The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation No. 459
The School of Americas (SOA) was established in Panama in 1946, ostensibly to promote stability in Latin America. In 1984 it was relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia to avoid violation of the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty.
Within years of its establishment, the school had spawned so many tyrants, dictators, and their henchmen that it was known in Latin American military circles as the "School of Assassins" and the "School of Coups."
For decades, nations in Latin America with the worst human rights records have consistently been primary clients of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Training at the SOA emphasizes military brutality and addresses issues such as counterinsurgency and urban counterinsurgency; irregular warfare and commando operations; combat arms and special operations; and military intelligence and "psychological operations courses," a euphemism for torture.
Soldiers at the SOA train in Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), a new strategy for maintaining U.S. military influence south of our borders without using or losing large numbers of U.S. troops. LIC is designed to preserve the status quo in nations where vast, impoverished majorities have no political representation. LIC suppresses those who speak out against political corruption or military brutality as subversives.
Although Congress recently voted to abolish the SOA, it simultaneously established a clone, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), also located at Fort Benning. On January 17, 2001, the SOA was replaced by the WHISC. The WHISC provides training is very similar, if not identical, to that provided by the SOA.
The WHISC will cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars a year while still producing soldiers trained in the art of violating human rights.
The Latin America Training Review Act of 2003 bill (HR 1258), 2007 (HR 1707), first proposed in 2003, introduced in the house in March 2003, and it is currently being considered in the House Annual Services Committee; this bill seeks to "repeal the statutory authority for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (…) in the Department of Defense, to provide for the establishment of a joint congressional task force to conduct an assessment of the kind of education and training that is appropriate for the Department of Defense to provide to military personnel of Latin American nations…" Furthermore, the bill prevents the Department of Defense from establishing a successor to the WHISC. Currently, the bill is awaiting executive comment, which has been requested of the Department of Defense and has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2007.
Americans for Democratic Action supports HR 1258, the Latin American Military Training Review Act of 2007, which would abolish the WHISC which perpetuated all the undesirable aspects of the SOA.
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