What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 21, 2005

The Post-Gazette on Negroponte

The usually reliable Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board must've recently inhaled some of the air being pumped into the Tribune-Review building. How else can one explain this editorial? It's from today's Post-Gazette.

From the second paragraph:
However, the nominee, John D. Negroponte, currently U.S. ambassador to Iraq, previously U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, having served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico, the Philippines and Honduras, appears to be first rate. If confirmed by the Senate, he is likely to perform the functions of the newly created post with distinction.
Note the qualifier "appears to be" just before the pharase "first rate." That's the only negative in the paragraph. Indeed its about the most critical thing in the whole editorial.

Here are the last two paragraphs:
Mr. Negroponte's only possible shortcoming in the new position will be an absence of experience working directly in the intelligence field. On the other hand, he is a veteran consumer of intelligence, with recent very relevant need of it in his positions both at the United Nations and in Iraq. As a career Foreign Service Officer with some 40 years of experience, who has served all over the world, there isn't a whole lot that he hasn't seen. He isn't partisan politically, having started his career during the Eisenhower administration and having served in every administration since.

This looks like an excellent appointment. The kind of disinterested, cold-eyed intelligence counsel Mr. Negroponte will give President Bush, if he is confirmed, should be just what the doctor ordered for this president, for this country.
Again, the qualifier (it could be named the "escape hatch phrase") "looks like" before the phrase "excellent appointment."

Does the editorial board of the Post-Gazette really think that Negroponte's only possible short coming is his absense of direct intelligence work? Did they miss the fact that he was Reagan's man in Honduras during the Iran-Contra scandal? That he was Dubya's man at the UN during the run-up to the war? Here's what another newspaper's editorial board (The Baltimore Sun) had to say recently about Negroponte:
For four years in the 1980s, he was U.S. ambassador to Honduras, at the time perhaps the quintessential banana republic. His job was to help oversee the Reagan administration's covert and outside-the-law support for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, who were financed by the illegal sale of arms to the mullahs in Iran. In Honduras itself, a death squad trained by the CIA went about its dirty business. Mr. Negroponte has long denied that he knew about and covered up the death squad's atrocities, which came to light in a series of articles in The Sun in 1995. Maybe that's true - but it happened on his watch, at a time when he was the most powerful man in Honduras. If it is true, it doesn't say much for his ability to marshal good intelligence.
Or David Corn of The Nation:
These days Negroponte's tenure in Honduras is old news. The Washington Post's front-page story on his nomination did not mention his stint there. Senate staffers say that his record in Honduras won't be a focus of the confirmation hearings. But his tour of duty there is worth scrutiny, for it raises questions about his credibility and his ability to handle tough situations and inconvenient truths. While he was in Honduras and for years afterward, Negroponte refused to acknowledge the human rights abuses. In a 1982 letter to The Economist he said it was "simply untrue to state that death squads have made their appearance in Honduras." The next year he maintained, "There is no indication that the infrequent human rights violations that do occur are part of deliberate government policy." And during his 2001 confirmation he stated, "I do not believe then, nor do I believe now, that these abuses were part of a deliberate government policy. To this day, I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras." How then does he account for a 1997 CIA Inspector General investigation that concluded, "The Honduran military committed hundreds of human rights abuses since 1980, many of which were politically motivated and officially sanctioned" and linked to "death squad activities"?
And let's not forget that during the run up to the war in Iraq, it was John Negroponte whose job it was to protect and defend Bush's incomplete and misleading rationale on Saddam's WMD. True it wasn't his job to confirm any of Bush's "intelligence" but The P-G should have at least mentioned Negroponte's place in Bush's war.

Here's how The Sun ends its editorial:
American intelligence is in need of repair; on that point, all sides agree. The nation must have an incisive intelligence chief, not afraid to deliver bad news when he has to, and able to stand up to Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary. But on top of that, America needs a director who by virtue of his reputation and his experience would make it clear from the start that there is no place for abuse, and no place for truth-shading, in the agencies he oversees. Instead, the Senate has been asked to confirm Mr. Negroponte.
Good point., doncha think??

So what happened at the P-G? Did Dickiecougarmellonscaife send over some tainted kung pao? Were the archives at the P-G suddenly off-line? Did Jack Kelly write the editorial when no one was watching?

There has to be a good explanation for the editorial board's sudden amnesia.

Has to be.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Jeff Gannon, Talon News:

Mr. President. Aren't you dismayed by all the partisan attacks on John Negroponte? After all, since you picked him by the light of your magnificent halo, shouldn't all Americans consider him to be above criticism?