The U.S. congress passed legislation Wednesday allowing the families and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue sponsors of terrorism—specifically Saudi Arabia—overriding President Barack Obama's veto, which was based on the possibility of exposing the U.S. government to similar lawsuits.
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But Obama's fears of lawsuits are well-founded, seeing that there is hard evidence showing the U.S. government's role in providing funds and military training for terrorism across Latin America over the past century.
The U.S. School of the Americas, initially created for anti-communist purposes during the Cold War, is a perfect example of U.S.-sponsored terrorism. The military training institute has been termed “the School of Assassins” for training personnel involved in human rights abuses throughout Latin America.
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According to SOA Watch, an organization that compiles data about SOA's operations, “Since 1946, the SOA has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics."
“These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, 'disappeared,' massacred, and displaced by those trained at the School of Assassins,” SOA Watch continued.
Among the school's most famous graduates are several dictators responsible for the greatest atrocities in the history of Latin America, including Argentine General Jorge Rafael Videla; Guatemalan General Efrain Rios Montt, who seized power in a coup in 1982; Guatemala's Otto Perez Molina, head of the G-2 military intelligence and on the payroll of the CIA; Bolivia's General Hugo Banzer Suarez, who seized power in a violent coup in 1971; among many many more.
Despite a shocking human rights abuse record, the School of the Americas continues to operate as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation since 2001, when it was forced to change its name due to national and international pressure for its closure.
Yet “the approach taken by the department of defense is not grounded in any critical assessment of the training, procedures, performance, or results (consequences) of the training program it copies,” warned SOA Watch. “Further, it ignores congressional concern and public outcry over the SOA’s past and present link to human rights atrocities.”
The SOA is not the only U.S. institution supporting violent coups and state terror in Latin America.
In May, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed another batch of documents showing how the NSA offered tailored training to staff on national security issues in Latin America in an effort to steer the region toward U.S. interests.
Evidence also showed how Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported Honduras' violent coup as Secretary of State in 2009.
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