Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Classified U.S. Documents Relevant to Argentina's "Stolen Babies" Trial?

I've posted before (here and here and here and here) about the trial in Argentina over the systematic stealing of babies from murdered/imprisoned/disappeared leftists by the military junta during the Dirty War of the '70s '80s. Those babies were placed in politically-connected families, often military families. In a new twist, classified U.S. documents are now being sought for the trial, as reported by Women's eNews:

The trial, expected to close this year, is being closely watched by a group of women now in their 80s or 90s, known as the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

For 30 years they have driven a very public effort to find stolen grandchildren and to bring their children's killers to justice.

Now they are finding an ally in a Democratic Congressman named Maurice Hinchey, who represents the 22nd district of New York, northwest of New York City and bordering Pennsylvania.

Hinchey announced last week that he'll retire at the end of this year. For now, he is seeking the declassification and release of CIA and Pentagon records that could help identify some of the missing grandchildren.

* * *

The State Department in 2002 declassified 4,700 documents pertaining to the Dirty War.

Carlotto and her group's lawyers believe that one of those documents proves there was not only a systematic plan to appropriate children, but that it was sanctioned by the highest levels of power.

That document is a 1982 memo by Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs, who is scheduled to testify here this month.

In that memo, Abrams wrote: "I raised with the ambassador the question of children in this context, such as children born to prisoners or children taken from their families during the Dirty War. While the disappeared were dead, these children were alive and this was in a sense the gravest humanitarian problem. The ambassador agreed completely and had already made this point to his foreign minister and the president. They had not rejected his view but had pointed on the problem, for example, of taking children from their adoptive parents."

Carlos Osorio, director of the Southern Cone Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, said in a November interview that the Abrams memo is key.

"The Grandmothers are pointing to this little nugget as evidence that declassified documents help to bring some justice in Argentina then, and thus they want to call for CIA, FBI and Pentagon declassification on Argentina," Osorio told Women's eNews.

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