As the Bush administration starts to finally acknowledge “aggressive interrogation” techniques – and the Andrew Sullivan’s of this world still seem to think that torture never existed before Dubya – some welcome perspective:
The annual protest of the US Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, has grown dramatically in recent years, drawing 10,000 people in 2003, 16,000 in 2004 and 19,000 in 2005. Building on that momentum, the movement to close the controversial institution is expanding its horizons even further this weekend. As peace activists from throughout the United States converge at the gates of Fort Benning, SOA protesters will simultaneously take to the streets in Santiago, Bogotá, San Salvador and several other Latin American cities. The demonstrations offer a strong testament to the growing international movement to reject US military policy. Recent reports of the Bush Administration’s decision to increase training and aid for the militaries of Latin America so as to reverse the region’s leftward swing have only sharpened criticism at home and abroad.
Founded in Panama in 1946 and moved to Fort Benning in 1984, the SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in military and law-enforcement tactics. The Pentagon has acknowledged that in the past the SOA used training manuals advocating coercive interrogation methods and extra-judicial executions, and over time SOA alumni have been linked to many of Latin America’s most heinous human rights atrocities, from widespread torture to massacres of young children.
More on SOA here.