BuzzFlash – 2005-02-17 08:20:18
Bush Appoints Death Squad Ambassador to Iraq
(April 23, 2004) — Although downplayed in the media, when the Honduras pulled their troops from Iraq this week, the timing of the appointment of John Negroponte as US Ambassador to Iraq was far more than mere coincidence.
“For weeks before his Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (prior to an earlier cabinet appointment), Negroponte was questioned by staff members on whether he had acquiesced to human rights abuses by a Honduran death squad funded and partly trained by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Negroponte testified that he did not believe the abuses were part of a deliberate Honduran government policy. “To this day,” he said, “I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras.” excerpt
The evidence against Negroponte was presented behind closed doors and will not be made public, but Human Rights Groups have made available information on Negroponte’s history via the internet.
The Case Against John Negroponte
A Letter of Testimony — Sister Laetitia Bordes worked in El Salvador for almost a decade in the 1980’s and 90’s. She is the author of the book Our Hearts Were Broken. In this letter, Sister Bordes recalls a meeting with John Negroponte in 1982, when she was sent to Honduras on a fact-finding mission regarding the disappearance of women who had fled El Salvador after the assassination of Archbishop Romero. Thirteen years later, Ambassador Binns reported that the women, after savage torture, had been taken up in helicopters and thrown to the ground. In this letter, Sister Bordes explains a bit about the roles of The School of the Americas and Battalion 3-16, designed in part for the murder of Nicaraguan Sandinistas, who had overthrown the US backed dictator Somoza in 1979.
“When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small US ally, truth was a casualty. Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived? Now we know: Yes, Yes and Yes,” [concluded] Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson, Staff of The Baltimore Sun, whose article was originally published on June 11, 1995.
This article is lengthy and full and hard on the heart, but the cause of honesty requires that it be made available. This is the kind of knowledge with which we must arm ourselves if we are determined to never again permit such atrocities to take place under the eyes of our own government. One must ask oneself whether these are the kinds of abuses that would be permitted by a man who would nominate a man like John Negroponte to be our country’s human rights spokesman.
“What Message is Bush Trying to Send?”
This short article by Duncan Campbell for The Sun-Herald of Sydney, Australia, asks that question and mentions the very disturbing information that “Some members of the battalion  lived in the US, but were deported just as Mr. Bush’s selection of Mr Negroponte was announced.” What DOES this say about the current administration’s “honor and integrity”?
“The Purpose of These In-Your-Face Appointments”
Mary McGrory, in the July 8, 2001 edition of The Washington Post comments that … the fact that Negroponte may appear to be more of a “gentleman” than the snarling Elliott Abrams in no way justifies Negroponte as being fit in any fashion to be a representative for human rights. Why? Why is Bush making these outrageous nominations and appointments? The author suggests that “Cuban Americans who helped the president in the great fight for Florida are getting what he feels is their due. Bush owes them big time.” excerpt
Background on Negroponte’s Record
“From 1981 to 1985 Negroponte was US ambassador to Honduras. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. 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 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. 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.
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 early 1984, two American mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contras after the US 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.
During his tenure as US ambassador to Honduras, Binns, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, made numerous complaints about human rights abuses by the Honduran military and he claimed he fully briefed Negroponte on the situation before leaving the post. When the Reagan administration came to power, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has consistently denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Later, the Honduras Commission on Human Rights accused Negroponte himself of human rights violations.
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.
Global Protests Greeted Negroponte’s UN Appointment
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 Bush announced Negroponte’s appointment to the UN shortly after coming to office, it was met with widespread protest. However, the Bush administration did not back down and even went so far as to try to silence potential witnesses. On March 25, 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.” Excerpt
“Negroponte’s UN nomination was held up for six months in 2001 because of concerns from several Democratic senators — including Democratic presidential challenger Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) — about Negroponte’s knowledge of death squads.
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