Friday, February 18, 2005

The Truth About John Negroponte

Here's the article from the Baltimore Sun about John Negroponte and Battalion 316, dated June 18, 1995. When this came out, I was 20 years old, and I had just finished my sophomore year in college. I was living by myself in Southern Maryland for the summer, working two jobs to save up some money and interning at a radio station in Annapolis on Saturdays for fun.

My political convictions were finally beginning to coalesce. Conservatism tugged at my elbow. I worked in a deli/liquor store, and I was appalled at the wasteful way the people from the local trailer park spent their money on pints of Nottyhead and used their Independence Cards to buy $20 pizzas (only to scream at me for undercooking the bacon). I also worked in the admissions office at a college, and I was frustrated when I saw the histories, grades, and test scores of some of the students they were admitting because of their athletic ability. Here I was, working hard at two jobs and holding down an internship, and everyone else seemed to have things handed to them.

It's a natural inclination to think that way. Our instinct is to preserve ourselves. Only upon exposure to different life experiences and further critical thought do we start putting the puzzle together and connecting ourselves to the rest of the world.

That fall, by the time I started digging around at Vote Smart in preparation for my first election in 1996, I knew I was not a conservative, despite the experiences I had. For one, I was lucky
enough to have been brought up by parents who were extremely humble and compassionate. As hard as I worked that summer, I knew that I had grown up in a family that did not suffer economic hardship and taught me about things like integrity, courage, hard work, and morals. In other words, I had plenty handed to me.

I also realized that I shouldn't judge those athletes, and that if I did, I should judge them on their performance in college, not on a high school transcript. I realized that I should learn a little bit about how hard it was for those people in the liquor store to find work in Southern Maryland. (In fact, I ultimately learned from a woman who worked with me at the liquor store. She was on AFDC, back when you couldn't get AFDC benefits if you were working. As part of an effort to turn her life around, she was working under the table to save up money so she could eventually get herself and her daughter off of welfare.)

What also turned me away from conservatism that summer was that Baltimore Sun article on John Negroponte. Here was the sanctimonious party, turning their heads at human rights abuses in Honduras. I realized that the Republican party was the party of hubris and pride, willing to compromise all their moral principles as long as no one found out about it. I realized that if they really believed whole-heartedly in the spread of democracy--without being tainted by greed and avarice--they would have had the patience to lead by example. I realized that they were willing contradict the very soul of democracy--a belief in God-given human rights--to gain control over governments and peoples in other hemispheres.

And now as George Bush tries to spread freedom and democracy around the world, he appoints John Negroponte, suppressor of intelligence on human rights abuses by Battalion 316--a CIA-trained Honduran army intelligence unit--as Director of Intelligence. Are you effin kidding me?

Nothing has changed. The Republican party under George Bush has more blood on its hands than ever. We are facing what may turn out to be the gravest threat of all time, and we need the world's cooperation to keep these backwards barbarians' damage to a minimum. We're not going to get the world's cooperation when we have thugs stinking up our own government.

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