|Testimony by Louis Wolf to Board of Visitors' Meeting, June 2012|
Louis "Lou" Wolf is a former SOA Prisoner of Conscience. He was sentenced for crossing the line at Fort Benning in November 2008. He presented this testimony at the SOA/WHINSEC Board of Visitors' Meeting on June 28, 2012.
Testimony at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Board of Visitors Meeting, by Louis Wolf – Jun. 28, 2012
In 1992, a former Paraguayan political prisoner, Martin Almada went to a Paraguayan police station accompanied by a judge in search of his police files. What he found, quite by accident instead, were thousands of documents piled high in a storage room detailing the kidnapping, torture, and murder of thousands of Latin American political prisoners during the 1970s. The documents also contained details of Operation Condor, a secret agreement among the Argentine, Bolivian, Brazilian, Chilean, Paraguayan, and Uruguayan security forces.
This conspiracy allowed the governments to track down, kidnap across borders, and murder their political enemies. The documents Almada uncovered became known as the “Horror Archives.” More than 80,000 people were killed or disappeared, and over 400,000 were imprisoned under the program.
According to official statistics, the ‘human rights’ curriculum taught in WHINSEC’s classrooms is neither compulsory nor well-attended. Courses fail to address well-documented human rights massacres conducted by SOA graduates in many countries including Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, among others. There remains no provision of tracking or follow-up on the graduates after they return home.
Over the last decade, it is very telling that numerous graduates of SOA-WHINSEC courses as well as honorees in the SOA-WHINSEC ‘Hall of Fame’ have been implicated, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for their violent savagery, for wholesale murders and disappearances, for drug-running, and for rank corruption against the citizenry. Such cases include graduates from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and others.
These include Guatemalan SOA-trained member of the elite paramilitary Kaibiles brigade, Pedro Pimentel-Rios, who was sentenced to 6,060 years for his role in the 1982 massacre of 201 civilians. Just one month after the killings, he left to become an instructor at the SOA, then based in Panama. Four other Kaibiles members got 30-year sentences.
Colombian Col. Luis Fernando Borja, a 1986 SOA graduate, was sentenced to 19 years for his participation in 50 extrajudicial killings.
Bolivian Gen. Rene Sanabria and 1993 SOA graduate of a course in psychological operations, was sentenced to 14 years for cocaine trafficking. And the list goes.
A curious strategic choice by WHINSEC is the official seal on its web site that features “the colors blue and white and the Maltese cross, the insignia of Christopher Columbus during his explorations of the Caribbean Sea, which represents the heritage of security cooperation of the Western Hemisphere.” WHINSEC seems blind to Columbus’s infamous and violent legacy during his journey.
It was Henry Kissinger who famously wrote: "The illegal we can do right now; the unconstitutional will take a little longer."
In the prophetic words of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa: "Some say the only reason there's never been a coup in the United States is because there's no U.S. Embassy in the United States."
However, SOA-WHINSEC is alive and well here in Columbus, Georgia.
A cardinal principle in this country is that we are legally and morally accountable for what we do to our fellow citizens. I can not get my mind around how or why SOA-WHINSEC as an institution of the United States military has yet to be held legally accountable for what its alumni have done with the training they received here.
From his bench in January 2009, retired Judge E. Mallon Faircloth questioned: “Why do these officers do these things to their own people?” The undeniable and inescapable answer is: They just went home and did what they were trained to do——tens of thousands of times.
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