Editor, The Times:
Many thanks to Lily Eng and The Times for a splendid portrayal of Father William Bichsel, S.J., and the valiant nonviolent effort to shut down the notorious assassination-training facility euphemistically named the U.S. Army School of the Americas ("Paying the price for protest," March 31).
Bichsel and his fellow activists are right in their statements of outrage and in their expressions of resistance to this infamous "school." The U.S. Army would have us believe that the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been dumped into this despicable institution are bolstering democracy and spreading good will.
Sadly, horrifically, this is not the case. Thanks to the nonviolent witness of Bichsel and others, the grim reality behind the Army's duplicitous smoke screen is becoming more broadly known.
According to the Army's own "Information Paper," the School of the Americas has supplied "professional military education and training" to many countries including Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Uruguay. Given the human-rights violations committed by these countries, not to mention the outright overthrow 25 years ago of Chile's democratically elected government by the Chilean military, one can only recoil at the glaring failure of the school's "democratic" intentions.
The primary intent was and is to provide a proficient police force that can be relied upon to protect the investments of
American-based companies that are now truly trans-national in scope.
It is time to lock the doors on the School of the Americas. If we as a nation really wanted to instill in ourselves and our neighbors a sense of decency, justice and real human caring and understanding, I would suggest that we listen carefully and respectfully to the likes of (the Rev.) William Bichsel and observe his exemplary life's patterns of selflessness and service to others.
How disconcerting and ironic it is that it is Bichsel and not so many of the warped graduates of Fort Benning who will likely be placed in detention. Carry on Bix. Your simple truth puts the mighty to shame.
Joe Martin Seattle