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Victory in the House!
Congress Forces WHINSEC to Release Names of Grads, Instructors

By admin on May 26, 2008

On May 22, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to declassify information about the notorious School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC), dealing a blow to the culture of secrecy and lack of accountability surrounding Defense Department policies.

The McGovern-Sestak-Bishop(GA) amendment (to the National Defense Authorization Act), which was passed by a 220 to 189 vote, forces the public release of names, rank, country of origin, courses, and dates of attendance of WHINSEC’s graduates and instructors to the public. It includes info only on those who attended or taught at the institute since the fiscal year 2005.

This information had been available in the past, but the Defense Department classified it two years ago. After introducing the amendment to the House, Rep. McGovern said,

The WHINSEC is supposed to be a model for transparency, accountability, and respect for civil society, including human rights groups and critics. What signal does the school send to its Latin American counterparts about our democratic values when it denies NGOs access to information that has been available for decades?

Georgia’s Rep. Bishop cosponsored the amendment “to help us put the lie to all of these protesters that come down and pretend, or that, through misinformation, believe that some sinister activities are taking place there.”

In the past, the student and instructor lists have enabled SOA Watch to connect SOA/WHINSEC graduates to murders (including the assassination of Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero), drug cartels (SOA grad Lt. Byron Carvajal was convicted this year for the murder of 10 counternarcotics police in May 2006), paramilitaries our government lists as terrorist organizations, and massacres of whole villages, like El Mozote, El Salvador, where SOA grads killed more than 800 civilians, ages 2 months to 100 years—they systematically murdered the unarmed people, first beheading and shooting the men, then raping and shooting the women, then stabbing and shooting the children (ten of the twelve officers cited for the massacre by a 1993 UN Truth Commission were trained at the SOA).

This month’s legislative victory was the result of hard work by SOA Watch’s many, many dedicated volunteers and supporters. Check out SOAW.org for more info and plans for a Senate bill.

SOA Watch Long Island and SOA Watch NYC would like to thank the following congresspeople from New York who voted for the amendment (NYC and Long Island districts are in bold):

* Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-5)
* Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-24)
* Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-1)
* Rep. Yvette Clark (D-11)
* Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-7)

* Rep. John Hall (D-19)
* Rep. Brian Higgins (D-27)
* Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-22)
* Rep. Steve Israel (D-2)
* Rep. Nita Lowey (D-18)
* Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-14)
* Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-4)

* Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-21)
* Rep. Jose Serrano (D-16)
* Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-28)
* Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-10)
* Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-12)
* Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-9)

Reps. Peter King (R-3) and Vito Fossella (R-13) were the only two of all the Long Island and New York City congresspeople to vote against the amendment. (Only four from all of New York State voted against it.) Three representatives who had cosponsored the amendment, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-20), Jerrold Nadler (D-8), and James Walsh (R-25), did not vote, neither did Gregory Meeks (D-6), who has voted in favor of a similar bill in the past.

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Tell Congress to Shut Down the SOA!

By admin on April 28, 2008

In May, HR 1707, the Latin America Military Training Review Act, which calls for the closure and invesigation of the SOA, goes before Congress for a vote. The legislation has bipartisan support, but only half of New York’s Congresspeople are among the bill’s 122 cosponsors (see below).

Reps. Eliot Engel, Carolyn McCarthy, Gregory Meeks, and Edolphus Towns-–all Democratic Congresspeople from Long Island and NYC-–have not signed up to cosponsor this bill but voted for a similar bill last year. Charles Rangel did not vote.

Visit SOAW’s Legislative Action Index page for ideas on how to get this bill moving, and check out New York legislators’ previous votes on this issue. Last year, 22 of New York State’s 29 representatives in Congress voted for a similar bill to shut down the SOA. The bill lost by just 11 votes (214 to 203).

Many thanks to the following representatives for cosponsoring HR 1707:

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Close the “School of Assassins”!
Protest at Rep. King’s Office This Thursday

By admin on April 22, 2008

Join SOA Watch Long Island in a demonstration in front of Rep. Peter King’s office, to ask him to cosponsor and support HR 1707, the bill to shut down and investigate the School of the Americas.

The protest is part of a nationwide mobilization from April 23 to 25, when SOA Watch members will lobby their congresspeople to gain support for the bill. SOA Watch has also called for a nationwide fast to shut down the SOA during that week.

Long Island SOA Watch and other organizations have been asking Rep. King for years to support similar legislation. King is the only congressman from Long Island who votes to keep the SOA open.

When: Thursday, April 24, 5-6:30pm
Where: 1003 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park (1 block north of the LIRR station)

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Congressional Bill to Shut Down SOA Coming to a Vote This Week!

By admin on June 22, 2007

Update:

Reps. Engel, McCarthy, Meeks, Rangel, Towns, and Velazquez–all Democratic Congresspeople from Long Island and NYC–have not signed up to cosponsor this bill but cosponsored a similar bill last year

Please call or write your congressperson immediately and urge him or her to vote for HR 1707 to suspend operation of and investigate WHINSEC (fka the School of Americas or SOA).

From SOA Watch: It’s been a year since our last vote in Congress, and the work of thousands of people like you across the Americas who care about justice has gotten us to where we are today. Let’s seize this opportunity to make history in the defense for human rights! We expect a close vote in the House this week, and we need as many people as possible flooding the offices of Members of Congress with calls in support of a YES vote on the amendment! We need you to call, email and fax Congress every day until the vote happens. Tell your family and friends to do the same!

SOA Watch Long Island and NYC thanks the following New York congresspeople for supporting HR 1707:

  • Rep Ackerman, Gary L. (D-5)
  • Rep Bishop, Tim (D-1)
  • Rep Crowley, Joseph (D-7)
  • Rep Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-20)
  • Rep Higgins, Brian (D-27)
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. (D-22)
  • Rep Israel, Steve (D-2)
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. (D-14)
  • Rep McNulty, Michael R. (D-21)
  • Rep. Nadler, Jerrold (D-8)
  • Rep Serrano, Jose E. (D-16)
  • Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh (D-28)
  • Rep Walsh, James T. (R-25)
  • Rep Weiner, Anthony (D-9)


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Historic Congressional Debate and Vote on SOA

By admin on June 11, 2006

In a very conservative Congress, 188
Representatives vote to cut funding the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, including 29 Republicans

Last week Congress voted on an amendment to cut funding for WHINSEC/SOA after compelling arguments from Representatives who support the amendment. Although the vote was 218 to 188 against the amendment, it was a strong show of support from a very conservative Congress. Many thanks to all SOA Watch volunteers and their efforts!

Remember that HR 1217–legislation that calls for the closure and investigation of SOA/WHINSEC–is still alive and has 134 cosponsors in the House, including all Democrats from New York. Visit SOA Watch’s Legislative Action page for updates and info on how to help get the bill passed.


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Congressional Vote on SOA Closure Expected This Week!

By admin on June 6, 2006

The time has finally come! This week, Congress is expected to vote on an amendment that would cut funding for SOA/WHINSEC. Please call your congressperson this week and urge them to vote YES! Visit the national SOA Watch site for sample letters and calls. You can also fax or e-mail your message from the website.


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Ackerman Signs On as Cosponsor of Bill to Shut Down SOA

By admin on April 2, 2006

After a meeting with SOA Watch representatives on March 28, Rep. Gary Ackerman, the congressman from the New York’s 5th District, encompassing northern Queens and Nassau counties, agreed to cosponsor HR 1217, the bill to shut down and investigate WHINSEC/SOA. He was the last Democratic congressman from New York State to sign on. (Here’s a complete list of the NY cosponsors.) Pam Bowman, the legislative coordinator for SOA Watch, writes: "Congrats to all in NY SOAW groups to a perfect HR 1217 cosponsor score for NY State Democrats!" Many thanks to Rep. Ackerman for his support.


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22 of 31 New York Congresspeople Support Bill to Shut SOA

By admin on March 30, 2006

Of New York’s 31 representatives in the 109th Congress, 22 cosponsor HR 1217 (The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2005), a bill to close and investigate the SOA/WHINSEC. All of New York State’s Democratic representatives are now onboard. So far, the bill has a total of 125 cosponsors in Congress. Many thanks from SOA Watch NYC and Long Island to the following congresspeople:

  • Rep Ackerman, Gary L. (D-5)
  • Rep Bishop, Timothy H. (D-1)
  • Rep Boehlert, Sherwood L. (R-24)
  • Rep Crowley, Joseph (D-7)
  • Rep Engel, Eliot L. (D-17)
  • Rep Higgins, Brian (D-27)
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. (D-22)
  • Rep Israel, Steve (D-2)
  • Rep Lowey, Nita M. (D-18)
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. (D-14)
  • Rep McCarthy, Carolyn (D-4)
  • Rep McNulty, Michael R. (D-21)
  • Rep Meeks, Gregory W. (D-6)
  • Rep. Nadler, Jerrold (D-8)
  • Rep Owens, Major R. (D-11)
  • Rep. Rangel, Charles B. (D-15)
  • Rep Serrano, Jose E. (D-16)
  • Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh (D-28)
  • Rep Towns, Edolphus (D-10)
  • Rep. Velazquez, Nydia M. (D-12)
  • Rep Walsh, James T. (R-25)
  • Rep Weiner, Anthony D. (D-9)


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