Thursday, April 22, 2004

Leadership 101 (cont.):
Is There a ‘Judgment’ Gene?

If so, Mr. Bush appears to have been born without one.

As this blog has often pointed out, an important measure of leadership can be found in who the leader chooses to advise him/her as well as those appointed to key positions. And once again, Mr. Bush has failed to open the book on leadership – much less read it.

The following will take a couple of minutes for you to read, but it’s informative. Some key phrases have been highlighted.

Note closely who was involved in John Negroponte’s past and who recommended and opposed him for the U.N. Ambassador post in 2001.

This is a truly scary diplomatic appointment – but then again, maybe nobody else would take the job to be Envoy to Iraq on June 30th

On the face of it, the resume sounds good…


Bush names U.N. ambassador as envoy to Iraq

John Negroponte has been in the U.S. foreign service for nearly 40 years, served all over the world and is widely regarded as a quintessential — if soft-spoken — diplomat. But his latest assignment could be his ultimate test — molding a functioning government amid the chaos and carnage of Iraq, where an armed insurrection has created a crisis for the Bush administration in recent weeks.

Admirers of Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, greeted President Bush's announcement of his nomination as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Monday with applause. Negroponte would essentially replace U.S. administrator Paul Bremer after the planned turnover to an interim Iraqi government on June 30. He would be in charge of the world's largest U.S. embassy, with about 3,000 employees.

Bush said of Negroponte's new post would be a "very difficult assignment" but said that there is "no doubt in my mind he can handle it."

A past ambassador to Mexico and the Philippines, Negroponte would give the diplomatic community a sense of confidence that the State Department, not the Pentagon, will be in charge in Iraq. Negroponte was Secretary of State Colin Powell's deputy when Powell was national security adviser to President Reagan. His nomination requires Senate confirmation.

In his memoir, My American Journey, Powell describes Negroponte as having "the management style I liked, toughness applied in an easygoing manner."

Others fear Negroponte's courtly style might not be a good fit in Iraq…Negroponte also has not served in the Middle East and does not speak Arabic. And he faces a lingering controversy about his tenure as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when the Honduran military was accused of human rights abuses.

Here’s where the other part of Negroponte’s resume goes very, very sour:

Negroponte's U.N. nomination was held up for six months in 2001 because of concerns from several Democratic senators — including Democratic presidential challenger Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. - about Negroponte's knowledge of "death squads."

The Honduran government is accused of using such squads to murder, kidnap and torture political opponents. Honduras was the Reagan administration's base for defeating communist insurgencies throughout Latin America.

Now we need to go back to when Negroponte was being considered for the U.N. post in 2001. Ever heard of the Iran-Contra scandal? If so, here’s a piece of it you may not have heard about:

The New York Times credits John Negroponte with "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua" during his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 and 1985. He oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year.

In early 1984, two U.S. mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contra army (who wanted to overthrow the Honduran government) after the U.S. Congress had banned governmental aid. Documents show that Negroponte connected the two with a contact in the Honduran military. The operation was exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any U.S. government involvement, despite Negroponte’s contact earlier that year. Other documents uncovered a scheme of Negroponte and then-Vice President George (H.W.) Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.

In addition to his work with the Nicaraguan Contra army, Negroponte helped conceal from Congress the murder, kidnapping and torture abuses of a CIA-equipped and -trained Honduran military unit, Battalion 3-16. No mention of these human rights violations ever appeared in State Department Human Rights reports for Honduras.

… Rick Chidester, a junior embassy official under Negroponte, reported to the (Baltimore) Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive gathering of human rights violations from his 1982 State Department report.

Sister Laetitia Bordes went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras in May 1982 to investigate the whereabouts of 32 Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981 after Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing, but in 1996, Negroponte’s predecessor Jack Binns reported that the women had been captured, tortured, and then crammed into helicopters from which they were tossed to their deaths.

In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses.

On August 27, 1997, CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz released a 211-page classified report entitled "Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980s." This report was partly declassified on October 22, 1998, in response to persistent demands by the Honduran human rights ombudsman.

You can read parts of the document on the National Security Archives website. Only senators and their staff who have security clearance can read the report in its entirety.


Once again, Mr. Bush’s actions speak louder than his fumbling press conference words.

Mr. Negroponte is about the last person we want to ‘fight the war on terrorism’ in Iraq because of his knee-deep involvement in human rights violations as an ambassador.

Just the perfect message we want to send to Iraq and the rest of the world, isn't it? And it underscores what we can expect from Mr. Bush if we return him to office in November.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link