Negroponte: a Rogue for all SeasonsSun Feb 20, 2005 19:47126.96.36.199
Negroponte: Nominee for Baghdad Embassy, a Rogue for all Seasons
· Negroponte pressed Powell to pressure Chile’s and Mexico’s weak-willed leaders to discharge their U.N. ambassadors over Iraq votes.
· Negroponte has a sordid human rights record in Honduras.
· A Cruel Joke: Negroponte, the arch authoritarian, teaching democracy to the Iraqis.
· Life under Saddam somewhat prepares you for the Negroponte era.
· Senate Foreign Relations Committee unlikely to closely scrutinize Negroponte nomination.
· Like the earlier nominations of Otto Reich, John Bolton and Roger Noriega, Secretary of State Colin Powell will have no trouble in describing this villain as an “honorable” man.
President Bush confirmed recent rumors by announcing on Monday that John D. Negroponte was being nominated to become this country’s ambassador to Iraq, a post that he would assume on June 30, when sovereignty ostensibly will be transferred to Iraqi authorities. But the Negroponte nomination must be seen as a profoundly troubling one since the same nagging questions which were present during the summer of 2001, when Negroponte was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the UN, continue to persist. Enough time apparently has passed since a number of accusations first surfaced concerning Negroponte’s profound moral derelictions (which at least date back to the time that he served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras (1981-85)), for these again to be thoroughly aired. But if the past is any precedent, Negroponte will sail through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate as if he was a Happy Warrior rather than the immoral reprobate that his record undeniably portrays him as being. Since then, Washington’s ability to slip into political amnesia regarding his reprehensible actions in Honduras will now once again be at play.
The central fact to the Negroponte story is that he misled Congress when some of its members attempted to question him about his complicity in helping to cover up his knowledge and direct personal involvement in the training, equipping and distracting attention from the heinous acts of Battalion 316, the Honduran death squad which at the time of Negroponte’s residence in Honduras was responsible for the murder of almost 200 Honduran dissidents opposed to their country being used as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the U.S.-backed Contra war against Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinistas.
Negroponte Arrives in Tegucigalpa
Negroponte replaced Jack Binns, who had been President Carter’s ambassador to Honduras during 1980-81, after Binns had spoken out against mounting evidence of major human rights violations occurring in that country against political dissidents who dared to speak out against the growing involvement of Honduras in the secret Contra war against Sandinista Nicaragua. He made references to activities that were being carried out by a shady operation which came to be known as Battalion 316. A big part of this story is the flawed annual human rights reports, prepared every year by U.S. embassies around the world, which had to be presented to Congress under terms of the Foreign Assistance Act. When it came to Honduras, this report was significantly expurgated, first in Tegucigalpa by Negroponte, and then once again after it reached Washington by then Assistant Secretary of State for Humanitarian Affairs, the infamous Elliot Abrams. Abrams, an obsessive cold warrior, had as little sympathy for human rights issues in Honduras as he was in favor of them when it came to Cuba. This operation subverted the law, and Abrams eventually confessed to his role in the Iran-Contra war, but was later pardoned by the first President Bush. This dominated Honduran realities during the early 1980s, which were to further deteriorate during Negroponte’s ambassadorial stint. The new ambassador’s mission was to ensure that the steady stream of U.S. aid to Honduras, aimed at preventing the spread of Communism by Sandinista Nicaragua, was to continue at any cost. Years later, in 1995, a former junior political officer, who had worked in the embassy under Negroponte, came forth with serious accusations concerning the human rights lapses of the Honduran army in the annual human rights report he was required to draft during the Negroponte era. This report was meant to be sent to Congress, but he claimed the charges had been eliminated or transformed by others by the time that the report had reached its ultimate destination.
The Right Man for the Job but for the Wrong Reasons
Today President Bush named John Negroponte to be the new director of national intelligence. As the man responsible for managing 15 intelligence agencies, we find this appointment extremely alarming due to major unsavory aspects of his professional history centering on the massive misuse of his authority as U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85. In fact, given his calm manner and his proven Machiavellian philosophy, he may be the right man for this new James Bond-slot even if it means the diminishment of democratic principles, which has been the hallmark of his career wherever he has been assigned.
Negroponte’s stint in Honduras was filled with chicanery and deception. As a result of the immensely compromised record he compiled there, rather than being rewarded with this new and elevated position, he should be facing proceedings concerning the role he played in the numerous human rights violations that occurred during his Honduran watch – nearly 300 dissidents “disappeared.” Affidavits and testimony by Honduran survivors have reported on his involvement in sanctioning, protecting or covering up these death squads. Also, during the time Negroponte spent at the Tegucigalpa embassy, millions of dollars in bribes were paid to corrupt Honduran officials to allow room for the U.S.-backed contras to stage attacks on the Sandinistas in neighboring Nicaragua.
Negroponte has claimed that he did not recall any human rights violations ever having taken place in the country during his time there, even though his immediate predecessor as ambassador, Jack Binns, had reported a number of them to the State Department and told Negroponte about them before the latter took up his post. Is it really possible that the man now nominated to be the czar of U.S. intelligence had no idea of the death squads and abuses taking place in Honduras even though he was specifically briefed on the subject? Or does he truly suffer from the selective amnesia that he displayed at his hearings to be U.S. ambassador to the UN, when he repeatedly said that he had no memory of and heavily denied that there were any human rights abuses at the time? He would have been much more vigorously questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if September 11 had occurred shortly before and the Senate was anxious to fill the vacancy that existed there at the time. Negroponte also should be reprimanded for the role he played in influencing former Secretary of State Colin Powell to strong-arm Chile and Mexico to recall their UN ambassadors because of their anti-U.S. stance leading up to the Iraq war.
Throughout Negroponte’s entire professional career he has subscribed to the thesis that the ends justify the means. As a result, Bush had made a brilliant if demonic appointment – Negroponte will likely get the job done, but at a insupportable cost to this and other countries’ democratic institutions as he brings his well-tested authoritarian personality to the job.
To see a detailed account of Negroponte’s notorious professional past, click here to read COHA Press Memorandum 04.20, which was released at the time he was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.
February 17, 2005
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John Dimitri Negroponte. Born in London on July 21, 1939, just before the outbreak of the second world war, he was the son of Dimitri, a Greek shipping magnate, and Catherine. He grew up in England, Switzerland and New York, where his father settled. He became a product of elite American institutions, educated at Phillips Exeter prep school in New Hampshire and at Yale, before being accepted at Harvard Law School. Negroponte is connected to Britain's royal family and British intelligence through his wife, Diana Villiers. Diana's father was Sir Charles Villiers, a merchant banker who would rise to become chairman of British Steel. Villiers had a powerful social conscience.
THE QUESTION IS:
Technically, how and when did John Negroponte become a United States Citizen?
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