<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p><br>Media Omissions on Negroponte's Record<br><br><br>Media Advisory (2/22/05)<br><br>George W. Bush's February 17 nomination of John Negroponte to the newly created<br>job of director of intelligence was the subject of a flurry of media coverage.<br>But one part of Negroponte's resume was given little attention: his role in the<br>brutal and illegal Contra war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in<br>the mid-1980s.<br><br>From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, a country that<br>was being used as a training and staging ground for the CIA-created and -backed<br>Contra armies, who relied on a terrorist strategy of targeting civilians. Those<br>years saw a massive increase in U.S. military aid to Honduras, and Negroponte was<br>a key player in organizing training for the Contras and procuring weapons for the<br>armies that the United States was building in order to topple the socialist<br>Nicaraguan government (Extra!, 9-10/01).<br><br>Negroponte's ambassadorship was marked by another human rights scandal: the<br>Honduran army's Battalion 316, which operated as a death squad that tortured,<br>killed or disappeared "subversive" Hondurans-- and at least one U.S. citizen,<br>Catholic priest James Carney. Despite regular reporting of such crimes in the<br>Honduran press, the human rights reports of Negroponte's embassy consistently<br>failed to raise these issues. Critics contend that this was no accident: If such<br>crimes had been acknowledged, U.S. aid to the country's military would have come<br>under scrutiny, which could have jeopardized the Contra operations.<br><br>Many reports included brief mentions of Negroponte's past. The New York Times<br>(2/18/05), for example, noted that "critics say" that Negroponte "turned a blind<br>eye to human rights abuses" in Honduras. But the Times (like most mainstream<br>reports) quoted no critics on the subject; to get a sense of what Negroponte's<br>critics actually said, you had to tune into Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now<br>(2/18/05), where Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive said that<br>Negroponte "essentially ran Honduras as the Reagan administration changed it from<br>a small Central American country into a territorial battleship, if you will, to<br>fight the Contra war and overthrow the Sandinista government. He was really the<br>head person in charge of this whole operation, which became a massive<br>paramilitary war in the early 1980s."<br><br>Kornbluh added that declassified documents from those years show Negroponte had<br>"stepped out of being U.S. ambassador and kind of put on the hat of a C.I.A.<br>station chief in pushing for the Contras to get more arms, in lobbying and<br>meeting with very high Honduran officials to facilitate U.S. support for the<br>Contras and Honduran cooperation, even after the U.S. Congress terminated<br>official support for the Contra war."<br><br>The night of Bush's announcement, network news broadcasts woefully understated or<br>misrepresented this history. On NBC Nightly News (2/17/05), reporter Andrea<br>Mitchell glossed over Negroponte's Honduran record: "As Ronald Reagan's<br>ambassador to Honduras, he was accused of ignoring death squads and America's<br>secret war against Nicaragua." While Negroponte might be accused of ignoring<br>Honduran death squads, no one could credibly suggest he was ignoring "America's<br>secret war against Nicaragua." The documentary evidence, as Kornbluh explained,<br>suggests that he was intimately involved with running it. ABC's Good Morning<br>America Robin Roberts turned this reality on its head (2/18/05), noting that<br>Negroponte's "entire life has been a lesson in quiet and measured diplomacy" and<br>that "he generated controversy long after a stint in Honduras when he denied he<br>knew anything about the work of Contra rebel death squads."<br><br>Some reporters simply soft-pedaled the history; as CNN reporter Kitty Pilgrim put<br>it (2/17/05), "During his four-year stint as U.S. ambassador to Honduras, he had<br>a difficult balancing act in the battle against Communism in the neighboring<br>Sandinista government in Nicaragua." (Sandinista Nicaragua, of course, was not<br>Communist, but a country with a mixed economy and regular elections, one of which<br>voted the Sandinistas out of power in 1990.) Pilgrim's CNN colleague, Paula Zahn<br>(2/17/05), complained that "the critics are already out there sniping at him."<br><br>Fox News reporter Carl Cameron (2/17/05) noted that "the only partisan criticism<br>noted Negroponte's role as U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the '80s, when he<br>played a key role in the Reagan administration's covert disruption of Communism<br>in the Nicaragua." In this case, "covert disruption" stands in as a euphemism for<br>a bloody guerrilla war that took the lives of thousands of civilians. Cameron<br>went on to note that the "partisan" remarks "came from a member of the House,<br>which has no vote on his nomination."<br><br>NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly made similar observations (2/17/05), noting that<br>previous confirmation hearings generated "a lot of questions about the role he<br>played during the early '80s when he was the ambassador to Honduras." Kelly<br>seemed aware of this history, but thought it a settled matter: "He has already<br>dealt with those issues and obviously answered them satisfactorily-- he was<br>confirmed for that job at the United Nations."<br><br>Some pundits were remarkably lenient in the standards by which Negroponte should<br>be judged. Fox News Channel commentator Charles Krauthammer explained (2/17/05)<br>that "he was the ambassador in Honduras during the Contra war. So he clearly<br>knows how to deal with clandestine operations. That was a pretty clandestine one<br>for several years. And he didn't end up in jail, which is a pretty good attribute<br>for him. A lot of others practically did."<br><br>In general, right-wing pundits and commentators were much more likely than<br>mainstream news reporters to cite Negroponte's shady past-- as proof that he is<br>the right man for the job. On CNBC (2/17/05), Tony Blankley happily summarized<br>Negroponte's human rights record: "Negroponte is not just some ambassador. He has<br>a track record. Starting in Honduras in 1981, he was the ambassador who oversaw<br>the management when the Argentines turned over the covert operations against the<br>Nicaraguans. He took over that responsibility. He managed it operationally. The<br>CIA was very impressed with the way he handled that."<br><br>After James Warren of the Chicago Tribune disagreed (calling the Contra war an<br>"at times slimy operation"), Blankley offered a blunt response-- "Well, we won"--<br>which host Lawrence Kudlow endorsed: "We did win. Thank you, Tony. I was just<br>going to say, you know, the forces of freedom triumphed with a little bit of help<br>from the right country."<br><br>Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes took the same line (2/19/05): "I would say on<br>Central America, I give John Negroponte credit, along with people like Elliott<br>Abrams and President Reagan, for creating democracy in all those countries in<br>Central America, in Nicaragua, in El Salvador and in Honduras, where Marxists<br>were going to take over, they fought them back." By way of balance, Fox pundit<br>and NPR correspondent Juan Williams noted that while he didn't "have any love for<br>Marxists," it was important to note "what death squads do to people, and you<br>understand that nuns were involved, Fred, then you think-- wait a second-- excess<br>is not to be tolerated in the name of democracy." Barnes' response: "Well, now<br>that we have democracy, there are no death squads."<p><hr></blockquote><p>link<br><br>Oh well, I'm sure the right wing extremists will keep crying their mantra 'liberal bias, liberal bias, liberal bias' - Talk about beating a dead horse!<br><br>
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