From: Otto Reich [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 26 de marzo de 2007 11:27 AM
To: Letters@newsweek.com; WebEditors@newsweek.com; email@example.com
Subject: Attempted Slander by Fareed Zakaria
To the editors of Newsweek:
I am a former US government official, having served, inter alia, as US Ambassador to Venezuela, Assistant Secretary of State, the President¹s Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State and Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development. I am a veteran of the US Army, and currently the founder and owner of a small but thriving consulting firm. My 40-year career has been devoted to bringing the United States and Latin America closer together and to help raise the economic standards of this region.
I do not appreciate, therefore, having my work belittled and myself insulted by a Newsweek columnist (³Right Idea, Wrong Time², by Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, March 19, 2007) who has never met me, never talked to me, never had anyone call to check any facts before writing about me, does not know my work, and who bases his views on the opinion of an academic with whom I have clashed publicly. Zakaria¹s use of subjective, ad-hominem terms such as ³extremist² and ³weird,² is childish name-calling expected more of a 12-year old child than from a Newsweek columnist.
President Bush has just completed his 8th trip to Latin America in six years in office, having visited five important countries including the largest nation, Brazil, the smallest South American republic, Uruguay, and our closest neighbor, Mexico. Any visit by a President of the United States to our home hemisphere brings both dangers and opportunities, and this was no exception. Americans need to know more about this strategic region of 600 million people. Fareed Zakaria did not help shed light on the Americas, but instead allowed his column to be used by an embittered university professor to distort the facts.
In a juvenile attempt to trivialize the president¹s accomplishments and slur his administration, and me, Mr. Zakaria has done your readers a disservice.
In his shallow treatment of the subject, Mr. Zakaria clearly demonstrates his superficial knowledge of this region and that, frankly, he was a poor choice to comment on a potentially significant presidential journey.
Further, by relying entirely on one source for his column, a Harvard professor who has never held any non-academic post, Mr. Zakaria unwittingly allowed his column to be a blunt instrument used by Dr. Jorge Dominguez to settle personal scores with me, since Dominguez and I have clashed publicly in the past about policy differences.
Mr. Zakaria makes so many errors in his column that it is impossible to correct them in this letter. For example, it is false that "...Reich... is sufficiently extreme and weird that even the Republican Senate eventually rejected his nomination." This statement¹s several errors may be due to Zakaria¹s ignorance rather than malice. My 2001 nomination as Assistant Secretary of State was never "rejected" by the Senate because there was never a vote. The nomination was blocked by one Senator, Chris Dodd, who as Chairman of the Sub Committee on the Western Hemisphere, refused to hold even the hearing, much less a vote, thus subverting the process of advice a consent which is called for under the Constitution for all presidential nominees. Dodd was able to thwart the process because the Senate was not in Republican hands as Z akaria asserts; the Democrats had taken control of the Senate in 2001 with the party switch of Senator Jeffords of Vermont, and the Democrats decided to block a number of nominations to demonstrate their newfound power (as Republicans also, unfortunately, have done when in control).
The reason Dodd refused to hold hearings is that I had sufficient votes to be confirmed, as the White House Office of Legislative Affairs informed President Bush. Do you not think that if Dodd had had enough votes to defeat a Bush appointee, that he would have allowed the hearings and a vote?
Of course he would have. That way he would have embarrassed not only me but the President. Instead, Dodd refused to allow me even to testify. As faras being "extreme or weird," those are childish insults not worthy of retort.
Most egregious, however, is Zakaria¹s fabrication of facts in his description of my role in the events in Venezuela which resulted in Hugo Chavez being removed from power for two days in 2002. Contrary to what Zakaria states, the State Department Inspector General has found that neither the State Department, nor my Bureau, nor my staff nor I played any improper role. I repeat, Zakaria¹s entire reconstruction of the aforementioned events is a fabrication. I refer you to the State Department website for the Inspector General¹s report of July 2002 and the factual report of the role I played.
It is obvious from reading the column that the source of many of Zakaria¹s falsehoods is Jorge Dominguez, the only person quoted. Dominguez and I have differences about Latin America and particularly Cuba. Recently, for example, Dominguez called for the public "honoring" of Fidel Castro as a great man who had transformed his nation. Some may consider calling for the honoring of a murderer who has destroyed his country¹s liberties, infrastructure and morale to be ³extremist and weird.² Like many academics that have never practiced what they teach, Dominguez is entitled to his bizarre opinions. Most of the time, the only victims of his oddity are his students. This time it was Fareed Zakaria.
In addition to the errors and insults directed against me, Zakaria¹s column also suffers from numerous factual mistakes about US policy in Latin America. For example, in one of his attempts to denigrate the current President, Zakaria states that when he was elected, George W. Bush allowed the ³momentum² of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to be lost, to the detriment of Latin America¹s development. Zakaria¹s timeline is off by 8 years. George W. Bush was inaugurated in 2001. NAFTA, negotiated by Bush 41, was approved by Congress in 1993 with Bill Clinton¹s support.
Unfortunately, President Clinton allowed the trade promotion authority (TPA), required for successful free trade negotiations to lapse the following year, and thus the US did not conclude any trade agreements until 2002, when Pres. Bush managed to have TPA restored by a margin of a single vote after strong personal lobbying. Since then the US has concluded FTA negotiations with Chile, five Central American nations, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, just in this hemisphere. Hardly a ³loss of momentum.² As I said earlier, your readers deserve much better than Zakaria¹s historical distortion, whether it was intentional or inadvertent.
In the interest of decency and our respective professional reputations, I urge you to correct the impression caused by this column.
I would like to settle this amicably, so I look forward to hearing from you.
Otto J. Reich