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, 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]
(By unanimous consent, Mr. Torres was allowed to proceed for 1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BARR of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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