Saturday, November 22, 2008

Message to Obama: 'Time to close SOA is now!'

Human rights activists, religious leaders, and military veterans will descend on Fort Benning, Ga. this weekend to demand the closing of a notorious military training facility that has tutored some of Latin America’s most brutal soldiers and dictators.

The U.S. Army School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001, has a long and shameful history of teaching torture, extortion and execution to infamous graduates like Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama. Nearly 60,000 alumni have returned to Bolivia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to suppress human rights leaders, political dissidents and innocent civilians swept up in the region’s often violent struggles for social justice.

Interrogation manuals used by the facility and declassified by the National Security Archive shed light on a grim litany of “coercive techniques” similar to those used by U.S. military officers to abuse detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

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