The Unintelligent Choice

At 10AM this morning, President Bush will name John Negroponte as the new Director of Intelligence for the United States.

Who is John Negroponte?

You may remember him best as one of the key figures in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. John Negroponte was the ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. While there, he was directed the secret arming of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua to help them overthrow the Sandinista government.

At the time, he also was “cozy” with the chief of the Honduran national police force, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez. Martinez ran the infamous Battalion 316 death squad. Battalion 316 “kidnapped, tortured and murdered” dozens of people while Negroponte was ambassador. Negroponte, however, turned a blind eye to the death squad and ignored the gross human rights abuses so Honduras would allow bases for U.S.-backed Contras.

Negroponte maintained he knew nothing about them, leading to his nickname, “the ostrich ambassador.” The abuses, however, were widely chronicled in local papers. That means he either willfully ignored the mass murders and torturing of citizens or he was so out of touch that he didn’t see the atrocities going on beneath his very nose. Neither of these scenarios is what the United States needs in a National Director of Intelligence.