Law, Politics

What really impresses me about President Bush is his almost instinctual ability to choose and elevate to positions of power people who go beyond the call of duty in suppressing information that conflicts with his policy decisions. In a recent post I discussed memos written by Alberto Gonzales (who Bush would like to make a Supreme Court justice), in which he scrupulously avoided informing Bush of any remitting factors in Texas death penalty cases. Then, of course, there is John Bolton who intimidated a CIA analyist who disputed the facts on Cuba’s biological warfare capabilities. The new Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, has just as stellar a record. Thanks to the National Security Archive, hundreds of his cables written from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa between late 1981 and 1984, are available online.

They include dozens of cables in which the Ambassador sought to undermine regional peace efforts such as the Contadora initiative that ultimately won Costa Rican president Oscar Arias a Nobel Prize, as well as multiple reports of meetings and conversations with Honduran military officers who were instrumental in providing logistical support and infrastructure for CIA covert operations in support of the contras against Nicaragua -“our special project” as Negroponte refers to the contra war in the cable traffic. Among the records are special back channel communications with then CIA director William Casey, including a recommendation to increase the number of arms being supplied to the leading contra force, the FDN in mid 1983, and advice on how to rewrite a Presidential finding on covert operations to overthrow the Sandinistas to make it more politically palatable to an increasingly uneasy U.S. Congress.

Conspicuously absent from the cable traffic, however, is reporting on human rights atrocities that were committed by the Honduran military and its secret police unit known as Battalion 316, between 1982 and 1984, under the military leadership of General Gustavo Alvarez, Negroponte’s main liaison with the Honduran government. The Honduran human rights ombudsman later found that more than 50 people disappeared at the hands of the military during those years. But Negroponte’s cables reflect no protest, or even discussion of these issues during his many meetings with General Alvarez, his deputies and Honduran President Robert Suazo. Nor do the released cables contain any reporting to Washington on the human rights abuses that were taking place.

Finally, there are Bush’s economic advisors, who conveniently avoid talking to anyone who might have a negative view of the economy:

Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base — corporate interests and the religious right — and are oblivious to everyone else’s concerns.

The administration’s upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II.

The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren’t doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery — less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren’t part of the base.

Unfortunately, when reality bursts Bush’s bubble, it may be too late for the rest of us.

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