Now SOA opponents are concerned again — about the record of SOA graduates from Colombia, where there is a growing U.S. presence that officials claim is related to a war on drugs. Critics worry about U.S. intervention against the guerrilla movement there.
Half of the 247 Colombian army officers cited for human-rights abuses by an international consortium of rights organizations are SOA alumni.
There’s a long way to go before those who would like to see the SOA closed down get their way. Walser says that the House vote sends a strong message to the Senate, so the September vote on the Foreign Operations bill could cut training funds. That doesn’t mean, though, that the Pentagon couldn’t find the money elsewhere. And the training money is only a fraction of the SOA’s total budget. But Walser sees the recent vote as redefining the debate.