Friday, November 25, 2005

We Don't Do Torture

We only arrest old clergy for protesting our teaching of it

Formerly the School Of the Americas (SOA), WHINSEC is located at Fort Benning where over 60,000 personnel have been trained in courses including counterinsurgency, psychological warfare and interrogation techniques.

Graduates of the school have been consistently linked to human rights violations and to the suppression of popular movements in Central and South America.

Protests against the SOA/WHINSEC began 16 years ago, and since then 180 people have served federal prison sentences.

Other Christians including a nun are amongst those who have been jailed.

Fr. Louis Vitale, 73, of San Francisco, California, Fr. Jerome Zawada, 68, of Cedar Lake, Indiana, and Sr. Mary Dennis Lentsch, 68, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, were arrested on Sunday, November 20 after crossing onto Fort Benning.

The group “crossed the line” to protest current concerns about the school’s role in training Latin American militaries and a legacy of torture and human rights abuses committed by graduates of the school.

The three clergy negotiated 10-foot barbed-wire fences to enter the base.

Their acts of civil disobedience came at the culmination of a weekend of protest that drew 19,000 people to the gates of Fort Benning, the largest protest yet calling for the schools’ closure.

Thousands of people from across the Americas, including a large contingent of Catholic clergy, came together to call for the closure but also to protest the Bush Administration’s opposition to banning torture techniques.

Protestors at the vigil called attention to the recent pictures of abuse at the hands U.S. personnel, and reports about secret CIA detention facilities as part of a broader legacy of US support for torture and human rights abuses.

The annual Vigil to close the SOA/ WHINSEC has grown from a dozen people in November of 1990 to this year’s record numbers.

19,000 people show up at a single protest and nobody ever hears a word about it in the United States?

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