Saturday, April 07, 2001

If the Shrub doesn't watch out....poppy may land in jail YET!

Friday April 6, 2001,4273,4166120,00.html

Bush nominees under fire for link with contras
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles Guardian

George Bush's nominee for the post of US ambassador to the United Nations concealed from Congress human rights abuses in central America that were carried out by death squads trained and armed by the CIA.

John Negroponte, Mr Bush's choice for the UN job, and Otto Reich, who has been named by the president to a senior Latin American post, were also both closely linked with the illegal contra war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Their nomination has dismayed human rights activists in the US and Latin America. Critics hope that previously secret information about their former roles may emerge as the battle against the appointments begins.

Mr Negroponte was US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 and as such was in a key position to assist in the war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and rebels in El Salvador.  At the time, Honduras was known as "USS Honduras", such was its position as a base for attacks against leftwing groups.

The CIA helped to train an organisation called Battalion 3-16, which carried out the torture and "disappearing" of 184 people in Honduras deemed to be politically suspect or communist sympathisers. Until recently, some members of the battalion had been living in the US, but were deported just as Mr Bush's selection of Mr Negroponte was announced. Now one of the battalion members is threatening to blow the whistle on US involvement in training the death squads.

General Discua Elvir, a founder of the battalion, who has been deported to Honduras from Miami, appeared on television in Honduras and told the local newspaper La Prensa that he was brought to the US to coordinate the battalion with the contras.

The rightwing contras were illegally funded by arms sales to Iran.  One of George Bush senior's parting acts as president in 1992 was to pardon those implicated, thus ending the possibility of the full exposure of his and the Reagan administration's involvement.

Mr Negroponte's predecessor in Honduras, Jack Binns, was replaced after alerting Washington about extra-judicial executions by the Honduran authorities. Mr Binns has now told In These Times magazine: "Negroponte would have had to be deliberately blind not to know about human rights violations... One of the things a departing ambassador does is prepare a briefing book, and one of those issues we included [in the briefing book] was how to deal with the escalation of human rights issues."

"It's very troubling", Reed Brody, of Human Rights Watch in New York, said yesterday. "When John Negroponte was ambassador he looked the other way when serious atrocities were committed. One would have to wonder what kind of message the Bush administration is sending about human rights by this appointment."

Mr Negroponte is said to be the specific choice of Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

An ex-Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the Baltimore Sun which investigated US involvement in the region in 1995: "Their attitude [Mr Negroponte and other senior US officials] was one of tolerance and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed."

On several occasions, Mr Negroponte also met Colonel Oliver North, who coordinated support for the contras within the White House.

The Sun's investigation found that the CIA and US embassy knew of numerous abuses but continued to support Battalion 3-16 and ensured that the embassy's annual human rights report did not contain the full story.

Mr Negroponte, who retired from government service in 1997, has claimed that when abuses were brought to his attention he took action.

Mr Bush has also nominated another figure from the Iran-contra era as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

Cuban-born Otto Reich headed the state department's now defunct office of public diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean between 1983 and 1986. It was accused of engaging in illegal propaganda activities to promote the Reagan administration's policies in support of the contras. <<

Anyone familiar with the Iran-Contra saga knows that Reagan-Bush blatantly UNDERMINED the U.S. Constitution by ORDERING U.S. intelligence agencies to treat members of the U.S. Congress as "the ENEMY."

Amazingly, this same DECEPTIVE gang has been allowed to regain power and, even more amazing, the shady Iran-Contra characters are embraced by the Shrub.

If the guy doesn't watch out...his poppy may yet land in jail assuming one or more participants in the Iran-Contra operation are allowed to tell the TRUTH and nothing but the truth.

Admittedly, that is highly unlikely.