Trials this month - Lobby day - 'Salvador Option' - In remembrance of Randy Swift Print
1. HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ON TRIAL THIS MONTH FOR SAYING NO TO THE SOA/WHINSEC

Fourteen human rights activists arrested at the Ft. Benning vigil in November of 2004, including two minors, are preparing to appear in federal court on Monday, January 24. Next week, defendants and their supporters will gather in Columbus, Georgia with the members of the SOA Watch legal collective, media team, hospitality crew and others for several days of preparation and sharing.

The defendants are facing up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine for their courageous witness to expose the issue of SOA/ WHINSEC
violence to the public. Our friends face prison while the SOA/ WHINSEC and those responsible for the death and suffering of thousands of Latin
Americans continue to operate with impunity.

In addition, three people arrested by Columbus city police are scheduled to appear in court for arraignments on Friday, January 21. The legal
team and others are working to support these three.

You can support the defendants right now by using their stories to reach out to your Congressional representatives and your local media. Call your Member of Congress. Write a letter to the editor. Make plans now to travel to DC for the annual SOA Watch Lobby Day on February 21-22.

If you live near the Columbus, Georgia area, please consider joining us for Festival of Hope on Sunday, January 23 at 7 pm at the Howard Johnson?s. Call or email the office for more information at 202-234-3440 or info at soaw.org .

Continue to check the website ? www.soaw.org - for regular updates on these brave peacemakers, to read more about them
and to learn other ways to support them in their struggles for justice and freedom.

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2. SIX WEEKS TO PLAN YOUR PARTICIPATION FOR THE SPRING LOBBY DAY

The 2005 Lobby Day is key to a victory in closing the SOA/WHINSEC. We will be informing offices about, and creating excitement around, the new
House bill that Rep. McGovern will be introducing before the event. The sooner we get a critical mass of co-sponsors, the sooner we can bring
the bill up for a vote. By coming to DC February 21-22, you will get up-to-date training, meet and create networks with other activists from around the country, and take part in some targeted direct actions. So gather your group, book your travel, and schedule your appointments.
See you soon!

Take Legislative Action Now! Visit
http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=96 for current updates and resources to build congressional support to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.

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3. THE ?SALVADOR OPTION? MAY PUT DEATH-SQUAD-LIKE KIDNAPPING AND ASSASSINATION TEAMS IN IRAQ

US military sources confirmed this week that the Pentagon may put Special Forces-led kidnapping and assassination teams in Iraq, based on the Reagan model of US foreign policy in El Salvador in the 1980s.

?Newsweek? reports that the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against
Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt
down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have
been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current
administration officials who dealt with Central America in the 1980s is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan,
he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Click here to read more about the ?Salvador Option:?
http://www.soaw.org/newswire_detail.php?id=652

Click here to read the press release put out jointly by SOA Watch and five other Salvadoran solidarity organizations:
http://www.soaw.org/pressrelease.php?id=87

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4. IN REMEMBRANCE OF RANDY SWIFT

On December 23, 2004, longtime SOA Watch activist Randy Swift passed away suddenly of a heart ailment. Randy, of Binghamton, New York, had
been active with SOA Watch for years, and was deeply committed to social justice, peace and closing the SOA/ WHINSEC. SOA Watch Council
representative Mike Pasquale offered this reflection:

?I knew Randy Swift for only three years, but it seemed like I had known him all of my life. You can imagine then how shocked I was, late on
Christmas day, to find out that my friend had suddenly passed away at the age of 55. Randy was a master of puns (often to the chagrin of his
friends), a lover (and chef) of Latin American food, and a businessman turned steadfast activist. He was known, among other things, for vigiling solo at the Federal Building in his hometown of Binghamton NY, holding signs calling for an end to the war. Randy's vigil was low-key, but as a Democratic Party official mentioned to me, it did not go unnoticed.

?About a year ago Randy slipped on the ice out side the Binghamton Catholic Worker and broke his leg. For many months after his fall, Randy could only get around Binghamton on crutches and afterwards walked with a pronounced limp. In the months that followed his accident, I traveled a lot with Randy to various SOAW events and meetings--to Washington DC, Ithaca NY, and Chicago. Yet never once did I ever hear Randy complain about his limited mobility. Just the opposite: ?I hate ice,? Randy said soon after he fell. ?I really hate ice! On the ground, yep, and I especially hate ice in my drinks--it makes my tongue slip!?

?Thanks, Randy, for your unwavering commitment to social justice and your ability not to take life too seriously! You will be missed!?

To read the article that ran in the Binghamton, New York newspaper shortly after Randy?s death, visit:
http://www.soaw.org/newswire_detail.php?id=658