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A Shameful Choice: Abrams' Past Should Have Prevented Bush from Naming Him to Security Post, 7/11

Bush picks Elliott Abrams for top job, 6/28


Elliott Abrams

As Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for InterAmerican Affairs, lied to 3 congressional comittees on Iran Contra. Appointed to National Security Council as senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations

A Shameful Choice: Abrams' Past Should Have Prevented Bush from Naming Him to Security Post, 7/11

Wednesday, July 11, 2001 in the Philadelphia Inquirer

President Bush has just hired a guy who made headlines in the 1980s as a deceitful, scheming coddler of Latin American tyrants. Elliott Abrams is a poster-boy for America's shameful history of propping up dictators from Santiago to Mexico City - so long as they were anticommunist.

Two years ago, President Clinton went to Guatemala and vowed a clean break with this disgraceful legacy.

By installing Mr. Abrams at the National Security Council, President Bush seems to be saying:

Never mind.

It is hard to imagine someone less suited to be the council's senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations. Manuel Noriega? Don King? The hiring of Mr. Abrams - who makes Jesse Helms seem like a milquetoast - mocks the President's saccharine pledge of civility.

Elliott Abrams was assistant secretary of state for Latin America for most of the Reagan years. In that role, this high official pooh-poohed the slaughter of civilians in war-torn El Salvador and Guatemala and mocked his critics as "vipers" and worse.

He played an important role in the funding of contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government. He didn't just try to end-run the U.S. law that prohibited U.S. military aid to the contras. He actively deceived three congressional committees about what was going on.

Facing felony charges based on his testimony, Mr. Abrams pled guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to a year's probation and 100 hours of community service.

But a year later, President George H.W. Bush, whose own role in the Iran-contra scandal has remained murky, handed the uncontrite peddler of lies a full pardon.

Elliott Abrams has no business being awarded any position of public trust.

For this ethically challenged zealot to be given duties involving democracy and human rights - in an administration pledged to "restore honor and dignity" to the White House - is especially odious.

Unfortunately, his appointment - a sop to the Republican right - doesn't require approval by the Senate.

The President should realize his error and tell Mr. Abrams' most recent employer, the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, to take him back for more rehab.

Copyright 2001 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc

topBush picks Elliott Abrams for top job, 6/28

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday named Elliott Abrams, who was involved in the Iran-contra scandal during Ronald Reagan's presidency, to a senior position at the White House National Security Council.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice announced that Abrams had been appointed to the position of senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

In 1991, Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding information from Congress related to the Reagan administration's secret scheme to sell arms to Iran and use the proceeds to fund the Contra rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist government. He received a pardon from the president's father, the then President George Bush.

Abrams admitted that he withheld from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in October 1986 his knowledge of Lt. Col. Oliver North's Contra-assistance activities.

"I consider this one of the most bizarre appointments imaginable," said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, an independent policy research organization.

The White House said Bush had confidence in Abrams. "Mr Abrams is eminently qualified for his new position. He is the best person for the job," said White House spokesman Sean McCormack.

The appointment followed Bush's nomination of two controversial conservatives to work on Latin American policy.

One of those was Cuban-born conservative Otto Reich, Bush's nominee to head Latin American policy at the State Department as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Reich, a controversial member of the Cuban-American exile lobby, ran the Reagan administration's Office of Public Diplomacy from 1983 to 1986. The office was accused of using illegal means to promote public support for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

Democratic senators have vowed to oppose the appointment of Reich, a corporate lobbyist for rum producer Bacardi who favors tightening the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Bush picked Roger Noriega, an aide to North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, the hemispheric forum of 34 nations.

Bush has made a point of emphasizing the importance of good North-South relations.

Birns said the selections represented "a very dangerous trend for the future of U.S.-Latin American relations" at a time of rising nationalism in the region.

"It clearly is a very provocative move," he said.



Published on Thursday, July 5, 2001 in The Progressive magazine  
Contra Vets Return to Power
You Remember Elliott Abrams? 
by Matthew Rothschild


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