Articles (Bay Area & National)

Bay Area

Here are the articles mentioned, plus two others my search revealed:

D'Aubuisson-Romero story in Chronicle today
Thu, 23 Mar 2000 11:53:39 EST
          Judy writes: "The article [referenced by clicking on the link above] was recast for the main stream media. Still quite powerful. Starts on Page One, bottom left corner with photos.

I can't find the article posted to the Chronicle Web site. I've e-mailed asking for it.

Inspired to e-mail a letter to the editor? Try"

Click here: Ex-chaplain found guilty in protest
San Jose Mercury News
March 14, 2000
          Charlie Liteky found guilt of trespass, March 14, 2000

Sr. Megen Rice of Jonah House in Baltimore,
Charlie, Margaret Knapke of Dayton

Click here: A Matter of Honor
San Francisco Chronicle
March 13, 2000
          "He gave back his Medal of Honor to risk his freedom in protesting his country's policies"
          Who is Charlie Liteky? Why is he on trial for trying to close the SOA?

There are more interesting Bay Area articles (Natonal Articles are below), but not enough space. To read more, click here to go to our Archive.


Judy writes,

"Daniel, Can you work this into our local Web site? I think it will be a great help to others who want to read the whole tragic story of this week in the federal court in Columbus, GA."

Click here: Special Report: School of the Americas | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Not a question of guilt
Trials of 26 protesters begin today in Columbus

Staff Writer
               Over the next three days, beginning at 10 a.m. today, 26 people from 13 states will face trial in Columbus' U.S. District Court for trespassing on the Fort Benning military reservation.

                Read further.

Thursday, January 18, 2001
Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer

New school, same foes
By Richard Hyatt, Staff Writer

In an aging building where Fort Benning history was made, a somber Washington bureaucrat talked about the future and how Wednesday's opening of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation signals the turning of a page. Across Upatoi Creek, near the stone gate that welcomes visitors to the 84-year-old installation, a Catholic priest with a cross clutched in his hand knelt at a line that separates civilian and military as seven people -- four of them connected by chains and pipes -- were arrested for carrying their message onto Fort Benning soil.

The ceremony at Ridgway Hall never mentioned the School of the Americas. U.S. Army Col. Glenn Weidner, its last commander, was on the front row but was never asked to stand. Its artifacts are on their way to a military museum, replaced by a new patch and a new unit flag.

The protest on Fort Benning Road was the same as it has been for 11 years, chronicling atrocities committed by SOA alumni. One woman, a small broom in her hand, carried a sign proclaiming "You Can't Whisc Away the Past." Shortly after noon, a uniformed soldier read a statement reminding demonstrators of the law against political protests on Army posts. His job done, he walked away, telling them to "Have a nice day."

Wednesday was set aside for the military ribbon-cutting for WHISC and an opportunity for the Army to add another acronym to its vocabulary. Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon was the speaker, a reminder that the institute is now under the umbrella of the Department of Defense.

De Leon painted a picture of change in Latin America - the region from which WHISC will draw its student body. Talking about democratic values and principles, de Leon said ultimately "it depends on our people ... and so we will look to the Western Hemisphere Institute to produce these men and women of quality and so to play an important part in supporting our regional partnerships and mutual security."

Col. Richard Downie arrived only Tuesday. He will be the first commandant of the institute and said it will be a forum for education and doctrine. "(It) offers us the freedom to look in new ways at the threats to this region," he said.

Speaking to detractors of SOA, de Leon said the new facility is not the same institution they protest. "A region has turned a page, and we are reflecting that change," he said.

Rep. Mac Collins, R-Hampton, was a strong supporter of SOA. Several democracies have sprung up in the region and Collins said "it is up to the hemisphere to keep them in place" - including institutions such as WHISC. De Leon said the school will have an open-door policy and would welcome examination. Maj. Gen. John LeMoyne said that will include the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch, who Wednesday was once again protesting at the gate.

LeMoyne, Fort Benning's commanding general, said he will work on a date in February when he will formally invite Bourgeois and others to visit the institute. Bourgeois is on the list of people banned from the post after past convictions for trespassing, but last year LeMoyne allowed SOA Watch leader Charlie Liteky to come to Ridgway Hall for a briefing and tour.

Seven more protesters were arrested Wednesday, including three women carrying a baby's coffin who said they wanted to join the ceremony for the opening of WHISC. All were charged with trespassing, and four men who locked their arms together with chains and metal pipes were also charged with resisting arrest. Rebecca Johnson, 21, and Laurel Paget-Seekins, 20, both seniors at Oberlin College in Ohio, were previously banned from the post and could face up to six months in federal prison and a $5,000 fine. Johnson's mother, Deborah Meem, also was detained by military officials.

Noting the attention her daughter had received for her 17-day fast and her arrest, Meem said, "I feel like the mother of the bride."

See WHISC, Page A3

[This next part gives the captions on photos printed in the paper.]

WHISC School will have open-door policy

From A1

Rebecca Johnson of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, listens Wednesday as the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, who leads the School of the Americas Watch protest group, speaks to the media at the entrance to Fort Benning.

SHERRI LAROSE Ledger-Enquirer
Commandant Col. Richard Downie holds the school's flag after it was unveiled Wednesday at the activation ceremony at Benning.

SHERRI LAROSE Ledger-Enquirer
Fort Benning military police drag away four protesters including Jole McGreevy, 20, of Carlisle, Pa., left, and Rebecca Johnson, 21, of Cincinnati after they entered the post and blocked the entrance to protest Wednesday's opening of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, which replaced the School of the Americas.

SHERRI LAROSE Ledger-Enquirer
A protester holds several crosses Wednesday as she waits to cross onto Fort Benning to protest the opening of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Thursday, January 18, 2001
Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer

New commandant: We have our work cut out for us
By Richard Hyatt, Staff Writer

His son was celebrating his 16th birthday Wednesday and Richard Downie had his own reason to celebrate.

Downie took over as commandant of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - a job the U.S. Army colonel knows will be challenging. "You can tell we have our work cut out for us," Downie said.

He assumes command from Col. Glenn Weidner who announced his retirement from the military last November. Downie comes to WHISC from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City where he has been the U.S. Army attache for Mexico. Downie participated Wednesday in the opening ceremony for the new school, which replaces the beleaguered School of the Americas. On their way to the event, Secretary of the Army Lewis Caldera told the West Point graduate he must be the happiest man in the U.S. Army.

"And I am," Downie said, returning to the post where he was stationed as a young lieutenant. "As an infantryman, Fort Benning is home."

Downie earned a master's degree and a doctorate in International Relations at the University of Southern California. He has qualified as a foreign area officer for Latin America serving numerous tours in Colombia, Panama and Mexico. While in Colombia, he was the distinguished graduate of LANCERO, a prestigious international Ranger program.

Some might cynically suggest that the acronym for the new school (WHISC) implies the solution of sweeping the problem under the rug with a whisc broom. How neat.
               –Daniel Webster

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Extending an olive branch to the sign-waving critics of the School of the Americas, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera offered regrets for dishonorable events of the past and invited anyone with questions about the future to visit the new institute that begins classes next month.

Including the Rev. Roy Bourgeois.

"Absolutely," Caldera said Friday at Fort Benning. "We will extend an invitation to Father Roy and to any other past or present critic. Just give us a chance, we ask. We have nothing to hide."

Taking down the aqua flag that has flown over the School of the Americas since 1963, the beleaguered U.S. Army school was closed Friday with predictable pomp and precision. In its place, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation opens in January with a new name and a new curriculum.

Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who has been speaking against the SOA since 1989, said he would visit the new school -- "provided they don't arrest me."

A decorated Navy officer in Vietnam, Bourgeois said he would welcome a chance to observe classes but would also want to go out in the field to see what kind of instruction students receive there. "I want to see the entire package, not just a showcase," said Bourgeois, the co-founder of the SOA Watch.

Caldera said critics of the school should rejoice at Friday's closing, admitting the decision was a concession to the demonstrators who for 11 years have gathered outside Fort Benning's gates and risked arrest by marching onto the post. They claim the SOA had trained assassins and taught torture - allegations the Army secretary labeled unfair.

Saying it was never a "rogue school," Caldera spoke directly to protesters reminding them the SOA is now closed and that "it is wrong to affix those labels of the past to its successor." Any former student involved in a less than honorable act "did so in spite of the training they received at the School of the Americas rather than because of that training," he added.

Caldera, who became the 17th Secretary of the Army in 1998, asked critics to pray for the new school and urged them "not to accept the cynicism of those who do not believe in basic American goodness," suggesting they "walk a mile in the boots of the soldiers who teach there."

Gathering on the steps of historic Ridgway Hall, scores of SOA instructors and students stood at attention as the colors were presented. They saluted as the U.S. National Anthem was played, and they listened attentively as the 54-year history of the school was shared, dating to Panama when it began as the Latin American Training Center.

U.S. Army Col. Glenn Weidner, the school's last commandant, said people should feel nostalgia but not sadness.

"This is a moment of celebration, a chance to build on the past," he said.

The new school will be under the Department of Defense instead of the Army, raising the chance that the director of the institute might one day come from another branch of service. A decision on who that new person might be isn't expected for at least six months.

Meanwhile, Weidner and his staff are packing away the souvenirs of 50 years. "Every picture, every plaque, every flag has to be packed away," he said. "Workers have been taking down the stained glass crest. That's painful, for it is a symbol of the esteem this school was held."

While the SOA had strong support in some circles, its detractors were vocal. Caldera said a change was necessary since some members of Congress "could not see beyond the name or the history."

The institute opens Jan. 17. It will include courses in law enforcement, disaster management and anti-drug enforcement. Gone will be courses such as counter-insurgency, which Caldera called "relics of the past."

Caldera used a prepared text at the deactivation ceremony, but at the podium he ignored his written remarks and talked passionately about the protesters, even mentioning his hope that there may be redemption for the new school. For perhaps the first time, he talked about the atrocities that Bourgeois' movement has used as the focal point of its attacks.

"Throughout this volatile era, there were episodes on all sides that were less than honorable. We regret those," he said.

Asked later if this was an apology, Caldera would only talk about how regrettable these incidents were.

Bourgeois said people are waiting for an apology. "Not for us, but for the victims," he said. "We see this as the first step toward healing."

Caldera said he has been deeply affected by church people who have spoken out against the SOA, especially Roman Catholics, which is his own faith. "The central tenet in our faith is redemption," he said. "Surely every institution is capable of redemption."

To Bourgeois, that can only come after a change of heart, accountability and a sincere apology. "You must have a confession that someone has been wronged."

Once again saying the new institute is only "window-dressing," Bourgeois said the ceremony was insignificant. "It's not closure," he said, "only continuation."

[Here's an article by the Boston GLobe's John Donnelly from the SF Chronicle on the same event:]

Army Closes, Reopens School Under New Name
John Donnelly, Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle


Washington -- The Army announced yesterday it would close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., the symbol for the last decade of U.S. implication in human rights abuses in Latin America.

Demonstrators called it the School of the Assassins, because several of its 61,000 U.S.-trained graduates returned to Latin America and later tortured and murdered innocent people. Thousands of protesters annually called for it to be closed. Congress came within a few votes of eliminating its funding.

Army Secretary Louis Caldera will speak at the "closing ceremonies" Friday to honor "54 years of distinguished service."

One month later, the Army school will reopen. It will be in the same buildings and have the same instructors -- but the name will be different, as will some of the curriculum.

Starting in January, military officers from Latin America will attend the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

"We do not see this as really shutting down the School of the Americas," said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who has been arrested four times at the military site for trespassing on Army property. "It's business as usual. A new name, same shame."

Bourgeois said the protests will go on and even the name of his organization, SOA Watch, will remain the same. "No one in this large movement is really fooled by this. . . . It's still deadly. It's still men with guns," said Bourgeois, a former U.S. naval officer in Vietnam.

But Major Thomas W. Collins, an Army spokesman, said yesterday that the new institute will have new classes to "better address the current kind of missions and operations in the region."

In addition to courses on human rights, the institute will offer courses on disaster relief, transnational security threats, advanced anti-drug operations and "democratic sustainment," according to an Army press release.

Instead of Army oversight, the institute's operations and curriculum will be reviewed by an independent Board of Visitors, composed of members of Congress, State Department, Defense Department and civilians from academia, clergy, and international and private organizations, the Army said.

"The new school is going to continue the same vital functions the School of the Americas did," Collins said. "We see a great need to continue the same military-to-military, country-to-country contact. It's an opportunity to see American democracy and live in it."

The school has trained dozens of Latin America's most infamous criminals, including former Panamanian leader Gen. Manuel Noriega and 19 Salvadoran soldiers linked to the assassinations of six Jesuit priests in November 1989. In 1996, the Pentagon released training manuals used by the school in the 1980s that advocated torture, kidnapping and blackmail as a way of fighting insurgents.

Those manuals are no longer in use, and the Pentagon says that the school also has trained an impressive cadre of military leaders now in senior positions throughout Latin America who support democratic principles.

©2000 San Francisco Chronicle Page B8

Wed, 18 Apr 2001 12:10:12 -0700


     John D. Negroponte, President Bush's nominee as the next ambassador to the United Nations? My ears perked up. I turned up the volume on the radio. I began listening more attentively. Yes, I had heard correctly. Bush was nominating Negroponte, the man who gave the CIA backed Honduran death squads open field when he was ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985.

     My mind went back to May 1982 and I saw myself facing Negroponte in his office at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. I had gone to Honduras on a fact-finding delegation. We were looking for answers. Thirty-two women had fled the death squads of El Salvador after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 to take refuge in Honduras. One of them had been Romero's secretary. Some months after their arrival, these women were forcibly taken from their living quarters in Tegucigalpa, pushed into a van and disappeared. Our delegation was in Honduras to find out what had happened to these women.

     John Negroponte listened to us as we exposed the facts. There had been eyewitnesses to the capture and we were well read on the documentation that previous delegations had gathered. Negroponte denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of these women. He insisted that the US Embassy did not interfere in the affairs of the Honduran government and it would be to our advantage to discuss the matter with the latter. Facts, however, reveal quite the contrary. During Negroponte's tenure, US military aid to Honduras grew from $4 million to $77.4 million; the US launched a covert war against Nicaragua and mined its harbors, and the US trained Honduran military to support the Contras.

     John Negroponte worked closely with General Alvarez, Chief of the Armed Forces in Honduras, to enable the training of Honduran soldiers in psychological warfare, sabotage, and many types of human rights violations, including torture and kidnapping. Honduran and Salvadoran military were sent to the School of the Americas to receive training in counter-insurgency directed against people of their own country. The CIA created the infamous Honduran Intelligence Battalion 3-16 that was responsible for the murder of many Sandinistas. General Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, a graduate of the School of the Americas, was a founder and commander of Battalion 3-16. In 1982, the US negotiated access to airfields in Honduras and established a regional military training center for Central American forces, principally directed at improving fighting forces of the Salvadoran military.

     In 1994, the Honduran Rights Commission outlined the torture and disappearance of at least 184 political opponents. It also specifically accused John Negroponte of a number of human rights violations. Yet, back in his office that day in 1982, John Negroponte assured us that he had no idea what had happened to the women we were looking for. I had to wait 13 years to find out. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun in1996 Jack Binns, Negroponte's predecessor as US ambassador in Honduras, told how a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the women we had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981 and savagely tortured by the DNI, the Honduran Secret Police, before being placed in helicopters of the Salvadoran military. After take off from the airport in Tegucigalpa, the victims were thrown out of the helicopters. Binns told the Baltimore Sun that the North American authorities were well aware of what had happened and that it was a grave violation of human rights. But it was seen as part of Ronald Reagan's counterinsurgency policy.

     Now in 2001, I'm seeing new ripples in this story. Since President Bush made it known that he intended to nominate John Negroponte, other people have suddenly been "disappearing", so to speak. In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on March 25 Maggie Farley and Norman Kempster reported on the sudden deportation of several former Honduran death squad members from the United States. These men could have provided shattering testimony against Negroponte in the forthcoming Senate hearings. One of these recent deportees just happens to be General Luis Alonso Discua, founder of Battalion 3-16. In February, Washington revoked the visa of Discua who was Deputy Ambassador to the UN. Since then, Discua has gone public with details of US support of Battalion 3-16.

     Given the history of John Negroponte in Central America, it is indeed horrifying to think that he should be chosen to represent our country at the United Nations, an organization founded to ensure that the human rights of all people receive the highest respect. How many of our Senators, I wonder, let alone the US public, know who John Negroponte really is?

Sister Laetitia Bordes, s.h.

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