SPADES | politicians

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: 3 of spades
(L, J, CH) (what do these signs mean?)

Abrams is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs. Conveniently, he didn't need Senate confirmation for this appointment because he probably wouldn't have gotten it. Before his present position, Abrams had been head of W's National Security Council's office on democracy, human rights, and international relations, also insulated from Congressional approval. As we will see, Abrams holding that office suggests a morbid streak in Bush's sense of humor.

While Assistant Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan, Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding evidence from Congress by lying over his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Upon entering office, Bush senior pardoned him and other Iran-Contra figures, thereby safeguarding any adverse political or legal consequences arising from his own inexplicable memory lapses when questioned about those affairs.

Under Reagan, Abrams' area of specialization was Latin America, and he compiled a strong record of assisting Latin American dictatorships in covering up their crimes, particularly in El Salvador. He covered up the Salvadorean Army's massacre of peasants in the town of El Mozote as well as the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero by right wing terrorists.

For example, in 1985, on Nightline Abrams denied that the US-funded Salvadoran military had slaughtered civilians at two sites the previous summer. They had. Three years earlier, when two American journalists reported that an elite, US-trained military unit had massacred hundreds of villagers in El Mozote, Abrams told Congress that the story was false, and we needed to give more US aid to El Salvador's military. David Corn writes that "The massacre, as has since been confirmed, was real. And 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 percent of the abuses to the Reagan-assisted right-wing military and its death-squad allies, Abrams declared, 'The Administration's record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.'"


Robert White, former ambassador to El Salvador, offers a more accurate assessment: "Just because appointments to the NSC are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, it does not follow that this key White House agency should be used as a dumping ground and rehabilitation center. Unrepentant former officials who lie to Congress merit ostracism, not inclusion in the highest councils of our government."

This Washington Post story

"I'll bring in a group of men and women who are focused on what's best for America, honest men and women, decent men and women, women who will see service to our country as a great privilege and who will not stain the house." (Bush on 1/15/00)

Thus does George Bush bring honor and integrity to the White House.

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