The Return of the Cold War "Terrorists"

by George Friemoth

Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America newsletter, Spring 2002


President Bush has filled many of his government's most senior policy positions that directly affect Latin America with a slate of dedicated "Cold Warriors" who, as Kate Doyle points out in NACLA, "now threaten to revive the poisoned and polarized atmosphere of the Reagan era."

These appointees can safely be called terrorists because they were deeply involved in former President Reagan's Contra war against Nicaragua. As Noam Chomsky points out, the United States is the first country in history to be convicted of international terrorism in a world court tribunal and to be condemned by the United Nations. He says there are many cases of US-sponsored terrorism in the world but the US role in the ContraSandinista war is "totally uncontroversial." So who are these people now in charge of our Latin American foreign policy?

* Elliott Abrams, National Security Council (NSC), Special Advisor on Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations, was convicted of Iying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal in 1991. He helped hide some of the worst human rights abuses reported in Central America in the 1980s. Bush senior pardoned Abrams in December 1992.

* John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN. Served as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 - 1985. Human rights groups charge Negroponte with covering up political killings and purging information from embassy human rights reports that implicated the military and CIA in disappearances of civilians. His appointment took place two days after the terrorist attacks in the US despite intense opposition from human rights groups.

* Otto Reich, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is an ultra-rightwing Cuban American dedicated to overthrowing the Castro government. At the height of the Contra war, Reich headed Reagan's propaganda office that in 1987 was found by the Comptroller General to be "engaged in prohibited, covert propaganda activities." Reich is known to have associations with terrorists like Orlando Bosch convicted in 1976 for the bombing of a Cuban airliner with 73 people on board. In 1990, he was instrumental in getting Bush senior to pardon Bosch who now lives in Florida. Because of strong opposition to his appointment in the Senate, George Bush made the appointment after Senate adjourned in January 2002.

* Roger Noriega, Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), is another Cuban American who served as a senior aide to Senator Jesse Helms, former chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Noriega helped promote Helms' xenophobic, anticommunist and anti-Castro agenda in Congress. He is a leading proponent of the US supported war in Colombia.

* John Poindexter, Director of Information Awareness Office (IAO), a new agency "to counter attacks on the US," was the mastermind behind the Iran-Contra scam (guns for hostages). Along with Oliver North, Poindexter was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence. The convictions were overturned on appeal. With his IAO position, Poindexter again becomes one of Washington's most powerful men.

* John Maisto, Special Advisor on Latin America at the NSC, was chief of mission at the US embassy in Panama during the 1989 invasion to topple Manuel Noriega and the Ambassador to Nicaragua at the time of the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990. His dedication to Washington's war on drugs and counterinsurgency does not bode well for alternative strategies in the Americas.


Source: NACLA Report on the Americas, November/December 2001. Kate Doyle is a senior analyst of US policy in Latin America for the National Security Archive.

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