Friday, October 9, 2009

SOA Watch victory

Congratulations to SOA Watch on its partial Congressional victory.

The U.S. Congress has approved legislative language opposing the negative practices and secrecy at the School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed WHINSEC. The Defense Authorization bill includes
language [that] requires that the Secretary of Defense [to] release the names of students and instructors [at the at the SOA/WHINSEC] but with two clarifications: names are only released for FY 2009 and FY 2010, and the Secretary of Defense can waive this provision should it be deemed to be in the national interest.
SOA Watch writes:

While the release of names for FY 2009 and FY 2010 is a welcome first step, the decision by the conference committee to maintain secrecy about who has attended the SOA/ WHINSEC for the past 4 years raises a red flag about what the Pentagon may be hiding. From FY 2005 to FY 2008, hundreds of serious human rights crimes, including the San José de Apartadó massacre among many others, implicated Latin American military officials throughout the region. The gap in knowledge about what role U.S. military training played in the practices of Latin American militaries for 4 years undermines the pursuit of a just foreign policy by denying the public and Congress the very information they need to make important foreign policy decisions.

In addition, the waiver granted to the Pentagon to deny the release of this vital information in the name of national interest ignores the many reasons why it is in the national interest for public disclosure of SOA/ WHINSEC graduates and instructors. What could be more of a national interest than human rights, democracy and transparency?!

More information on SOA Watch can be found here

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