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Joined by an Articulate Teenager —
Delegates Say 'Close
The School of Assassins'

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• Page One:
Delegates Tell Congress to Get Real (Introduction)

• Page Two:
No More NAFTAs! Lobbying Against Fast Track and FTAA

• Page Three:
Delegates Cheer Congressional Allies

• Page Four:
Defending Public Education

• Page Five: 
Delegates (and an Articulate Teenager) Demand Closing School of Assasins

• Page Six:
Conference Photo


• Read the issues briefings conference delegates received in Political Action ...

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Sen. Rick Santorum defends fast-track negotiating authority; Local 683 Pres. Charles Tangle grimaces. Pictured from left are Tangle, Santorum and Ron Rice.

According to the conventional wisdom, the sometimes surly junior Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, cannot be out-argued. Tell that to Ian Thompson.

The 19-year-old high school senior did just that when a District Six delegation visited the acid-tongued Republican during lobbying on Capitol Hill. Thompson, the son of Local 690 Vice Pres. John Thompson, challenged the Senator’s support of the discredited and renamed U.S. Army School of the Americas.

Sen. Santorum stopped by as a UE delegation met with an aide — who had indicated her boss was unavailable. He quickly clashed with delegates over fast track authority. UE members maintained that their interests would not be well-served if Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility on trade deals. There was no agreement.

Then Ian Thompson asked a question about the infamous School of the Americas (SOA). "I’d like to know why you support this school that has brought such suffering to the people of South America," the student asked. Sen. Santorum, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested the SOA is in "our national interests."

"I don’t view murder and rape and massacre as being in our interests," Thompson responded. A discussion ensued. Arguing with conviction and full command of the facts, the articulate young man forced the Senator into a hasty retreat from his office.


U.S. Rep. Gerald Kleczka (D., Wis.) meets with Milwaukee UE members; from right, Bob Granum, Tim Burznyksi and Al Harhay. This will be the last political action conference for Harhay, a veteran attendee; he retires later this year.

Donna Cramer, District Six political action co-chair (along with the elder Thompson), singled the teenager for praise during the wrap-up session of the Political Action Conference. Hailing him as "a young man with dedication," Cramer noted that Thompson also forced an aide to Rep. Melissa Hart (R., Pa.) to "back right off" on the SOA issue.

Thompson, who was attending his third political action conference with his father, was arrested last November during protests at the SOA. With the help of UE artist Gary Huck, he produced a series of "Wall of Shame" posters depicting graduates of the SOA and their crimes against their citizens. He’ll be attending Pennsylvania State University in the fall, with Latin American Studies as a major.

UE has urged the closure of the SOA, now renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation." A combat training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Ga., the SOA has trained over 60,000 military personnel in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage war against their own people. Among those especially targeted by SOA graduates are union organizers, educators, religious workers and others who work for the rights of the poor.

Many UE delegations raised the question of the SOA in their meetings with lawmakers.

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