Exclusive: Could an Important Ambassadorial Appointment Be Based on D.C. Political Games?
by CAROLYN COOKE
January 4, 2010
In March, 2009, El Salvadoran elections led to a major sea change in the political landscape of the country when a member of the Communist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FLMN) Party, Mauricio Funes, was swept into the presidency. His win marked the end of control by the Party closely allied with the United States since the end of the El Salvadoran Civil War in 1992. El Salvador was America’s closest ally in Latin America.
El Salvador is a country on the edge, suffering from tough economic times with soaring poverty and the emergence of influential drug cartels that threaten the security and the stability of the nation and region. This no doubt contributed to the rise of Funes, a popular young politician who was once a commentator for CNN International. Though having run on a platform of moderating his former militant stance, it is an open question whether President Funes will stay true to his campaign’s move to the middle.
Will El Salvador continue to be allied with the United States or will Funes return to his radical leftist insurgent roots? Funes may choose to form a partnership with the America-hating Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez. Chávez is the FLMN Party’s more natural ally ideologically. The FLMN has increased its ties to Chavez over the past several years. Chávez has been known to be courting the new president.
In light of the ascendency of the Communist Party in El Salvador, one might expect one of the best and most experienced career diplomats to be nominated to become ambassador. After all, the current government has the potential to change from an ally to a threat to the security of the United States and an additional unsettling presence in an increasingly left-leaning region.
However, on December 9, 2009, attorney Mari Carmen Aponte was appointed to represent the United States as an ambassador to El Salvador. Aponte is a political appointee with no diplomatic experience, a tainted past and questionable ideology.
Swirling tales of espionage.
In 1998, Aponte was nominated by then President Bill Clinton to be the ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Aponte was a friend of Hillary Clinton and a big donor to the Democrat Party and causes. In 1993, intelligence gathering found that Aponte, then a member of the Clinton transition team, may have been recruited as a spy for the Cuban government.
When President Clinton announced Aponte’s appointment to the ambassadorship, the late Sen. Jesse Helms, then Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, announced he had a confidential intelligence memo regarding Aponte and her possible connections to Communist Cuba’s Intelligence Agency, Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI).
A series of articles was done by Insight on the News magazine on Ms. Aponte. They obtained a copy of the Helms’ memo. An excerpt from “Who’s Guarding the Chicken Coop,” by Jamie Dettmer & Timothy W. Maier:
The memo – written by an intelligence expert working overseas – questioned the lack of a thorough security check into Aponte's background. The memo also alleged that Aponte was recruited as a “DGI asset.” According to the memo, "When the FBI eventually questioned her about her involvement with Cuban intelligence, she reportedly refused to cooperate, saying that since she was not seeking a permanent White House position she was not subject to a background check.”
Nonetheless, Aponte subsequently was provided a top-secret clearance at the State Department despite serious objections from career officials.
Rumors of Ms. Aponte’s Cuban connections were circulating around Washington, D.C.
From Insight’s “Russian Spies Are Alive, Well”, by J. Michael Waller:
…the FBI learned that Carmen Mari Aponte, an attorney and friend of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, was living with a man believed to be a Cuban agent who introduced her to Cuban intelligence officers at the interests section. He allegedly gave her a "loan" believed to have come from the Cuban secret service – a loan Aponte never repaid. When questioned by the FBI in 1994, Aponte refused to take a polygraph test.
Despite the apparent security lapse, the CIA did not object to Aponte's association with Tamayo because Langley believed it could monitor her, the memo notes. However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had some tough questions for Aponte. Shortly after it became clear the panel wasn't going to back off, she withdrew her name, citing personal reasons.
Though eventually given clearance by the FBI, Aponte was never again nominated or appointed to a position in the federal government. The issue of whether there was an attempt to recruit Aponte to spy for Cuban leader Fidel Castro was never resolved.
Ambassadorships for sale?
Prior to President Clinton’s nomination of Aponte to the United States’ ambassadorship to the Dominican Republic, Insight on the News reported on her generous contributions to Democrat Party campaign coffers – $21,400. Aponte also raised money from the Latin community for Democrats.
Theodore Kettle at Newsmax further reports on Mari Carmen Aponte’s gifts, totaling “thousands of dollars” to the Democrat Party and Democrat causes over the years following the Clinton nomination, under such various names as “Maria,” “Marie,” “Mary,”and “Maricarmen,” according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Is the Aponte nomination is another gift to the White House’s radical Hispanic supporters?
Mari Carmen Aponte is a former board member of the radical Hispanic group, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), translated, “The National Council of the Race.” She also served on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund or PRLDEF. The “nonpartisan” NCLR endorsed Obama for president. The administration supports their goal of amnesty for the 12-20 million illegal aliens living in the United States.
The NCLR lauded the appointment of Aponte stating “…I cannot imagine a more qualified person to serve as our country’s ambassador to El Salvador.” What exactly are those qualifications? “She is both a highly accomplished lawyer and a wonderfully compassionate human being,” the press release continued.
The National Council of “the Race” opposes any crack down on illegal aliens in the United States, such as voter identification laws, state and local enforcement legislation and English only measures. They are pro-amnesty for illegal aliens, supporting such amnesty measures as Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Dream Act and AgJobs. In 2008, they began a campaign to demonize as “racist” leaders in the pro-American sovereignty arena such as Roy Beck of NumbersUSA and Mark Krikorian, the Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. Taxpayer dollars through federal grants are used to support La Raza lobbying efforts to dismantle American sovereignty and should require La Raza to actually be “nonpartisan.” The activities of La Raza are too long chronicle completely in this article.
The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund is a group that has a stated goal of providing legal aide to the Latino community. According to a report done by Judicial Watch, “the organization’s activities reflect a commitment to the worst aspects of liberal judicial activism: identity politics, race baiting, and ethnic favoritism.”
The administration’s payback to these radical anti-American groups is a continuation of a pattern. The first appointee to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs was Cecilia Munoz, a former vice-president of La Raza. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was a member of La Raza and “a top policy maker” on the Board of Directors of PRLDEF for 12 years.
Will Mari Carmen Aponte be awarded the job of representing the interests of American citizens in El Salvador through her Department of State position? Her friendship with Secretary of State Clinton and her generous support of Democrat causes make her a popular choice in this world of Obama liberalism and corruption.
Aponte’s appointment will have to be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
If you would like to contact the senators who will be confirming her appointment, see the information below.
Click here for United States Senate contact information.
Chairman: John F. Kerry (MA)
Minority Chairman: Richard Lugar (ID)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Russell Feingold (WI)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Benjamin Cardin (MD)
Robert Casey (PA)
Jim Webb (VA)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Edward Kaufman (DE)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Bob Corker (TN)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
James Risch (ID)
Jim Demint (SC)
John Barrasso (WY)
Roger Wicker (MS)
James Inhofe (OK)
FamilySecurityMatters.orgContributing Editor Carolyn Cooke is an American citizen activist committed to the preservation of a sovereign United States.