It's like the 80s all over again
...Through it all only one shadow of suspicion has passed over Negroponte's behavior in public life: the question of what he knew, and when he knew it, about America's secret association with so-called death squads in the Reagan-era fight against Soviet-allied insurgencies in El Salvador, Honduras and other Central American nations.
No proof ever emerged that Negroponte was aware of the notorious Battalion 316 in Honduras when he was ambassador there in the early 1980s. But Negroponte is still so sensitive about such allegations that, when NEWSWEEK mentioned him last month in a web story about a "Salvador option" being considered for Iraq, he phoned this reporter from Baghdad, defending his integrity and fuming over what he called the "utterly gratuitous" inclusion of his name.
Yet ironically enough, this long-denied reputation for ruthlessness may now help Negroponte more than any other quality in his new post as America's first director of national intelligence...
See also the AP's "Negroponte draws criticism south of border":
...a 1993 Honduran government human rights report said 184 suspected leftists had disappeared in government custody, many of them at the hands of a U.S. trained Honduran army battalion.
"It was obvious that he knew what was happening," said Leo Valladeres, a law professor in Honduras who wrote the report. "They used outlaw methods to kill ... and it is absolutely impossible to believe that a diplomatic mission such as that of the United States was unaware of the situation faced by Honduras and Central America."
In neighboring Guatemala, a U.S.-supported government that was engaged in battle with left-wing rebels trained paramilitary squads that were found later to have committed large-scale civilian massacres.
In El Salvador, U.S.-trained army squads hunted down leftist rebels in offensives fraught with human rights abuses...
And, back in 1995, the Baltimore Sun printed "When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty. Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived? Now we know: Yes, Yes and yes."
Don't be surprised if you feel like you've stepped back into the 80s if you read through these reports.
From a Frontline show:
... President George W. Bush recruited many Reagan/Bush-era veterans of the Central American wars to serve on his foreign policy team. Despite objections from Democrats in Congress, Bush's deja vu appointments have included Eliot Abrams (who pled guilty to two counts of lying to Congress during the Iran Contra hearings), Richard Armitage, John Poindexter, Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Most recently, John Negroponte was appointed ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras under George H.W. Bush and was criticized by human rights organizations for not doing enough to stem death squad activity there...