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The Contra gang is back

Bush packs gov't with criminals

By Heather Cottin

President George W. Bush has appointed Elliot Abrams to be the White House director of Middle Eastern affairs. This type of handpicked assignment bypasses the need for congressional approval, yet few pundits or journalists expressed consternation.

Abrams will rejoin his old friend John Poindexter, just appointed to be the national cyberspy--director of the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office, which gathers intelligence on people in the United States electronically.

Poindexter was convicted in 1990 of five felony counts of conspiracy, lying to Congress, defrauding the government and destroying evidence in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan-Bush administration. He was even implicated in selling cocaine for guns for the Contras, a terrorist military force funded and trained by the United States to oust the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the 1980s. (The Guardian [Britain], Feb. 18)

This retired Navy admiral lost his job as national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. But the first George Bush pardoned Poindexter and several other malefactors during his last days as president.

Abrams will be a confederate of John D. Negroponte, ambassador to the United Nations. Negroponte was Reagan's ambassador to Honduras when Reagan's men were supporting the Contras in defiance of the Boland Amendment, a law barring such aid. Negroponte was instrumental in supporting death squads in Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He funded the CIA-trained Battalion 316, which was responsible for killings of hundreds of Honduran union leaders and civil-rights workers. (The Guardian [Australia], Oct. 31, 2001)

Abrams will also serve with Otto Reich, part of the network of Cuban exiles responsible for the Oct. 6, 1976, bombing of Cubana Flight 455, which killed 73 people. Reich ran a covert domestic propaganda campaign against the Nicaraguan government during the Reagan era. (, Jan. 11)

Abrams: his history speaks for itself

Reaganites admired Elliot Abrams as an intellectual and a strategist. His thinking was at the core of the Reagan Doctrine. Abrams was a "hemispherist," a code word for those who opposed Marxism in the Western Hemisphere. The United States government declared war on those who dared to struggle for housing, health care, education and a decent life for their families. It was a battle against socialism.

Elliot Abrams was Reagan's assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs. When Reagan said that apartheid South Africa was this country's best friend in Africa, Abrams was arranging for "humanitarian" shipments of electric shock batons to the racist government there. (Human Rights Action Center)

Abrams led the State Department's Inter-American Affairs division in the 1980s. He covered up massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s. He called the report of the massacre at El Mozote, where more than 1,000 peasants were slaughtered by U.S.-trained Salvadoran troops, "commie propaganda."

Abrams lied about cables that told the State Department that Roberto D'Aubuisson, the U.S.-backed death-squad president of El Salvador, was planning to kill Archbishop Oscar Romero. Abrams called Washington's policy in El Salvador a "fabulous achievement."(The Nation, June 2, 2001)

In the 1980s, Elliot Abrams defended U.S. aid for the government in Guatemala, which killed an estimated 200,000 Indigenous people struggling for their lives in a desperate guerrilla war.

During the Contras' rampage in Nicaragua, Abrams worked directly under Lt. Col. Oliver North. (Observer, April 21) North was running the operation against the Sandinistas out of his office in the White House basement. North illegally sold arms to Iran and used the profits to fund the Contras.

Abrams was convicted of withholding information from Congress about the Reagan administration's cover-up of support for the Contras. But President George Bush pardoned Abrams on Christmas Eve in 1992, a lame-duck holiday gift.

When George W. Bush was selected president, Abrams was back in business.

In May 2001, Bush appointed Abrams senior director of the National Security Council Office of Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations. This past spring Abrams was a key figure organizing the coup that attempted to overthrow President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. (The Observer, April 21)

So now Elliot Abrams is Bush's director of Middle East affairs.

Abrams opposed the Oslo peace negotiations between Israel and Yasser Arafat. Abrams has said U.S. policy in Israel should face the Palestinians "with force." (New Jersey Jewish News)

Elliot Abrams's ideology toward the Middle East today is consistent with his earlier support of the bloody right-wing governments in Central America that killed an estimated 350,000 peasants in a decade of U.S.-financed destruction.

The Bush administration is deepening its line in the sand in the Middle East. But at a time when the political character of the U.S. government--of, by and for the rich--is becoming clearer to masses of people in this country and around the world, the movement opposing it is also growing in strength.

Reprinted from the Dec. 19, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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