Sep 1 2007

The Return of Elliott Abrams

A key Bush administration architect of the policy of arming elements of Fatah to attack Hamas was Elliott Abrams, whose current White House title is deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy.

Abrams has a long history of such operations, and seems to be pursuing them today in areas far beyond Palestine. As a State Department official for Latin America in the Reagan administration, Abrams promoted the strategy of “low-intensity warfare”—that is, arming death squads and guerrillas—against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the Salvadoran insurgents, ultimately pleading guilty to withholding information about these efforts from Congress in the Iran/Contra affair.

Currently, according to reporting by Seymour Hersh (New Yorker, 3/5/07), Abrams is among those spearheading a set of covert operations, using Saudi Arabia as a proxy, that are aimed at supporting Sunni extremist groups in Lebanon and Syria to counter the Shiite militants of Hezbollah and the Alawite regime in Damascus. Since some members of Congress might feel uneasy about supporting armed extremists with an ideology resembling Al-Qaeda’s, Abrams and others have been careful to arrange the activities in such a way that Congress does not find out about them, Hersh reported.

In 2005, Abrams led a meeting of Iran/Contra veterans to hash out the “lessons learned” in the affair. Their conclusions, according to Hersh’s article: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the CIA has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the vice president’s office.” They might have added a fifth lesson: An incurious media always helps.