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Updated 02/15/2008

The Negroponte Record

When President Bush nominated John D. Negroponte, then ambassador to Iraq, to become the United States’ first director of national intelligence in February 2005, the move prompted journalists and human rights groups, including May I Speak Freely, to renew investigation and analysis of Negroponte’s record as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, where he may have condoned or supported state-sponsored human rights abuses.

As the April 12 Senate confirmation hearing drew closer, MISF acted to encourage U.S. senators, as well as the public, to challenge Negroponte’s nomination and raise critical questions. We prepared a briefing memo to members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee that provided background to support the claim that Negroponte’s nomination should be challenged and suggested questions to pose during the hearing. MISF Executive Director Roz Dzelzitis also spoke about Negroponte’s human rights record on the radio program Democracy Now!

At the same time, the National Security Archive published an electronic briefing book containing hundreds of cables written by Negroponte during his 1981-1984 tenure at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. These cables reveal that Negroponte’s reporting of human rights violations was virtually nonexistent—only one cable mentions the issue—and that Negroponte was very closely involved in relations between the Honduran military and the Contras and their effort to bring down the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Among other concerns about Negroponte’s record is his misrepresentation of history in Honduras. During his ambassadorship to Honduras he praised the Honduran government's protection of human and civil rights to the press, and to this day he maintains that abuses that took place were not a part of government policy. He has also suggested that overall political and security concerns at the time justified glossing over human rights abuses.

In January 2007 President Bush named Negroponte to take over the role of deputy secretary of state, and MISF and others once again responded by encouraging Senate members to consider Negroponte’s record. The Senate, however, confirmed the nomination on Feb. 12. Thus Negroponte continues to hold a government post that enables him to influence U.S. human-rights policy and practice abroad. According to the State Department website, in his current post he “coordinates and supervises U.S. government activities overseas, represents the department’s position before Congress, and manages key foreign policy issues on the secretary [of state]’s behalf.” John Negroponte’s human rights record should not be forgotten; the information provides an overview of that record and a basis by which to assess his performance in his current role.

—   “Negroponte’s Human Rights Record Continues to Stir Debate,” MISF, 2005

—   MISF's 2005 briefing memo to members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (includes declassified government reports of human rights abuses in Honduras and other key background information)

—  MISF's op-ed on the 2005 nomination

—  MISF Executive Director Roz Dzelzitis’ April 11 interview on Democracy Now!

—  National Security Archive electronic briefing book, The Negroponte File

—  Transcript of the April 12, 2005 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on the nomination of Negroponte to serve as the director of national intelligence.

—  Transcript of the Sept. 13, 2001 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of John Negroponte to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (PDF or text).