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The United States Exports Torture
Mark Karlin: The infamous School of the Americas (SOA) (now euphemistically renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation”) has long been accused of teaching human rights violations, including torture. The Defense Department vigorously denies this accusation.
In Chapter 2, Bill Quigley – who writes for Truthout, as well as yourself – outs the truth. Hasn’t the School of the Americas, and its predecessor, which was located in the Panama Canal Zone, been outsourcing torture and human rights violations for decades?
Marjorie Cohn: During the 1970s and 1980s, dictators and military leaders in Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Paraguay used skills they learned at the US Army’s School of the Americas to torture and execute dissidents. SOA graduates assassinated bishops, priests, labor leaders, women, children and community workers, and massacred entire communities. Although the school was cosmetically renamed in 2001 to the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” (WHINSEC) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, the US government continues to resist accountability for those complicit in the egregious human rights violations perpetrated by the school’s students. There is a growing protest movement against the SOA/WHINSEC. Since the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador in 1980, protesters have increasingly engaged in lobbying and civil disobedience, including regular teach-ins, demonstrations and prayer vigils. Up to 20,000 demonstrators descend on Ft. Benning each year. They want the US government to admit what it has done at the school, allow an independent investigation and accept responsibility for the consequences. They are demanding that the torture school be closed.