Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Our Special Project

In has come to light that John Negroponte, currently nominated to be our nation's first Director of National Intelligence, did play a centrol role in the U.S./Contra terror-war against Sandanista Nicaragua as recently released documents acquired by The Washington Post show. According to the NYTs:
The documents appear to lend some support to the contention of Mr. Negroponte's critics that he did little to protest human rights abuses by Honduran military units blamed for abductions, torture and murder. Mr. Negroponte and some of his fellow diplomats have maintained that he worked behind the scenes against such abuses, but the cables make few references to the issue.

In fact, after a meeting in October 1983 with the head of the Honduran military, Gen. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, who was widely held responsible for human rights abuses at the time, Mr. Negroponte reported to Washington that General Álvarez was misunderstood.
Peter Kornbluh, of George Washington's National Security Archives, is a bit more blunt:
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.
The U.S./Contra aggression against Nicaragua, which Negroponte referred to as "our special project," was nothing more than state-sponsored terrorism. You'd think that Negroponte's cozy relationship with Honduran human rights abusers and Nicaraguan terrorists would harm his chances to be confirmed head of National Intelligence, especially in the shadow of Abu Ghraib. Not so. According to The New Republic's Spencer Ackerman, "Only [Sen. John] Wyden [(D-OR)] brought up Honduras, and not to much effect." Naturally, Republican senators hadn't the slightest problem. Via the the same NYTs article:
Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dismissed the questions about Honduras as "an issue of 25 years ago" with little relevance to the intelligence job.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, noted that Mr. Negroponte and his wife adopted five Honduran children, which he said showed his "compassion" for the Honduran people.
Mr. Negroponte's stay in Honduras: certainly irrelevant and definitely compassionate.