Press Release  ·  March 3, 2005

Negroponte’s Dark Past: The case against Bush’s new intelligence czar

As the confirmation hearing of John Negroponte draws near, In These Times’ contributor Robert Parry examines the resume of the man President George W. Bush has nominated to be Director of National Intelligence in the story “Negroponte’s Dark Past: The case against Bush’s new intelligence czar.”

Negroponte’s tenure as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 coincided with the creation of death squads by U.S.-trained Honduran military officers and the closing of the Drug Enforcement Agency at the U.S. Embassy just as Honduras became an important base for cocaine transport.

“Negroponte either oversaw a stunningly inept U.S. intelligence operation at the embassy in Tegucigalpa—missing major events occurring under his nose—or he tolerated atrocities that included torture, rape and murder, while slanting intelligence reports to please his superiors in Washington,” Parry writes.

With bi-partisan support, Negroponte’s confirmation seems a sure thing. Yet, Parry cautions, “His tenure as ambassador to Honduras raises questions not only about his moral judgment and integrity, but his capacity to assess information and to ensure that political pressures don’t influence intelligence reporting.”

An accompanying sidebar features excerpts of stories published by In These Times tracking Negroponte’s career from 1983 to the present.

In “Plowing for Profits,” contributor Christopher Cook reports that U.S. agribusiness is eyeing Iraq as an emerging market. With the lifting of sanctions in 2003, and exports of wheat, rice and other products ballooning, Cook writes that industry groups and the U.S. government are eager to recapture the kind of profits made in Iraq in the ’80s.

“The broader agricultural plan includes privatizing state-run food companies, phasing out farm subsidies, boosting food prices, and, possibly, introducing genetically altered seeds that are patented and not reusable—all moves that dovetail with an overall neoliberal strategy to open up and deregulate Iraq’s markets,” Cook writes.

Critics of these plans argue that the results will “further destabilize war-ravaged Iraqi farmers while producing few benefits for their American counterparts.”