Help Defeat John Negroponte's Confirmation
Thu Feb 17, 2005 18:32



Help Defeat John Negroponte's Confirmation as Ambassador to the U.N!

[For more information, contact NISGUA at 202-518-7638, e-mail:  or the Nicaragua Network at 202-544-9355, e-mail:]

The Bush Administration recently nominated former Honduran ambassador John Negroponte as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, despite his notoriety for having played a key role in the CIA-sponsored terrorism of Hondurans during the Nicaraguan Contra War. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled Negroponte's confirmation hearing for next Thursday, September 6. In spite of the recent shift to Democratic leadership in the Senate, Negroponte's confirmation seems likely without a strong grassroots message to the committee against that confirmation. In fact, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has publicly announced that Negroponte's confirmation is "a done deal." Biden made this announcement despite the fact that neither he nor most of the Senators poised to confirm Negroponte's confirmation have read the largely classified 1997 CIA Inspector General's 211-page report entitled "Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980's," which details Negroponte's intentional cover-up of human rights abuses in Honduras. Senators and staff with security clearance can read the report in its entirety. The Democratic Senators on the Committee wrote the President asking for that document. It is absolutely critical that each Senator read and consider the entire report before approving Negroponte's confirmation.

It is imperative that you contact the offices of all Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee and deluge them with faxes and calls registering our dismay at Negroponte's nomination.

This is not yet a lost cause!

The Nicaragua Network and the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) plan to attend the hearing as well as fax and call the offices every day from now through next Thursday. We ask that you join us in bombarding the Foreign Relations Committee Senators with faxes detailing some of the difficult questions Senators should be asking of Negroponte (see our fax sample questions below). In addition, we encourage anyone who can do so to either visit one of the Senators' home offices for an appointment or distribute leaflets out in front. Of course other creative protest ideas are welcome, including civil disobedience. Negroponte's nomination is an outrage, but sadly, it is likely to pass through with minimal resistance UNLESS YOU AS CONSTITUENTS DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Joseph Biden (D),< DE, Chair (fax 202-224-0139, phone 202-224-5042),

Paul Sarbanes (D), < MD (fax 202-224-1651, phone 202-224-4524),

Christopher Dodd (D), < CT (fax 202-224-1083, phone 202-224-2823),

John Kerry (D), < MA (fax 202-224-8525, phone 202-224-2742),

Russell Feingold (D), < WI (fax 202-224-2725, phone 202-224-5323),

Paul Wellstone (D), < MN (fax 202-224-8438, phone 202-224-5641),

Barbara Boxer (D), < CA (fax 202-228-1338, phone 202-224-3553),

Robert Torricelli (D), < NJ (fax 202-224-8567, phone 202-224-3224),

Richard Lugar (R), < IN (fax 202-228-0360, phone 202-224-4814),

Charles Hagel (R), < NE (fax 202-224-5213, phone 202-224-4224),

Gordon Smith (R), < OR (fax 202-228-3997, phone 202-224-3753),

Sam Brownback(R),< (fax 202-228-1265, phone 202-224-6521),

Craig Thomas (R), < WY (fax 202-224-1724, phone 202-224-6441),

William Frist (R), < TN (fax 202-228-1264, phone 202-224-3344),

Lincoln Chafee (R), < RI (fax 202-228-2853, phone 202-224-2921)

Jesse Helms (R), NC (fax 202-228-1339, phone 202-224-6342).


1. What did Negroponte know about the activities of and human rights violations carried out by Battalion 316?

As Ambassador, Negroponte should have been well aware of the rampant human rights violations being committed by Battalion 316 during his tenure in office. Countless personal and written appeals for help from relatives of the disappeared were directed to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Former Honduran Congressman Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga spoke several times about the military's abuses directly to Negroponte. Almost every day, Honduran newspapers published stories about the military's violence as well as full-page ads with pictures of the missing. In 1982 alone, at least 318 stories were published about military abuses, some directly naming Alvarez. Relatives of Battalion 316's victims marched by the hundreds through Tegucigalpa demanding the return of the missing. In August 1982, at a packed press conference in Mexico City, ousted intelligence chief for the Honduran armed forces Colonel Leonidas Torres Arias described Battalion 316 as "a death squad operating in Honduras that was being led by armed forces chief, General Gustavo Alvarez."

If Negroponte was unaware of these rampant human rights violations, then he failed one of his key duties as ambassador - to provide relevant and up-to-date information to the U.S. Congress and the public regarding the situation in Honduras. If he was aware of these violations and failed to inform Congress of them, he violated his legal duty under the Foreign Assistance Act.

2. Given that Negroponte must have been aware that rampant human rights violations were taking place in Honduras in the early 1980s, considering the hundreds of press reports, demonstrations outside the U.S. embassy, and petitions from Honduran officials and families of the disappeared, why did no mention of these human rights violations ever appear in State Department Human Rights reports for Honduras during his tenure as ambassador?

Rick Chidester, a junior Embassy Official under Negroponte, reported to the Baltimore Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive gathering of human rights violations from his 1982 State Department report.

3. Given hundreds of press reports, demonstrations outside the U.S. embassy, and petitions from Honduran officials and families of the disappeared, what concrete actions did Negroponte take to prevent human rights violations?

During John Negroponte's tenure as Ambassador to Honduras, there is evidence that at least one CIA operative based out of the Honduran Embassy, known as "Mr. Mike," participated in the torture of Honduran Ines Consuelo Murillo. According to the 1997 CIA Inspector General's report, as well as CIA cables, the CIA agent advised the Hondurans to use "temporal disorientation" and "exploit [Murillo] to the point of exhaustion." This CIA agent had full access to the secret detention facility that held not only Murillo but also other disappeared Hondurans. At the time of Murillo's detention, Battalion 316's jails were off-limits to Honduran officials, including judges and lawyers seeking to find kidnap victims under Honduran habeas corpus laws. Despite such unfettered access by Embassy personnel, the Embassy did nothing to prevent or stop the torture of Murillo and others.

4. If Negroponte misled Congress regarding the human rights situation in Honduras, how can he credibly represent the United States on matters of human rights at the United Nations?

The State Department human rights report on Honduras for 1983 reported "there are no political prisoners in Honduras." These reports, which were prepared under the direct supervision of Ambassador Negroponte, misrepresented the extent of the Honduran military's rampant human rights violations, only rarely citing specific abuses carried out by the Honduran armed forces. At the time, the Foreign Assistance Act required that the U.S. Embassy in Honduras submit accurate human rights reports to Congress. These reports were meant to indicate whether or not the Honduran military had been engaging in a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations; if so, then Congress would have been obligated to halt provision of further military aid to Honduras.

5. Given that Negroponte is so closely identified with Cold War policies and ideology, is he the right person to lead US efforts to establish new patterns of relationship in the 21st Century?

According to Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington and a top authority on covert U.S. involvement in Latin America, "[Negroponte's] activities in support of the illicit contra war operations and disregard for repression by the Honduran military run directly counter to the purposes and principles of the United Nations."

Background on John Negroponte

The New York Times credits John Negroponte with "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua" during his tenure as US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 and 1985. After Congress banned official governmental aid to the Contras, Negroponte undermined Congressional intent by providing logistical support for two U.S. mercenaries determined to supply arms to the Contra army. When the operation was exposed nine months later, the Reagan administration denied any U.S. government involvement, despite Negroponte's contact earlier that year. Other documents reveal a scheme of Negroponte and Vice President George Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government. During his tenure alone, military aid to Honduras grew from $4 million to $77.4 million a year.

In addition to his work with the Nicaraguan Contra army, Negroponte deliberately falsified State Department human rights reports throughout his time in Honduras. He helped conceal from Congress the murder, kidnapping and torture abuses of a CIA-equipped and trained Honduran military unit, Battalion 316. In fact, there is strong evidence that under Negroponte's leadership, at least one CIA agent had unfettered access to the torture chamber of a prominent Honduran woman kidnapped by Battalion 316. Instead of reporting her whereabouts to family and the proper Honduran judicial authorities, the agent actively collaborated in her torture by reviewing her torturers' questions and suggesting lines of interrogation. No mention of these human rights violations ever appeared in State Department Human Rights reports for Honduras.

There is ample evidence that Negroponte was fully aware of Battalion 316's human rights violations. The Baltimore Sun reports that Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga, then a delegate in the Honduran Congress, told the Sun that he complained to Negroponte on numerous occasions about the Honduran military's human rights abuses without result. Rick Chidester, a junior Embassy Official under Negroponte, similarly reported to the Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive gathering of human rights violations from his 1982 State Department report. In 1996, Negroponte's predecessor Jack Binns exposed Negroponte for having lied when, in 1982, he claimed to have no knowledge of the disappearance of over 32 Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who had fled to Honduras in 1981. Binns reported that in 1982 the U.S. Embassy was fully aware that the women had been tortured and killed by the Honduran secret police. General Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, commander of Battalion 316 during Negroponte's tenure, has publicly claimed to have information linking Negroponte with Battalion 316's activities. In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses.

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CLICK: News results for CIA John Negroponte - View today's top stories
Negroponte Selected As Intelligence Chief - ABC News - 46 minutes ago
AP: Negroponte to be first intelligence czar - Chicago Tribune (subscription) - 7 hours ago


CFR Meetings
Meeting. June 03, 2003, New York, NY. "A Conversation with John Negroponte". ...


... John Dimitri Negroponte, Bush's choice for US ambassador to the ... Negroponte, the son
of a Greek-American shipping magnate, was born in London in 1939 ...

Negroponte, the son of a Greek-American shipping magnate, was born in London in 1939, graduated from Yale, and entered the Foreign Service in 1960. From 1971 to 1973, Negroponte was the officer-in-charge for Vietnam at the National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger. In 1987, during the administration of George Bush the elder, Negroponte returned to the NSC to work under Colin Powell as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. Within two years, he was back in Latin America; Bush appointed Negroponte ambassador to Mexico, where he served from July 1989 to September 1993. There, he officiated at the block-long, fortified embassy and directed, among other things, U.S. intelligence services to assist the war against the Zapatista rebels of Chiapas.

But it was during his tour as ambassador to Honduras that Negroponte earned his reputation for being soft on human rights abuses. From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to Honduras, where he helped prosecute the contra war against Nicaragua and helped strengthen the military dictatorship in Honduras. Under the helm of General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez, Honduras's military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was disappearing dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion. Negroponte's predecessor, Ambassador Jack Binns, had repeatedly warned Washington to take a stand to stop the killings. In one cable, Binns reported that General Alvarez was modeling his campaign against suspected subversives on Argentina's "dirty war" in the 1970s. Indeed, Argentine military advisers were in Honduras, both advising Alvarez's armed forces and assembling and training a contra army to fight in Nicaragua. President Reagan responded by removing Binns and putting in Negroponte, who, writes Eric Alterman in an piece, "turned a deliberate blind eye to a murderous pattern of political killings."

On Negroponte's watch, diplomats quipped that the embassy's annual human rights reports made Honduras sound more like Norway than Argentina. Former official Rick Chidester, who served under Negroponte, says he was ordered to remove all mention of torture and executions from the draft of his 1982 report on the human rights situation in Honduras. In a 1982 letter to The Economist, Negroponte wrote that it was "simply untrue to state that death squads have made their appearance in Honduras." The Country Report on Human Rights Practices that the embassy submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took the same line, insisting that there were "no political prisoners in Honduras" and that the "Honduran government neither condones nor knowingly permits killings of a political or nonpolitical nature."

Yet, according to a four-part series in the Baltimore Sun, in 1982 alone the Honduran press ran 318 stories of murders and kidnappings by the Honduran military. In a 1995 series, Sun reporters Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson detailed the activities of a secret CIA-t

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