Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Felonious Friends 03-01-12

Bush has appointed Iran-Contra grads
Felonious Friends

Birmingham News


Candidate George W. Bush gained credibility at home and abroad by promising that as president he would appoint Colin Powell as his secretary of state. Other early high-profile appointments to his administration were also well-respected and untouched by past scandals.

After eight years of the Clinton soap opera, many people were hopeful that the Bush administration would be free of scandals and would shy away from those who were involved in the scandals of former administrations. That was not to be.

Now safely ensconced in power, Bush is gravitating toward people of questionable backgrounds. He has appointed at least four graduates of the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration to very important positions. They are John Negroponte, Otto Reich, Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter.

Mercifully, another veteran of past administrations, Henry Kissinger, withdrew from chairing the commission on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Kissinger and truth have never been on amicable terms. His role in Nixon-era shadow killings has made it difficult for him to even travel to many European and Latin American countries.


Poindexter and others in the Iran-Contra affair were discredited for plotting and then covering up of the sale of weapons to Iran (prohibited by law) so they could funnel the proceeds to the Contras (also prohibited), who indulged in mass killings and torture in Nicaragua.

In 1981, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Jack Binns complained about the human rights abuses by the Honduran military. Reagan replaced him with Negroponte, who oversaw our aid to the murderous junta grow from $4 million to $77.4 million. Hundreds of people were murdered or disappeared. U.S. and international human rights organizations and newspapers reported the activities of the death squads run by the junta, some of whose generals have since been barred from entering the United States.

Negroponte denies any knowledge of wrongdoing. One is forced to conclude that either he lived in total incompetent isolation or he is not truthful.

Negroponte is now our ambassador to the United Nations, the second most important post for foreign affairs after the secretary of state. We could not have found a more ill-suited spokesman.

Reich, meanwhile, is now assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs. As head of the Office of Public Diplomacy during the Reagan administration, his job was propaganda in praise of military death squads that were involved in widespread killings, including the raping and killing of U.S. nuns in Central America.

In 1987, the comptroller general, a Republican appointee, concluded that the efforts of Reich were "prohibited, covert propaganda activity." He spread false information to the American public through planted stories in the media and op-ed columns, at taxpayers' expense. With Reich at the helm, how can we expect Latin Americans and the world to believe us?

Abrams was deputy assistant secretary of state for Central America in the Reagan administration and pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress, covering up the slaughter of civilians by the U.S.-funded Salvadoran military. In testimony to Congress, he said, "I never said I had no idea about most of the things you said I had no idea about." In his autobiography, he wrote that he had to lie to Congress to protect national interest.

Abrams in later incarnations has worked for the obliteration of Palestinian territories by Israel. He is now the director of Human Rights, Democracy and International Operations on the National Security Council staff and an important adviser on the Middle East. How can Bush hope to convince the world he is committed to the creation of the Palestinian state when he appoints a man committed to the destruction of the Palestinian entity?

Poindexter's data:

That takes us to Poindexter, a former admiral and national security adviser to President Reagan. He was convicted of five felonies involving conspiracy and obstruction of Congress, but the appellate court reversed the conviction, citing congressional immunity for his testimony.

His explanation for his actions: "I made a very deliberate decision not to tell the president so that I could insulate him from the decision and provide some future deniability for the president if it ever leaked out." He assigned himself to run America's foreign policy behind the president's back.

Poindexter has been tapped by Bush to run the Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has now morphed into the Total Information Awareness System. These confusing, overlapping offices collect information about every American's bank records, tax filings, driver's license, credit card purchases, medical data and phone and e-mail records into one giant centralized data base. This would then be gleaned for evidence of suspicious activity.

Are we supposed to believe that Poindexter would not misuse such authority?

It is a shame that out of 290 million Americans, Bush cannot find honest, intelligent and dedicated Republicans to staff these positions. It is an insult to Americans in general and honest, law-abiding Republicans in particular.

There are many highly qualified Republicans who could do credit to these positions. Perhaps they have not earned their stripes for deceit and thus cannot be relied upon to play toady when needed.

Mirza A. Beg is a geologist who lives in Tuscaloosa. His e-mail address is

Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved.

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