News Release

Negroponte Appointment: Topping a Career of Human-Rights Violations


Sister Dianna Ortiz is the executive director of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International. She was abducted and tortured in Guatemala while teaching indigenous children to read. She said today: “For those of us who work in the area of human rights, this is yet another sad day. The Bush administration seems determined to promote persons whose careers have been closely associated with torture. Could the administration not find one person for the job who has a demonstrated concern for defending human rights? Certainly, John Negroponte does not fit that bill. His nomination is appalling and an insult to those who have survived torture — one more slap on the face by the current administration.”
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Sister Laetitia Bordes led a campaign during Negroponte’s nomination as ambassador to the United Nations. She traveled to Honduras on a fact-finding delegation during his tenure there and met with him. She said today: “During his nomination to the U.N. ambassadorship, we carried out a public information campaign detailing how Negroponte gave the CIA-backed Honduran death squads an open field when he was ambassador to Honduras. His hearings, however, were held a couple of days after the 9/11 tragedy, so he was hurriedly confirmed as people did not want prolonged hearings in that environment. That’s how he got confirmed the first time. … Negroponte collaborated with human-rights violators everywhere he has been; his record is public. Our Congress is letting us down again: Negroponte is once again being promoted instead of being held accountable. … During Negroponte’s tenure, U.S. military aid to Honduras grew from $4 million to $77.4 million; the U.S. launched a covert war against Nicaragua and mined its harbors; and the U.S. trained Honduran military to support the Contras.” [An Associated Press story states: “During 2001 confirmation hearings for his U.N. ambassadorship — an appointment that was delayed for six months because of the controversy over his tenure in Honduras — Negroponte testified that he did not believe death squads were operating in Honduras.”] More Information

Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s as a reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He said today: “The choice of John Negroponte to be the first U.S. intelligence czar — following Elliott Abrams’s promotion to be deputy national security adviser — marks the continued reemergence of officials tied to the darkest moments of Central American violence in the 1980s. There’s also irony entrusting Negroponte to oversee objective intelligence analysis, since either he was oblivious to illicit behavior going on around him as U.S. ambassador to Honduras or he was complicit in a wide range of human rights abuses.”
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Kornbluh is senior analyst with the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. He was co-director of the Iran-Contra documentation project and director of the Archive’s project on U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. He is the co-editor of The Iran-Contra Scandal: A Declassified History. He said today: “The documents … showed that Negroponte helped clear the way for a secret agreement under which the United States would provide more CIA money to Honduran army generals and additional military and economic aid to the country. In exchange, Honduras agreed to allow the Contras to continue operating on Honduran soil.”
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McGovern is a 27-year veteran of the CIA. He said today: “Negroponte’s record does not inspire confidence that he will tell the president anything that is likely to disturb him, or Cheney, or Rumsfeld. The upshot is that there is likely to be simply one more bureaucratic level at which intelligence can be politicized.”

Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He said today: “Affidavits and testimony by Honduran survivors have reported on his involvement in sanctioning, protecting or covering up these death squads. Also, during the time Negroponte spent at the Tegucigalpa embassy, millions of dollars in bribes were paid to corrupt Honduran officials to allow room for the U.S.-backed Contras to stage attacks on the Sandinistas in neighboring Nicaragua. Negroponte has claimed that he did not recall any human rights violations ever having taken place in the country during his time there. … Bush had made a brilliant if demonic appointment. Negroponte will likely get the job done, but at an insupportable cost to this and other countries’ democratic institutions as he brings his well-tested authoritarian personality to the job.”
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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