"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Elliott Abrams

Elliott Abrams (born January 24, 1948) is a member of the administration of President George W. Bush, holding the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. A leading neoconservative, Abram's appointment by the White House on December 2, 2002 was considered highly controversial owing to his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, over which he later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

Abrams received his B.A. from Harvard College, a Master's degree in international relations from the London School of Economics, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He practiced in New York and Washington, DC, and spent four years in the 1970s working for the U.S. Senate as special counsel and then as chief of staff to Senator Daniel Moynihan.
Abrams first came to national prominence when he served as Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the early 1980s and later as Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs.

During this time, Abrams clashed regularly with mainstream church groups and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who accused him of covering up atrocities committed by the military forces of U.S.-backed governments, such as those in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and rebel forces, such as the Contras and Angola's UNITA, while at the same time exaggerating abuses by insurgency groups and governments which the U.S. opposed. Records show, for example, that a special intelligence unit of the Honduran armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including U.S. missionaries. Critics charge that the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, and the Reagan administration knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while deceiving Congress.

In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote massacre -- thought to be the worst atrocity in modern Latin American history -- began appearing in U.S. media, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote "were not credible," and that "it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas." Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda. He later claimed Washington's policy in El Salvador a "fabulous achievement."

When Congress stopped shut down funding for the Contras with the 1982 Boland Amendment, the Reagan administration began looking for other avenues for funding the group. As part of this strategy, Abrams flew to London using a fake name to solicit a $10 million contribution from the Sultan of Brunei.
Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony about his role in the illicit money-raising schemes, but he pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. President George H. W. Bush pardoned Abrams along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants shortly before leaving office in 1992.

During the 1990s, Abrams worked for a number of think tanks and eventually became head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) where he wrote widely on foreign policy issues. He remained an integral part of the tight-knit neoconservative foreign policy community in Washington that revolved around one of his early mentors, Richard Perle, and former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick at the American Enterprise Institute.

In 1997, Abrams published a book, Faith or Fear , which warned American Jews that assimilating within the secular US culture posed the danger of a gradual loss of Jewish identity.

When George W. Bush nominated Elliott Abrams--the Iran-Contra veteran--for a human rights post in 2001, it sparked an an avalanche of criticism. Wrote Patrick Martin: “The selection of Abrams [as the NSC director of democracy, human rights, and international operations] is the most provocative appointment by Bush since his nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general. Appearing frequently at press forums and congressional committee hearings in the 1980s, Abrams was one of the most belligerent defenders of Reagan's policy of arming the contras. . . .

When Abrams was later chosen to be a point person in the administration for Near East affairs, critics charged that Abrams lacked credentials for the position, arguing that he was chosen only because of his ideological outlook.

Regarding Abrams’s involvement in Iran-Contra, David Corn writes: “In 1993 after a UN truth commission, which examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil war in El Salvador, attributed 85 % of the abuses to the Reagan-assisted right-wing military and its death-squad allies. … [Abrams] also hid from Congress the fact that he had flown to London (using the name “Mr. Kenilworth”) to solicit a $10 million contribution for the contras from the Sultan of Brunei.” (18)

In his book Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics, Philip Burch underscores Abrams’s unapologetic attitude regarding the excesses of the war in Nicaragua. “A few years after he stepped down as assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Abrams, once the State Department’s top human rights official, wrote an article on El Salvador in the National Review (February 3, 1992, pp.39-40) titled “An American Victory”; at the end of this piece he proudly proclaimed that ‘El Salvador’s decade of guerilla war cost thousands … of Salvadoran lives, and those of eight Americans. The violence is ending now in part because of the collapse of Communism throughout the world, but more because Communist efforts to take power by force were resisted and defeated. In this small corner of the cold war, American policy was right, and it was successful.’ Perhaps Mr. Abrams should read … Mark Danner’s The Massacre at El Mozote (which contains an appendix giving name, age, and gender for almost every one of the 784 people killed in this grizzly episode [perpetrated by the Salvadoran Army's Atacatl Battalion, a U.S.-trained counterinsurgency force]).” (20)
Abrams has written various books, including Undue Process, Security and Sacrifice, and Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America. He has also contributed articles to Commentary, the Weekly Standard, the National Interest, the Public Interest, and the National Review.
Abrams, the husband of Rachel Decter, is the son-in-law of Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz, and the brother-in-law of John Podhoretz.

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Milton Frihetsson, 15:44


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