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John Negroponte
In early January 2007, President George W. Bush nominated John Negroponte to be deputy secretary of state, the number two position at the State Department behind Condoleezza Rice. The move amounted to a demotion for Negroponte, who since 2005 was director of national intelligence (DNI), a Cabinet post created by Congress after 9/11 to improve coordination between the country's various intelligence agencies. (Negroponte was a career Foreign Service diplomat who has also served as ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations during the Bush presidency.) The previous deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, stepped down in mid-2006 to take up a post at Goldman Sachs. Rice reportedly had difficulty finding a replacement, which according to a Los Angeles Times editorial was rumored to be because "her choices have either declined to sign up for a stint likely to be best remembered for the debacle in Iraq or have been vetoed as too liberal by the White House" (January 5, 2007). Negroponte was apparently "the only person acceptable to both Rice and [Vice President Dick] Cheney."
Negroponte's decision to step down as director of national intelligence renewed fears about the state of the country's intelligence infrastructure. Although the post comes with a number of responsibilities, it has been hampered by the fact that the DNI has little control over funding. Nearly two-thirds of the country's intelligence budget is controlled by the Defense Department, which saw a considerable expansion of its intel responsibilities during the tenure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) about Negroponte's move: "I'm disappointed that Negroponte would leave this critical position when it's still in its infancy. There are a number of people who could ably serve as deputy secretary of state, but few who can handle the challenges of chief of intelligence (New York Times, January 4, 2007).
In unifying the oversight for all U.S. intel agencies under one head, the creation of the DNI post was widely regarded as ending the 58-year history of the post of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), who heads the Central Intelligence Agency, as the presumed top intelligence chief. Since the creation of the CIA at the onset of the Cold War, the authority of the DCI has been unclear. The chief of the CIA has also been the government's central intelligence director. Only on rare occasions (notably during Allen Dulles' tenure from 1953-1961) has this figure exercised control over the Pentagon's intelligence agencies. The authority of most CIA chiefs hasn't extended beyond the CIA itself, although the CIA director has-as DCI-been responsible for providing the president with his Daily Intelligence Briefing.
Creating a unified and efficient intelligence apparatus was considered to be a major challenge because of the turf wars that proliferated during George W. Bush's first term. These interagency disputes ranged from the creation of new intelligence operations tightly controlled by Rumsfeld and his underlings (including Stephen Cambone, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith) to the sidelining of the State Department and the CIA by the Pentagon, White House, and Vice President's Office, as well as the alliance between congressional hawks and the Pentagon to successfully modify the intelligence reform bill so as to reduce the power of the DNI over the Pentagon.
Negroponte's appointment to DNI came on the heels of Rumsfeld's announcement that the Pentagon would allow the military to organize highly classified squads to collect intelligence overseas. The appointment also followed closely on then-CIA Chief Porter Goss's efforts to rid the agency of those who did not fall into line with Bush administration policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, which led some high officials to leave the agency. One former intelligence official said at the time, "The CIA is a wounded gazelle on the African plain. It's a pile of bleached bones" (Washington Post, February 27, 2005).
Regarded as a nard-nosed diplomat without any overarching ideological agendas, Negroponte was considered an apt choice to wade through these various competing intelligence agendas, a person who would be palatable to the various political factions represented in the Bush administration. Since the 1960s, Negroponte has earned a reputation as a determined political operative who gets the job done-however "dirty" or undiplomatic. Unlike some current and former members of Bush's foreign policy team, Negroponte had no direct connections to the network of rightist and neoconservative policy institutes, think tanks, and foundations that have set the administration's foreign and domestic agendas.
Instead, Negroponte is considered a pragmatic realist, though one with decidedly hawkish inclinations (see, for instance, Jim Lobe, "Negroponte Pick as Intel Chief a Win for Realists," Inter Press Service, February 17, 2006). Throughout his career he has maintained a low public profile despite his high-profile positions-rarely writing or speaking about U.S. foreign or military policy, apart from diplomatically worded statements issued by his office. Ever the flexible diplomat, Negroponte has proved comfortable in adopting whatever foreign policy language-from idealist to realist-is deemed most appropriate and effective for the job he has been assigned.
Over the past four decades, Negroponte's work has included such diverse roles as advising the puppet U.S. government in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, supervising the Reagan administration's use of Honduras as its logistical center for the counterinsurgency and counterrevolutionary campaigns in Central America, ensuring good U.S.-Mexico relations during the NAFTA negotiations, managing relations with UN Security Council members in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and overseeing U.S. operations in Iraq during the lead-up to elections there in January 2005.
Negroponte has mastered four foreign languages: Vietnamese, Spanish, French, and Greek. The son of a Greek shipping magnate who emigrated to New York during World War II, Negroponte began his career during the Vietnam War-which he said was a "career-defining experience" (Guardian, February 28, 2005). From his early days as a political officer in Vietnam in the 1960s, Negroponte quickly ascended to become an aide to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger by the end of the decade. In 1968, Negroponte became the liaison officer between the U.S. government and North Vietnam's delegation at the Paris peace talks. In late 1970, Negroponte became head of the Vietnam office of the National Security Council (NSC) staff. In February 1973 he broke with NSC Adviser Kissinger over the process of the peace negotiations, which Negroponte said did not guarantee the security of the government of South Vietnam (see "Interview with John Negroponte," National Security Archives, March 3, 1997).
During the Reagan administration, he served as ambassador to Honduras, at a time when that country was serving as a central logistical center for U.S. support of the Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. From his base at the vastly expanded embassy in Tegucigalpa, Negroponte also played a central role in the U.S. strategy to support counterinsurgency and anti-dissident operations in Honduras as well as in the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Guatemala. During his tenure, the U.S. military base in Palmerola, Honduras, became a key logistical center for U.S. military, CIA, and civic military operations throughout the isthmus.
At the Cold War's end, when NAFTA and free trade initiatives had become the major thrust of U.S. post-Cold War policy, Negroponte was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as ambassador to Mexico. Under Clinton, Negroponte became ambassador to Philippines, just as that country was undergoing a contentious democratic transition and the presence of the U.S. military in the former U.S. dependency was being negotiated.
In the late 1990s, Negroponte joined the private sector as an executive with McGraw-Hill. Like several other Reagan-era officials involved in Contra support operations in Central America, including illegal and highly unethical activities, the government career of Negroponte was resurrected by President Bush, who welcomed such scandal-tainted figures as Elliott Abrams, John Poindexter, and Otto Reich back into the executive branch.
As UN ambassador, Negroponte stage-managed the administration's attempt to persuade the Security Council to support the invasion of Iraq. In 2004 President Bush named Negroponte as Washington's first post-Saddam Hussein ambassador to Iraq, where he supervised what became (after the invasion) the largest U.S. Embassy staff in the world, with more than 900 employees. While in Iraq, Negroponte gave Washington optimistic reports about the country's progress toward democracy, and according to news reports he fiercely disagreed with the pessimistic CIA reports on the insurgency and the prospects for peace.
Negroponte has demonstrated a willingness to use his diplomatic status to cover up crimes and misdemeanors. These tendencies-including his role in covering up the crimes of the Contras and the vigilantes of the Honduran armed forces as well as his silence about gross human rights abuses and corporate scandals in Iraq-were highlighted by critics after his nomination to become the first Director of National Intelligence.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) observed: Negroponte is the "right man for the job but for the wrong reasons" (COHA, February 17, 2005). While he was ambassador to Honduras during the Reagan administration, he at the very least turned a blind eye toward the illegal flow of arms and other U.S. governmental and nongovernmental aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. Under his watch, the Honduran military and associated paramilitary squads committed a multitude of human rights abuses and executions. After leaving Honduras, Negroponte became deputy national security adviser at the White House. Working together with Undersecretary of State for Latin American Affairs Elliott Abrams, Negroponte succeeded in halting U.S. investigations into Honduran military officials involved in drug trafficking (for more on these incidents, see COHA, "Honduran Riots Reflect Far Deeper and More Pervasive Resentment of U.S. Influence than Transfer of Drug Lord to U.S. Authorities Should Have Produced," News and Analysis, April 15, 1988; and Ghali Hassan, "Ambassador to Death Squads: Who is John Negroponte?" CounterPunch, June 4, 2004).
Over the past two decades, Negroponte has repeatedly told the media and congressional committees that it was a myth perpetrated by U.S. critics that death squads operated in Honduras or that the government was guilty of gross human rights abuses. A 1997 CIA Inspector General investigation concluded, however, that "the Honduran military committed hundreds of human rights abuses since 1980, many of which were politically motivated and officially sanctioned" and "linked to death squads" (Nation, February 17, 2005).
In a 1995 investigative report published by the Baltimore Sun, reporters Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson revealed how the CIA-trained Battalion 316 in Honduras tortured its captives during interrogations, some of whom were killed and buried afterward in unmarked graves. A former Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the Baltimore Sun of Negroponte and other U.S. officials: "Their attitude was one of tolerance and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed." Negroponte's predecessor as Honduras ambassador, Jack Binns, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, said that when he left Honduras, he briefed Negroponte on the escalating human rights abuses (cited in Duncan Campbell, "An Exquisite Danger," Guardian, June 2, 2004).
For its close cooperation with the Reagan administration's aggressive foreign policy in Central America, the Honduran government was compensated with a huge influx of military and economic aid. Military aid increased from $4 million in 1980 to $77 million in 1984, while economic aid increased from $52 million to $229 million. Had Negroponte informed Congress that the military was engaged in human rights abuses, these aid flows would have been jeopardized. No report of such abuses was allowed to interfere with the U.S. destabilization of Nicaragua. When Negroponte was named UN ambassador, Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch said: "When Negroponte was ambassador [in Honduras] he looked the other way when serious atrocities were committed. One would have to wonder what kind of message the Bush administration is sending about human rights" (Guardian, June 2, 2004).
The fear and passionate patriotism that followed the 9/11 attacks likely spared Negroponte from an intense grilling in his Senate confirmation hearings for his UN ambassadorship, which had already stalled for several months due to the Senate's request for documents. At the UN he led the Bush administration's drive for war, and tried to persuade the Mexican and Chilean governments to recall their UN ambassadors when they did not agree to support the planned invasion. According to news reports, Negroponte authorized wiretaps and other audio surveillance of both allies and critics at the UN in the run-up to the Security Council vote and the invasion (see COHA Memorandum to the Press 04.20, April 27, 2004; CounterPunch, June 9, 2004; and "Nomination of John Negroponte," Congressional Record, September 14, 2001).
Critics have repeatedly charged that Negroponte has-both as a member of the NSC and during his various ambassadorships-covered up damaging information so as to further bad policies. Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, warned after Negroponte's nomination as DNI: "Negroponte is tough enough. The question is: Is he independent enough?" Referring to his history in Honduras, Goodman said: "I think of the role of intelligence in telling truth to power" and then Negroponte's appointment "doesn't fit" (Guardian, February 18, 2005).

Council on Foreign Relations: Member
American Academy of Diplomacy: Member
French-American Foundation: Former Chairman
Government Service
State Department: Deputy Secretary of State (nominated in January 2007); Ambassador to Iraq (2004-2005); Ambassador to the Philippines (1993-1996); Ambassador to Mexico (1989-1993); Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (1985-1987); Ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985); Political Officer in U.S. Embassy in Saigon in early 1960s; Chief liaison officer in Saigon between U.S. delegation to peace negotiations and North Vietnamese delegation (May 1968-August 1969)
Director of National Intelligence: (2005-2006)
Representative to the United Nations: (2001-2004)
Office of the President: Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (1987-1989); Head of Vietnam Office at National Security Council and Deputy Assistant to Kissinger in Paris Peace Talks (September 1970-February 1973)
Private Sector
The McGraw-Hill Companies: Executive Vice President for Global Markets (1997-2001)
Yale University: B.A.
Sources White House Biography: John Negroponte,
Editorial, "A Small Change," Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2007.
Mark Mazzetti, "Intelligence Chief is Shifted to Deputy State Dept. Post," New York Times, January 4, 2007.
Dana Priest, "CIA Moves to Second Fiddle in Intelligence Work," Washington Post, February 27, 2005.
Jim Lobe, "Negroponte Pick as Intel Chief a Win for Realists," Inter Press Service, February 17, 2006.
Duncan Campbell, "Veteran of Dirty Wars Wins Lead U.S. Spy Role," Guardian, February 28, 2005.
Julian Borger, "Bush Appoints All-Powerful Spy Chief," Guardian, February 18, 2005.
"Interview with John Negroponte," National Security Archives, March 3, 1997,
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, "Negroponte: The Right Man for the Job but for the Wrong Reasons," Memorandum to the President 05.18, February 17, 2005.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, "Honduran Riots Reflect Far Deeper and More Pervasive Resentment of U.S. Influence than Transfer of Drug Lord to U.S. Authorities Should Have Produced," News and Analysis, April 15, 1988.
Ghali Hassan, "Ambassador to Death Squads: Who is John Negroponte?" CounterPunch, June 4, 2004.
David Corn, "Negroponte's Dark Past," The Nation, February 17, 2005.
Duncan Campbell, "An Exquisite Danger," Guardian, June 2, 2004.
Larry Birns and Jenna Wright, "Negroponte: Nominee for Baghdad Embassy, a Rogue for all Seasons," COHA Memorandum to the Press 04.20, April 27, 2004.
Jim Tarbell and Roger Burbach, "The New Baghdad Triumvirate: Allawi, Negroponte, and the NED: Bush's Democratic Charade in Iraq," CounterPunch, June 9, 2004.
"Nomination of John Negroponte," Congressional Record, September 14, 2001,
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 151 - Part 1
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
April 12 , 2005

Close Relations with Honduran Military,
Contra "Special Project" Against Nicaraguan Sandinistas
Dominated Cable Traffic
Reporting on Human Rights Violations Nonexistent between 1982 and 1984
[Image: 20050217-2_p44455-095-250h.jpg] President George W. Bush nominated John Negroponte as the first Director of National Intelligence on February 17, 2005. (Source: White House)
Washington D.C., April 12, 2005 - As the Senate Intelligence Committee convenes to consider the nomination of John Negroponte to be Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Archive today posted hundreds of his cables written from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa between late 1981 and 1984. The majority of his "chron file"- cables and memos written during his tenure as Ambassador- was obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents were actually declassified at Negroponte's request in June 1998, after he had temporarily retired from the Foreign Service.
The 392 cables and memos record Negroponte's daily, and even hourly, activities as the powerful Ambassador to Honduras during the contra war in the early 1980s. They include dozens of cables in which the Ambassador sought to undermine regional peace efforts such as the Contadora initiative that ultimately won Costa Rican president Oscar Arias a Nobel Prize, as well as multiple reports of meetings and conversations with Honduran military officers who were instrumental in providing logistical support and infrastructure for CIA covert operations in support of the contras against Nicaragua -"our special project" as Negroponte refers to the contra war in the cable traffic. Among the records are special back channel communications with then CIA director William Casey, including a recommendation to increase the number of arms being supplied to the leading contra force, the FDN in mid 1983, and advice on how to rewrite a Presidential finding on covert operations to overthrow the Sandinistas to make it more politically palatable to an increasingly uneasy U.S. Congress.
Conspicuously absent from the cable traffic, however, is reporting on human rights atrocities that were committed by the Honduran military and its secret police unit known as Battalion 316, between 1982 and 1984, under the military leadership of General Gustavo Alvarez, Negroponte's main liaison with the Honduran government. The Honduran human rights ombudsman later found that more than 50 people disappeared at the hands of the military during those years. But Negroponte's cables reflect no protest, or even discussion of these issues during his many meetings with General Alvarez, his deputies and Honduran President Robert Suazo. Nor do the released cables contain any reporting to Washington on the human rights abuses that were taking place.
Today's posting by the National Security Archive includes the complete series of cables released under the Freedom of Information Act. The State Department released another several dozen cables from the series yesterday, and these are available in Part 2 of this posting.

Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

1) April 8, 1983, cable, "Venezuelan Relations with Nicaragua"
In a "roger channel" cable to Assistant Secretary of State Enders, Negroponte berates the State Department for open channel references in cable to U.S. backing for contras based in Honduras. He claims that the contras are all based now inside Nicaraguan territory and suggests that the Bureau of Intelligence and Research "circulate a piece pointing out that is precisely where they are and not rpt not in Honduras." In public statements, including letters to the New York Times and the Economist, Negroponte argues that there are no contra camps on Honduran territory.

2) July 9, 1984, cable, "General Lopez and Paz Barnica on Continued Support for the Anti-Sandinistas: Need for FDN Discretion."

In this cable Negroponte appears to concede that the contras are openly operating on Honduran territory and suggests that this is making Honduran government officials nervous. The leading contra group, the FDN, he reports, "has obviously overdone things and, if it does not want to wear out its welcome in Honduras, it will have to lower its profile to the absolute minimum. This will likely mean sacrificing public affairs activities from Honduras in order to preserve the ability to operate from here for more essential purposes." Negroponte urges the State Department to help by keeping Congressional delegations from stating that they are coming to Honduras to "meet with FDN, or visit contra camps."
3) May 13, 1983, memo, "General Alvarez Visit to Washington, May 16-17
In a back channel communication to CIA director William Casey, National Security Advisor William Clark and Assistant Secretary Thomas Enders, Negroponte begins to press for additional weapons for the contras in Honduras. He advises that this issue will be high on the agenda of the Honduran commander-in-chief, Gustavo Alvarez, when he comes to Washington. "This thing is starting to work and is building up a momentum, " he writes, sounding more like a CIA station chief than a diplomat. "It wouldn't surprise me," he predicts, "if the size of force could be doubled in next five months if we provided necessary weapons." Several months later, Negroponte recommends to the White House that the number of rifles, AK-47s, provided by the CIA to FDN personnel be increased by 3000 units. In November 1983, President Reagan authorizes Negroponte's recommendation.
4) May 26, 1983, cable, "Adolfo Calero"
Negroponte exchanges "roger channel" cables with the U.S. ambassador to Managua, Anthony Quainton, who has written to complain that the Ambassador to Honduras has invited the leader of the contra force known as the FDN to dinner at his house. In his telegram of May 23, Negroponte explains that he "met his first real live Nicaraguan exile activist; has his own home no less; and with customary and traditional sense of hospitality offered him dinner." Ambassador Quainton responds to what he calls Negroponte's "gastronomic diplomacy in Tegucigalpa." He notes that "I have my doubts about a dinner at the [embassy] residence for a man who is in the business of overthrowing a neighboring government." Perhaps, Quainton adds, "I should wine and dine Ruben Zamora et al [political leaders of the Salvadoran guerrillas] in order to maintain parity."
5) September 20, 1983, memo, "Follow-Up on Consultations"
After visiting Washington in mid September, Negroponte reports to Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, Langhorne Motley, on visits with Congressmen and with CIA officials. He states that the CIA head of the Western Hemisphere division, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, has shown him a draft of the new Presidential finding authorizing covert operations to support the contra war. "It focused almost exclusively on interdiction," Negroponte complains. "I sincerely believe that case can be made that the more complete the finding the broader the likely Congressional support." Eight days later, when President Reagan signs the final draft of the finding, it has been expanded beyond to the scope of interdicting arms allegedly going from Nicaragua to El Salvador to include promoting "meaningful negotiations and constructive, verifiable agreement with [Nicaragua's] neighbors on peace in the region."
6) May 19, 1982, Cable, on Regional Negotiations
Negroponte argues that there is no negotiated settlement that will meet U.S. goals, even if the Sandinista government agrees to an accord that would curtail its support for other insurgencies. "We can visualize no such negotiated arrangement capable of ensuring that Nicaragua would not come back to cause trouble to its neighbors some other day," he writes, opposing any agreement that leaves the revolutionary government in place. "Indeed, such a negotiated outcome would be a Trojan horse not unlike the 1962 Cuban missile arrangement which facilitated consolidation of the Cuban revolution." This cable acknowledged the "political importance" of being "forthcoming" in negotiations over Nicaragua, but established the bottom line Negroponte reiterated throughout his tenure as ambassador: that the U.S. should prevent any peace accord that enabled the Sandinistas to remain in power.
7) May 21, 1983, Memo, "Contadora Process: Next Steps"
In a memorandum sent through a special back channel to CIA director William Casey and the State Department and NSC, Negroponte argues that the outcome of regional peace talks could lead to "effectively shutting down our special project," also known as the contra war. He asks if Washington is "falling prey to the Mexican/Nicaraguan salami slicer?"
8) October 24, 1983, Cable, "Contadora Developments: The Slippery Slope?"
As the Contadora peace process led by Venezuela and Mexico picked up steam in 1983, Negroponte presents the argument that Contadora was only advancing Nicaraguan interests. "Our side is in disarray," he cables Washington. "The sooner we recognize it and come up with a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the situation the better."
9) November 15, 1983, Cable, "Contadora Tactics: Poor Omens for Central America"
In yet another cable pressing the State Department to intervene to stop the momentum of the peace process in Central America, Negroponte admits that "No one will accuse this embassy of inconsistency in its skepticism towards the course on which the Contadora four are embarked." Contadora, he warns, could paint USG, Honduras and possibly El Salvador into a corner whereby we are accused of obstructing regional peace." Negroponte recommends that U.S. officials move to influence Contadora "towards a fundamental different approach." Eventually, U.S. officials manage to undercut an peace initiative put forth by Mexico and the peace process collapses.


10) October 13, 1983, Cable, "General Alvarez on the Democratic Process"
Negroponte reports on what he sees as the Honduran top military commander's "commitment to constitutional government" and appears to laud his dedication to democracy. General Gustavo Alvarez, to whom the Honduran human rights ombudsman and other investigators have assigned responsibility for the death squad activity of the Honduran secret police Battalion 316 in the early 1980s, was Negroponte's key contact in the Honduran military on the contra war and for covert and overt U.S. use of Honduran military facilities. Five months after Negroponte wrote this cable, Alvarez was ousted as commander-in-chief because of his "authoritarian tendencies" and exiled to a diplomatic posting in South America.

As received from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act
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"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
John D. Negroponte's track record in Central America


During his tenure as US ambassador to Honduras, Jack Binns, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, made numerous complaints about human rights abuses by the Honduran military. 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.
When the Reagan administration came to power in 1981, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has consistently denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Binns claimed he fully briefed Negroponte on the situation before leaving the post.
In These Times writer, Terry Allen described Negroponte as a "zealous anti-Communist crusader in America's covert wars against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the FMLN rebels in El Salvador."
In a biographical profile Foreign Policy In Focus reported that "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.'"
As ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte played a key role in US aid to the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and shoring up the brutal military dictatorship of General Gustavo Alvarez MartÃ*nez in Honduras. Between 1980 and 1994 U.S. military aid to Honduras jumped from $3.9 million to $77.4 million. Much of this went to ensure the Honduran army's loyalty in the battle against popular movements throughout Central America. [1]
"The high-level planning, money and arms for those wars flowed from Washington, but much of the on-the-ground logistics for the deployment of intelligence, arms and soldiers was run out of Honduras - So crammed was the tiny country with U.S. bases and weapons that it was dubbed the USS Honduras, as if it were simply an off-shore staging ground. The captain of this ship, Negroponte was in charge of the U.S. Embassy when, according to a 1995 four-part series in the Baltimore Sun, hundreds of Hondurans were kidnapped, tortured and killed by Battalion 316, a secret army intelligence unit trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency," Allen wrote. [2]
According to the New York Times, Negroponte was responsible for "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua." Critics say that during his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic.
Negroponte supervised the creation in 1984 of the El Aguacate air base, where the US trained Nicaraguan Contras and which critics say was used as a secret detention and torture center during the 1980s. [3]
In August 2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at the site. [4]
Records also show that a special intelligence unit of the Honduran armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including US missionaries. Critics charge that Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while lying to Congress.
In May 1982, a nun, Sister Laetitia Bordes, who had worked for ten years in El Salvador, went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras to investigate the whereabouts of thirty Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981 after Archbishop Oscar Romero's assassination. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing.
But in a 1996 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Binns, said that a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the women Bordes had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981, and savagely tortured by the DNI, the Honduran Secret Police, and then later thrown out of helicopters alive.
In early 1984, two American mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contras after the U.S. Congress had banned further military aid. Documents show that Negroponte brought the two with a contact in the Honduran armed forces.
The operation was exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any US involvement, despite Negroponte's participation in the scheme. Other documents uncovered a plan of Negroponte and then-Vice President George H.W. Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.
Speaking of Negroponte and other senior US officials, an ex-Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the Baltimore Sun, which in 1995 published an extensive investigation of US activities in Honduras "Their attitude was one of tolerance and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed." [5] [6] [7]
The Sun's investigation found that the CIA and US embassy knew of numerous abuses but continued to support Battalion 3-16 and ensured that the embassy's annual human rights report did not contain the full story.
When President George W. Bush announced Negroponte's nomination as Ambassador to the UN shortly after coming to office, it was met with widespread protest. Questioned at the time about whether he had turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras, Negroponte rejected the suggestion. "I do not believe then, nor do I believe now, that these abuses were part of a deliberate government policy - To this day, I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras," he said. [8]
Despite the protests, the Bush administration did not back down and even went so far as to try to silence potential witnesses.
On March 25, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported on the sudden deportation from the United States of several former Honduran death squad members who could have provided damaging testimony against Negroponte in his Senate confirmation hearings.
One of the deportees was General Luis Alonso Discua, founder of Battalion 3-16. In the preceding month, Washington had revoked the visa of Discua who was Honduras' Deputy Ambassador to the UN. Nonetheless, Discua went public with details of US support of Battalion 3-16.
Upon learning of Negroponte's nomination, Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch in New York commented: "When John Negroponte was ambassador he looked the other way when serious atrocities were committed. One would have to wonder what kind of message the Bush administration is sending about human rights by this appointment".
In interviews recorded with CNN in September and October 1997, Negroponte argued the case that events in Central America at the time needed to be seen in the context of the cold war. "It was a central American domino theory if you will: so that if it happened at first in Nicaragua then in El Salvador and if they (communists) succeeded in El Salvador, then presumably they would try to finish off the situation in Guatemala, which was rather ripe at the time, you may recall. And then maybe Honduras would have fallen of its own volition, without necessarily even having to make that much effort. That was the theory in any case, and it seemed a plausible hypothesis at the time," he said. [9]
He insists that US officials were advocating democratic reforms even though they had to work with repressive regimes. "We were all extremely focused on encouraging the electoral process in each of these countries. Certainly in El Salvador. ... Some of these regimes, to the outside observer, may not have been as savory as Americans would have liked; they may have been dictators, or likely to [become] dictators, when you would have been wanting to support democracy in the area. But with the turmoil that [was there] it was perhaps not possible to do that," he told CNN.
"So I don't think there was any thought on our part of supporting authoritarian behavior for some short-term expediency. To the contrary, I think we bent over backwards to press for elections and for democratic reform," he said.
He also argues that claims that he and others ignored human rights abuses is a case of people rewriting history. " - Frankly I think that some of the retrospective efforts to try and suggest that we were supportive of or condoned the actions of human rights violators is really revisionistic," he claimed.
Negroponte not only defends the actions of the US at the time but argues that the alternative was worse. "But I think on balance if you look back at what we did, I think a good case can be made that there was actually less suffering in Central America as a result of the actions the United States took than there would have been if we had just folded our arms and done nothing," he told CNN.


As for his role in or knowledge of the invasion of Grenada, Negroponte claims that he only became aware of it after it had occurred. "I was not involved and I don't remember much, but I remember one thing very vividly, which was that I basically learned about the invasion of Grenada from the president of Honduras," he told CNN'.
"In 1987, during the administration of Bush the elder, Negroponte returned to the NSC to work under Colin L. 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," Foreign Policy In Focus reported. [10]
"In 1996, when Negroponte was sent to Panama as the U.S. negotiator regarding military bases, the Human Rights Research Center of Panama objected. Negroponte, they said, covered up human rights abuses and, according to the BBC, 'knew about the CIA-trained Honduran army unit that tortured and killed alleged subversives.' In a 1997 roundtable gathering at the Center for International Policy, Sun reporter Cohn noted that Negroponte was central to the human rights violations. Said Cohn, "He was ambassador when the worst of the abuses were taking place. He knew everything that was going on."
Since 1997 Mr. Negroponte had been Executive Vice President for Global Markets of The McGraw-Hill Companies. [11]
Right-wing defenders of Negroponte argue that he was correct, claiming that the defeat of leftist insurgencies has lead to more than a decade of stable democracies in Central America that today right-wing death squads are only to be found in countries like Colombia, where violent and terroristic left-wing insurgencies continue. But in fact Colombia has one of the longest histories of Negroponte-style counterinsurgency operations in the western hemisphere. If brutal repression were indeed likely to breed stability, Columbia should be expected to be "more" stable than other countries. Moreover, the "stability" that prevailed in Central America during the 1990s may have been merely a pause in the long history of cyclical political violence that has characterized Latin America for more than a century. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development:
Over the past several years, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, encompassing Central and South America and the Caribbean, has faced increasing development challenges that threaten the national security and economy of the United States. Contracting economic growth rates, extensive poverty, unemployment, skewed income distribution, crime and lawlessness, a thriving narcotics industry and a deteriorating natural resource base continue to undermine the stability of the region. Civil unrest due to poor economic conditions threatens countries in Central and South America while political instability in Colombia, Venezuela, and Haiti continues unabated. Mediocre economic performance has caused per capita income in LAC countries to decline significantly since 1998 while poverty has increased. Roughly 44% of Latin Americans are now poorer--up from 40% in 1999, while 20% suffer extreme poverty. Unemployment has risen to more than 9%, higher than the 1980s level. These woes have brought discontent and political turbulence, raising questions about the health of democracy in the region, investment priorities, social sector policies, and the benefits of a decade of liberal reforms. [12] Recent examples of political and institutional instability in Latin America and the Caribbean include the following:
  • In January 2000, Ecuadoran President Jamil Mahuad was overthrown by the military after six days of Indian demonstrations against the country's economic and social crises. Its successor government has also been unstable.
  • In November 2000, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was driven from office after ten years in power. His successor, Alejandro Toledo, went through five cabinet reshufflings in two years and saw his popularity fall to 7% because of his inability to satisfy powerful social demands.
  • Following an unprecedented economic implosion in Argentina, President Fernando de la Rua fled the presidential palace in a helicopter in December 2001 after a bloody repression of social unrest, which had left about thirty dead. A series of presidents succeeded one another, none of whom has been able to restore stability.
  • In April 2002, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was briefly overthrown in an attempted coup d'etat but managed to regain power. Chavez, a leftist who was elected and re-elected, has presided over an increasingly polarized society, with an active right wing mobilized to demand that he leave office before his current term expires.
  • In October 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned after the harsh repression of a strong popular movement against natural gas exports through Chile.
  • In February 2004, armed groups linked with Haiti's country's former dictatorship forcibly overthrew the government of Bertrand Aristide.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Press Release

Career Diplomat Brings Decades of National Security Experience

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Former U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte has joined the board of directors of leading logistics provider Agility Defense & Government Services (DGS), the company announced today.

“John Negroponte has earned a reputation as one of America’s finest strategic thinkers and most dedicated public servants,” said Dan Mongeon, president and CEO of Agility DGS. “In four decades as a diplomat and civil servant, John was frequently singled out for the most difficult and sensitive assignments. He brings insight and integrity, and Agility DGS is thrilled to have him join us.”

Negroponte is vice chairman of McLarty Associates, a leading international strategic advisory firm in Washington DC.

"I am delighted to be joining the board of Agility DGS, a name synonymous with the finest support for U.S. and allied defense establishments around the world,” Negroponte said.

Negroponte served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Nations and Iraq. He also held positions on the National Security Council, served as deputy national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and was the nation’s first director of national intelligence.

Negroponte’s most recent position in government was as deputy secretary of state, where he served as the State Department’s chief operating officer. He has twice received the State Department’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. President George W. Bush awarded Negroponte the National Security Medal for his outstanding contributions to U.S. national security. [url=][/url]
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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