News Release

“Why I Interrupted John Negroponte”


Conteris is a Latin America human rights activist. He spoke out during John Negroponte’s Senate confirmation hearing today (and was handcuffed and detained.) Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to Honduras during the Nicaragua Contra war in the early 1980s. Conteris said today: “I spoke up at the hearing just as they were talking about rendition. Rendition is equal to U.S. support for torture. It’s our government sending people to other countries where they can be tortured.”

Conteris added: “John Negroponte is an expert at covering up for torture. He did it while he was ambassador to Honduras, he did it as torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere continued while he was ambassador to Iraq. Now, if he is confirmed he will be in charge of the most massive intelligence apparatus in the world. It’s an apparatus that produces torture manuals and engages in torture — that trains people from other countries on how to torture, as we have seen from the School of the Americas.

“Negroponte is a death squad diplomat. He is associated, rightly, around the world with human rights violations. He supported death squads in Honduras, like Battalion 316. I lived in Honduras for five years, I know the impact Negroponte’s policies had there in the early 1980s.”

Conteris worked as a producer for “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a feature-length documentary that looks at the nature of U.S. policy in Latin America through the prism of the School of the Americas (renamed, in January of 2001, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), the controversial military school that trains Latin American soldiers in the USA.
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Currently in New York City, Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which today is releasing a backgrounder on both John Negroponte and John Bolton.
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Author of the book Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & “Project Truth,” Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s. He is editor of He said today: “John Negroponte says he will speak truth to power as National Director of Intelligence. But in the 1980s, his record shows that he told the Reagan administration what it wanted to hear. He sugarcoated the unpleasant truth about both the Nicaraguan Contras and the Honduran military. In one cable about downplaying Honduran abuses, he even cited a line from Shakespeare that ‘a friendly eye could never see such faults.'” [See in today’s Washington Post, “Papers Illustrate Negroponte’s Contra Role: Newly Released Documents Show Intelligence Nominee Was Active in U.S. Effort“.] Parry’s latest book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167