In January 2005, Newsweek reported that the Bush Administration was considering using the “Salvador option” against insurgents in Iraq:
[T]he Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported “nationalist” forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.
It should come as no surprise, then, that sectarian death squads tied directly to the Iraqi Interior Ministry are running rampant in Iraq. Today we learned that the head of the Baghdad morgue has fled the country in fear for his life after reporting that the units have killed more than 7,000 people since last summer. The death squads operate so openly that an American military official in Iraq said, “the amazing this is”¦they tell you exactly what they are going to do.”
In a desperate bid to rescue a failed policy in Iraq, the Bush administration may have given the green light to a strategy that ends any hope of national reconciliation and finally tears Iraq apart along sectarian and ethnic lines.
— Ken Gude