Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Call Congress on war funding and SOA amendment

Here's two reasons to get on the phone to Washington--the Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121, and a song by Benny Skyn to get you inspired.

First, the Senate will be voting as early as today, May 21, on a $169 billion bill, which will extend the war and occupation in Iraq until next summer. Last week, the House unexpectedly voted down the war funding bill, and it's hoped that with pressure from constituents, the Senate will do right at last and end funding this disaster.

Meanwhile SOA Watch reports that Congress will vote on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require that the School of the Americas/WHINSEC release the names, ranks, country of origin, courses and dates attended of students and instructors at the institute. The amendment will be offered by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and a vote is expected Thursday, May 22.

For the past few years, despite the WHINSEC PR machine proclaiming an open and transparent school, the WHINSEC has been unwilling to provide information about the students and instructors. Freedom of Information Act requests for FY 2005, 2006 and 2007 have all been denied, proof of WHINSEC's unwillingness to submit to oversight from the public whose tax-payer dollars help fund the school.

Access to information regarding SOA/WHINSEC graduates of previous years has been a valuable asset to human rights organizations who have been able to identify Latin American military officers and police that have committed human rights abuses or engaged in criminal activity in their home countries after attending the school as instructors or students. SOA Watch supports the release of this important information at all U.S. military training facilities in the spirit of openness, transparency, and the public's "right to know".

SOA Watch asks you contact your Representative today, Wednesday May 21, and tomorrow, Thursday, May 22. More information is available at their website.

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