The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Victims of State Sponsored Terror Deserve Justice, Sponsors of Terror Need to be Held Accountable

 Congress needs to be consistent and shut down the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas for its involvement in the training of human rights abusers, torturers and military dictators who engaged in state-sponsored terrorism.


Today, the U.S. Senate voted to override the President's veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act ["JASTA"] and the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to also vote to overwrite the veto shortly. JASTA allows 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia over allegations Saudi officials were linked to the 9/11 attacks. The bill makes no judgment about Saudi Arabia's responsibility for the attacks. It just removes Saudi Arabia's immunity from lawsuit over support for terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

"The United States has a long history of supporting human rights abusers, terrorists, and military repression against social movements in Latin America" said Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of the human rights organization School of the Americas Watch, which works to shut down the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. A U.S. military training camp for Latin American soldiers that has been linked to human rights abuses throughout the Americas. "It is time that those were responsible for the use of torture manuals at the School of the Americas be held accountable, and that the ongoing training of repressive military forces at the School of the Americas stops. We are calling on the Obama administration and Congress to finally close this school that is synonymous with torture, terror, repression and human rights abuses for thousands across the Americas."

This October 7-11, Human Rights activists throughout the Americas will take the message of solidarity, accountability and justice to the US/Mexico border to call for an end to U.S. sponsored state violence that is forcing thousands to flee every year:

SOA Watch maintains that those responsible for the SOA torture manuals and for the training of repressive foreign militaries, should stand trial and be held accountable. SOA graduates continue to be involved in human rights abuses throughout the Americas. Founded in 1946, the institution made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon, through grassroots pressure, was forced to release SOA training manuals that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution to repress civilian populations. Thousands have been killed at the hands of SOA graduates, and at least 11 Latin American military dictators received their training at the School of the Americas.

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to close the SOA and change the oppressive US foreign policy that the school represents. To date, over 70,000 Latin American soldiers and police have been trained at the US taxpayer-funded institution.