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SOAW Media Release: School of Americas Watch vs. U.S. Department of Defense
School of the Americas activists will appear in U.S. Federal Court on February 13 on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the U.S. Department of Defense to disclose the names and military units of foreign students and instructors attending the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, a U.S. military training school located at Fort Benning, Georgia, at U.S. taxpayer expense.
SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS WATCH SAN FRANCISCO
For Immediate Release
February 7, 2013
Contact: Michael Bass
SOA Watch San Francisco
510.654.5355 or 510.432.2555
michaelbass84 [at] gmail.com
School of the Americas Watch vs. U.S. Department of Defense
Human rights activists petition court to have DOD release
names of students of infamous U.S. military training school.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
9:00 AM Court Session with Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton
U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 3, 1301 Clay Street (at 14th St.)
The attorneys and plaintiffs will be available for interviews following the hearing.
San Francisco residents and School of the Americas Watch activists, Judith Liteky and Theresa Cameranesi, will appear in U.S. Federal Court on February 13 on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the U.S. Department of Defense to disclose the names and military units of foreign students and instructors attending the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, a U.S. military training school located at Fort Benning, Georgia, at U.S. taxpayer expense.
The School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Since its establishment in 1946, the school has trained 64,000 soldiers and police personnel. The school's courses include counter insurgency techniques, sniper training, psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. The school's graduates are continually implicated in human rights atrocities across Latin America.
SOA Watch is an independent, grassroots movement that provides citizen oversight of U.S. military training given to Latin American military and police personnel at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media, legal and legislative work, the movement works in solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean for human rights, economic justice, and democracy.
The U.S. Department of Defense has denied Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests by School of the Americas Watch for the names of WHINSEC students and instructors for the years 2004-2010. For the years 1946-2003 the names had always been released when requested. The names are the basis of the SOA Watch database and the means of citizen oversight of the record of SOA/WHINSEC graduates. (See: http://www.soaw.org/about-the-soawhinsec/soawhinsec-grads)
Plaintiff Theresa Cameranesi is a member of the School of the Americas Watch Council. She is also a member of the SOA Watch Legislative Working Group and is active in advocating for Congressional investigation of the human rights records of graduates of SOA and WHINSEC. As part of the SOA Watch San Francisco Research Group, she and plaintiff Judith Liteky identified students and instructors at WHINSEC who were admitted for training even though they had been charged with human rights violations.
Plaintiff Judith Liteky has been active with School of the Americas Watch since its founding in 1990 in response to the massacre in San Salvador at the University of Central America. On the night of November 16, 1989, a Salvadoran Army patrol entered the University campus and massacred six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Nineteen of the military officers cited for this atrocity had received training at the US Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The SOA Watch plaintiffs will be represented by attorneys Duffy Carolan and Kent Spriggs.
Duffy Carolan is a partner with the San Francisco firm Davis Wright Tremaine. Attorney Carolan was recently honored by her peers as San Francisco’s Lawyer of the Year in Litigation – First Amendment cases. She has also received the James Madison Freedom of Information Award, a Bay Area honor given to individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the advancement of freedom of expression, particularly freedom of information and open government.
Kent Spriggs is the principal in Spriggs Law Firm, Tallahassee, Florida. Attorney Spriggs has represented individuals in civil rights actions, the majority in class actions. He also works in the field of international human rights, including representing those illegally detained at Guantánamo Bay, and assisted in the analysis of U.S. money used to destabilize sovereign Latin American democracies. He has been a human rights observer in El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Chile as well as Palestine and Afghanistan.
The Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Violation of Freedom of Information Act was filed on Feb. 6, 2012. See http://soaw.org/category-table/3868-pentagon-secrecy
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