Kennedy With a Cause

Joseph P. Kennedy II wouldn't claim to be one of his presidential uncle Jack's "profiles in courage." But the Massachusetts congressman is a profile in persistence, as citizens hope that representatives with a just cause will be. In this case the Kennedy cause is to prevent his country from training other countries' soldiers in murder, torture, and extortion.

Manuals on such tactics, which violate US policy, were used for training Latin American soldiers at the US Army's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. The manuals were discontinued five years ago, and the Defense Department has tried to explain their use on such grounds as that US military officials did not know about them, they were only in Spanish, and they were not properly reviewed.

Mr. Kennedy's staff found these points untrue in an investigation he prudently did not stop after the Pentagon investigated itself. His report last week speaks of "gross negligence" and concludes accountability must be established to prevent similar wrongs.

America will never know all the victims of the kind of US training materials that the report exposes and that Kennedy's proposed legislation would prohibit. He has called for the School of the Americas to be closed, and so it should be unless it has now redeemed itself and will stick to the crack legitimate military training the US is able to share - including, crucially, a grasp of the military's subordination to civilian authority within a democracy.

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