21 July 2004

Not the first 'closed' case for Negroponte

Q: 'Is it enough to allow the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights to investigate [the executions of six prisoners] allegedly done by his own Prime Minister?'

Downer: 'Iraq is a sovereign country now. Who else is supposed to investigate wrongdoing in Iraq? I think Mr McGeough should present his material to the Iraqi police so they can fully investigate these matters ... I would have thought, knowing what I know about Mr Allawi - and I've met him - it would be, on the whole, rather surprising if he has done this.'

Dear me, Alexander, does your office, on the whole, still have to tell you when to come in out of the rain?

Prime Minister Allawi, formerly a Saddam Hussein associate before he fled into exile to team up with the CIA, denied, before publication, the entirety of McGeough's two witness accounts.

For the sake of his health, McGeough had by then already felt it prudent to leave Iraq. John Negroponte's office responded to him by email: 'If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, the case is closed.'

Of course. One only has to consider Negroponte's record as US ambassador in Honduras to know he is a loyal servant of Republican Washington who sees and knows nothing. An estimated 10,000 Nicaraguans and Honduran political opponents died at a time when, as The New York Times reported in September 2001: 'The diplomat who presided over that embassy from 1981 to 1985 was a great fabulist.

'John Negroponte saw, or professed to see, a Honduras almost Scandinavian in its tranquillity, a place where there were no murderous generals, no death squads, no political prisoners, no clandestine jails or cemeteries. [He] exercised US power in ways that still reverberate throughout that small country. His most striking legacy, though, is the Honduras of his imagination.

'Most people who lived or worked in Honduras during the 1980s saw a nation spiralling into violence and infested by paramilitary gangs that kidnapped and killed with impugnity. Negroponte would not acknowledge this. He realised the Reagan policy in Central America would lose support if truths about Honduras were known, so he refused to accept them.'

This same man, with an embassy regime of more than 1000 American 'foreign service officers', plus American advisers 'salted throughout Iraqi ministries' as well as 140,000 US military personnel, now has absolute covert power in Iraq.

Of course 'the case is closed'.

Perhaps we should be grateful the Foreign Minister of Kleenex did not see into Allawi's soul. This business of replacing investigations with soul-searching is dangerous.

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