12.08.2011 0

Senate may vote on Mari Del Carmen Aponte appointment to Ambassador to El Salvador

By Rick Manning — Americans for Limited Government led the charge against the confirmation of Barack Obama’s appointee to the ambassadorship of El Salvador, Mari Del Carmen Aponte until August of 2010, when Obama gave her a recess appointment to serve until Congress went out of session in 2011.

Now, Aponte’s name is back in the news as Senate Democrats moved her nomination through the Foreign Relations Committee on a party line vote.  The White House is pushing for her nomination to be brought up for a full vote of the Senate as her temporary appointment is scheduled to end in January, 2012.

Aponte’s nomination has been in trouble since the outset due to “unanswered questions” related to her 1990s romantic relationship with Cuban spy, Roberto Tamayo, and because those questions go to the heart of whether the nominee can be trusted with U.S. national security sensitive information, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson believes Aponte’s nomination should be rejected.

“Because Aponte refused to submit to a polygraph test, the American people still have not received a full, public accounting of the extent of Aponte’s relationship with Tamayo. Instead, all they have received are vague assurances from Senators who claim to have seen the FBI records regarding Aponte and Tamayo,” Wilson said.

“Is Aponte a loyalty risk or not? It is up to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation process to answer this fundamental question and if there is any doubt, reject her nomination,” Wilson explained.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), had defended Aponte after he said he had seen some of the FBI’s materials on Aponte and Tamayo. Wilson said that was “not good enough.”

Wilson said the context of her 1986-94 live-in relationship with a Cuban Intelligence Service agent was “troubling, to say the least,” noting that during that period, Cuba, the then-Soviet Union, and Nicaragua were fighting a proxy war in El Salvador against the U.S.-backed government there.

“Aponte has been named ambassador of the very country that her friends in the Cuban government attempted to take over, and now due to Obama’s recess appointment, she has access to the intelligence files for every friend and enemy of the United States in the country,” Wilson said.

In 1993, Florentino Aspillaga, a Cuban Interior Ministry intelligence agent, who defected in 1987, said that Cuban spies were trying to recruit Aponte through Tamayo.

An Insight on the News story detailed Aponte’s alleged recruitment by the Cuban spy agency, including receiving a loan which was never paid back that originated from Cuban sources. According to the a confidential intelligence memo delivered to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms and obtained by Insight, “When the FBI 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.”

After she failed to take a lie detector test in 1994, Aponte withdrew herself from consideration of Ambassador to the Dominican Republic after committee questions about her suitability continued.

According to a Washington Post article published prior to the appointment, “Republicans want access to all FBI’s records on the relationship. The FBI interviewed both Aponte and Tamayo about the matter back in 1993, but Aponte declined to take a lie-detector test. Citing ‘personal reasons,’ she withdrew from consideration to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 1998 after then-Sen. Jesse Helms promised to ask invasive questions about the relationship at her hearing.”

In a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Wilson had written to Senators prior to her temporary recess appointment, “Aponte’s nomination is permanently tainted by her 1990’s close, personal relationship with a man whom U.S. counterintelligence considered a Cuban DGI agent, according to a confidential intelligence memo that was obtained by Insight magazine.”

The letter continued, “Aponte’s failure to cooperate with a 1994 FBI investigation into the allegations, and her refusal to participate in a polygraph test after some of the answers to FBI questions showed minor inconsistencies serve as automatic disqualifiers for this nominee.”

Now, Aponte with her recess appointment coming to an end, she is back in front of the full Senate for consideration.

Wilson said that, “Aponte remains unfit for the position of ambassador to El Salvador, and it is perfectly fair for Senators to demand answers to these lingering questions, but also to fully examine Obama’s Central American policy that has emerged through his three years in office.”

Wilson concluded, “The American people have a right to know if one of their ambassadors has been compromised by enemy intelligence agents. There are certainly indications to that effect.

Why would Barack Obama fight so vigorously for somebody with such a troubling background? Why would he appoint somebody with ties to a regime that is the sworn enemy of the U.S.?”

Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.  ALG Senior Editor Robert Romano contributed to this report.

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