Negroponte has already served in controversial situations


    Bush picks U.N. envoy for embassy in Baghdad

    WASHINGTON - With the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis scheduled to occur in 10 weeks, President Bush announced yesterday his selection of John D. Negroponte, a veteran diplomat, to serve as the first U.S. ambassador to Baghdad since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.

    The 64-year-old Negroponte, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has extensive experience in just about every region of the world - except the Middle East.

    He has already served in controversial situations. He was a State Department official in Vietnam during the high point of the war there. He was also the U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when army death squads held sway. Negroponte was later accused by human rights activists of having done little to limit the death squads' activities or to bring pressure to bear on the Honduran government.

    "John Negroponte is a man of enormous experience and skill " who "has done a really good job of speaking for the United States to the world about our intentions to spread freedom and peace," Bush said at the White House yesterday, seated next to Negroponte.

    Bush said there was "no doubt in my mind [Negroponte] can handle it, no doubt in my mind he will do a very good job, and there's no doubt in my mind that Iraq will be free and democratic and peaceful."

    The ambassadorship requires Senate confirmation. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, which would hold a hearing and vote on the nomination, said he backs Bush's choice and would work to swiftly schedule a hearing.

    Despite his broad experience, Negroponte will face steep challenges in Iraq, where a stubborn insurgency against a U.S. occupation is beginning to draw comparisons to Vietnam. Negroponte, who is not an expert on the Arab world, will be taking charge of a heavily guarded mission of 3,000 people that will be the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

    The Bush administration was known to favor an ambassador who could run a sprawling establishment - like the U.S. mission to the United Nations - and be able to work well with the U.S. military once power is transferred to an interim Iraqi government on June 30.

    Contrast to Bremer

    The low-key Negroponte is expected to present a contrast to the current civilian administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, a forceful and telegenic presence on Sunday talk shows and elsewhere.

    Negroponte served as an aide to Henry A. Kissinger during the Paris peace talks on Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he served as ambassador to Mexico and then to the Philippines, having earlier held consular jobs in Ecuador and Greece.

    During his four-decade diplomatic career, Negroponte was also a deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans and fisheries affairs before becoming deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

    Negroponte arrived at the United Nations one week after the Sept. 11 attacks, after being grilled by the Foreign Relations Committee about human rights abuses committed in Honduras while he was ambassador from 1981 to 1985.

    Questioned on Honduras

    Committee members questioned whether Negroponte had played down or knowingly failed to report government abuses, possibly affecting congressional support for the Reagan administration's plan to build up the military in neighboring Central American nations.

    In 1995, The Sun published a series about a Honduran army unit that was trained and equipped by the CIA and that kidnapped, tortured and executed hundreds of suspected subversives during the 1980s. The articles showed that Negroponte had access to information about abuses committed by the battalion.

    Negroponte said he had served "honorably and conscientiously in a manner fully consistent with and faithful to applicable laws and policies."

    Last year, in the run-up to the Iraq war, Negroponte said he saw little hope that Iraq would voluntarily disarm. "They are not cooperating unconditionally," he said. "In the days ahead, we believe the council and its member governments must face its responsibilities."

    Negroponte and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a longtime friend, succeeded in persuading the U.N. Security Council to give unanimous approval to the resolution requiring Hussein to disarm or face "serious consequences."

    But the council did not endorse the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. A U.N. resolution to support it was withdrawn in the face of a threatened veto by France.

    Last fall, Negroponte and Powell, after weeks of negotiations, were credited with the council's unanimous approval of a U.S.-backed resolution that included exclusive U.S. control over Iraq's political affairs and an authorization of a multinational peacekeeping force under American command.

    The resolution called on U.N. member nations to contribute money and troops to ease the burden on U.S. troops and help stabilize the country.

    "It's a way of saying, 'Look, the argument about the military action back in March is behind us,'" Negroponte said of the 15-0 vote. "No matter what you think of that, you've got to move forward. So how do you move forward?"

    Six months later - with some coalition troops leaving Iraq, a rising insurgency and mounting American combat deaths - that question is still being asked.

    Sun staff writer Mark Matthews contributed to this article.

    John D. Negroponte

    New Position: Nominated to become U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

    Age and occupation: 64, currently U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

    Career: Diplomat since 1960, including controversial term as ambassador to Honduras.

    Outlook: Will head largest U.S. embassy in history, with a staff of more than 3,000 Americans.

    Copyright 2004, The Baltimore Sun |
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN,2446240.story,1240201.story,1305738.story,2249629.story,1502347.story
    A survivor tells her story
    Treatment for a leftist: Kicks, freezing water and electric shocks. In between, a visitor from the CIA.
    DAY AFTER DAY, for 78 days, Ines Consuelo Murillo was tortured by a secret Honduran military intelligence unit called Battalion 316.

    Her captors tied the 24-year-old woman's hands and feet, hung her naked from the ceiling and beat her with their fists. They fondled her. They nearly drowned her. They clipped wires to her breasts and sent electricity surging through her body.

    "It was so frightening the way my body would shake when they shocked me. They put rags in my throat so I would not scream," she said. "But I screamed so loud, sometimes it sounded like an animal. I would even scare myself."

    Murillo is one of hundreds abducted and tortured during the 1980s by Battalion 316, a unit trained and equipped by the CIA to gather intelligence about subversives, at a time when Honduras was crucial to the Reagan administration's war against communism in Central America.

    Many of those kidnapped were later murdered, their bodies discovered in fields and along riverbanks. At least 184 people are missing and presumed dead.
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty.
    Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived? Now we know: Yes, Yes and yes.
    ...The search for Nelson Mackay Chavarria - family man, government lawyer, possible subversive - began one Sunday in 1982 after he devoured a pancake breakfast and stepped out to buy a newspaper.

    It ended last December when his wife, Amelia, watched as forensic scientists plucked his moldering bones from a pit in rural Honduras. Spotting a scrap of the red-and-blue shirt her husband was wearing the day he disappeared, she gasped: "Oh my God, that's him!"

    Along with Amelia Mackay, the nation of Honduras has begun to confront a truth it has long suspected - that hundreds of its citizens were kidnapped, tortured and killed in the 1980s by a secret army unit trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Published on Friday, April 30, 2004 by the Inter Press Service
    Congress Ignores 'Dirty War' Past of New Iraq Envoy
    by Jim Lobe

    WASHINGTON - John Negroponte, the Bush administration's nominee to become Washington's first ambassador to Iraq since last year's invasion, was talking about how much ''sovereignty'' the country's new government will enjoy after Jun. 30, when U.S. military forces will remain in control of security.

    ''When it comes to issues like (the siege of) Fallujah'', said Negroponte, currently Washington's ambassador to the United Nations, ''I think that is going to be the kind of situation that is going to have to ... be the subject of real dialogue between our military commanders, the new Iraqi government, and, I think, the United States mission as well''.

    That was too much for Andres Thomas Conteris, a human rights and peace activist who was sitting in the hearing room.

    At that point, he stood up and, in a determined voice, said: ''There is no sovereignty, Mr Ambassador, if the U.S. continues to exercise security. Senators, please ask the ambassador about Battalion 316. Ask him about a death squad in Honduras that he supported''.

    Security personnel quickly confronted Conteris and escorted him from the room, while Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar gaveled the hearing back to order, and Negroponte, the smooth-as-silk career diplomat fluent in five languages, went on as if nothing had happened.

    And, while everyone in the hearing room knew exactly what Conteris was referring to, the senators also ignored the interruption, repeatedly praising Negroponte for his distinguished career and his courage in taking on such a challenging and potentially dangerous assignment. Only two senators alluded to Honduras, albeit obliquely, suggesting they may have had some differences with the nominee in the distant past, but that it was all behind them now.

    With the committee's approval in hand, Negroponte, by all accounts an accomplished diplomat who has held senior posts in the White House and the State Department and headed U.S. embassies in Quito, Tegucigalpa, Mexico City and Manila, will direct the world's largest U.S. embassy when it opens its doors in Baghdad on Jul. 1, the day after ''sovereignty'' is to be transferred from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to a yet-to-be-chosen new Iraqi government. He will be in charge of nearly 2,000 employees, most of them Americans.

    A long-time friend of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Negroponte is generally considered to be a pragmatist -- rather than an ideologue -- albeit one with a hawkish reputation that dates to his work as a young diplomat in Vietnam in the 1960s. Some describe him as a low-key version of CPA chief Paul Bremer.
    But Bremer did not work in Honduras.

    ''I spoke up because Negroponte at that moment was talking about sovereignty'', Conteris, whose mother is Uruguayan and who has lived in Bolivia and Honduras, told IPS later. ''I lived in Honduras for five years, and I know the impact Negroponte's policies had there in the early 1980s (when) Honduras was known as the USS Honduras, basically an occupied aircraft carrier''.

    Negroponte was sent by the incoming administration of then President Ronald Reagan (1981-89) to Tegucigalpa in early 1981 to transform Honduras into a military and intelligence base directed against Nicaragua and the left-wing insurgents in neighboring El Salvador -- a mission he largely accomplished in the four years he spent running what at that time was Washington's biggest embassy in the Americas.
    To do so, he and the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Donald Winter, formed a close alliance with Gen Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, the army's ambitious and murderous commander who admired -- and implemented -- the ''dirty war'' tactics that he had learned from the Argentine military in the late 1970s.
    The Argentine junta sent advisers to Honduras at Alvarez' request to begin building what would become a U.S.-backed contra force against Nicaragua.

    Until Negroponte's arrival, Honduras was a sleepy, relatively untroubled backwater in the region whose military, unlike those of its neighbors, was seen as relatively progressive, if corrupt, and loathe to resort to actual violence against dissidents. But with the support of the CIA and the Argentines, Alvarez moved to change that radically, according to declassified documents as well as detailed and award-winning reporting by the 'Baltimore Sun' in the mid-1990s.

    A special intelligence unit of the Honduran Armed Forces, called Battalion 316, was put together by Alvarez and supplied and trained by the CIA and the Argentines. It was a death squad that kidnapped and tortured hundreds of real or suspected ''subversives'', ''disappeared'' at least 180 of them -- including U.S. missionaries -- during Negroponte's tenure. Such activities were previously unknown in Honduras.

    At the same time, Negroponte, who was often referred to as ''proconsul'' by the Honduran media, oversaw the expansion of two major military bases used by U.S. forces and Nicaraguan contras, and, after the U.S. Congress put strict limits on the training of Salvadorian soldiers in-country, he ''persuaded'' the government to build a Regional Military Training Center (RMTC) on Honduran territory, despite the fact that Honduras and El Salvador were traditional enemies who had fought a bloody war less than 15 years before.

    Throughout this period, Negroponte steadfastly defended Alvarez, at one point calling him ''a model professional'', and repeatedly denied anything was amiss on the human rights front in Honduras despite rising concern in Congress about reports of disappearances and killings by death squads.

    In a 1982 letter to 'The Economist' magazine, he asserted it was ''simply untrue to state that death squads have made their appearance in Honduras''. He said much the same in testimony before Congress at the time.

    Embassy employees were told to cleanse their reports about rights abuses, even as the military's role in the killings and disappearances became widely known -- and reported by Honduran newspapers -- within the country. One exiled colonel living in Mexico denounced Alvarez for creating a death squad: Negroponte denied the charge.

    Alvarez's excesses, the unprecedented human rights abuses and the country's total alignment with U.S. plans eventually became too much for the Honduran military itself. In a move that caught Negroponte and Winter completely by surprise, his fellow-officers deposed the armed forces chief in a barracks coup in 1984. Negroponte, whom the insurgents reportedly wanted to have declared persona non grata, was back in Washington within the year.

    As more details about Battalion 316 have come to light in the 20 years since, Negroponte has continued to deny any knowledge of its existence or activities.

    As late as 2001, when President George W Bush nominated him as United Nations ambassador, Negroponte insisted, ''To this day, I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras''.

    Negroponte's protests of innocence are simply not credible to many observers, including his predecessor in Tegucigalpa, who claims to have personally briefed him about Alvarez and his murderous plans. Rights groups have also pointed out he successfully intervened with the army to gain the release of at least two people who had been abducted, suggesting that he must have known who was responsible.
    Activists and some senators with whom he had tangled over Honduras in the past had hoped his record would have been closely scrutinized by the Senate when he was nominated to the U.N. ambassadorship, but his nomination was rushed to the floor for confirmation in the immediate aftermath of the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, when the administration argued there was no time for extended hearings given the urgency of directing the U.S. response at the world body.
    Now he goes to Iraq to oversee its democratization.
    Copyright 2004 IPS-Inter Press Service.
  6. by   elkpark
    Just more of the same from our so-called "President" and his cronies. Are you surprised?
  7. by   Jaaaman
    Quote from elkpark
    Just more of the same from our so-called "President" and his cronies. Are you surprised?
    Bush picked the best man for the job in his opinion. This man has a lot of foreign relations experience and has been in many hotbeds nations as their ambassador. He is fluent in 5 languages. None of that stuff posted here can be tied directly to John Negroponte. Nor did our "so called president" have anything to do with these incidences.
    Last edit by Jaaaman on May 1, '04
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    Elkpark, propamalol amd sumatriptan ready just in case my > BP gives me a migraine.

    Dems Ignore Negroponte's Death Squad Past, Look to Confirm Iraq Appointment
    Wednesday, April 28th, 2004
    At a Senate hearing on the appointment of John Negroponte to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Negroponte was never questioned about supporting widespread campaigns of terror and human rights abuses as ambassador to Honduras. We speak to a priest and a nun who lived in Latin America in the early 1980s as well as a human rights activist who disrupted Negroponte at the Senate hearing. [includes rush transcript]

    Yesterday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on President Bush's nominee for US ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte and reports from Capitol Hill indicate that he is now on a fast-track for Senate confirmation. The vote could come as early as Friday.

    If confirmed Negroponte will head up the largest US embassy in the world, with more than 3,000 employees and over 500 CIA officers. Despite what some would call Negroponte's infamous history in Central America as US ambassador to Honduras during the 1980s, he has come up against almost no Congressional opposition, even from Senate democrats who once criticized him for supporting widespread human rights abuses.

    As ambassador to Honduras, Negroponte played a key role in coordinating US covert aid to the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and shoring up a CIA-backed death squad in Honduras. During his term as ambassador there, diplomats alleged that the embassy's annual human rights reports made Honduras sound more like Norway than Argentina. In a 1995 series, the Baltimore Sun detailed the activities of a secret CIA-trained Honduran army unit, Battalion 3-16, that used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." In 1994, Honduras's National Commission for the Protection of Human Rights reported that it was officially admitted that 179 civilians were still missing.

    A former official 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. During Negroponte's tenure, US military aid to Honduras skyrocketed from $3.9 million to over $77 million. Much of this went to ensure the Honduran army's loyalty in the battle against popular movements throughout Central America.
    Despite Negroponte's history, Democrats have not offered any organized resistance to his nomination. In fact some observers described yesterday's hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a love fest. Sen. Chris Dodd who opposed Negroponte when the committee reported his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2001, has now come out in support of him, saying, "Whatever differences I've had years ago with John Negroponte, I happen to feel he's a very fine Foreign Service officer and has done a tremendous job in many places."
    Senator Chris Dodd, speaking at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on John Negroponte.
    While most Democrats either praised Negroponte or refused to raise his past record, some of the toughest questioning came from Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. But he did not question Negroponte on Central America, but on Iraq.
    As Negroponte, responded to Hagel, he was interrupted by an activist, Andres Conteris of Non-violence International.
    Andres Conteris, is program director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the human rights group Non-violence International. He disrupted yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on John Negroponte's appointment as US ambassador to Iraq.
    Father Joe Mulligan, is a Jesuit priest who has been based in Nicaragua for the past 18 years. He has been one of the main activists trying to determine what happened to American priest James Carney, who disappeared in Honduras in 1983. He has met John Negroponte.
    Sister Laetitia Bordes, a Catholic nun with the Society of Helpers, a Catholic community of women. She is talking to us from San Bruno, California.
    AMY GOODMAN: Here is some of what Dodd had to say at yesterday's hearing.
    SENATOR CHRISTOPHER DODD: Since this is a non-traditional confirmation hearing, I was trying to recall a similar kind of a hearing. We haven't gone the extent that the finance committee did a number of years ago when our former colleague Lloyd Benton was nominated by President Clinton to be Secretary of the Treasury. Pat Moynihan moved the nomination in the committee and then they proceeded with the questions. They actually voted him out before they started the questions. We're not going that far, John, here, but in a sense, what I'm getting at here, it's obvious that this committee is going to confirm your nomination. So, in the traditional sense, the normal question and answer period is not really appropriate here because I don't think anything that you are going to say is going to dissuade any of us that you should not be the choice and get this job done.

    AMY GOODMAN: Connecticut Senator, Christopher Dodd, speaking yesterday at the senate foreign relations hearings yesterday. Most democrats either praised Negroponte or refused to raise his past record, some of the toughest questioning come from republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska. He didn't question Negroponte on Central America, but rather on Iraq. Negroponte responded to Hagel, he was interrupted by an activist and filmmaker, Andres Conteris of the non-violence international.
    CHUCK HAGEL: If they have sovereignty, Mr. Ambassador what does that mean? Do they or don't they have sovereignty on a specific issue like that, which obviously could widen and be applied to any military exercise or national security issue?

    JOHN NEGROPONTE: And that is why I used the term exercise of sovereignty. I think in the case of military activity, they will -- their forces will come under the unified command of the multinational force. That is the plan, and I -- I think that as far 58s American forces are concerned, coalition forces, I think they're going to have the freedom to act in their self-defense and are going to be free to operate in Iraq, as they best see fit, but when it comes to issues like Fallujah, as I discussed earlier, I think that that is going to be the kind of situation that is going to have to in addition to everything else be the subject of real dialogue between our military commanders, the new Iraqi government, and I think the united states mission as well.
    CHUCK HAGEL: Well --
    ANDRES CONTERIS: Mr. Ambassador, there can be no dialogue if the United States --
    SPEAKER: Please. Let's have order in the hearing. Please. Please.

    ANDRES CONTERIS: Mr. Ambassador, please --

    SPEAKER: Please, let the ambassador testify. Appreciate the comments from the audience.
    ANDRES CONTERIS: There is no sovereignty, Mr. Ambassador. There is no sovereignty if the United States continues to exercise security in Iraq. Senators, please ask the ambassadors about the Battalion 316. He had involvement with a death squad in Honduras that he supported.

    AMY GOODMAN: Andres Conteris for the human rights group, non-violence international interrupting the hearings for John Negroponte. It was hard to understand what you were saying. What did you say, and why did you feel the need to interrupt this nomination confirmation hearing?

    ANDRES CONTERIS: Amy, I felt it was imperative for those of us who support peace and non-violence to be at this hearing where this -- where this man who we considered to be a state terrorist is about to be confirmed to the largest diplomatic post in U.S. history. What Negroponte was saying at the time is that when it comes to issues like Fallujah, there -- we need to engage in real dialogue, and I could not believe that he would use such words. I rose and spoke and said that there could be -- can be no dialogue as long as the U.S. continues to commit war on Iraq. I then went on to say that the people of Honduras consider him to be a state terrorist, and that we need to be pursuing non-violence in the Middle East instead of the -- the way that we are committing violence there with the war. I went on to then emphasize that the senators need to ask the ambassador -- about his involvement in human rights violations and particularly his support for a depth squad called Battalion 316 while he was ambassador in the early 1980's in Honduras.

    AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined on the phone by sister Laetitia Bordes, catholic nun with the Society of Helpers, which is a catholic community of women from San Bruno, California. And Father Joe Mulligan, a Jesuit priest who has been in Nicaragua for the past 18 years. One of the main people trying to determine what happened to a U.S. priest named James Carney who disappeared in Honduras in 1938. You have met with John Negroponte, Father John Mulligan. Can you talk about his record as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985? Father John Mulligan? Father Joe?


    AMY GOODMAN: You can talk about the record of Ambassador Negroponte from 1981 to 1985?

    FATHER MULLIGAN: Well, Ambassador Negroponte was, of course, in charge of U.S. policy in Honduras and also in relation to U.S. policy trying to help to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, so he was the main person responsible for that intervention in the sovereign affairs of Nicaragua and now he's apparently about to be appointed our Ambassador to Iraq where we're seeing a much more drastic and massive and direct intervention in a sovereign country, but also, I think the fact that Mr. Negroponte, when he was ambassador in Honduras, he did not report adequately, nor did the C.I.A. report adequately, to Washington on Honduran army violations of human rights. We have this in the C.I.A. inspector general's report on C.I.A. activities in Honduras in the 1980's, various statements and much of the material was blacked out, but there are a number of statements to the effect that the U.S. Embassy in that period of time and the C.I.A. were downplaying Honduran army violations of human rights in their reports to Washington. This does not show well for the ability of the American people to know what the United States is doing, will be doing in Iraq, and what the security forces that we are creating will be doing in Iraq.

    AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us about what happened to James Carney in Honduras and about this Battalion 316. I'm also going to put the question to Laetitia Bordes, who we started a conversation with yesterday. First, we're going to break for stations to identify themselves. We're talking about the confirmation of John Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq once the handover takes place. He will be replacing L. Paul Bremer. Stay with us.

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, the war and peace report. I am very much looking forward to seeing listeners of WPFW as well as viewers of Baltimore public access TV, I think it's channel 5 tonight in Washington, D.C., as we celebrate community radio via UDC Auditorium on Van Ness University of District of Columbia in our continuation of the Exception to the Rulers tour. You can call WPFW if you want more information. I'm Amy Goodman, and we're talking about John Negroponte, to be confirmed, as early as Friday, as the next ambassador to Iraq, replacing L. Paul Bremer. We're talking to Father Joe Mulligan, a Jesuit priest who had been based in Nicaragua for the past 18 years, one of the main people trying to determine what happened to Father James Carney, who was a priest who disappeared in 1983. You dealt directly with John Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985.

    FATHER MULLIGAN: Well, I talked to Mr. Negroponte at the State Department some years after that. We talked about the case of Father Jim Carney. During that period of time when he was ambassador, I did not have contact with him. He told me that he simply accepted the Honduran military's version of what might have happened, which was simply that they didn't know anything about Father Carney. Of course, his body has never been found, but the Honduran military said they didn't know anything about him, but if he was a member of this insurgent group of Hondurans which had come in from Nicaragua, perhaps he had simply starved to death in the mountains. That's been the official position of the Honduran military and government and Mr. Negroponte said he didn't have any reason to doubt that, and that he had not really looked any further into it, because he left that up to the Hondurans.

    AMY GOODMAN: Battalion 316, Sister Laetitia Bordes, can you talk about this, and why you met with Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980's.

    SISTER LAETITIA BORDES: Why yes, good morning Amy. As I mentioned yesterday on your program, I had gone to Honduras to meet with then-ambassador John Negroponte to find out what had happened to 32 women from El Salvador, who had taken refuge in Honduras and who disappeared. At that time there was the Battalion 316. The Battalion was another name for the horrible death squad that was operating in Honduras at that time. That was well known to ambassador Negroponte. The reason I say it was very well known to ambassador Negroponte was that General Alvarez Martinez was then chief of the Honduran armed forces, and he was the secret head of battalion 316. Now, Negroponte and Martinez, the people would tell you, it was known that they would wine and dine together, and had ongoing connections. So, it is absurd to think that Mr. Negroponte would say that he did not know what was going in El Salvador at that time. As I found out 13 years later that the women we were looking for had been badly, badly tortured and then put in a helicopter and dropped into the ocean. They used Salvadoran military and helicopters to take these women and drop them over the ocean. Now, Battalion 316 continued to function the whole time that Negroponte was there, and I don't think too many people know that General Gustavo Martinez was kind of, quote, "Beheaded by his own military." There was kind of a coup, and he took temporary refuge in the United States. When he went back to Honduras, he was assassinated. I don't think many people know about that. It is believed that he was assassinated by members of the military, who were very upset with him because of deals that he had made with the United States while he was the general. What angers me -- angers me very, very much is that there's absolutely no reference being made to the past of Mr. Negroponte in Honduras during these hearings. We just don't hear anything about it. We do not learn from our history. The people of Iraq are those who are going to be the ongoing victims of John Negroponte, who believes that the end justifies the means.

    AMY GOODMAN: Father Joe Mulligan, were you surprised that democrats like Senator Christopher Dodd who had actually objected to Negroponte's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations are not raising questions now and are in fact fully supporting him?

    FATHER MULLIGAN: Yes, I have been surprised and very disappointed. I think that his past record is something that needs to be scrutinized if we're going to have an ambassador in charge of the largest U.S. Embassy in the world.

    We need somebody who does not have the history of as the C.I.A. Inspector general said, "Downplaying the human rights situation, downplaying the problem of violations of human rights in that country."

    I might just said something about Battalion 316 -- one of the former members of Battalion 316 who deserted from that Battalion and left Honduras about in the mid 1980's has testified in a number of instances that Father Jim Carney was captured by the Honduran army and turned over for interrogation and torture and elimination by Battalion 316. So, we have different kinds of reports about the fate of Father Carney.

    As I said earlier, Mr. Negroponte has simply accepted the official statement of the Honduran military that perhaps Father Carney, an American citizen, starved to death in the mountains. There was also another American citizen in that group. It was a small group of Honduran insurgents who entered Honduras from Nicaragua, Father Carney went along as a Chaplain, accompanying the group, but there was another U.S. Citizen, a Nicaraguan American, in that group, David Baez, who had interestingly enough been a member of the U.S. Green Berets for about 11 years previously and had returned to his native country, Nicaragua, and then joined this group of about 100 Hondurans, along with Father Carney going into Honduras, and David Baez, another U.S. Citizen, also disappeared.

    We have never been able to find his remains, nor have we been able to find out exactly what happened.

    I think the ambassador -- the U.S. Ambassador in a particular country is responsible to investigate what happened in the case of this -- of this disappearance of two American citizens, and Mr. Negroponte simply accepted the official Honduran line on that, and as I said, he -- the Embassy and the C.I.A. Were under -- underestimating or underreporting the violations of human rights in Honduras in their reports to Washington.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, Father Joe Mulligan, I want to thank you for being with us. I should also add that Father Mulligan has just come out of jail, serving three months for protesting at the School of the Americas in Georgia. Sister Laetitia Bordes with the Society of Helpers, thank you.
  9. by   elkpark
    Elkpark, propamalol amd sumatriptan ready just in case my > BP gives me a migraine.

    Dems Ignore Negroponte's Death Squad Past, Look to Confirm Iraq Appointment
    Wednesday, April 28th, 2004
    Sorry, spacenurse, I'm "just" a psych nurse, so all I can do is talk with you about how you feel about all this crap that's going on ...
  10. by   donmurray
    Spacenurse, if it helps, you are at least dealing with reality, and not stuck in denial, like some!
  11. by   Jaaaman
    John Negroponte, a career U.S. diplomat and former aide to Henry Kissinger, was U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He was interviewed for this episode of COLD WAR in September and October of 1997.

    On Soviet-Cuban involvement in Central America:

    I certainly think [the Soviets] must have enjoyed our discomfort. Whether they micromanaged this or not, I just I don't know. I'd be reluctant to say. My working hypothesis was that they sort of let Cuba have the lead on this, and basically said to them: "Have at it boys, and see what you can accomplish." ...

    I don't think there was any doubt of Cuban involvement. There was evidence of that -- of people being trained in Cuba, recruited in those countries, be it Nicaragua, or El Salvador in particular. Trained in Cuban training camps and then reinfiltrated back into their countries. I think there also had been, just before I got to Honduras, a rather spectacular capture of an arms shipment from Nicaragua, [headed] across Honduran territory destined for El Salvador. And I think that some of that equipment had been also to Cuba and the Soviet bloc. But certainly in my own mind I had no doubt that these [Central American] conflicts were being fueled by Cuba, and I think by implication by the Soviet Union. ...

    The experience of the late 1970s was for the United States, I think, a very sobering one. Indeed, as far as the Cold War is concerned, you have in particular two events: the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978, and the ensuing Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. So viewed in that context, what then started to happen in El Salvador and in Nicaragua were I think of considerable concern to Washington: "Well gee, is this all a part of a pattern? And if it is, or if that appears to be the case, then we really have to do something about it." ...

    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 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. ...

    I think it has [always] been recognized that Central America had vulnerability, both politically and economically, because of their social structure, because of their excessive dependence on a very small number of products for export, because of the disparities in wealth between the rich and the poor, and so forth. ... There is no question that these societies were vulnerable politically and socially. The point was whether just because of these vulnerabilities, should we allow external forces such as the Cubans or the Soviets to come in and try to take advantage of those situations? That was the issue. And that was what we were reacting to and that is why we put so much effort into Central America.

    On U.S. support for Central American dictators:

    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. ...

    Those of us who actually were working in the region at the time will point out how strongly committed we were to supporting the democratic process and encouraging elections, in spite of the fact that a war was going on in several of these countries. 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. And I think you can certainly see evidence of that in El Salvador and in Honduras as well. ... Shortly after I arrived [Honduras] had the first presidential election for a civilian president in nine years. They conducted mid-term elections during the time I was there. That pattern replicated itself throughout Central America. So I think that the commitment to the democratic process was very, very much a part of our of our strategy and our policy. And 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.

    On the U.S. invasion of Grenada:

    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, who called me up to say "Do you know what's going on?" And I said, "Well I have an idea, but I don't know for sure." And he said "Well, you're invading Grenada." He said, "Please tell the troops that when they're finished there to just keep on coming to Nicaragua." ...

    I think people took Grenada for what it turned out to be, which was a very specific incident and from which one couldn't necessarily make a lot of generalizations. On the other hand, of course, it was a signal that we could act decisively.

    On the Cold War's effect on Central America:

    Well, there was great suffering. Perhaps if one could have foreseen what would have happened in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps one could argue that some of this conflict may not have been necessary, and that maybe these things would have turned out the same way without all this conflict. There certainly were a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering, a lot of refugees, a lot of population movements.

    On the other hand, I think an equally if not more compelling case can be made that had we not done something to stop communist regimes from being established in the other Central American countries, other than Nicaragua -- say that they had been established in El Salvador and then in Guatemala and possibly even Honduras during the 1980s -- if we hadn't taken the steps that we took, I think the immediate suffering could have even been considerably greater -- through population movement, the loss of human freedom, the degradation of economic conditions. It seems to be that when these communist regimes take over -- if you look at the example of Vietnam or Cambodia or Nicaragua -- that even in conditions of peace they don't seem to be able to figure out how to support their people, and the human suffering is enormous. 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.
    Last edit by Jaaaman on May 1, '04
  12. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you. I had not read that interview.
    Clearly the Ambassador and administration were still concerned that Soviet communism could take over in this hemisphere in the min 1980s.
    I am still concerned that he was not questioned regarding human rights abuses, alleghations of torture, murder, and US citizens among the deseparecidos.

    But certainly in my own mind I had no doubt that these [Central American] conflicts were being fueled by Cuba, and I think by implication by the Soviet Union. ...
    what then started to happen in El Salvador and in Nicaragua were I think of considerable concern to Washington: "Well gee, is this all a part of a pattern? And if it is, or if that appears to be the case, then we really have to do something about it." ...
    It was a central American domino theory if you will:
    On U.S. support for Central American dictators:
    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. ...
    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.
  13. by   donmurray
    I beg to differ on the suffering case. Fort Benning has provided training in terrorising South Americans among others for nearly 60 years...

    The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

    Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the "biggest base for destabilization in Latin America." The SOA, frequently dubbed the "School of Assassins," has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.

    Over its 56 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    Father Mulligan has just come out of jail, serving three months for protesting at the School of the Americas in Georgia.