Letters to the Editor

Letter rebutted

December 8, 2011


To the editor:

Your readers should know that every characterization about WHINSEC or the Army’s School of the Americas in Ms. Busse’s Dec. 2 letter is the complete opposite of the truth.

President Bill Clinton and Congress closed the SOA in 2000 and opened the WHINSEC in 2001— similar, not the same. WHINSEC’s faculty and students are from many countries of the Organization of American States; they are military, law enforcement and government civilians of nations led by elected civilian governments, including the U.S. and Canada.

No United Nations Truth Commission report has ever mentioned any of these schools, and you can read the one referred to in the letter online; it’s the 1993 UN Truth Commission Report on the civil war in El Salvador.

In all the history of these schools, not one example of anyone using what he learned in them to commit any crime has ever been found. Not one. Rene Sanabria took a two-month course called Psychological Operations in 1993; what possible relation could that have with drug crimes 15 or so years later?

For anyone who really wants to know who we are and what we do, our doors are open to visitors every workday. Visitors are invited to sit in classes, talk with students and faculty and review our instructional materials. There is no more accessible organization in the Department of Defense.

The WHINSEC campus is at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga. Any photo ID will allow access to Fort Benning, and I’ll be happy to give driving directions to our door.

— Lee A. Rials is the public affairs officer for Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Fort Benning, Ga.


jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

"For anyone who really wants to know who we are and what we do, our doors are open to visitors every workday. Visitors are invited to sit in classes, talk with students and faculty and review our instructional materials. There is no more accessible organization in the Department of Defense."

Then take a trip.

jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

Exceptionally poor analogy. They've got an open door w/ classes, students, faculty, and what they study available to all. 'Put up or shut up' comes to mind.

jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

Stymied me? It's an awful analogy. I didn't say I didn't understand it. Could you be a little more full of yourself?
Gee, you think he might not be 'impartial'? How shrewd. The campus is open for all to see on their own, but you're afraid the PA officer will still pull the wool over your eyes somehow. So much for all your arrogance.

Gotalife 6 years, 5 months ago

jaywalker..."Ms." Busse is not an expert on this topic, but she is pretty good at cutting and pasting. Dig a little deeper.

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes! Please do dig. Dig dig dig and find out everything you can about SOA?WHINSEC! By all means...don't just take my word for it. I would LOVE for everyone who reads this letter to dig deeply and thoroughly. If more people were doing that, this place would have been closed instead of renamed and "similar, not the same".

Gotalife 6 years, 5 months ago

I admit, you do seem to have a true expertise and knowledge of using a "shovel" Now this is something you could make into a lifetime career, your claim to fame!

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

Why should US taxpayer dollars be paying to train foreign militants who are not US Army personnel at the same time the actual US volunteer army personnel and their families are being shortchanged on training and equipment?


jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

It's an exchange, B, not some fairy tale where everything is "fair". Shutting down such centers isn't going to change the situation on 'training and equipment'. Fort Leavenworth hosts foreign military each school year from all over the world. We help train in new tactics so these people can go back home and apply the knowledge to help their own. If a couple of people use their knowledge for evil a dozen years later, well that's something we can't predict nor control.

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

"Los Zetas, leadership sprang from the elite Special Airborne Group (GAFEs) trained by U.S. and other foreign instructors".


BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

"Foreign specialists, including Americans, French, and Israelis, instructed members of this elite unit in rapid deployment, aerial assaults, marksmanship, ambushes, intelligence collection, counter-surveillance techniques, prisoner rescues, sophisticated communications, and the art of intimidation"

hmmm those sound an awful lot like classes taught at WHINSEC. I'm sure these skills are very helpful to people who want to "help their own" right jaywalker?

Gotalife 6 years, 5 months ago

Ohhh, looks like Jaywalker "hit a nerve!" LOL Perhaps a little drumming and yoga in the park will help make things better busse.

parrothead8 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh, no! You don't believe him? I'm sure he feels all empty inside.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

You really have to be careful, because not only is there a conspiracy behind everything, there are also conspiracy theorists hiding behind every bush.

And in your back closet too, sometimes.

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

How the school relates to human rights violations depends of course, upon who you ask. Of course the people running it are going to try and paint a rosy picture of cooperation and transparency. But check out these facts:

On Sept. 20, 1996, Pentagon officials announced that U.S. Army training manuals used to instruct Latin American military officers and soldiers at the SOA from 1982 until 1991, advocated torture, blackmail, and executions as counter insurgency measures.

Manuel Noriega attended the SOA/WHINSEC school.

Four of the six generals responsible for the 2009 Honduran coup (democratically elected?) were trained there. Their names are: Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, Luis Prince Suazo, Venancio Cervantes, Miguel Garcia, Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Carlos Cuellar.

Efran Rios Montt, who attended SOA/WHINSEC: was documented to have committed human rights abuses including widespread massacres, rape, torture, and acts of GENOCIDE against the indigenous population. during his regime and after being trained at WHINSEC.

Training manuals from the SOA were found at sites where torture and human rights abuses are known to have occurred.

These are just a few of the nasty facts about SOA/WHINSEC that anyone can easily find if they care enough to think for themselves instead of just nodding their heads at whatever information the government official deems advantageous to present.

For the past four years Pentagon officials have refused to publish the names of people who have attended WHINSEC. If it's so innocuous, why the secrecy?

Why is Colombia the number one country for human rights abuses in Latin America AND sending the highest number of it's military to be trained at US taxpayer funded WHINSEC?

Even if one can argue against the dubious claims that what these people do with their skills after they leave the school has nothing to with the fact that they attended there....that doesn't change the fact that during a time when Americans are suffering economically, we are continuing to pay for these people to get training on the US taxpayer dime while our own schools and universities are having their budgets slashed to bare bones...we are too cheap to properly bury our military service members and are throwing their bodies into landfills to "save money". And returning military members are attempting suicide at the rate of one EVERY 80 MINUTES, because they aren't receiving proper mental health treatment...."too expensive".

I ask again. Why are AMERICAN taxpayer dollars paying to train FOREIGN militants, who often go on to later commit crimes and human rights abuses. WHY WHY WHY???

Why are US taxpayer dollars paying for this school at all?

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

Never underestimate the power of denial.

1livelybrain 6 years, 5 months ago

Interesting that a letter in a one paper in one state is so quickly responded to by the PR guy. Kind of like the quick response by the staff of the same state's governor to a comment by a high school student. Quite a prickly bunch.

The facts as presented by BusseS can be researched by anyone. Rebut with facts, not childish attack.

BusseS 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you livelybrain. President Eisenhower, a Kansas native, warned us about letting our military machine get out of control.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. "

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