Legislation was introduced last month to shut down the SOA (School of the Americas or Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
Either name will do really; evil is evil.
In case you don't know, the SOA is an US Army facility at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. It is a training facility operated in the Spanish language especially for Latin American military personnel.
"The SOA has been attacked for training members of governments guilty of serious human rights abuses and advocating techniques that violate accepted standards. Graduates of the SOA include men such as Hugo Banzer Suárez, Leopoldo Galtieri, Manuel Noriega, Efraín Ríos Montt, Guillermo Rodríguez, Omar Torrijos, Roberto Viola and Juan Velasco Alvarado. For this reason, the school's acronym is occasionally reparsed by its detractors as "School of Assassins"."The SOA trains members in military techniques such as sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation/torture tactics. Once they get back to there home countries in South America graduates of the SOA use these tactics to abuse there own people.
Murder, rape, and torture are the order of the day for graduates of the SOA.
It is deplorable that the United States, a country founded on the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would allow such a lack of reponsibility in the way that it handles members of the SOA.
Why,then, does the SOA continue to exist?
"From its beginning, the mission of the SOA has been to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the US and their cohorts in Latin America. Labor leaders and union organizers have always been among the primary targets of SOA violence."But there is hope and people are aware.
Ever year in November groups from all across the country decend on Fort Benning to protest the SOA. Many of these groups are from religious communities and universities. (Including my Alma mater). The people that protest the SOA are people of good faith and concience and not the nutty moral majority right wingers who have highjacked this country. Consequently, to make their point protestors of SOA will cross over on to the government property and are promptly arrested.
However, if this legislation gets pushed through it would be a huge victory for for human rights.
AN UPDATE BY DR. FALLON (4/20/05, 11:25 CDT):
To contact your Congressional representative, click here. And then e-mail this post (using the little envelope icon below) to as many people as you can, urging them to contact their own Congressperson. This is really important, and if enough of our reps understand that their constituents hate the fact that we train war criminals here in the United States of America, we can actually get this place closed down once and for all.