Negroponte addresses St. Johnsbury Academy graduates

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(Host) National Intelligence Director John Negroponte addressed graduates at Saint Johnsbury Academy today.

In his remarks Negroponte steered clear of national security and foreign policy issues.

His address was interrupted twice by protestors.

VPR’s Steve Zind has this report.

(Zind) Negroponte is the country’s first ever Director of National Intelligence. The post was created in an effort to consolidate the country’s various intelligence gathering activities under one person.

Negroponte is also a former ambassador to Iraq and Honduras. During the Reagan administration, he was involved in helping rebels in Nicaragua.

His involvement in Central America in the 1980s is primarily what brought 75 demonstrators together on the sidewalk outside the academy before Negroponte spoke.

Jack Lesnik of West Barnet says as ambassador Negroponte supported repressive governments in Central America.

(Lesnik) “He has a record of wherever he has been of violence against the people. He is now the Director of National Intelligence, which alerts us to the fact that times in the United States may be getting much worse.”

(Zind) When a passing motorist admonished the demonstrators, they reassured her that the graduation would take place without disruption.

(Demonstrator) “They’re having it, they’re having their graduation.”

(Zind) But shortly after he began his commencement address Negroponte was interrupted by a man who rose from the audience. He paused while the man was hustled from the room by police, but no sooner had he started speaking again when another man began to shout.

(Negroponte) “Today, I thought I would reflect “

(Noise and shouting)

(Zind) The man was led out to boos from some audience members.

(Negroponte) “I think you’re all going to be very grateful that I have a very short speech.”

(Zind) Negroponte spoke for just seven minutes. He talked about education as a lifelong process and told graduates to make themselves heard in the world.

(Negroponte) “What the world needs from you is to hear from you. This is your commencement, your beginning. Go out now and give voice to the words that will bring us all closer together on this small planet.”

(Zind) Negroponte’s son John was among those graduating Monday.

I’m Steve Zind for VPR news.

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