the green fields beyond


Location: Charles City, Virginia, United States

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, winter 1993)

On the domed ceiling God
is thinking:
I made them my joy,
and everything else I created
I made to bless them.
But see what they do!
I know their hearts
and arguments:

"We're descended from
Cain. Evil is nothing new,
so what does it matter now
if we shell the infirmary,
and the well where the fearful
and rash alike must
come for water?"

God thinks Mary into being.
Suspended at the apogee
of the golden dome,
she curls in a brown pod,
and inside her the mind
of Christ, cloaked in blood,
lodges and begins to grow.

--Jane Kenyon

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

More on the SOA

Follow-up to my post of a couple weeks back...some of you had asked for more information about the School of the Americas, particularly information from sources other than the (sometimes-shrill) SOA Watch folks.

Not everything that the SOA does is 100% bad, of course. They've trained Latin American officers in all kinds of useful skills that will help their countries. And it is also true that, under pressure from protesters and from Congress, the school has recently made changes. Problem, though: the new "human rights" classes are almost all OPTIONAL, while the counterinsurgency/interrogation/etc classes (85% of the curriculum) are NOT optional. Funny, eh?

Some of you have asked about the "a few bad apples" possibility. You're right that people can take anything to an extreme. There are bad apples in every barrel. I wish that were the case here. But hundreds of SOA graduates have been deeply implicated in murder and torture and all kinds of abuses. They've been convicted by local courts, by U.S. courts, by international courts. At some point we have to say, "maybe their training had something to do with this."....especially when some of them have testified that they learned all their methods at the SOA. If you want to see some of the manuals that were used at the SOA and in other training areas, you can read about them and even download them here: (that site is an independent, nonpartisan database sponsored by George Washington University. As you scroll down, notice that even when the Secretary of Defense--who is now our Vice President--and other high-ranking officials learned of the manuals, they made no changes).

One problem is that the SOA trains these officers to see people who speak against their governments in black/white, "enemy" terms. They're not trained to see much distinction between, say, a Marxist rebel terrorist and a newspaper editor who wants to bring land reform to a corrupt system. Both of them are treated as the enemy.

If you want more info from non-SOA Watch sources, check these out:
This is a transcript of a PBS Newshour report...well worth reading. It gives the Army a chance to give their side of the story, it addresses the "a few bad apples" issue, and it includes testimony from former instructors at the school.
That page features lots of good info, including quotations from Senators, Congressmen, and others who have tried to close the school.

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