John Negroponte at the Prayer Service for the United Nations Community, 10-9-01
(Photo Orthodox Church in America)

Here comes another tell-all Bush adminstration memoir: That of David Twatt, a senior diplomatic attache to Iraq. The book, They Kicked Our Asses, won’t be published until 2006 or 2007 (in fact, Twatt is yet to be appointed), but New York Press columnist Matt Taibbi — a man with no loyalties to either party — has obtained an advance copy that sheds light on Iraq under John Negroponte, the Iran-Contra conspirator recently appointed by Bush to be ambassador to Iraq (really!) despite his alleged connections with the Honduran death squads responsible for the murder of Salvadoran nuns (really!).

“We drank round after round, hitting it off surprisingly well,” Taibbi quotes Twatt. “[Negroponte] told me his war stories from the Reagan years; I told him about my 3.4 GPA from Arizona State, my wife Sheryl, my Ford Windstar. When we were quite drunk, John leaned over to me and whispered:

“‘Come on, David,’ he said. ‘Let’s you and me take this embassy out for a spin. Let’s get ourselves a panel truck and round up a bunch of nuns.’

“‘Nuns, Mr. Ambassador?’

“‘Of course,’ he said. ‘David, you may not have noticed, but we have a serious situation here. And it all starts with the nuns. We’ve got to get them before it’s too late. There’s no telling what they might leak to the press. Before we know it, this place will be crawling with reporters—the bastards.'”

(Read more.)

Fact is, the bastards have been pretty quiet about Negroponte’s new gig. Not to mention the peculiarity of appointing as our man in Iraq a widely loathed political fixer burdened by what is at least the appearence of a shady past vis-a-vis human rights and democracy. But then, all that old Central America Cold War stuff is yesterday’s news. And everybody knows you can’t trust nuns. Like Sister Laetitia BordesRevealer associate editor Kathryn Joyce recollects her story:

In 1982, Sister Laetitia Bordes met with John Negroponte, then U.S. Ambassador toHonduras. She was on a fact-finding delegation to investigate the 1981 disappearance of 32 Salvadoran “nuns and women of faith,” who had fled to Honduras to escape Contra death squads after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Bordes, who worked as a nun in El Salvador for nearly ten years, describes the little that was known about their fate: a few months after the women (among them Romero’s former secretary) arrived in Honduras, they were “forcibly taken from their living quarters in Tegucigalpa, pushed in to a van and disappeared.” Bordes presented this information to Negroponte, but he denied having “any knowledge of the whereabouts of these women. He insisted that the U.S. Embassy did not interfere in the affairs of the Honduran government and it would be to our advantage to discuss the matter with the latter.”

Bordes received no answers until 1996, when Negroponte’s predecessor to the Honduran ambassadorship, Jack Binns, spoke with the Baltimore Sun. Binns, who had been removed from his post for repeatedly protesting the human rights violations occuring in Honduras, explained “how a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the women [Bordes] had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981, and savagely tortured by the DNI, the Honduran Secret Police, before being placed in helicopters of the Salvadoran military. After take off from the airport in Tegucigalpa, the victims were thrown out of the helicopters. They were turned over to the Salvadoran military and their whereabouts are unknown. Binns told the Baltimore Sun that the North American authorities were well aware of what had happened and that it was a grave violation of human rights. But it was seen as part of Ronald Reagan’scounterinsurgency policy.”

More on Negroponte & the Nuns:

The Catholic Maryknolls don’t want him.

The National Catholic Reporter wants to know more about his connections to the first Battalion 3-16, a Honduran death squad, and to the murder of Fr. James Carney, a U.S.-born priest.

A few years ago, CNN did notice Negroponte’s, um, unusual past, with a column by Bill Pressin which he wrote that with regard to human rights abuses in Honduras under his watch, “either Negroponte’s lying or he’s totally incompetent.” Strong words from Press, who isn’t even a nun!

The point being that this isn’t just a Catholic story, it isn’t just a leftist story — it’s a huge story. Which means it’s not enough for the press to pull quotes from 20-year-old reporting. Rather, if Negroponte is going to Iraq, the press should be going back to Honduras. Matthew Yglesiasgets it — now let’s see the story jump the fence, from lefty-land into the great, wide, journalistic open.