Monday, June 13, 2011


Demand High Ethical Standards from, or closure of, WHINSEC (from American Ethical Standards web site, and see SOA Watch
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly called the School of the Americas (SOA), is a U.S. Army school that trains military personnel and civilians from Latin American countries in counter-insurgency, military intelligence and counter-narcotics operations. Under Department of Defense jurisdiction, this school is funded by U.S. taxpayer money. A decade ago, following numerous revelations of questionable tactics promoted by SOA, such as the Pentagon’s public disclosure of torture manuals being used at the school and hundreds of human rights abusers participating in their programs, the school was closed. It immediately reopened under the new name, WHINSEC. There remain grave questions about the cost, necessity and ethics of the institution.
First, WHINSEC costs U.S. taxpayers at least $18 million annually and diverts much-needed funds from other programs such as job-creation, education, or humanitarian assistance. Second, it may not be necessary. The U.S. operates more than 210 facilities that train foreign soldiers. In addition, 60% of all training of foreign soldiers takes place at the hands of deployed U.S. Special Forces.
Third, groups like the
SOA Watch [see] argue that WHINSEC is no different than SOA in its use of unethical tactics. SOA Watch says that SOA and WHINSEC graduates are responsible for the assassinations and torture of tens of thousands of people in Latin America and were involved in the Uraba massacre in Colombia; the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador; the San Jose de Apartado massacre in Colombia; the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero; and the massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador.
According to
SOA Watch, Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia have all made public announcements they will no longer send their soldiers to the school primarily because they no longer wish to associate with the U.S. military training program. Numerous organizations actively oppose the school, including unions (such as United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the United Steelworkers, the United Electrical Workers) and religious groups (such as Unitarian Universalism, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and the Methodist Church).
Consider supporting Congressmen Jim McGovern’s (D-MA) efforts to get his colleagues on Capitol Hill to put their names on a "Congressional Sign-On" letter (find it at The letter asks President Obama to issue an executive order to close the SOA/WHINSEC. Contact your representatives and the White House and demand legislation to similar to last Congress’s Latin America Military Training Review Act, HR 2567, which if it passed would have ended operations at the WHINSEC and led to investigations of torture manuals and human rights abuses associated with the school. At the very least, demand that WHINSEC clearly demonstrate its commitment to promoting human rights and respecting civilian oversight of its operations

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