Time to Close the School of Assassins
ESPECIALLY FOR U. S. READERS (but also if you have friends or relatives in the U.S): The U.S. Congress will vote THIS WEEK on whether to close the infamous “School of the Americas” at Ft. Benning, GA (re-named WINSEC, but with the same mission). This school, originally located in Central America, has been a sponsor of state-funded, pro-government, right-wing terrorism since the 1970s, at least. Here, the U.S. military and CIA, with American tax dollars, trains Latin American militaries in “counter-insurgency” tactics–including torture, assassination, the “disappearances” of whole families, etc. Until Abu-Ghraib and the Guantanemo Bay Gulag, this school was the largest source of U.S. shame to human rights activists. Those who murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero were trained here. So were those who slaughtered the Jesuit school in El Salvador, those who wiped out whole villages in Guatemala, and those who raped and tortured nuns in Nicaragua.
In the aftermath of 9/11 George W. Bush said many things with which I strongly disagreed. But when he announced a U.S. mission to close down terrorist training camps, my immediate reaction was, “Good. Let’s start with SOA/WINSEC and lead by example!” This week we have our closest opportunity, yet. The bill will clearly pass the House of Representatives–but will it have enough votes to override a presidential veto? That is why we must act now to encourage our legislators, even Republican ones, to vote for the McGovern Amendment which would close and defund SOA/WINSEC. Click here to send an email or fax to your Congressional Representative. Then phone or email all your U.S. friends and relatives and get them to do the same thing!
UPDATE: The Maiden, whose blog is dedicated to eliminating torture, gives this link to a new book on Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Catholic priest who started SOA Watch and the movement to close the School of Assassins.
I am happy to say that my Representative, John Yarmuth (D-KY)(who is one of the freshmen Representatives who took control of Congress aways from the Republicans–but not in enough numbers to end the war in Iraq, it seems!), is a co-sponsor of the legislation to close and end funding for SOA/WINSEC. Some of those sent to Washington last November, quickly sold out their mandate, but Yarmuth has not. I have been very happy that I supported his candidacy and proved that not only Democrats, but fairly progressive Democrats, can get elected in the South. (Yarmuth is also a practising Jew, from the Reform branch, I believe, breaking the stereotype that Southerners will only vote for conservative Christians!)
UPDATE WED. AM: CONGRESS WILL VOTE TODAY. CALL 202-224-3121 and urge your Congressional Representative to vote to cut all funds for SOA/WHINSEC!!
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