Sample Letter to the Editor for Defendants Print
Dear Editor:

In November I joined thousands in Columbus, to expose a double standard in the "war on terrorism" and to close the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). SOA graduates continue to be implicated in acts designed to coerce and terrorize civilians throughout Latin America.

I was part of a group that peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the SOA/WHISC. Forty-four of us are charged with trespass, and face up to six months in federal prison and $5,000 in fines. Our trial is scheduled for January 27 before Judge Faircloth in Columbus.

Judge Faircloth is known for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC. Nearly 170 people have served a total of over seventy years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school.

Meanwhile SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity. The SOA/WHISC, known popularly as the School of Assassins, has trained 60,000 Latin American soldiers in combat skills and psychological warfare. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocate torture, false imprisonment, extortion and execution. SOA graduates are cited for some of the most horrific atrocities in Latin America, including the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador, the assassination of six Jesuits and their co-workers, terror campaigns against civilians and indigenous people in Guatemala, and recent massacres in Colombia.

In response to public pressure Congress authorized the WHISC to replace the SOA, in 2000. The renaming was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its dubious reputation at a time when SOA opponents were poised to win a senate vote on legislation that would have dismantled the school. Even SOA supporters have characterized the reforms as “basically cosmetic”.

The renaming maneuver has failed to fool the public. And draconian prison sentences have failed to deter a growing movement of human rights groups, religious people, students, veterans, unionists and many others. We will continue to demand that this terrorist training camp on US soil be shut down. The path to lasting peace and security can only be found if we implement foreign policy that reflects our ideals of justice and democracy.

To learn more about the SOA/WHISC and the effort to close it, visit or call 202-234-3440.

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