While the mainstream media continues to debate the pros and cons of Bush’s proposed “surge” in Iraq – surely escalation is a better term? – the real news is typically ignored by the same hacks who are debating whether “victory” is still possible in Iraq. What planet do these people live on? (I know, mainstream punditry is not known for its nuance.) Even Playboy magazine understands the story better than most mainstream journalists (explaining how defence contractors, and not national security, helped set the path post 9/11.)
Dahr Jamail provides a useful background to the life and times of John Negroponte, the current U.S. National Intelligence Director and new Deputy Secretary of State:
Under Reagan, Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980’s where he played a major role in U.S. efforts to topple the Nicaraguan government. The political history of John Negroponte shows a man who has had a career bent toward generating civilian death and widespread human rights abuses, and promoting sectarian and ethnic violence.
In Honduras he earned the distinction of being accused of widespread human rights violations by the Honduras Commission on Human Rights while he worked as “a tough cold warrior who enthusiastically carried out President Ronald Reagan’s strategy,” according to cables sent between Negroponte and Washington during his tenure there. The human rights violations carried out by Negroponte were described as “systematic.”
The violations Negroponte oversaw in Honduras were carried out by operatives trained by the CIA. Records document his “special intelligence units,” better known as “death squads,” comprised of CIA-trained Honduran armed units which kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Negroponte had full knowledge of these activities while making sure U.S. military aid to Honduras increased from $4 million to $77.4 million a year during his tenure. Under his watch civilian deaths sky-rocketed into the tens of thousands. Negroponte has been described as an “old fashioned imperialist” and got his start during the Vietnam War in the CIA’s Phoenix program, which was responsible for the assassination of some 40,000 Vietnamese.
The essential Consortium News reports that Bush “has purged senior military and intelligence officials who were obstacles to a wider war in the Middle East, broadening his options for both escalating the conflict inside Iraq and expanding the fighting to Iran and Syria with Israel’s help.”
As I wrote yesterday, the ever-growing failures in Iraq are no insurance policy against increased escalation in the Middle East.