Elliott Abrams


Elliott Abrams

Infobox person
name = Elliot Abrams



birthname =
birthdate = birth date and age|1948|1|24
birthplace = New York City
spouse = Rachel Decter

Elliott Abrams (born January 24, 1948) is an American lawyer who has served in foreign policy positions for two Republican U.S. Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. He is widely labeled as a leading neoconservative. [cite web
last = Hirsh
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Hirsh (journalist)
coauthors = Dan Ephron
title = The Last Man Standing
work =
publisher = Newsweek
date = 2006-12-04
url = http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15896208/site/newsweek/
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-05-14
] [cite web
last = Crowley
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Crowley
coauthors =
title = Elliott Abrams: From Iran-Contra to Bush's Democracy Czar
work =
publisher = Slate
date = 2005-02-17
url = http://www.slate.com/id/2113690/
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-05-14
]

During Bush's first term in office, he was appointed to the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. At the start of Bush's second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, in charge of promoting Bush's strategy of advancing democracy abroad. His appointment by Bush was controversial due to his conviction in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra Affair investigation. He has been described by former US president Jimmy Carter as "a very militant supporter of Israel". [Jonathan Steele and Jonathan Freedland: [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/26/israelandthepalestinians.usa1?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront "Carter urges 'supine' Europe to break with US over Gaza blockade"] , The Guardian, Monday, May 26th, 2008]

Early years

Abrams was born into a Jewish family in New York and he understands Hebrew. [A story in Haaretz Daily shows he can translate from Hebrew to English, see [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/871264.html An overpowering reality] .] His father was an immigration lawyer. Elliott received his B.A. from Harvard College in 1969, a Master's degree in international relations from the London School of Economics in 1970, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1973. At Harvard, he was a roommate of Steven Kelman, founder of the Young People's Socialist League campus chapter. Together they penned an article on the 1969 Harvard strike for "The New Leader", "The Contented Revolutionists." [cite journal | title = This Boy's Politics | author = Steven Kelman | journal = The New Leader | year = 2006 | volume = 89 | issue = 1/2 | pages = 21–23] He practiced in New York -- in the summers for his father, and then briefly on Wall Street -- but found that he preferred politics. He worked on Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson's brief campaign for the 1976 Democratic nomination, after which he served as special counsel and ultimately as chief of staff for the then-new Senator Daniel Moynihan.

Through Senator Moynihan, Abrams was introduced to Rachel Decter, the stepdaughter of Moynihan's friend, Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary Magazine and the "godfather" of neo-conservatism. They were married in 1980. The couple has three children: Jacob, Sarah and Joey. [Elliott Abrams - "Undue Process", p. 80.]

Abrams first came to national prominence when he served as Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the early 1980s and later as Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs. His nomination to Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 17 November1981. [cite web
last = Bite
first = Vita
authorlink = Vita Bite
coauthors =
title = Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy // Issue Brief: Number IB81125
work =
publisher = The Library of Congress Congressional Research System Major Issue System
date = 1982-11-24
url = http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs//data/1982/upl-meta-crs-8859/IB81125_1982Nov24.pdf?PHPSESSID=59cb7309244ccd0ecddc8ba98158d482
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-22
p. 6.
] Abrams was Reagan's second choice for the position; his first nominee, Ernest W. Lefever, had been rejected by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 5 June1981. [Ibid. p. 5-6.]

Central America

During this time, Abrams clashed regularly with church groups and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch [cite web
last = Dobbs
first = Michael
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Back in Political Forefront: Iran-Contra Figure Plays Key Role on Mideast
work =
publisher = Washington Post
date = 2003-05-27
url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A41843-2003May26?language=printer
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-05-02
p. A01. According to the Washington Post article, he clashed with Aryeh Neier, Human Rights Watch's Executive Director at the time [http://www.soros.org/about/bios/b_neier] , on Nightline in 1984.
] [cite web
last = Neier
first = Aryeh
authorlink = Aryeh Neier
coauthors =
title = The Attack on Human Rights Watch
work =
publisher = The New York Review of Books
date = 2006-11-02
url = http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19500
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-05-02
] and Amnesty International, over the Reagan administration's foreign policies. They accused him of covering up atrocities committed by the military forces of US-backed governments, such as those in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and the rebel Contras in Nicaragua.

El Salvador

In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote massacre of civilians by the military in El Salvador 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." [cite news
first = Mark
last = Danner
title = The Truth of El Mozote
url = http://www.markdanner.com/articles/show/the_truth_of_el_mozote
publisher = The New Yorker
pages = 4, 50-70
date = 1993-12-03
accessdate = 2007-08-07
] The massacre had come at a time when the Reagan administration was attempting to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran military. Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda and denounced US investigative reports of the massacre as misleading. He later claimed Washington's policy in El Salvador a "fabulous achievement." [cite news
title = Elliott Abrams: It's Back!
publisher = TheNation.com
url = http://www.thenation.com/doc/20010702/corn
] In 1993, members of the Salvadoran Truth Commission testified about the El Mozote massacre in a congressional hearing of the House Western Hemisphere subcommittee. Chairman Robert Torricelli, Democratic Senator from New Jersey, vowed to review for possible perjury "every word uttered by every Reagan administration official" in congressional testimony on El Salvador.citequote Abrams denounced Torricelli's words as "McCarthyite crap".citequote Also in 1993, documentation emerged suggesting that some Reagan administration officials could have known about El Mozote and other human rights violations from the beginning. [cite news
first = Clifford
last = Klauss
title = How U.S. Actions Helped Hide Salvador Human Rights Abuses
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE5D61E31F932A15750C0A965958260#
publisher = The New York Times
date = 1993-03-21
accessdate = 2007-11-22

] However, in July 1993, an investigation commissioned by Clinton Secretary of State Warren Christopher into the State department's "activities and conduct" with regard to human rights in El Salvador during the Reagan years found that, despite the department's mistakes handling El Mozote, its personnel "performed creditably and occasionally with personal bravery in advancing human rights in El Salvador". [cite book
last = Whitfield
first = Teresa
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Paying the Price: Ignacio Ellacuría and the Murdered Jesuits of El Salvador
publisher = Temple University Press
year = 1994
location = Philadelphia
pages = 390
url = http://books.google.ca/books?id=qv9o4qoOnFEC&pg=PA389&lpg=PA389&dq=House+Western+Hemisphere+subcommittee+Salvadoran+Truth+Commission&source=web&ots=UBUsYRyjGB&sig=7tSDTE4UPV6lgJJKa2-Rbowvjw4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA390,M1
doi =
id =
isbn = 1566392535
]

Nicaragua

When Congress shut down funding for the Contras' efforts to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government with the 1982 Boland Amendment, the Reagan administration began looking for other avenues for funding the group.Fact|date=March 2007 Congress opened a couple of such avenues when it modified the Boland Amendment for fiscal year 1986 by approving $27 million in direct aid to the Contras and allowing the administration to legally solicit funds for the Contras from foreign governments. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Iran-Contra Hearings; Boland Amendments: What They Provided
work =
publisher = New York Times
date = 1987-07-10
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE4DF1039F933A25754C0A961948260
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-11
] Neither the direct aid, nor any foreign contributions, could be used to purchase weapons. [Ibid.] Guided by the new provisions of the modified Boland Amendment, Abrams flew to London in August 1986 and met secretly with Bruneian defense minister General Ibnu to solicit a $10-million contribution from the Sultan of Brunei. [cite book
last = Abrams
first = Elliott
authorlink =
title = Undue Process: A Story of How Political Differences Are Turned into Crimes
publisher = The Free Press
year = 1993
pages = 89
doi =
isbn = ISBN 0-02-900167-6
] [cite web
last = Walsh
first = Lawrence E.
authorlink = Lawrence E. Walsh
coauthors =
title = Chapter 25 United States. v. Elliott Abrams
work = Final Report of the Independent Counsel For Iran/Contra Matters Volume I: Investigations and Prosecutions
publisher = United States Court of Appeal For the District of Columbia
date = 1993-08-04
url = http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/chap_25.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-10
] Ultimately, the Contras never received this money because a clerical error in Oliver North's office (a mistyped account number) sent the Bruneian money to the wrong Swiss bank account. [Ibid.]

Panama

On 30 June 1987, the United States State Department demanded the ouster of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, made the announcement. Abrams took note of a resolution passed on 23 June by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanding the creation of a "democratic government" in Panama, and officially concurred, thus making the toppling of Noriega the official U.S. policy.citequote Abrams also demanded that the Panamanian military be freed of "political corruption."citequote

Iran-Contra affair

During investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair, the special prosecutor handling the case prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams but never indicted him. [Ibid.] Instead, Abrams entered into a plea agreement that ultimately led to a conviction without imprisonment on two misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress. [cite web
last = Walsh
first = Lawrence E.
authorlink = Lawrence E. Walsh
coauthors =
title = Summary of Prosecutions
work = Final Report of the Independent Counsel For Iran/Contra Matters Volume I: Investigations and Prosecutions
publisher = United States Court of Appeal For the District of Columbia
date = 1993-08-04
url = http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/summpros.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-10
] He was fined $50, placed on probation for two years, and assigned 100 hours of community service. Abrams was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush as he was leaving office following his loss in the 1992 U.S. presidential election.

Involvement with Project For the New American Century

Abrams was one of the signatories of the 26 January 1998 Project for the New American Century letter sent to President Bill Clinton which called for regime-change in Iraq. [cite web|last=|first=|authorlink=|coauthors=18 signatories|title = untitled letter|work=|publisher=Project For the New American Century|date=1998-01-26|url=http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm|format=|doi=|accessdate=2007-05-14]

Special Assistant to President Bush

President George W. Bush appointed Abrams to the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council on 25 June 2001. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Statement by the Press Secretary
work =
publisher = The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
date = 2001-06-28
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/06/20010628-12.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-15
] Abrams was appointed Special Assistant to the President and the NSC's Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs on 2 December 2002. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Statement by the Press Secretary
work =
publisher = The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
date = 2002-12-02
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021202-14.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-15
] Some human rights groups and commentators considered his White House appointment controversial due to his conviction in the Iran-Contra Affair investigation and his role in overseeing the Reagan administration's foreign policy in Latin America. [cite web
last = Cooper
first = Linda
authorlink = Linda Cooper
coauthors = Jim Hodge
title = Appointees Spark Controversy
work =
publisher = National Catholic Reporter
date = 2001-08-10
url = http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2001c/081001/081001f.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-04-15
] [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Editorial: Appointments Insult Human Rights Cause
work =
publisher = National Catholic Reporter
date = 2001-08-10
url = http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2001c/081001/081001s.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-04-15
]

2002 Venezuelan coup

"The Observer" has alleged that Abrams had advance knowledge of, and "gave a nod to", the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 against Hugo Chávez. [cite web
last = Vulliamy
first = Ed
authorlink = Ed Vulliamy
coauthors =
title = Venezuela coup linked to Bush team
work =
publisher = The Observer
date = 2002-04-21
url = http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,688071,00.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-15
] Other sources have alleged that Abrams and Otto Reich played an active role in planning the coup. [cite web
last = Stinard
first = Philip
authorlink = Philip Stinard
coauthors =
title = Otto Reich: Mastermind of the April 2002 coup d'etat against President Hugo Chavez
work =
publisher = VHeadline.com: Venezuela's Electronic News
date = 2004-07-24
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20060113105952/http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=21723
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2006-01-13
] However, a review by the State Department's Inspector General made the following conclusion: "Our government’s opposition to the use of undemocratic or unconstitutional means to remove President Chávez was repeated over and over again during the relevant period by key policymakers and spokespersons in Washington and by our representatives in Caracas in both public and private forums. And, far from working to foment his overthrow, the United States alerted President Chávez to coup plots and warned him of an assassination threat that was deemed to be credible." [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = A Review of U.S. Policy Toward Venezuela November 2001 - April 2002
work =
publisher = United States Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General
date = 2002-07
url = http://oig.state.gov/documents/organization/13682.pdf
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-15
p. 37.
]

Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy

On 2 February 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Abrams Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Personnel Announcement
work =
publisher = The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
date = 2005-02-02
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050202-10.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-15
] In his new position, Abrams became responsible for overseeing the National Security Council's directorate of Democracy, Human Rights, and International Organization Affairs and its directorate of Near East and North African Affairs. [Ibid.]

Abrams accompanied Condoleezza Rice as a primary advisor on her visits to the Middle East in late July 2006 in the course of discussions relating to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/washington/10rice.html]

Affiliation history

Institutional affiliations

* American Committee for Peace in Chechnya: Member
* American Jewish Committee: Former member, National Advisory Council
* Center for Security Policy: Former member, National Security Advisory Council
* Committee for the Free World: Member of 1985 conference on Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in Geneva
* Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf: Former Member (1998)
* Committee on U.S. Interests in the Middle East: Former Member
* Council on Foreign Relations: Member
* Ethics and Public Policy Center: President, 1996–2002
* Heritage Foundation: Alumnus of Heritage Foundation Resource Bank
* Francisco Marroquin Foundation: Former chairman
* Hudson Institute: Senior Fellow, 1990-96
* Independent Task Force on Colombia: Former member
* Middle East Forum: Signatory of 2000 report urging military action against Syria
* Nicaraguan Resistance Foundation: Former chairman
* Project for the New American Century: Signatory of 1997 Statement of Principles and various other statements
* Social Democrats, USA: Former member
* U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: Former member

Editorial affiliations

* National Review: Former contributing author
* Policy Review: Former contributing author
* Beliefnet: Columnist

Government service

* National Security Council: Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, 2005 to present
* National Security Council: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs, 2002–05
* National Security Council: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations, 2001–02
* U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: Chairman, 2000-2001; Commissioner, 1999–2001
* Inter-American Foundation: nominated as member of Board of Directors for the 1985–90 term
* Department of State: Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1985-89
* Department of State: Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, 1981–85
* Department of State: Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, 1981
* Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan: Chief of Staff, Special Counsel, 1977–79
* Sen. Henry M. Jackson: Staffer/Special Counsel, 1975–76
* Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: Assistant Counsel, 1975

Corporate connections/business interests

* Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard and McPherson: Associate, 1979–81
* Breed, Abbott and Morgan: Attorney, 1973–75

Education

* Harvard University: B.A., 1969
* London School of Economics: M.Sc., 1970
* Harvard Law School: J.D., 1973

Books

*"Democracy How Direct?: Views from the Founding Era and the Polling Era" 2002 ISBN 0-7425-2318-7
*"The Influence of Faith" 2001 ISBN 0-7425-0762-9
*"International Religious Freedom (2001): Annual Report: Submitted by the U.S. Department of State" editor 2001 ISBN 0-7567-1338-2
*"Secularism, Spirituality, and the Future of American Jewry" 1999 ISBN 0-89633-190-3, editor with David Dalin
*"Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense, and 'Just War' Today" 1998 ISBN 0-89633-187-3
*"Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy" 1998 ISBN 0-89633-188-1
*"Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America" 1997 ISBN 0-684-82511-2
*"Security and Sacrifice: Isolation, Intervention, and American Foreign Policy" 1995 ISBN 1-55813-049-7
*"Shield and Sword" 1995 ISBN 0-02-900165-X
*"Undue Process A Story of How Political Differences are Turned into Crimes" 1993 ISBN 0-02-900167-6

Notes

External links

* [http://www.slate.com/id/2113690/ "Elliott Abrams: From Iran-Contra to Bush's Democracy Czar"] , Profile article in "Slate.com".
* [http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?entity=elliott_abrams Profile of Elliott Abrams] , "Center for Cooperative Research".
* [http://www.nndb.com/people/326/000024254/ Profile of Elliott Abrams] , "Notable Names DataBase".
* [http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc National Security Council website]
* [http://beliefnet.com/author/author_41.html List of columns and articles] on Beliefnet
* Jim Lobe [http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0212abrams.html "Elliott Abrams Is Back"] (December 6 2002, "Foreign Policy in Focus"
* [http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/25/18/allen2518.html "Public Serpent: Iran-contra villain Elliott Abrams is back in action"] (from "In These Times")
* [http://web.mit.edu/thistle/www/v9/9.06/8nuremberg.html Transcript of interview with Abrams] and journalist Allan Nairn on the Charlie Rose Show March 31, 1998. Accessed July 10, 2007


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