Know your candidates

Via Body and Soul, I see that Wesley Clark is quite the supporter of the School of the Americas (now known as the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation”).

For those of you spent more time during the eighties thinking about about sippy cups and building blocks than the latest news of massacres in El Salvador and Nicaragua, here’s a brief refresher on the School of the Assassins:

Over its 56 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 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 a 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 forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.

And here’s what Clark has to say about this symbol of American secret wars and covert intervention, at which, during the 1980s, insurgents were trained in techniques of execution, blackmail, kidnapping and torture:

“There’s been a lot of rotten people who’ve gone to a lot of rotten schools in the history of the world,” Clark said. “And a lot of them went to this school. But a lot of them have gone to Harvard Business School and a lot of other places.”

Back to Body and Soul (click through for all the links):

By no means do I want to hang the Post’s stupidity on Clark. He does a far better job ofdefending the school himself, arguing that while it has indeed produced a lot of nasty graduates, that doesn’t mean that they learned their dark skills here — an argument fairly close to the Post’s, but without the xenophobic undercurrent.

Still, that’s a hard argument to accept when, according to a study by Kate McCoy of the University of Wisconsin, “students who took multiple courses at the School were almost four times more likely to violate [human rights] than their counterparts who took only one course. … greater exposure to the School of the Americas training makes trainees more likely to engage in human rights violations …” What’s more, in 1996 the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school from 1987 and 1991 that advocated torture, blackmail, false imprisonment, and suppression of democratic dissident movements. The kind of people who attended the School of the Americas may have already had a propensity for thuggish behavior, but it’s clear whatever innate talents they had were polished and perfected at the SOA.

I am very much in the ABB (Anybody but Bush) camp this year, but I find this extremely disturbing.

here’s Clark’s statement on the SOA.

…a reader defends Clark:

My irritation with the issue being so imprortant to some against Clark basically falls along the following line.
1. He tried to get the US to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda
2. He was key in negotiating the Dayton Peace Accord
3. He didn’t stone wall or block the investigation or release of records about SOA during his tenure as SOUCOM
4. A course on the role of Civilian and Military Leadership in a constitutional democracy was added during his tenure.
5. He organized an intervention that put a stop to the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans (Kosovars consider the man a hero, Republicans consider him a traitor)
6. He openly advocates and argues for the International Criminal Court

So my point is basically if you look at his actions over the last decade you see a man that has fought for humanitarian rights and international law every chance he had. But he also has made a statement supporting a school that is not popular with many people on the left. Which outweighs the other?