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Home Action Legislative Action Background Info Floor discussion on the SOA Bill HR 2159
Floor discussion on the SOA Bill HR 2159 PDF Print E-mail
The following is the discussion on the House floor on September 3, 1997, concerning Rep. Torres' amendment to HR 2159, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act bill. The amendment would have cut off Congressional funding to the School of the Americas of $1.2 million that was included in HR 2159. Representative's names have been highlighted to make reading easier.

                 Amendment No. 17 Offered by Mr. Torres

 Mr. TORRES. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

  The Clerk read as follows:

       Amendment No. 17 offered by Mr. Torres:

       At the end of the bill, insert after the last section 

     (preceding the short title) the following new section:

            prohibition of funds for school of the americas

       Sec. 572. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, 

     none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by 

     this Act may be used for programs at the United States Army 

     School of the Americas located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

  (Mr. TORRES asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 


 Mr. TORRES. Mr. Chairman, I would like to preface my remarks about 

this amendment by first thanking the gentleman from Alabama [Mr. 

Callahan] for his efforts to work with me on how we address the funding 

elements that are provided in this bill for the U.S. Army School of the 

Americas. And while I do appreciate what has been done on this subject 

that is reflected in the language in the bill before us, I am compelled 

to offer this amendment together with my colleagues on the 

subcommittee, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Yates] and the gentleman 

from Pennsylvania [Mr. Foglietta] which prohibits any of the funds of 

this bill being used for the school.

  I think it is important to note that in last year's bill, this 

committee directed the Departments of State and Defense to submit a 

report no later than January 15 on a number of concerns that the 

Members had expressed about the school, such as the screening process 

for applicants and monitoring of graduates. This approach was agreed 

upon at that time despite our inclination to cut off those funds. This 

year, this report was received at the ``eleventh hour'' just prior to 

the subcommittee's markup on June 25, nearly 6 months late.

  The report, 31/2 pages in length, does not represent what I believe 

to be, nor the committee, many of the committee Members, a serious 

effort to be responsive to the issues that were addressed. It merely 

details how screening is intended to be carried out and contains no 

evaluation of how this process is carried out.

  It further states that the school, that neither the school nor other 

U.S. personnel have the capacity to monitor graduates. The lateness of 

the report and its brevity indicate that the school and the Defense 

Department have failed to take reforms seriously.

  I am offering this amendment today because I believe it is time to 

forge a new relationship with Latin America, to mark a new era in U.S. 

support for democracy in this hemisphere. The cold war is over, Mr. 

Chairman. Rooting out Communist insurgents is passe. Human rights 

violations in the pursuit of eliminating the enemy cannot be condoned.

  The School of the Americas cannot deny its dismal connection with the 

worst human rights violators in the region. The school's graduates who 

are human rights violators are not just a bunch of bad apples. The list 

of human rights violators connected with the school is long and is 

getting longer as names of violators are matched up with those of 


  The Salvadoran Truth Commission cited 19 out of 26 officers for the 

massacre of Jesuit priests; 100 out of 246 Colombian officers cited for 

war crimes; 6 Peruvian officers involved in the killing of 9 students 

and a professor; Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. The list goes on 

and on and on and cannot be dismissed as just a few exceptions.

  Throughout Latin America, the School of the Americas is seen as a 

training ground for repressive militaries and dictators; and its 

record, its

[[Page H6740]]

record, I underscore that, cannot be ignored. The recently declassified 

training manuals used at the school as lesson plans and reading 

materials show that something indeed was wrong with the school's 

curriculum. These manuals taught armies to violate human rights, to use 

physical abuse, to use blackmail, to use blacklists, to use censorship, 

to spy on civilian organizations like student groups, like trade 

unions, like community organizations and opposition political parties, 

to confuse the boundaries between civilians and combatants and to 

ignore the rule of law.

  Over and over again the school has tried to downplay rather than 

fully acknowledge these problems with its training. It is good that the 

school has added 4 hours on human rights in its courses, but this 

hardly makes the School of the Americas a school for human rights. 

These changes are just far too little, too late.

  Let me emphasize that cutting off funds to the school does not 

prevent the many forms of conduct and cooperation between the United 

States and Latin American militaries. This year alone, over 60,000 

military troops will rotate throughout Latin America on various 

training missions and assignments. Additionally, the international 

military education and training program for military personnel will 

come to the United States and study at many of our U.S. institutions. 

The School of the Americas is just but one of those.

  But it does make an important break with the past. It shows Latin 

Americans who have worked valiantly for human rights and civilian 

control over militaries in their countries and U.S. religious orders 

whose missionaries and priests were killed by militaries trained at the 

School of the Americas.

  The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from California [Mr. Torres] 

has expired.

  (By unanimous consent, Mr. Torres was allowed to proceed for 1 

additional minute.)

 Mr. TORRES. Mr. Chairman, I repeat again, the priests that were 

killed by militaries trained at the School of the Americas, and that 

the United States now is fully determined to chart a new course. We 

want to do that. The school represents an outdated approach to a 

fragile region that is struggling with democracy, and we only have to 

read and watch television every day to see what is happening.

  Cutting off funds to the school in this bill sends a clear signal. It 

is an important step in forging a new relationship with Latin American 

militaries based first and foremost upon adherence to civilian 

authority and the respect for human rights.

 Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

  Mr. Chairman, the School of the Americas was established to heighten 

the professionalism of the military establishments throughout the 

Americas. Approximately 60,000 young Latin American and Caribbean 

officers have graduated from the SOA since its creation in 1946, the 

vast majority of whom have served their nations honorably and 


  Mr. Chairman, opponents of the School for the Americas focus on the 

excesses of a few notorious graduates. This Member is the first to 

acknowledge that some very unsavory characters have managed to attend 

the school. But such criticism overlooks the overwhelming majority, 

well over 99 percent, of honest, capable, intelligent officers who 

study at the School of the Americas. They return to their homes and 

serve their nations honorably and with distinction. And this Member 

would remind his colleagues that graduates of the SOA are personally 

responsible for the return of democracy in nations such as Bolivia and 

Argentina, and many of the school's graduates have lost their lives 

while combating drug lords in Colombia and Peru. Focusing on a few bad 

apples does a disservice to the commissioned and noncommissioned 

officers who have attended the School for the Americas and who 

subsequently fought terrorists and narcotraffickers in the jungles of 

Latin America.

                              {time}  1500

  While the early focus of the institution was on combating Soviet-

backed insurgencies, in recent years the school's emphasis has shifted 

toward combating drug trafficking and responding to rural disease and 

environmental degradation. One very positive result of the recent 

attention to the school has been a much greater emphasis on human 

rights. Every student at the school is now exposed to a rigorous formal 

and informal training program in basic human rights. Specific classes 

and case studies are used to enhance the training and to make U.S. 

concerns unambiguously clear. The roles and rights of civilians, clergy 

and human rights observers and U.N. personnel are integrated into the 

training program.

  While the SOA has rightly increased its emphasis on human rights, 

this Member believes that there is a basic value in encouraging 

military officers from Latin America and the Caribbean to study and to 

train in the United States. An institution such as the SOA, which 

annually hosts approximately 1,300 students from almost 20 countries, 

provides a level of professional training that is not otherwise 

available. Moreover, exposure to the U.S. lifestyle, values, and ideals 

offers important lessons for the future military leaders of Latin 


  Mr. Chairman, opponents have pointed to three manuals that were for a 

short time used by the school. It is true that these manuals had short 

passages, in one instance less than a sentence, that were inconsistent 

with U.S. Army doctrine. When discovered, these manuals were 

immediately withdrawn and destroyed. The school now employs U.S. Army 

training manuals that are appropriate and which are now being 

translated, and have been translated into Spanish.

  This Member would tell his colleagues that the School of the Americas 

does not employ confidential torture manuals, nor does the SOA in any 

way engage in such heinous exercises as training its students to keep 

their shock victims alive for interrogation as some have alleged. This 

body should not participate in this wrongful demonization of the School 

of the Americas.

  Mr. Chairman, the training at the School of the Americas does far, 

far more good in encouraging appropriate human rights practices than 

any possible harm which could come from even a perversion of such an 

education program that some former student might practice. It is time 

to end this misguided attack on the SOA.

  This Member wishes he could guarantee to his colleagues that no 

future graduate of the SOA will ever abuse human rights or undermine 

civilian government, but obviously this is impossible. What this Member 

can guarantee is that every effort will continue to be made to fully 

indoctrinate the students on respect for human rights and democracies. 

The training at the school undoubtedly does far, far more good than any 

hypothetical harm which would come from even a perversion of such an 

educational program some future student might practice.

  This Member must say, therefore, that it is time for this body and 

for certain organizations outside of this body to abandon this 

misguided attack on the School of the Americas. I urge my colleagues to 

reject this amendment and send a message to the organizations, get your 

facts straight, catch up with reality. It is time to stop and get off 

this hobby horse. The School of the Americas is an important 

institution for the United States and for democracy throughout the 


 Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

  Mr. Chairman, I want to give a specific example of how the School of 

the Americas helps America, the United States of America. The Colombian 

National Police, which is one of our frontline combatant units against 

the drug cartels in Colombia, gets a great deal of training from the 

School of the Americas. The first 40 hours of their training is in the 

area of human rights. General Serrano and the Colombian police because 

of that have a stellar human rights record. Our State Department has 

told us in committee that the Colombian National Police, which is a 

recipient, a beneficiary of the School of the Americas, has an almost 

100 percent human rights record. I believe it is because of the School 

of the Americas, because of the training they are getting there.

  The thing that is interesting about this is these people who are 

trained in the School of the Americas, the Colombian National Police 

that are fighting

[[Page H6741]]

the war against drugs, against the Colombian drug cartel, lay their 

lives on the line every single day not just for their people in their 

country but for our kids in America who are the recipients of the drugs 

that are coming out of Colombia and Latin America and Central America. 

For us to close down the School of the Americas and to cut off funding 

would be a giant step, a giant step in the wrong direction.

  The last point I want to make very briefly is this. We know for a 

fact that the people in Colombia who are suffering human rights abuses 

go to the Colombian National Police, who have been trained in how to 

deal with human rights abuses for protection. I think it would be a 

terrible mistake for us to cut off funding for this very important 

program if for no other reason because of the Colombian National Police 

who are fighting so hard every single day to protect our kids from 

drugs and to stop the flow of drugs coming into America.

 Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

 Mr. BURTON of Indiana. I yield to the gentleman from New York, the 

chairman of the Committee on International Relations.

 Mr. GILMAN. I want to commend the gentleman for focusing attention on 

the narcotics training that they receive at the School of the Americas. 

They receive first rate instruction on a variety of subjects, but 

included very out-front and very positively is their training 

countering the illegal drug threat. I am pleased to join my colleague 

in opposition to the gentleman from California's amendment.

  Mr. Chairman, I include for the Record a letter from General Barry 

McCaffrey, our drug czar and the former Commander in Chief of the U.S. 

Southern Command, in support of the School of the Americas, stressing 

the important role in countering the illegal drug trade, as follows:

         Executive Office of the President, Office of National 

           Drug Control Policy,

                                    Washington, DC, July 16, 1997.

       Dear Representative Callahan: My purpose in writing is to 

     ask for your support of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. 

     The Appropriations Bill for Foreign Operations, Export 

     Financing, and Related Programs being considered today 

     contains language that, if enacted, would make this important 

     institution ineffective.

       As Commander in Chief of U.S. Southern Command, my 

     responsibilities included furthering the development of 

     professional Latin American armed forces that promoted and 

     protected human rights and that were supportive of democratic 

     governance. The School of the Americas was, and continues to 

     be, the Department of Defense's preeminent military 

     educational institution for accomplishing these goals. The 

     soldiers, sergeants, and officers that come to the School of 

     the Americas interact with our own soldiers. They are 

     systematically exposed to the principles of military 

     subordination to civilian authority and the rule of law. They 

     also receive first rate instruction on a variety of subjects 

     including countering the illegal drug threat.

       The School of the Americas is closely supervised by the 

     U.S. Army and U.S. Southern Command. Its curriculum is beyond 

     reproach. Indeed, it has been at the forefront of the effort 

     to incorporate human rights training in all military 

     instruction. It is deserving of your support. Your leadership 

     will be important in ensuring that this important vehicle for 

     effective military-to-military relations remains viable.


                                               Barry R. McCaffrey,


  Mr. Chairman, the war on drugs in Latin America is real. Professional 

training to fight narcoguerrillas is critical. The School of the 

Americas helps meet that need. General McCaffrey does point out that 

the school is closely supervised by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Southern 

Command. Its curriculum is beyond reproach. Indeed, it has been at the 

forefront of the effort to incorporate human rights training in all of 

its military instruction. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

 Mr. BURTON of Indiana. I thank the gentleman for his participation.

 Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Torres amendment, and I 

wish to speak briefly but from the heart on this issue. I have seen 

firsthand the work of many of the graduates of the School of the 

Americas who served as officers in the Salvadoran Armed Forces during 

the recent conflict in that country. I had the privilege of working 

with the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Moakley], the honorable dean 

of our State delegation, on the House investigation of the brutal 1989 

murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her 15-year-old 

daughter. For those unfamiliar with the case, units of the Salvadoran 

Army surrounded the university where these eight people worked. 

Soldiers entered their home, forced the six priests out of bed, and 

then outside into the yard. The soldiers then forced the priests to lay 

down on the ground, put high-powered rifles to their heads, pulled the 

triggers, and blew their brains across the grass. These same soldiers 

then went back inside the house and found and killed the terrified 

housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

  Mr. Chairman, I knew these priests. I was privileged to call them 

friends. They all had names and family and parishioners, students and 

colleagues who loved them. When the 26 Salvadoran military personnel 

cited for these murders were identified, 19 were graduates of the 

School of the Americas. If this were the only horror story associated 

with the School of the Americas, we would not be having this debate 

today. But there are hundreds and hundreds of such stories. And tens of 

thousands of men, women, and children throughout Latin America have 

been tortured or have perished on the orders of or at the hands of 

these graduates.

  Let me be clear, Mr. Chairman. The little we do know about actions 

and atrocities committed by the School of the Americas graduates does 

not come from information or surveys carried out by the school itself. 

It comes from the hard, often dangerous investigations undertaken by 

human rights groups, U.N.- and government-appointed truth commissions 

and other dedicated individuals. The school has always taken a posture 

of denial, that ignorance is better than knowing the truth.

  Mr. Chairman, nothing can bring back my friends to life. Nothing can 

fill the intellectual, spiritual, and visionary void left by their 

murders. But I have walked on the ground where they died, and I will 

not support one more single tax dollar being used to keep open a school 

that helped to shape and train these killers.

  I want to thank my fellow colleagues, the gentleman from 

Massachusetts [Mr. Kennedy], the gentleman from California [Mr. 

Torres], and members of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations who 

support this amendment for their leadership on this issue. I urge all 

of my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the Torres amendment.

 Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite 

number of words.

  Mr. Chairman, I had not intended to participate in this debate, but I 

do have an active interest in this matter and have had occasion in the 

past to get myself involved in it in one way or another. As a matter of 

fact, my long history goes back to what we then called Benning School 

for Boys, which I had the honor of attending in my own training to be a 

second lieutenant of infantry. It hurts me to see that school 

associated with the kind of record which we now hear with regard to the 

School of the Americas. I am not trying to point the finger at 

everything the school does. I commend the effort to improve the 

training and improve the sensitivity to human rights of the officer 

corps of our neighboring nations. But it has not succeeded in 

accomplishing that goal in the way that I would like.

  It is unquestionably true that over these past 50 years of the 

school's existence, a large, very large number of the graduates have 

been involved in human rights violations. I would not want to 

characterize all of the graduates as being some kind of evil persons. I 

am not sure that if we did not have the school, we still would not have 

violations of civil rights in those societies which are conducive to or 

organized in a way that encourages violation of civil rights. We have 

instances in this country of where commissioned officers and 

noncommissioned officers are guilty of violating the civil rights of 

individuals, both within the ranks and outside the ranks. We do not 

blame the entire establishment for those few cases.

  But here is a situation where over 50 years, it is undeniable that 

the graduates of this school have been involved

[[Page H6742]]

in this kind of practice. I would suggest that the time has come to 

acknowledge that we assisted in perpetrating these atrocities through 

the training that we gave to these officers. While we should continue 

to offer assistance and to provide training, if necessary, in other 

ways, we ought to abolish the school and start with a clean slate. Some 

of these same officers could be eligible to go to West Point or some of 

our other academies. We train the elites from many of these countries 

in our most prestigious universities. We should continue to do that. 

For those who seek a military career, we could give them the ROTC 

course at Harvard possibly or some other alternative to what they are 

getting at the School of the Americas. But we need to put this past 

behind us. We cannot continue as a nation to condone the fact that 

graduates have engaged in the sort of practice that have been described 

here, the slaughter of priests and nuns and the disappearance of 

thousands of people throughout Latin America.

  Let us put that behind us. Let us discontinue the funding of this 

school. If we feel it necessary to continue to assist in the 

development of an improved military, let us find improved methods to do 

that job if it does indeed need to be done.

 Mr. COLLINS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, I strongly oppose this amendment which amounts to a 

step backward in the war on drugs and two steps backyard in our support 

of freedom, democracy, and human rights in our own backyard. In July, 

both General McCaffrey, the drug czar, and General Shalikashvili, 

chairman of the Joint Chiefs, highlighted the importance of the School 

of the Americas in the war on drugs. The frontlines of this war are 

found throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Colombia, Panama, and 

Bolivia serve as prime examples of countries whose drug interdiction 

strategies would be crippled without the benefit of United States 

equipment and, most importantly, United States training at the School 

of the Americas. The school is a key to preserving democracy in our 


  Since 1946, the U.S. Army has trained the Latin American military 

leaders who have turned back dictatorship, returning political power to 

the people and yielding military authority to civilian institutions.

                              {time}  1515

  In 1972, there are only six democracies in Latin America. Today, 

thanks in part to the school's instruction, there are 19.

  As civil war in the region has given way to peace, and democracy has 

taken hold, the U.S. Army School of the Americas has developed a 

military human rights training program that is unmatched anywhere in 

the world today.

  Just over 1 month ago, I joined almost every other Member in this 

body in passing legislation congratulating El Salvador, and much has 

been said about El Salvador during this debate, for recent elections 

and the country's progress toward full democracy. The resolution passed 

overwhelmingly, 419 to 3.

  What my colleagues probably do not know is that one of the Salvadoran 

government's top officials, a Minister of Defense, Major General 

Guzman, is a former School of the Americas instructor. General Guzman 

is typical of the vast majority of the school's 60,000 graduates and 

visiting instructors who in one very important way, has returned home 

to apply his human rights training to remedy his country's problems of 

the past.

  General Guzman institutionalized human rights training in the 

Salvadoran armed forces. Before his program was initiated, human rights 

violations numbered more than 2,000 each month, but after 5 years, that 

number has dropped to less than 20 per month, and today, under General 

Guzman's zero tolerance program, violations almost never occur.

  The School of the Americas is not the answer to all Latin America's 

problems. There is still work to be done. But I urge my colleagues to 

consider the lives that the School of the Americas has saved. Every 

year, the school graduates thousands of men and women who return to 

their countries to apply the lessons they have learned in a Latin 

American environment still plagued by instability and violence.

  The stories that we do not hear are those heroes. These are the 

military leaders who fought for democracy and yielded military control 

to civilian authorities. These are the police officers fighting the 

drug lords in the street. These are the men and women who have returned 

control of the governments of Latin America to the people of Latin 


  This is not simply a matter of foreign assistance. It is critical to 

our own self-interests to maintain democracies in countries so close to 

our borders. The School of the Americas allows us to do so without 

deploying our own troops.

  The State Department, the Salvadoran and Honduran Ambassadors to the 

United States, the President of the Committee of Presidents of the 

Central American Legislative Human Rights Commission, the Chairman of 

the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the acting Commander in Chief of the United 

States Southern Command, the Under Secretary of the Army, the Director 

of the National Office of Drug Control Policy, the authorizing 

committee on both sides of the Capitol, and the last Presidential 

administration have argued that the school serves vital national 

interests through its counterdrug operations and its counterdrug cadet 

leadership development courses, its professional military training 

program, including unique peacekeeping instruction, and its one-of-a-

kind human rights training initiative. Through these programs, the 

school allows the United States to support and defend Latin American 

democracies and to encourage responsible government policies without 

forward deployments such as those used in Bosnia and in Haiti.

  I, for one, am not ready to surrender Latin America and the Caribbean 

to drug lords and dictators. I urge my colleagues to take 

responsibility of the human rights leadership by opposing this 

amendment which would close the School of the Americas, diminishing 

opportunities for the expansion of democracy in Latin America.

 Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, I want to say that I agree with my distinguished 

colleague's last words about the necessity to fight against drugs. In 

Latin America, and around the globe, wherever we find that problem, I 

think it is important that all of us in this Congress take a stand 

against the drugs which are infecting this country and the entire 


  So I am glad that there is that kind of support, and it is bipartisan 

support for fighting drugs. However we are called upon, and looking at 

the amendment of the gentleman from California [Mr. Torres], to make an 

assessment of a school that is operated out of Fort Benning, GA, which 

does more than just train people to deal with drugs, and we all agree 

that we want drugs dealt with, and there are many ways in which they 

can be dealt with, but that is not what the School of the Americas is 


  The School of Americas in Fort Benning, GA, has a roster of graduates 

that reads like a Who's Who of human rights violators:

  Nineteen of the twenty-six Salvadoran officers accused in the 1989 

massacre of the six Jesuits and their housekeeper and the housekeeper's 

daughter were graduates of the School of the Americas.

  Ten of the twelve cited in the El Mozote massacre where an entire 

village was wiped out without a trace; men, women and children, wiped 

out; 10 of the 12 people involved in that were graduates of the School 

of the Americas.

  Two of the three officers cited in Archbishop Romero's assassination 

were graduates of the School of the Americas.

  The School of the Americas; of what America is this the school of? 

Certainly not the United States of America, because the people of the 

United States of America do not support murder, do not support rape, do 

not support torture. Yet this is called the School of the Americas, and 

its graduates are involved in rape, murder, torture, genocide. The 

School of the Americas indeed.

  The people of the United States do not support the kind of conduct 


[[Page H6743]]

has come from this school and which is being done in the name of 


  Four churchwomen, including Sister Dorothy Kazel, a nun from 

Cleveland, OH, and someone who happened to be a friend of mine, were 

raped and brutally murdered in El Salvador. The U.N. Truth Commission 

investigating the murders verified that the School of the Americas 

trained three of the five officers responsible for the churchwomen's 


  Now Sister Dorothy was more than a friend to me. She was a friend to 

humanity. She went to El Salvador to bring about peace and justice for 

those who desperately need it, and she was brutally murdered for her 

efforts, along with Jean Donovan and two other nuns. Sister Dorothy 

Kazel's sister-in-law asked me to deliver this message to my colleagues 

in the United States Congress, and I quote:

       ``Congress needs to act now. The women were killed by 

     officers trained at the School of the Americas. I just don't 

     understand why we are training human rights violators on our 

     own soil. Why does this school still operate?''

  Mr. Chairman, those who oppose closing the School of the Americas 

defend it as a haven for human rights protectors. The inversion of 

meaning is an ongoing problem in political philosophy. It is something 

that the writer, George Orwell, well understood where wrong becomes 

right and worse becomes the better reason and where murderers and 

rapists become human rights protectors.

  The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Kucinich] has 


  (By unanimous consent, Mr. Kucinich was allowed to proceed for 2 

additional minutes.)

 Mr. KUCINICH. Where wrong becomes right, where worse becomes the 

better reason and where people who have murdered become human rights 


  Well, I think the American people are well aware of the record of the 

School of the Americas. We owe it to them, and we owe it to the memory 

of Sister Dorothy Kazel, the other nuns, the Jesuit priests, the 

civilians who have been murdered, and to everyone else who has ever 

been terrorized by the School of the Americas, to see that this school 

be shut once and for all. This is the Congress of the United States of 

America, and it should not let anyone defile the name ``America'' in 

our own name on our own soil with our own tax dollars. Close the School 

of the Americas.

 Mr. BARR of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite 

number of words.

  Oh, the outrage is becoming palpable now. The do-gooders are out 

there. Pass out the rose-colored glasses, Mr. Chairman. The cold war is 

over; we are hearing that today.

  Every American citizen ought to grab up their children, close their 

doors and take out their weapon, if it has not been taken away every 

time the do-gooders get out there and start saying the cold war is 

over, because we know what is coming next, another piece of 

legislation, another diatribe that we must cut back, cut back, cut 

back, cut back.

  Well, the cold war may be over in a formal sense, Mr. Chairman, but 

there are many very good, productive, positive reasons to deny the do-

gooders this latest opportunity to prove to the world that we can be 

more namby-pamby than some other country somewhere in the world at some 

point in time.

  Mr. Chairman, one thing that escapes me in this latest round of do-

good-ism that we are hearing today is what these folks think would 

happen if the School of the Americas were closed and if we then, as 

they would have us do, then search out every other program in which we 

provide some sort of training, control over foreign military officers. 

Do they think that all of a sudden magically, as they had been anointed 

with this vision of the universe, that every one of these other 

officers would all of a sudden adopt their view of the world, their 

view of so-called human rights, their view of what is right and wrong 

in the world, their view of what we must do in the world? I do not 

think so.

  The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, that the School of the 

Americas provides a very valuable tool not only for this country to 

influence foreign officers in a positive way as we have heard from 

opponents of this measure today already, but it also provides an 

important outlet for the yearnings that these foreign officers have to 

learn about this country and what we do that is so good that these 

other folks herald and then break down.

  There are, Mr. Chairman, other countries more than willing to step 

into the breach should we retreat. Communist China; now there is a 

country with a stellar human rights record. They are already obtaining 

a foothold in Latin America. Perhaps they would step into the breach 

and create a School of the Americas.

  Would that make the do-gooders happy? Perhaps, I do not know. Some 

other country, perhaps Cuba, would step into the breach wanting to 

increase its influence in Latin America.

  The fact of the matter is, though, Mr. Chairman, somebody would be 

there to step into the vacuum that would be created if we were to 

suddenly pull out from the School of the Americas.

  Mr. Chairman, over the years, and even currently, these officers that 

are out there fighting for our kids on our streets in the United States 

of America are trained, many of them, both directly and indirectly, 

through the process of talking with the other graduates who come back 

to their country, and they do teach and they do talk with their fellow 

officers. They do learn, and they are equipped, better equipped, with 

the tools to fight the terrorists.

  Now the cold war may be over, but terrorism is not over. The cold war 

may be over, but the war against narcotics traffickers is not. The cold 

war may be over, but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, there are 

narco-terrorists out there in Latin America, and we need to use every 

legitimate tool at our disposal, and this is a legitimate tool at our 

disposal and the way that we can reach out and influence for the better 

these officers.

 Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

 Mr. BARR of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman from New York.

                              {time}  1530

 Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

  Mr. Chairman, I apologize for having to run off the floor to a 

meeting, but the points that the gentleman are making are so well 

taken. We are fighting a battle today of terrorism. We are fighting a 

battle of illegal drugs in this country. These officers that are 

trained at the School of the Americas are doing a service by going back 

to their countries and teaching people what it is all about as far as 

decent human rights for people.

  I just wish I had more time to participate in the debate, but I hope 

everybody comes over here and votes against this ill-conceived 


 Mr. BARR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the distinguished gentleman, who 

knows whereof he speaks.

  Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me mention the whole process here is 

rather bizarre. We see the folks on the other side saying, well, 

because these people went to the School of the Americas and sometime in 

the future, after that point, they committed these bad acts, therefore 

we must close the doors of the School of the Americas.

  How preposterous. Should we search out and close the doors of every 

school in the United States of America because one of them may have 

produced at some point in time a Ted Bundy or somebody else that goes 

out and commits an act? Blaming the school for the bad acts of its 

graduates in this instance is ill-conceived.

  This is nonsense, Mr. Chairman, and it ought to be defeated.

  The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Barr] has 


  (On request of Mr. Bereuter, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Barr was 

allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

 Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

 Mr. BARR. I yield to the gentleman from Nebraska.

 Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

  Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Ohio just made a very impassioned 

statement. It is understandable, given his personal knowledge of a 


  But I just would like the gentleman to think about the fact that the 

noncommissioned officers and officers that come to this school do not 

come with a

[[Page H6744]]

table that has nothing written on it. They come bringing some values 


  What we are attempting to do with the School of the Americas is, in 

some cases, a very difficult task of changing the whole culture of a 

military in a government. If you had visited Guatemala or El Salvador 

like this gentleman in the early 1980's, you would understand about the 

progress that has been made and the great difficulty we had in getting 

the right kind of people to come to the school in the first place.

  I would just like to suggest we have made dramatic progress, and in 

the absence this, we are going to have a much deeper problem in the 


 Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, I had not intended to get into this debate until I 

heard the previous speaker's comments, and they compelled me to say 

what I am going to say now.

  I would much rather be a ``do-gooder'' than a stand-byer, while a 

school which is supposed to teach American values instead consistently 

produces graduates who defile the very values that that institution is 

supposed to support and promote.

  I do not mind being called a ``do-gooder'' at all in comparison to 

being a do-nothinger. I also do not mind being called ``namby-pamby'' 

because I happen to be offended by the fact that, time and time again, 

graduates of the School of the Americas have engaged in conduct that 

would make every decent American gag.

  If being ``namby-pamby'' is being opposed to instruction manuals on 

torture, if being ``namby-pamby'' is being opposed to the consistently 

failed record of this institution in turning out graduates who 

understand democratic values, if it is being ``namby-pamby'' to object 

to the fact that graduates of this institution have systematically in a 

number of countries around this hemisphere wiped out innocent women and 

children, then call me namby-baby. I do not mind it at all.

  You are doggone right, we are opposed to this institution continuing. 

This institution has been given the opportunity year after year after 

year to demonstrate that it can turn out a different kind of military 

for Latin America. So far, there is very precious little evidence that 

in fact it has done so.

  The gentleman from Nebraska is right: What this institution is 

charged with doing is a very difficult thing to do. It is very 

difficult to take people from the kind of culture which has produced 

many of them, bring them to this country, and in a very short period of 

time inculcate the kind of values that we would like to see those 

graduates represent.

  But the fact is that you have to make a judgment sooner or later 

about whether that institution has succeeded or not, and there are a 

lot of us in this institution who do not think that it has succeeded.

  So I would suggest that to call people ``do-gooders'' or to call them 

``namby-pamby'' because we happen to object to the fact that thousands 

of individual innocent civilians have been slaughtered by the graduates 

of this second-rate institution, is, I think, to do something to the 

dialogue in this House that you ought not to do.

  I would say one other thing: For years we have heard every 

justification dragged up that it is possible to drag up in order to 

defend the continued funding for this institution. Now the latest 

argument we hear is, ``Oh, they are necessary to prevent the drug 

traffic from succeeding in this hemisphere.''

  Well, I just have to tell you that drug program administrators who 

cannot run an antidrug program without relying on this kind of 

institution ought to find themselves another line of work.

 Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, I appreciate being recognized to speak in favor of the 

School of the Americas. Not everything is perfect. Unfortunately, the 

folks who support this amendment are correct in that in the past there 

have been graduates of this school who have abused human rights and 

caused all sorts of pain and suffering.

  That has been a very, very small minority of student participants, 

and the things that they did, they did not learn at the School of the 

Americas. They certainly were not trained with that intent by the 

School of the Americas.

  That was many, many years ago. Some debates, Mr. Speaker, are timely, 

and some debates are timeless. This debate seems to be timeless in that 

once the side who opposes the School of the Americas has got their 

point across and the changes have been made, it is time to stop. But, 

instead, we are continuing year after year, rehashing the same ground, 

regurgitating the same arguments over and over again.

  This debate, rather than being timeless, should be timely, and the 

time to debate it was properly in the early 1990's under Secretary 

Cheney. Under Secretary Cheney many, many changes were made that threw 

out some of the offensive materials which the supporters of this 

amendment keep referring to.

  It is not the case any more. What we are doing is we are debating 

Model T's in the era of 1997 automobiles. It is just that there is a 

photograph there. We are looking at the moving picture here, and the 

moving picture has gone on and times have changed.

  But to be on the safe side, the committee this year has put in some 

very strong safeguards. One, the Secretary of Defense must certify that 

the instruction and training provided by the school are fully 

consistent with training and doctrine provided to U.S. military 

personnel, especially, Mr. Chairman, regarding human rights.

  Number two, the Departments of Defense and State have improved the 

guidelines for screening and admitting students to better avoid 

students with records of human rights violations or who may have 

tendencies in that direction.

  Number three, the Department of Defense completes a comprehensive 

report on training activities of the school and an assessment of the 

performance of the graduates.

  These are three things that are in the bill right now. This amendment 

is not necessary.

  The abuses that they are referring to that happened are horrible, and 

I certainly agree, but they happened many years ago by graduates that 

would not be admitted to the school today.

  Now, let me say this on a personal basis. I have visited the school. 

It is disturbing, greatly disturbing to me, that most of the supporters 

of this amendment have not taken the time to visit the school. In fact, 

I would challenge my colleagues, if you have been to the school and you 

support the amendment, when you speak, please let folks know, and tell 

us about the terrorists you saw in the classroom.

  I am not going to tell you that I could tell terrorists from a 

nonterrorist sitting in a classroom, Mr. Speaker, but I can tell you 

this: I talked to young idealistic men and women from South America who 

had lots of ideas on democracy, lots of enthusiasm about the American 

system of government, and lots of enthusiasm for freedom and its noble 


  I have visited them, and I have talked to the students. It makes a 

tremendous difference in your opinion of an institution when you have 

been there and talked to the students.

  If you do not go, maybe if you support this amendment, you should 

make it a priority to visit it. I would be glad to help any of my 

colleagues who would like to go down to Columbus, Georgia. We could 

probably get you in and out of there in a day. It would mean so much to 

the students down there, it would mean so much to the institution, and 

perhaps it could mean a whole lot to the great cause that we share of 


  Mr. Chairman, I ask Members to please vote against this amendment, 

and support the School of the Americas.

  Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the School of the Americas and in 

opposition to the amendment.

  Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that most of us here do not 

oppose international military training in general. The amendment 

addresses only the military training provided at Fort Benning because 

of a negative image, or stigma, remaining from a relatively very few 

problems from the past. This makes this issue a self-feeding problem to 

a large extent because the negative stigma is perpetuated by the very 

groups who use it as justification to close the school.

  The negative propaganda and baggage that continues to follow the 

school is just not a valid argument to shut down the only school of 

this kind in the world with such devoted attention to teaching 

professionalism, respect for

[[Page H6745]]

rule of law and civilian leadership, and human rights to young officers 

and soldiers of Latin America who would not otherwise get this critical 

training. In fact, the School of the Americas provides much more of 

this kind of training to its students than our own military men and 

women receive.

  We also often hear lists of human rights abuses committed by Latin 

American military personnel who may or may not have received some 

varying level of training at the School. These cases--while horrible--

are very rare when compared to the large number of students trained at 

the school. To close the school simply because less than one percent of 

its graduates haven't successfully applied what they've learned is 

inappropriate, short-sighted, and counterproductive.

  Let me just ask everyone: If the United States set up a program to 

teach Latin American militaries to reject repressive behavior, to 

respect human rights, and advance the cause of democracy in our own 

back yard, would you support it? What if it were only 99 percent 

effective? That's what we're dealing with in plain English. No 

exaggerations, no distortions, no feel-good hype. Why would we throw 

away the opportunity to teach hundreds of Latin American military 

officers to respect human rights just because a few don't get the 


  I challenge all members of this committee to visit the school before 

you take active action, such as this amendment, to close it. With all 

due respect, I know very few members here today, including Mr. Torres 

himself, have actually visited the School down at Fort Benning. If it's 

not possible for you to visit, Colonel Trumbel, the School's 

Commandant, is available to meet with any Member one on one here in 

Washington to discuss any and all concerns you may have. I ask that you 

please get the facts, investigate the school for yourself rather than 

relying on second-hand propaganda, before you vote to close this 


  What can we do here today to improve the school?

  The language in the bill regarding the School of the Americas takes 

major steps to address remaining concerns of Congress. I remind you 

that the bill as it currently stands denies all funds from the school 

until: First, the Secretary of Defense certifies the instruction and 

training provided by the school are fully consistent with training and 

doctrine provided to U.S. military personnel, especially regarding 

human rights, second, DOD and State have improved the guidelines for 

screening and admitting students to better avoid students with records 

of human rights violations, and third, DoD completes a comprehensive 

report on training activities of the School and an assessment of the 

performance of its graduates.

  These are very significant steps to improve any remaining problems. I 

ask that you support the very reasonable compromise language currently 

in the bill and oppose this amendment.

 Mr. YATES. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  I rise as a do-gooder to support the amendment.

  Mr. Chairman, American values are based on doing good for people. 

That is the purpose of this bill. This bill proposes to do good for the 

less fortunate people of the world and for less fortunate nations.

  My good friend, the gentleman from Nebraska [Mr. Bereuter], talked 

about reality. Reality is the story told by the gentleman from 

Massachusetts [Mr. McGovern] as to what happened in El Salvador at the 

hands of graduates from the School of the Americas. Reality is what was 

described by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Kucinich] as to what happened 

to his friends at the hands of graduates of the School of the Americas.

  The fact is that graduates of the school went forth to engage in 

activities that were totally inimical to the values of the people and 

of the Government of the United States.

  Sure, there are some students who are graduates who are good, but 

they are not the ones who were in power in the countries to which the 

graduates went.

  The impression is given that if you close the school, all training 

will stop. That is not true. All the universities in this country are 

available for training, and a course can be set forth that will permit 

this to be done.

  The fact is that this school has failed. Its record is one of 

failure. The record cannot be dismissed by saying that critics of that 

record are do-gooders.

  Mr. Chairman, I have a letter here that was received by the National 

Security Archives, the government library of George Washington 

University, dated July 17, 1997, fairly current, signed by the current 

Ambassador from the Embassy of Honduras. This is what he said:

       Thank you for your fax regarding the letter that was 

     distributed to Members of Congress quoting four Latin 

     Americans, including myself, on the issue of funding for the 

     School of the Americas.

       In that letter I am quoted extemporaneously. My statement 

     was geared toward the need to enhance the school's program to 

     deal with today's challenges, narco-terrorism, violation of 

     human rights, extreme poverty, suitable development, elements 

     I consider valid.

       Nevertheless, at the time I made that statement, I wasn't 

     aware of allegations or evidence of the school's programs 

     that led to violation of international human rights. 

     Otherwise, I would have mentioned my government and I deplore 

     any activities undertaken there or anywhere else that would 

     encourage officers to carry out violations of international 

     human rights norms.

       The negative effect of the school's academic programs have, 

     unfortunately, been felt in my country, where at least five 

     military officers trained in the school have been requested 

     to come before our courts for violation of human rights.

       The Honduran Government clearly does not condone any such 

     activities and is opposed to any academic program the school 

     had or has in that regard. I hope this letter clarifies our 


  So, Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment. There is still 

the opportunity for training of worthy students from the Latin American 

countries, and they should be given that opportunity for training, but 

not in the School of the Americas.

                              {time}  1545

  The record justifies the closing of that school.

  Mr. Chairman, I rise today to support the Torres-Yates-Foglietta 

amendment to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas.

  I want it to be clear that I do not oppose military to military, or 

civil military training, but, I believe the school has too many 

negative implications, baggage--as it were--to be an effective tool of 

U.S. foreign policy.

  I believe the school to be a relic of the cold war. It represents a 

severely outdated approach to a fragile region struggling to attain 

real democracy and civilian control of the military and should have 

been closed years ago.

  Some members have told me that the Latin American military respect 

our Armed Forces because of the work the school has done over the 


  Yes, but what about the civilian population of Central and South 

America. What about those civilians who refer to the school as the 

school of assassins. What do they think of the United States and our 

military assistance? Are we really fulfilling our national security and 

foreign policy objectives by alienating the civilian population of 

Latin America?

  I am proud of the young men and women serving in our Army, Navy, Air 

Force and Marine Corps. I am proud that their colleagues from Latin 

America think so highly of them. But, I do not see how closing the 

School of the Americas will diminish this respect.

  Closing the school will not put a halt to military contact between 

our Armed Forces and those of Latin America.

  In fact, I believe closing the school will allow for a more rounded 

education. One where the soldiers of Central and South American 

countries participate alongside their counterparts in the U.S. military 

in the full range of U.S. military training.

  Closing the school will allow the students to become exposed to the 

total American experience instead of being isolated in one region of 

our country.

  Additionally, these future leaders will be better prepared to work 

with, and more importantly communicate with, our military should we 

become engaged in joint military operations sometime in the future.

  It would send a clear message to the people of Latin America that we 

care about their civil and human rights and are trying to support their 


  In closing, although I have been an opponent of the school for many 

years, I have attempted to work with the Army and the Departments of 

State and Defense through the Foreign Operations Subcommittee to 

resolve the numerous complaints surrounding the curriculum at the 


  I wanted to come to some kind of positive resolution to this matter, 

but, in just the past year it has become very clear to me that my good 

faith efforts were to be unrewarded.

  The committee previously instructed the Secretary of Defense, in 

consultation with the Secretary of State, to prepare and submit to the 

Committees on Appropriations no later than January 15, 1997, a report 

on the School of Americas at Fort Benning, GA.

  Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, a few moments ago the gentleman from Ohio started out 

listing the who's who of human rights violators in the hemisphere, the 

school's roster of graduates. I would like to continue that for a 


[[Page H6746]]

  One hundred of 246 Columbian officers cited for war crimes by an 

international human rights tribunal in 1993; six Peruvian officers 

involved in the killings of 9 students and a professor in 1992; Colonel 

Julio Alpirez, linked to the cover-ups and the murders of Efrain Bamaca 

and United States citizen Michael DeVine in Guatemala; ranking officers 

in notorious Honduran Battalion 3-16; Argentina dictator Leopoldo 

Galtieri and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

  Let me just stop at this point and say to my colleagues on the other 

side of the aisle, I am absolutely surprised and appalled at the energy 

that they are expending to defend the School of the Americas.

  I do not know why those who posture themselves as law-and-order 

policymakers, I do not know why anybody who gets up time and again 

talking about how tough they are on crime and criminals and human 

rights violators, would expend so much time and energy defending this 

U.S. Army School of the Americas.

  We know the list of violators who have been the graduates of this 

school. How can we defend them? It is not enough to say, oh, some of 

them made mistakes, some of them were not right, some of them killed 

some people. What are Members talking about? We are talking about 

people who are trained in the School of the Americas who go back to 

these countries. They become our direct contacts. These are the ones we 

support. We support them in the leadership of those nations.

  I cannot believe that some of the Members have forgotten about Haiti 

already. We spent a lot of hours in this body about trying to right the 

wrongs of Haiti. It took a great threat by the President of the United 

States, ready to move in with our own military unless we got rid of the 

graduates of the School of the Americas: General Cedras, have Members 

forgotten him already? Have they forgotten Mr. Francois in Haiti, who 

headed the police force, a graduate of the School of the Americas?

  These two gentlemen, if they can be called that, in Haiti were the 

ones who built the airstrip where the drug runners were able to come in 

and bring their dope into Haiti to be shipped out to America and other 

places. These places on the globe that we are discussing are the 

locations for the transshipment of drugs right into the United States.

  The Congressional Black Caucus has made it absolutely clear that 

getting rid of drug trafficking and drugs is our number one priority. 

We do not take kindly to those who would call us do-gooders because we 

have decided that there must be, at some point in time, a real war on 


  Are Members not tired of the failure of this government to deal with 

drugs and the drugs that enter this country? Are Members not tired of 

the relationships we have with the Noriegas of the world? These become 

our partners in crime. Whether it is Noriega or Cedras or Francois, 

they were all supported by our government while they were dealing dope 

into our communities.

  We are sick and tired of you simply going out on the street corners 

of America locking up these young black and Latino males, and even 

white, with small amounts of drugs. We want to stop drugs and the big 

dope dealers, and those who are allowing their countries to be 

transshipment points to bring drugs into the United States. You cannot 

defend Noriega and Cedras and these graduates of the School of the 

Americas. These are dope dealers who we embraced, that we trained and 

sent back.

  What is wrong with the School of the Americas? Once they make the 

contact in this country they become our leaders. They become the people 

we rely on.

  The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentlewoman from California [Ms. 

Waters] has expired.

  (By unanimous consent, Ms. Waters was allowed to proceed for 1 

additional minute.)

  Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, we train them and we send them back. Then 

we rely on them. We support them. Guess what? Members cannot be 

concerned about drug dealing and drug trafficking as long as they are 

supporting the very ones who are dealing the dope back to us.

  When are we going to be serious about a war on drugs? Yes, we may be 

do-gooders over here, but we are do-gooders who are challenging Members 

to wake up and smell the roses and stop this nonsense, and get about 

the business of getting rid of drug traffickers. Get rid of the work 

and manuals and training of the School of the Americas, and that will 

go a long way toward getting rid of the real dope dealers in this 


  I challenge Members today to stop the nonsense of defense of a school 

that you can no longer defend. How can Members get up on the floor year 

in and year out and say they are going to do better, leave them alone 

for now, give them the American taxpayers' dollars.

  It is shameful, it is unconscionable, and Members need to stop it and 

support this amendment.

  Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 


  Mr. Chairman, while I have great respect for all of the opponents as 

well as the proponents of this amendment, let me say that most of the 

debate is not taking place on what the true issue is. I do not think 

there is anyone in this entire House, this entire body, that condones 

human rights violations. I do not think there is a single person on 

either side of this aisle or either side of this debate that agrees 

with some of the atrocities that took plac

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