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Close the Army's school for terror

October 12, 2001 | Page 5

SINCE THE September 11 attacks, TV news programs have dug deep into their archives to come up with footage of Afghanistan and Pakistan--a part of the world they ignored for years.

One popular clip replayed regularly on CNN shows young boys learning an especially hard-line brand of Islamic doctrine at religious schools in Pakistan.

These schools, commentators declared, are training grounds for terrorists. No one has presented any evidence that the September 11 hijackers had connections to these schools.

But there is one school with a well-documented record of teaching terror. It's not located in Pakistan, however.

It's at Fort Benning, Ga., in the heart of the United States.

More than 60,000 Latin American military and police officials have attended the School of the Americas (SOA) during its half a century of existence. There, they've taken courses in the Pentagon's latest techniques of repression.

And they've put their newfound knowledge to use at home--committing some of the most appalling and grisly atrocities in Latin America. "It is hard to think of a coup or human rights outrage that has occurred in [Latin America] in the past 40 years in which alumni of the School of the Americas were not involved," wrote the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. officials proudly declare that 10 Latin American presidents have graduated from the SOA. But each and every one took office by illegal means like a coup.

Last year, Congress voted to "close" the SOA--but to open up an SOA clone under a new name.

The name may have changed, but the SOA is still in the same business of teaching torture and terror. It should be shut down.

Tens of thousands of people will travel to Fort Benning for the annual demonstration against the SOA, set for November 16-18. Bush's war drive is sure to add momentum to the protests, which have grown in size and determination over the last several years.

It's time to tell Bush: We want America's school for terrorism shut down for good!

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