Thursday, February 17, 2005

ONE MONTH AGO, in his second-term inauguration speech, Bush told Americans that, starting immediately, U.S. foreign policy would be "transformed to make human rights the defining priority." And in Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings, she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "The United States government has often, as the president said, supported regimes in the hope that they would bring stability. And we've been, in the Middle East, sometimes blind to the freedom deficit. We're not going to do that anymore."

But today Pres. Bush announced that he had selected John Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence. If the president had wanted to signal support for one particular individual whose career embodied U.S. support for corrupt dictators and human rights abusers, he could hardly have done better than John Negroponte. As U.S. ambassador to Honduras during the Reagan administration, Negroponte oversaw the U.S. policy of supporting the Contras in Nicaragua who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government. He supervised the operations of a military battalion in Honduras (where the Contras conducted their military training) whose record of extrajudicial murder and torture was notorious throughout the region. He was complicit in the illegal funneling of money to the Contras at a time when the U.S. Congress had banned such aid because of the Contras' abysmal human rights history.

Matthew Yglesias has an informative piece on Negroponte's rap sheet in the article he wrote for the American Prospect after Pres. Bush appointed Negroponte to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq last April.

There are dozens of articles about John Negroponte's knowledge of and total indifference toward the horrendous human rights violations committed by the Honduran military and the Contras. His record is made even worse by his complete refusal to take responsibility for it -- denying to this day that there were any death squads or human rights violations in Honduras or Nicaragua under his watch. Here is one of them, and here is another, and another, and another. And here is one more.

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