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April 27, 2004

Independent but ...

Double-Speak Alert. Code Orange

Hearings start on Bush’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Iraq
AP Photos WX101-2
By PAULINE JELINEK | Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraqis will have “a lot more sovereignty than they have right now” after the June 30 handover, but the United States will still control security and the caretaker government won’t be able to make laws, the Bush administration’s nominee to be ambassador to Iraq said Tuesday.

And then notice the ratcheting down of expectations that follows.
“Let’s remember this is going to be a transitional government, by definition limited in its time frame and the phrase ’caretaker government’ has been used,” John D. Negroponte told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as his confirmation hearings opened. “The implication of that term is that it’s created for a limited period of time and with a particular focus,” Negroponte said, adding that the focus will be organizing elections
Funny how we're hearing this only two months before such a move. Beats two days I guess. This is followed by understatement:
“It is visualized that the Iraqi forces will come under the command of (U.S.-led) multinational forces,” Negroponte said. “If political leadership should favor some particular strategy,” but the U.S. military decides that another strategy is better, “these are the kind of questions that (all sides) will have to deal with,” Negroponte said.
Then of course, there's this: “It’s certainly going to be a lot more sovereignty than they have right now."

And this: “I want to make clear that a vital U.N. role does not come at the expense of the United States influence or interests,” Negroponte told the committee.

So that's OK then. As long as Iraqi interests are secondary, this independence thing makes perfect sense.

And somebody tell me the AP should not have included this information in the report. Some of that SCLM-bias? or just cold, hard facts:
Questions about Negroponte’s role in assisting the Nicaragua Contras, which Congress had forbidden, in their war with the socialist Sandinista government in the 1980s, had delayed his U.N. appointment by half a year in 2001. And the subject came up again Tuesday.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Ct., noted differences that he had with Negroponte when the diplomat was ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s.

“Those differences stem largely from a lack of candor about what the U.S. was and wasn’t doing in Central America in the conflict at that time,” Dodd said. “And although I intend to support and strongly support this nomination when it comes to a vote in this committee, and later on the Senate floor, I want to make one point especially clear: That same issue -- candor -- in my view, is going to be critical with respect to continued support for U.S. policies in Iraq.”

Dodd told Negroponte that if the administration’s policies are not working, “it’ll be your duty to the American people to say so, and to say so very clearly and without any hesitation so that we can make course corrections before it’s too late.”