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Congressional Record: August 3, 1999 (Extensions)
Page E1736

                          HON. BERNARD SANDERS

                               of vermont

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, August 3, 1999

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Speaker, I submit for printing in the Record 
statements by high school students from my home State of Vermont, who 
were speaking at my recent town meeting on issues facing young people 
today. I believe that the views of these young persons will benefit my 


                        U.S. Intelligence Issues

            (On behalf of Bethany Heywood and Laura Freeman)

       Bethany Heywood: How would you feel if a total stranger 
     demanded your money and wouldn't tell you what it was being 
     used for, but assured you it wouldn't be misused? Would you 
     trust this person? Of course not. But this is essentially 
     what the CIA does to the American taxpayer, and with their 
     track record, we certainly shouldn't trust them to use our 
     money properly.
       Taxpayers don't even know how much money the CIA receives, 
     although a rough estimate is $3.1 billion per year. In the 
     past, the CIA has used a substantial part of its budget to 
     finance covert operations, many of which we are just finding 
     out about. Details of covert operations aren't declassified 
     until decades after the actual event. Conveniently, by the 
     time a covert operation is disclosed, any public outrage that 
     might have erupted will have been squelched by the time 
       Whether they're in the past or not, some of the CIA's 
     actions have been inexcusable: Assassinations, attempted 
     assassinations, massive propaganda efforts to prevent 
     undesirable people from winning foreign elections, operations 
     to topple democratically elected foreign leaders from power, 
     internal spying on American citizens, extensive mind control 
     experiments conducted at universities, prisons and hospitals. 
     The list goes on and on. Are these activities the government 
     should be spending money on?
       Although the CIA is prohibited from engaging in 
     assassinations, attempts have been made to assassinate quite 
     a few foreign leaders. Some of the targets have been Castro, 
     DeGaulle, Khadafy, Khomeini and Hussein, just to name a few. 
     One of the CIA's supposed restrictions is that its limited to 
     intelligence operations on foreign soil only. Apparently, the 
     CIA has trouble discerning foreign soil from American soil, 
     because, in the 1970s, 300,000 Americans considered 
     potentially dangerous to national security were indexed in 
     the CIA computer. Citizens considered particularly dangerous 
     were place under surveillance, with bugs in their phones, 
     microphones in their bedrooms, or warrantless break-ins into 
     their homes.
       One way to stop the CIA's activities would be to cut CIA 
     funding so there isn't enough for covert operations. Right 
     now, the president can direct the CIA to undertake a covert 
     operation, and is advised to do so by the National Security 
     Counsel, or NSC. Members of the NSC are appointed by the 
     president. This does not represent a diversity of people and 
     ideas, because the president is going to pick people who will 
     agree with him. If the members of the NSC were democratically 
     elected, the abuse of power by a small group of like-minded 
     individuals could be stopped.
       Another way to make the decision of whether or not to go 
     ahead with the covert operation more democratically decided 
     would be to have congressional oversight. This might be seen 
     by some as too great a threat to CIA authority, but would 
     prevent unethical abuse of power.
       The problems with CIA covert operations and abuse of power 
     won't go away overnight, but steps can and should be taken to 
     limit and hopefully eliminate covert operations.
       Laura Freeman: I am speaking on the School of the Americas.
       Would you willingly arm a murderer? Would you support the 
     education of some of the worst human rights violators in this 
     hemisphere? Would you finance a school which trained its 
     graduates in the most effective ways to interrogate, 
     including torture, blackmail and execution?
       Whatever the answer of American citizens, every year, $20 
     million go from the taxpayers to a school that does exactly 
     these things. The School of the Americas, or SOA, was started 
     in Panama in 1946. Its original purpose was to train Latin 
     Americans in military techniques, which would allow them to 
     create stable democratic governments in Latin America, as 
     well as repress communist activities and revolutions.
       SOA students learn combat skills, military intelligence, 
     commando tactics, sniper training, torture techniques, and 
     psychological warfare. Most of the courses resolve around 
     what they call counterinsurgency, states Father Roy 
     Bourgeois, a priest who has dedicated his time to protesting 
     the SOA.
       Who are the insurgents? They are the poor. They are the 
     people in Latin America who call for reform. They are the 
     landless peasants who are hungry. They are healthcare 
     workers, human rights activists, labor organizers. They 
     become the insurgents. How do the graduates of the School of 
     the Americas use their skills? They murder priests and 
     archbishops, missionaries, and, perhaps worst of all, 
     civilians, their own people.
       With the advent of the SOA's move to Fort Benning, Georgia, 
     the school has become something we are less and less able to 
     disassociate from. As Father Bourgeois said: "We are talking 
     about a school of assassins right here in our backyard, being 
     supported by our tax money. It's being done in our name."
       What can we do to clear our name of this stain? The answer 
     is simple: Close the School of the Americas. We must act to 
     save the lives of people all over Latin America. To quote 
     Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero, "We who have a voice, 
     we have to speak for the voiceless."


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