Sunday, February 20, 2005

Stop Negroponte's Confirmation

W. has nominated John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence. He'll oversee fifteen different intelligence agencies. Unbelievable. Of course, his being nominated, and confirmed, as ambassador to Iraq, and to the UN before that, was equally as astounding, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

This is the guy who was the ambassador to Honduras in 1981. To refresh you memory, here's the way the Guardian summarizes his role in that particularly dark chapter of American history;

...To his detractors, he is tainted by his time between 1981 and 1985 in Honduras, a country that was being used as a launchpad for the illegal US-backed war waged by the contras against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Honduran military was accused of taking part in torture and extra-judicial killings.

Had Mr. Negroponte reported this to the US Congress, military aid to the country could have been suspended and their cooperation in the war on the Sandinistas might thus have ended.

The Baltimore Sun re-investigated the US actions there in 1995. One former Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the paper that the attitude of Mr. Negroponte and other US officials at the time was "one of tolerance and silence".

"They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed."

For their cooperation with the US, the Honduran government had its military aid increased from $4m to $77m a year. Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch has accused Mr Negroponte of "looking the other way when serious atrocities were committed".
The Baltimore Sun series should be required reading for every member of the Senate before the confirmation hearings. It appears that Mr. Negroponte was not just "looking the other way";

...A dangerous truth confronted John Dimitri Negroponte as he prepared to take over as U.S. ambassador to Honduras late in 1981.

The military in Honduras -- the country from which the Reagan administration had decided to run the battle for democracy in Central America -- was kidnapping and murdering its own citizens.

"GOH [Government of Honduras] security forces have begun to resort to extralegal tactics -- disappearances and, apparently, physical eliminations ` to control a perceived subversive threat," Negroponte was told in a secret briefing book prepared by the embassy staff.

The assertion was true, and there was worse to come.

Time and again during his tour of duty in Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was confronted with evidence that a Honduran army intelligence unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and killing suspected subversives...

...The Honduran press was full of reports about military abuses, including hundreds of newspaper stories in 1982 alone. There were also direct pleas from Honduran officials to U.S. officials, including Negroponte.

A disgruntled former Honduran intelligence chief publicly denounced Battalion 316 (a Honduran death squad). Relatives of the battalion's victims demonstrated in the streets and appealed to U.S. officials for intervention, including once in an open letter to President Reagan's presidential envoy to Central America.

Rick Chidester, then a junior political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, told The Sun that he compiled substantial evidence of abuses by the Honduran military in 1982, but was ordered to delete most of it from the annual human rights report prepared for the State Department to deliver to Congress.

Those reports consistently misled Congress and the public.

"There are no political prisoners in Honduras," the State Department asserted falsely in its 1983 human rights report.
That's not "looking the other way." And it's not "misleading" the public. It is telling lies to keep both the money and the blood flowing.

Here's another curious point to ponder;

...According to the Los Angeles Times, shortly after Negroponte’s nomination (as ambassador to the UN) was decided, the U.S. government revoked the visa of General Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, who was Honduras’ deputy ambassador to the UN. General Discua was the commander of the Battalion during Negroponte’s tenure as ambassador. He has publicly claimed to have information linking Negroponte with the battalion’s activities. His testimony would be invaluable in illuminating Negroponte’s collusion with Honduran opponents on Capitol Hill. In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses...
Sounds like someone's got something to hide.

When he was confirmed as ambassador to Iraq, the vote was 95-3; only Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa, Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Richard Durbin of Illinois voted against him. Unbelievable.

Here are a few quotes from Democrats on the Negroponte choice. When did they lose their spines?

Send the Baltimore Sun series to your Senator. Let's remind the Senate what kind of man W. has chosen to run the country's new secret police.


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