Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lobby Days in May

The School of the Americas Watch will hold Lobby Days in Washington, D.C., from May 4th through the 6th. I intend to be there, to visit Congressional offices, to encourage Congressional staff members to ask their bosses to use their votes to say no to torture and assassination and yes to human rights and to life!
There is no place for either torture or assassination in a civilized society. I'd like to encourage everyone who reads this blog to write or call your Congressional representatives and ask them to co-sponsor HR 1707, the bill to suspend operations of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and to put in place an independent investigation of the instruction that has been offered at both that school and the school that it claims to replace, the School of the Americas.
The public relations staff at WHINSEC continues to claim that their school has no connection with the former School of the Americas. They claim that they are a new school for a new century and that they don't teach any of the bad stuff that was taught at the School of the Americas. On the other hand, they are spending an awful lot of time and money to prevent HR 1707 from being passed. So... why are they working so hard to prevent an independent investigation?
The PR staff of WHINSEC has all sorts of tricks at their disposal to influence Congress and the media...
... but we have our passion... some of us have first-hand experience of the brutality of some of the SOA graduates... many of us know someone who was a torture victim, who was related to a torture victim, who witnessed a massacre...
... and we need to share that with our Congressional representatives.
I am looking forward to going to Washington, D.C.
I could not go to Georgia in November. I chose not to take such a long trip or to be with a lot of people just two months after being released from prison. And, as it turned out, I was not healthy enough to travel. A sinus infection somehow developed into pneumonia, and I was a very sick Alice for more than a month.
I am feeling much stronger and much better now, and I am looking forward to going to Washington, D.C., in May.
No, I don't have any extravagant gifts for the Congressional offices. No bouquets, no paintings, no musical compositions commissioned especially for them. But I do have my passion and my determination to continue to say yes to human rights and to life and no to torture and assassination.
Please visit the School of the Americas website (there's a link on this page) to read about the SOA 11, the folks who are on trial next week for crossing the Fort Benning fence to say no to torture and assassination and yes to human rights and to life!


Lee Rials said...

Well, Alice, it has been a long time, and I'm sorry you have been ill. My wife spent about 20 days in ICUs this year, plus had to have a shattered wrist repaired and a partial hip replacement, so I know about suffering. Oh, by the way, I am the WHINSEC PR machine! You know me as Lee, the public affairs officer there. I sure wish you would tell me where all this big money is going that I am supposed to have! But let's get to the issues. You don't have one single example of anyone who taught anything illegal at the school or at this institute. You don't have one example of anyone using what he learned here to commit a crime. So accusing me and the people who work here of teaching illegal, immoral and unethical things here with no evidence is a moral libel of all of us. You choose not to know what to do, preferring to crawl under a fence three miles away instead of going to an open gate, showing your photo ID, and being allowed to roam our halls at will. And what has that accomplished, besides getting you two federal convictions and some jail time? A little local publicity in a few spots. Oh well, you are still invited to come do your own investigation. I know you have that ban and bar, but I have gotten those suspended for several of your compatriots, and I can do so for you as well. See for yourself, instead of taking the word of those who are using your sincerity and passion. I never ask that you take my word for it; you are certainly smart enough to see the truth, if you actually look.

Anonymous said...


My Gawd what you have been through this year... I will also be in DC for the May lobby event. I look forward to seeing you at that time..

I will be going to the Festival of Hope this Sunday and will surely miss you. I wish I could do more to help. I blog this issue as much as I can and try to bring awareness to the community here.

I won't say more than that now that the fuzz has come to your blog. (FYI: Lee... I'm the gorgeous red head you keep photographing)

I will catch up with you soon, and look forward to seeing you in May. I'm glad it's May, last year we froze our butts of.


Lee Rials said...

Because Alice hasn't answered, I'll reply to Miss Juliana, although I guess you won't read this until sometime in the week ahead. I've never been called "the fuzz" before, and not sure why now. And, I don't even take good pictures of my own family, so I'm not out taking any of people I don't know! Finally, the only gorgeous redhead I know is my wife--sorry, I've never seen your hair. I do have a good memory for names, and yours is a bit unusual these days (except for queens, I guess), so I wonder if you are the wife of my friend Dr. "O," who stopped by to see me after your trial, and who shook my hand last November when I went down to see the protests on Sunday morning. (See, I'm trying not to use anyone's name without permission.) Even if I am wrong, you are still welcome to come see the institute for yourself. If you have a 'ban and bar' letter, I can get that suspended for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee,
Thank you for writing.
I appreciate your invitation to come visit WHINSEC.
I'd like to offer you an invitation as well.
How about joining me in supporting HR 1707? For you, the benefits of HR 1707 are great. If you are right and illegal, immoral, and unethical things are not being taught at the school, that will certainly come out in an independent investigation. If I am right and these things were taught, an independent investigation will get to the bottom of it. Then we can talk about restorative justice and reconciliation.
I do have a question for you to answer: It has been many years since Latin American countries have fought wars with one another. Why is the United States in the business of providing training to Latin American troops at all?

Lee Rials said...

Dear Alice,

Is it not enough for you that members of Congress and respected clergymen routinely inspect the institute? The problem with HR 1707 is that it has no basis for starting an investigation--there is no crime it can point to that is related to instruction at the school or the institute. It is doubly disingenuous because it asks for a suspension of the courses that are ongoing, courses that have been designed and approved by the military chain of command, and even reviewed by the American Council on Education to assign credits that students may use in related courses of study in US universities. There is nothing hidden here that has not been investigated exhaustively. As to why the US is still working with neighbor countries' military and police forces--we still have shared challenges. Maybe the SOA can take some credit for the peaceful nature of our hemisphere now, and even for the fact that all the nations except Cuba have elected civilian governments. Those governments still have security forces that must respond to all sorts of things, from natural disasters, to drug running, to participating in the world by way of the UN. Have you looked on our web site for a list of the courses we offer? You may be interested to know that in the next Peace Operations Course we complete, the students will receive a UN Peacekeeping Certification along with their diplomas.