“This is a day on which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable. This is an occasion for the world to speak up against the unspeakable. It is long overdue that a day be dedicated to remembering and supporting the many victims and survivors of torture around the world.” Kofi Annan
Dear All – We have heard much in the news these past weeks about torture and the U.S. involvement in torture programs. These conversations have been troubling on many levels but in particular that they frame torture as if it started after 9/11.
This “start date” for torture does two things: it “justifies” the action by placing torture in response to the tragedy of 9/11 and it erases the history of the people of Latin America and others who experienced U.S. sponsored torture programs long before 9/11.
Representative McGovern has put together an important piece of legislation that the torture debate could learn from. It is an amendment that calls on the SOA/WHINSEC who train soldiers from Latin America to engage complete transparency and make public the names of their students. The School, infamous for training torturers and dictators, refuses to provide the names of the students claiming it would violate their privacy. What schools you attend is typically public knowledge it is not like asking the graduates to share with the world when they had their first kiss.
The importance of the transparency is that it says to the world and us, the U.S. taxpayers, we have nothing to hide here. No midnight memos, back doors programs, secretly approved CIA initiatives that even Congress does not know about only legal and ethical actions we have no reason to hide.
With the action below you can directly support Rep. McGovern’s bill and indirectly support the broadening of the torture debate. Transparency is vital for democratic process and for attempting to begin a healing process with all those around the world who have suffered at the hands of U.S sponsored torturers. Let’s tell congress and Attorney General Eric Holder that we value transparency as step toward creating justice for those who have “endured the unimaginable…” Peace Liz
Urgent Action #2
On June 25, 2009 the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to support the McGovern-Sestak-Bishop-Lewis Amendment, which would force the Pentagon to release the names of SOA/WHINSEC graduates and instructors. This amendment to FY 2010 Defense Authorization Bill is now being sent to a Joint House-Senate Conference Committee, in charge of debating this amendment. The Committee’s approval will send the proposed amendment to the Senate for a vote. Senator Burris was recently appointed to this Conference Committee.
Please urge your Senator to support the McGovern Amendment as part of the final draft of the Defense Authorization Bill. For a list of the 224 Representatives who supported this amendment, click here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll454.xml.
Call your Senator this week and tell him/her to support this amendment and promote transparency within the SOA/WHINSEC and leave the following message:
“Hello, my name is ___________ and I live in __________ (city/state). I am calling to urge Senator _______ to support the McGovern-Sestak-Bishop Lewis Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. This amendment would release the names of SOA/WHINSEC graduates and instructors, which are crucial to research and legislative efforts to close the school. Since many past graduates from SOA have been proven human rights abusers, it is important that the U.S. government commit itself to transparency and the priority of human rights. Can I count on Senator _______ to support this important amendment? Please let me know.”