By Jan Herman
Apropos of yesterday’s item about googling “Negroponte, mass murder“: Democracy Now! has a top-notch segment this morning, headlined “Promoting the ‘Ambassador of Torture’,” which offers details on how our Dear Leader’s nominee for national intelligence director “played a key role in coordinating U.S. covert aid to the Contras who targeted civilians in Nicaragua and shoring up a CIA-backed death squad in Honduras.”
You won’t find those details in today’s New York Times reports on John Negroponte’s nomination. Instead, you’ll find this ass-covering piece of boilerplate in two largely favorable pieces about him and the appointment:
Mr. Negroponte is not an entirely uncontroversial choice: in his previous confirmation hearings, he was questioned about his performance as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980’s. At that time the C.I.A. station and the embassy were accused of turning a blind eye to torture and other abuses by the Hondurans, and of shading reports of the situation in the country for political or ideological reasons.
That graf, from David Sanger’s Man in the News commentary, “An Old Hand in New Terrain” (which reports that Negroponte, above, will be “a stabilizing force”), appears again in the main news story (relegated to sidebar status on the Website), like so:
In his previous confirmation hearings, Mr. Negroponte was asked about his time in Honduras in the 1980’s. At that time the C.I.A. station and the embassy were accused of turning a blind eye to abuses by the Hondurans, and of shading reports of the situation in the country for political or ideological reasons.
You have to wonder about Sanger’s soft-pedalling phrase “not entirely uncontroversial choice” and the notion that Negroponte was accused of merely “turning a blind eye” in light of the commentary by Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, who said this morning on Democracy Now! that when Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador in Honduras he was “active in running the paramilitary war” and that he subsequently lied to the Congress about it. That’s a tad more than “turning a blind eye.”
Further, how does the Times reconcile the ass-covering boilerplate with this, which appeared in the main news story just a few paragraphs earlier?
“Negroponte is not a guy who polishes up his reports so that they make people feel good, and he has the ability to speak very honestly to his superiors, without hedging things, and the president likes that,” a Republican close to the White House said.
Speaks very honestly? Oh, really? Doesn’t polish up his reports? Uh-huh. Dear Leader likes to hear the truth? Come again? And what about this? The Times highlights a pullquote in the print edition saying that Dear Leader regards Negroponte’s “time in Iraq” as beneficial and “will aid him in the new post” of national intelligence director. Yet the main news story also says Negroponte was “known to be eager to leave Baghdad” and quotes an unnamed “senior administration official” as saying he “made clear to everyone every time he came back that ‘I’ve got to get out of there.'”
What’s that all about? Iraq was bad for his career? Bad for the U.S? He had a change of heart about torture? Who knows? The Times offers no further explanation. Could be a can of worms. Could be some apple polishing. Could be something “not entirely uncontroversial.”