Saturday, November 18, 2006

The News Today

Good afternoon, everyone!

I really should be studying for an econ exam...but here I am, blogging. Procrastinating, really. But I just had to post about something.

First off, have you heard about the poisoned cookies someone sent to the Supreme Court last year? How bizarre is this? Barbara March of Connecticut sent hateful letters along with the poison-laced treats to the Supreme Court, FBI director Robert Mueller, and several other federal officials. She's been convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison...but that probably won't stop her "poison pen" letters.

Sorry for the bad pun.

Another thing that has me going is today Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke out against federal judges who called the warrantless wiretap program unconstitutional back in August. Gonzales says they are "defining freedom in a way that presents a grave threat to U.S. security." Gonzales apparently was just repeating what Dick Cheney said yesterday--the judges' decision is "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."

Really. Overreaching? Hmmm.

And my favorite news story of the day also comes from CNN, though there is no mention of it on their website. I've been watching the channel on and off this afternoon and keep seeing footage of the celebrations at Fort Benning, GA, which also happens to be the headquarters of the notorious School of the Americas (SOA). Every year at this time, people from all over the country travel to Fort Benning to protest the SOA because of its reputation as a training ground for assassins, torturers, and "banana republic" dictators. I guess they are celebrating the troops and their sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, from what I can gather from the reporter, they are trying to rally support from the public in order to draw attention from the protesters.

The official story about the SOA is this. The SOA (actual name the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) was formed in 1946 in Panama to teach nation building in Latin American countries. The very next year, however, after the United States signed its own National Security Act (which, by the way, formed the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency), the US became even more involved in Latin American affairs. Classes at the school were taught in Spanish by the US Army. The school was eventually moved to Fort Benning, GA, in 1984.

The controversy comes from stories from graduates and alleged documents (namely torture manuals) being leaked from the school. The school is also accused of advocating human rights violations, and many of its known graduates have gone on to become part of some of the worst regimes in the hemisphere.

Some graduates of the SOA include:

Manuel Noriega--de facto military leader of Panama, 1983-89

Leopoldo Galtieri--de facto President of Argentina during the country's "dirty war"; during his leadership thousands of Argentinians were disappeared--the desaparecidos.*

Hugo Banzer Suarez--dictator of Bolivia, 1971-78; President of Bolivia, 1997-2001

Roberto D'Aubuisson--Salvadoran politician and military leader, also known as "Blowtorch Bob" by his foes; thought to have been one of the masterminds of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero

"Because many of its students have been associated with death squads, and coups in Latin American countries, the school's acronym is occasionally reparsed by its detractors as the 'School of the Assassins.'"--from Wikipedia

Some links of interest:

SOA Watch

Just the Facts--the pro-SOA side

History of the SOA

Excerpts from a CIA "torture manual"

CNN's Special Reports article on the SOA

What's your take?

*For more info on the "desaparecidos":

Wikipedia article

Project Disappeared

The Vanished Gallery

1 comentarios:

marie said...

Manuel Noriega--de facto military leader of Panama, 1983-89
This guy ^^ needs to "drop dead." Actually, a slow and painful death sounds even better.

Just like the way my teacher died when he ordered his police force to shoot at all "cars with non-local plates" and one day she was shot. Just driving by and was at the "wrong intersection." It resulted in her car being shot at 5 times. She had only leg wounds but still bled out..died because the EMTs were not able to get to her due to hostile fire.

I don't know about what you all think, but I think that watching your blood pour out of your body is a horrible way to die.


Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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