Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Dear Comandante" signer to take US intelligence post?

Among the names of potential National Intelligence Directors being sent up as trial balloons: a former congressman who signed the notorious "Dear Comandante" letter to Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega.

Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman who served as the Democrat co-chair of the congressionally-mandated 9/11 Comission, is being floated as a possible co-National Intelligence Director under the new intelligence reform law.

Hamilton is absolutely the wrong person for the job. His public record is one of consistently poor judgments that, if enacted, would have had the unintended effect of keeping the Soviet empire in power. He tried to tie the Reagan Administration's hands in the war against Soviet-sponsored terrorism in the 1980s.

Nicaragua was a battleground of international terrorism in the Americas when the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) ruled the impoverished country. President Reagan and a majority in Congress backed funding for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force and other resistance groups. Hamilton was one of the minority who opposed it.

His opposition was so extreme that he was one of the signers of the infamous "Dear Comandante" letter to Ortega of March 20, 1984.

Hamilton was among 10 signers, all Democrats, who told Ortega that he was sorry that US-Nicaraguan relations were so bad under Reagan, and that he remained opposed to US support for military action directed against the people or government of Nicaragua."

After criticizing his own government, Hamilton praised Ortega's Marxist-Leninist regime: "We want to commend you and the members of your government for taking steps to open up the political process in your country."

Hamilton and the others said, "We support your decision to schedule elections this year, to reduce press censorship, and to allow greater freedom of assembly for political parties. Finally, we recognize that you have taken these steps in the midst of ongoing military hostilities on the borders of Nicaragua."

The signers did not call for elimination of press censorship. They did not ask Ortega to guarantee freedom of assembly. Instead, they tacitly blamed the US government for the "military hostilities," in reference to US support for the Nicaraguan resistance.

To Hamilton and the others, Daniel Ortega and his Soviet-backed regime were not the problem. Ronald Reagan was. The congressmen told Ortega that if the Sandinistas took their advice, "those responsible for supporting violence against your government . . . would have far greater difficulty winning support for their policies than they do today."