The world is still celebrating Colombia's spectacular July rescue of 15 hostages held for years in the jungle by leftist insurgents, which will go down in history as a textbook example of planning, cunning and military precision. But amid the rejoicing, it's becoming increasingly clear that the hostage-takers are not the only murderous thugs on the loose. Colombia needs to turn its attention to the growing number of murders allegedly committed by its armed forces.
Although the Colombian military has long been plagued by criminality and corruption, its recent successes against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have diverted attention from its own wrongdoing. But according to a coalition of Colombian human rights groups, the military is killing civilians at an alarming pace -- more than 300 in the last year. Worse, according to the New York-based Fellowship of Reconciliation, 47% of the extrajudicial killings were committed by army units that had been vetted by the U.S. State Department. Such troops are supposed to be the best trained and most sensitive to human rights, making them eligible for U.S. military aid, technology and training.