington Post, and the Miami Herald, and found none. Instead
the press continued to herald Duarte's Administration despite
the fact that "the death squads were at their worst in his
first term and the aerial war had risen to a climax in his second"
(The Nation, 6/15/85).
While the media ignored the largest aerial war ever conducted
in America, protesters attempted to get the message to the public.
In October 1985, students at Brown University and the University
of Michigan jointly protested the media's cover-up of the bombing
in El Salvador (The Nation, 11/30/85). Protesters urging the United
States to stop the bombing rallied in August 1986 at the Illinois
State Fair, where President Ronald Reagan was making a major speech
on farm policy (Chicago Tribune, 8113186). And protesters interrupted
Macy's 63rd annual Thanksgiving Day parade in 1989 when they were
arrested for marching with an unauthorized 30-foot-long bomb-shaped
balloon that read "Stop the bombing in El Salvador"
The American media were loathe to report the U.S.-supported
aerial war in El Salvador, but the Russian news agency, TASS,
eagerly reported the U.S. complicity in the brutal bombing of
civilians in El Salvador (TASS, 1/25/87).
Still Unreported: Ten Years of Genocide in East Timor
SYNOPSIS: One of the top ten Censored stories of 1979 was
"The Tragedy in East Timor." It revealed that since
1975, neutral observers estimated the number of Timorese people
slaughtered with U.S.-supplied arms at 50,000 to 100,000-about
ten percent of the population.
Ten years later, in 1985, Amnesty International (AI) reported
that up to 200,000 East Timorese, a third of the population, died
as a result of Indonesian aggression in the region, a tragedy
still unreported by the American press.
Amnesty International released a report on human rights violations
in June 1985, which indicated that, despite Indonesian claims
of peace in the province and "normality," the Indonesian
troops continued with waves of killings, "disappearances,"
and political arrests.
An Indonesian military manual obtained by AI clearly acknowledges
the use of torture and interrogation procedures that contravene
international law. The manual states, "If the use of physical
violence is unavoidable, make sure that there are not Common People...around
to witness it, so as not to arouse the antipathy of the Common