School of the Americas torture scandals

This video from the USA is called ACLU of Georgia – School of the Americas.

By Rose Aguilar, Truthout in the USA:

The Military’s Role in US Foreign Policy and Torture: Why Is School of the Americas Absent From the National Dialogue?

Thursday 6 October 2011

On April 8, 1993, a Newsweek investigation about the Fort Benning, Georgia-based US Army School of the Americas (SOA), also known as the “School of Dictators,” “turned up hundreds of less than honorable graduates linked to military death squads.” They include at least six Peruvian officers who killed nine students and one professor at a university near Lima in 1992 and four of five senior Honduran officers accused of organizing a secret death squad called Battalion 316 in the early 1980s.

In September 1996, under intense public pressure, the Pentagon was forced to release SOA training manuals advocating torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations. On September 21, the Washington Post‘s Dana Priest broke the story:

“Used in courses at the US Army’s School of the Americas, the manual says that to recruit and control informants, counterintelligence agents could use fear, payment of bounties for enemy dead, beatings, false imprisonment, executions and the use of truth serum, according to a secret Defense Department summary of the manuals compiled during a 1992 investigation of the instructional material,” she writes.

At the time, Democratic Rep. Joseph Kennedy, an advocate of shutting down the SOA, said the manuals “show what we have suspected all along, that taxpayers’ money has been used for physical abuse. The school of the Americas, a Cold War relic, should be shut down.”

In the 1990s, there were extensive investigations exposing the SOA’s practices and its connections to brutal dictators, but over the past decade, the reporting has largely diminished. Even though efforts to shut down the SOA continue, it’s rarely mentioned in the national dialog about US foreign policy and torture.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, associate professor of justice and peace studies at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, and author of “School of Assassins: Guns, Greed and Globalization,” believes the absence of reporting is largely due to the chilling impact of 9/11.

“We were very close to having the Pentagon close the School and were in touch with the SOA shortly before 9/11,” he says. “The attitude now is, ‘We can do anything we want, anywhere we want,’ and I think there’s been a stifling of critical news reporting, not just on the SOA, but on many related issues. Maybe that has been accelerated by the election of a Democratic president who has not followed through on many of his commitments, including this issue.”

“Not much has changed under Obama,” says Nico Udu-gama, field organizer with SOA Watch, an independent organization that seeks to close the SOA through vigils, fasts and demonstrations. “Militarization in Latin America has increased. People are still mobilizing even though you don’t hear about it in the news.”

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