Some questions not always answered

Zach Nebben

Zach Nebben

When I walked into Rotunda A last Tuesday evening with the intention of listening to a lecture by Lt. Col. Robert Fausti, I turned into an unintended participant in a debate that, if left unsupervised, would surely have turned into a massacre in its own right.

Lt. Col. Fausti spoke about a government program known as WHINSEC, which has loose ties to a now debunked program, know as the School of the Americas, or SOA.

For some of you that are unfamiliar with the SOA, here is a brief synopsis: the SOA issued military training to elected participants from other countries. Some former graduates of the SOA were held partially accountable for a massacre, among other things, in South America. The SOA was dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up in 2000, after which the program had changed to the current incarnation, WHINSEC.

A lecture was presented by Fausti, and a debate ensued afterward in which certain members of the audience felt it to be their civic duty to call out, so to speak, the lieutenant on the issues surrounding the SOA, even though he had no connections with the organization. The debate was followed with what appeared to be a propaganda film depicting mass graves and slaughtered humans with the apparent intention of turning the crowd against WHINSEC, and henceforth, Lt. Col. Fausti. The presenter of the film tried to reassure the crowd that the video’s intentions were to comment on the United States’ foreign policy, but I failed to see the connection.

I know that living in South Dakota means limited access to asking questions and pursuing truths, but what did some of you expect to happen? This was a presentation by a guest to the school that was attended by roughly 50 people. Did anyone really expect to witness some revolutionary confession? Were people actually assuming that a high-ranking Army official was going to start speaking openly and honestly about possibly classified government policies while in Brookings?

The lieutenant was open and honest about WHINSEC, the program which he is associated with, and did his best to cope with interrogation about a program in which he had no involvement.

I can only wonder if some of these people sit around and wait for whatever potentially controversial topic presents itself to start crucifying everything and everyone in sight. Or maybe worse. Maybe these people have been waiting for this particular issue to bring itself to SDSU and this was their only chance for answers. If the latter is the case, it is a shame that your questions were not answered to their fullest extent. Maybe next year you will have better luck and a top member of the FBI will come to give a presentation and tell us all who shot JFK.