Lew Anselem: Yet Another Bush Holdover Undermining Decency
Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 29, 2009
This certainly explains a lot — not only is the odious Amselem a Bush holdover at OAS, he’s also got a long history of evil trailing behind him in Latin America dating back over two decades:
Journalist Jeremy Bigwood, who was reporting from Guatemala during Amselem’s tenure there, remembers the diplomat for the same kind of outrageous behavior and statements over the years that he displayed yesterday in Washington. Amselem, according to Bigwood, “would put a positive spin on the extermination of a couple hundred thousand Guatemalan Indians. The guy should be sent to the International Criminal Court for abetting war crimes. He even arranged illegal supplies and airlifts to the Guatemalan Army after US military assistance had been banned. I can’t believe that he would be representing the Obama administration in the OAS.”
Most amazing is that Amselem’s current boss, Secretary Clinton, should already know that he’s a loose cannon because she was, as First Lady in the 1990s, involved with one of Guatemala’s most notorious human rights abuse cases, that of Ursuline nun Dianna Ortiz, who was kidnapped and tortured there in 1989.
In 1995, a US federal judge ordered Guatemalan General Hector Gramajo to pay $47 million dollars in damages to Sister Ortiz and other plaintiffs for those crimes.
Human rights champion Kerry Kennedy has written, “Ortiz’s raw honesty and capacity to articulate the agony she suffered compelled the United States to declassify long-secret files on Guatemala, and shed light on some of the darkest moments of Guatemalan history and American foreign policy.”
Well, guess who pops up in Sister Dianna’s memoirs? Lewis Amselem: and not in a good way. Ortiz wrote:
“…after a U.S. doctor had counted 111 cigarette burns on my back alone, the story changed. In January 1990, the Guatemalan defense minister publicly announced that I was a lesbian and had staged my abduction to cover up a tryst. The minister of the interior echoed this statement and then said he had heard it first from the U.S. embassy. According to a congressional aide, the political affairs officer at the U.S. embassy, Lew Amselem, was indeed spreading the same rumor.
“In the presence of Ambassador Thomas Stroock, this same human rights officer told a delegation of religious men and women concerned about my case that he was ‘tired of these lesbian nuns coming down to Guatemala.’ The story would undergo other permutations. According to the Guatemalan press, the ambassador came up with another version: he told the Guatemalan defense minister that I was not abducted and tortured but simply ‘had problems with [my] nerves.’”
So yesterday was not the first time that Amselem revealed a mean-spirited streak to blame the victims of human rights violations. Most disturbingly, Secretary Clinton – who met with Sister Dianna in the 1990s and expressed sympathy and solidarity – should already know this history.
The good news is that a replacement, Carmen Lomellin, has been nominated. The bad news is of course that the Senate Republicans are holding her and other Obama nominations hostage, as always (and with a nary a peep of protest in the media).
Charles says: Al Giordano spells in “Amselem.” Google renders a split decision. The OAS agrees with Al.
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