Argentina's military government has been badly shaken by a still-secret Inter-American Human Rights Commission report that is said to name for the first time, the military officers here who allegedly tortured political prisoners and outlines in precise detail the times, dates, police stations and military installations where torture has occurred.
The report also reportedly holds highest ranking officers in Argentina's military government responsible for what the document says was an institutional decision by the armed forces to combat terrorism by using methods that violate the Inter-American Declaration of Human Rights.
The draft report has been submitted to the government. According to those who have read it, the report details the kinds of tortures used including electric prods, "submarine" or water immersion treatments, beatings and even dogs trained to attack prisoners.
Responding to repeated charges, the government has claimed it has no responsibility for the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Argentines who have "disappeared" since the armed forces took power in 1976.
But details in the 300-page report, compiled during a two-week commission investigation of President Jorge Videla, are said to be so exact that the Foreign Ministry is having difficulty drafting a convincing reply. The government has until Feb. 29 to respond to the preliminary document before the commission, a part of the Organization of American States, meets again in Washington to prepare its final report.
The final document, expected to be published in March, is likely to damage further the Argentine government's already repressive image abroad. But sources close to the Foreign Ministry have said recently that the real concern is that by naming names of torturers, the report may lead to an avalanche of accusations within the military that could weaken its grip on the country.
"What they fear is that someone named in the report will throw the first stone, naming those higher up who gave the orders," said an Argentine source with close ties to the military. "That could bring down the whole house because there is not one of them, including those at the very top, who is blameless. And they know it."