WHINSEC vs. Lawmakers

It is called the WHINSEC Transparency Amendment.

In what might have been an effort to help DoD’s beleaguered international school, lawmakers struck a deal to keep the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation flush with cash: Back off from funding cuts and we’ll get the names of WHINSEC students, staff, and faculty released to the public.

Faustian Bargain? You bet. Those close to the matter will tell you this is a deal with the devil.

The sponsor of the funding bill jumped over and sponsored the name release amendment. Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern was joined by Pennsylvania’s Rep. John Lewis and Georgia’s Rep. Sanford Bishop, whose district is home to WHINSEC and its post at Fort Benning, Ga.

Get this: Sanford, who makes himself out to be a big WHINSEC supporter, did not warn school officials or DoD of the move, we’re told.

According to the amendment, H.AMDT.263 to H.R.2647 provides for the release of student, faculty, and staff names, something WHINSEC has long opposed. Privacy issues aside, those close to the matter are concerned for the safety of students and offer the well-publicized murders of numerous Mexican law enforcement and counterdrug officials as caution. It is believed these officials were killed off lists not unlike those at WHINSEC.

Certain groups believe the school and its students have been involved in human rights violations and have been pushing for the release of personal information for some time. Many of these fringe activist groups cling to well-worn rhetoric and baseless rumors. (This tendency is not news, but many blameless suffer.)
The amendment passed the House, and there is no known companion piece of legislation in the Senate. But a deal (Faustian or otherwise) could be struck in committee, which would be a major blow to the school.

One WHINSEC associate has taken the pragmatic approach: Why not release the information for all DoD schools? And why stop there? Release the names for all U.S. government schools that train foreign students.

He has a point.

Note: Having worked closely with WHINSEC (and thus the school’s detractors) for several years, it is unfortunate this small boutique of mid-level learning has become a scapegoat. (Did you know they trained bin Laden there?) It is a valuable school, yet it fights for survival each year. Is this one of many passion plays for public display? Easy fodder for lawmakers on white steeds?

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