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Democracy According to Elliott Abrams

Why has an admitted perjurer, a facilitator of death squads and an arms broker to Islamic terrorists just been appointed to be deputy national security adviser to President Bush?

It’s tough to think of anything more “un-American” and less reflective of traditional family values than lying to Congress about illegal U.S. arm sales to a CIA-created band of murderous rightwing terrorists known as the Contras, and sticking up for death squads. Also, can one defend selling arms to Islamic terrorists by claiming that waging the Cold War sometimes required subscribing to the thesis that the end justifies the means? Given that Elliott Abrams managed to commit all the derelictions cited above, one might think that there was sufficient reason to prevent his name from being associated with the word “democracy.” However, it appears that the Bush administration, as was the case of its appointing a known human rights violator like U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte (when he was the ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s), rewards those who offer the White House their blood-soaked resumes.

On February 2, the White House announced that Abrams was being appointed to the number two position on the National Security Council, where he “will be responsible for pushing Bush’s strategy for advancing democracy.” In terms of the outrageous, one could compare this to appointing Pinochet or Kissinger to head the inquiry into Chile’s human rights record during the general’s dictatorial rule, or Saddam’s conversion to the Quaker faith.

A brief review of his more notorious exploits will show that no one in the president’s neocon inventory would be a less appropriate candidate than Abrams to be the overseer of global democratization and to make certain that “freedom’s on the march.” Needless to say, he was once again given a job at his present agency, the National Security Council, which would thus not require the all-but impossible achievement of being confirmed by the Senate, a body that is well aware of his blighted record.

In 1991, Abrams plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts for perjury after providing false information to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. Concerning death squads, he remains unrepentant regarding the role he played in the 1980s for facilitating lethal militant aid to these U.S.- sanctioned murderers of civilians. They operated throughout Central America and were responsible for the thousands of atrocities committed by the aforementioned Nicaraguan Contras and by the Salvadoran military. As for assisting Islamic terrorists, Abrams was directly involved, along with Colonel Oliver North, in the sale of arms to Iranian terrorists in exchange for the release of hostages being held by Tehran.

Given that Bush knew about Mr. Abrams’ sordid personal history, including that it was his own father who pardoned Abrams for his crimes, does the President really believe that selling arms to terrorists in “axis of evil” countries and promoting democracy abroad is not somewhat of a contradiction?

LARRY BIRNS is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

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