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Profile: Elliott Abrams

 
  

Positions that Elliott Abrams has held:

  • The National Security Council?s top Middle East aide


 

Quotes

 
  

No quotes or excerpts for this entity.


 

Relations

 
  

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Elliott Abrams actively participated in the following events:

 
  

January 26, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03 Sources: January 26, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
People and organizations involved: William J. Bennett, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William Schneider Jr., Donald Rumsfeld, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick, Peter Rodman, John R. Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Kristol, Paula J. Dobriansky, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Richard Perle
          

February 19, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [CNN, 2/20/98; Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, Peter Rodman, Roger Robinson, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Robert A. Pastor, Max Singer, Peter Rosenblatt, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Leon Wienseltier, Caspar Weinberger, Richard V. Allen, Frank Carlucci, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Richard Burt, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Sven F. Kraemer, Gary Schmitt, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Bernard Lewis, Frederick L. Lewis, Jarvis Lynch, Robert C. McFarlane, John R. Bolton, Fred C. Ikle, Stephen Solarz, David Wurmser, Dov S. Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith
          

September 2000: PNAC Report Recommends Policies That Need New Pearl Harbor for Quick Implementation      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

      
People involved in the 2000 PNAC report (from top left): Vice President Cheney, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim, and author Eliot Cohen.
PNAC drafts a strategy document, “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” for George W. Bush's team before the 2000 Presidential election. The document was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Bush's brother), and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. [Sources: Rebuilding America's Defenses]
The document outlines a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”
PNAC states further: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
PNAC calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the Internet, and the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran, and other countries.
It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”
However, PNAC complains that thes changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] Notably, while Cheney commissioned this plan (along with other future key leaders of the Bush administration), he defends Bush's position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq during an NBC interview in the midst of the 2000 presidential campaign, asserting that the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] A British member of Parliament will later say of the report: “This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world.” [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02] Both PNAC and its strategy plan for Bush are almost virtually ignored by the media until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Aaron Friedberg, Steve Forbes, Elliott Abrams, Francis Fukuyama, Norman Podhoretz, Henry S. Rowen, Vin Weber, Eliot A. Cohen, Hasam Amin, William J. Bennett, Midge Decter, George Weigel, John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Project for the New American Century, Paula J. Dobriansky, Frank Gaffney, Donald Kagan, Steve Rosen, Saddam Hussein, Peter Rodman, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Dan Quayle, Syria, China, United States, Lybia, North Korea, Iraq, Fred C. Ikle
          

April 11, 2002      US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

       Chavez is overthrown in a military coup reminiscent of previous CIA-coups in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil etc. The US welcomes the coup and congratulates the military, while denying involvement. The coup collapses after two days, however, and Chavez returns to power. The BBC notes: “Since his election, President Chavez has been a thorn in the side of the United States—which gets much of its oil from Venezuela. In particular, US officials were angered because Mr Chavez was selling cheap oil to Fidel Castro in Cuba. Mr. Chavez had also condemned US bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.” [BBC, 4/14/2002] Otto J. Reich, the US' assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is in contact with Mr. Chavez's successor on the very day he takes over. The Bush administration claims Reich was pleading with him not to dissolve the National Assembly. [New York Times, 4/17/02] The Pentagon also admits that Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, the Defense Department official responsible for Latin America, discussed the proposed coup in Washington with Gen. Lucas Romero Rincon, chief of the Venezuelan military command. Maurer spent the 1980s working in Washington as the chief spokesman for the Nicaraguan Contras. [Columbian Journal, 6/10/2002; The Guardian, 11/28/2001; World Policy Institute, 4/9/2001; National Catholic Reporter, 8/10/2001; Yellow Times, 5/7/2002] It is revealed that senior Bush administration aides, including assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich and White House advisor Elliott Abrams (both key players in the Reagan administrations covert network for supporting the contra terrorist war on Nicaragua in the 1980s), had met repeatedly in Washington with the coup's organizers. [The Observer, 4/21/2002] Elliott Abrams is also known for his role in the 1973 coup in Chile, as well as his sponsorship of death squads in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. [Yellow Times, 5/7/2002] The Washington Post reports: “Members of the country's diverse opposition had been visiting the U.S. Embassy here in recent weeks, hoping to enlist U.S. help in toppling Chavez. The visitors included active and retired members of the military, media leaders and opposition politicians.” Administration spokesmen insist however that these officials repeatedly urged the coup plotters not to take extra-constitutional action. [The Washington Post, 4/13/2002; CounterPunch, 4/14/2002; Monthly Review, 9/2002] A Defense Department official claims the administration's message was less categorical.“We were not discouraging people,” the official said. “We were sending informal, subtle signals that we don't like this guy. We didn't say, ‘No, don't you dare,’ and we weren't advocates saying, ‘Here's some arms; we'll help you overthrow this guy.’ We were not doing that.” [Foreign Policy in Focus, 6/2002; BBC, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Lucas Romero Rinconh, Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, Elliott Abrams, Otto Juan Reich, Hugo Chavez Frias, Fidel Castro
          

September 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: A Pentagon adviser, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Telegraph, 7/11/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; CNN, 7/11/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] There are very few news reports in the American mainstream media that report on the office. In fact, the office is reportedly Top Secret. [Bamford, 2004, pp 308] “We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained,” OSP staffer Karen Kwiatkowski will later say, “and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Salon, 7/16/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann] One defector in particular, code-named “Curveball,” provides as much as 98 percent of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/04] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Salon, 3/10/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed former intelligence official]
The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann] The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, Greg Thielmann, David Obey]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Colonel Bruner, James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Adelman, Colin Powell, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, David Wurmser, Elizabeth Cheney  Additional Info 
          

November 2002-December 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Elliot Abrams leads one of a dozen administration working groups charged with drafting post-invasion plans. Involved in his group are adamant neoconservatives Joe Collins, a deputy assistant secretary at the Pentagon, and Robin Cleveland, a former aide to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. His working group is supposed to draft plans for rapid humanitarian planning. But critics in the State Department complain that it involves itself in the issue of post-Saddam politics and economic reconstruction. Abrams' group is backed by Paul Wolfowitz and the vice president's office. An ally of Secretary of State Colin Powell tells Inter Press Service, “This is a case of stealthy micromanagement by the Wolfowitz hawks—they use what bureaucratic vehicles are available to make their imprint on policy.” Additionally the group is very secretive. It refuses “to brief not only top State Department officials but also aides of Gen. Tommy Franks, the commanding officer of the US Central Command [CENTCOM], about what it is doing.” Instead it “stovepipes” its work to its contacts in the White House. Sources in the State Department and CIA believe that one of the group's apparent aims is reducing the influence of the State Department, CIA and the United Nations in post-Saddam Iraq. These critics also question “why a convicted felon [Abrams], pardoned or not, is being allowed to help shape policy.” Within the Pentagon, there is also resentment of Abrams' group. An unnamed Pentagon source says General Tommy Franks is being “left out of the loop.” A Defense official says, “CENTCOM is for the most part unaware of what Abrams is doing, but friction is developing and the military end of the equation feels that they are being mislead.” [Insight, 11/26/02; Insight, 12/9/02 Sources: Unnamed US State Department Officials]
People and organizations involved: Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Joe Collins, American Enterprise Institute
          

December 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Elliott Abrams drafts a proposal, in which he argues that the United States should take de facto control of Iraqi oil fields. The proposal is not well-received by moderates in the Bush administration who question the legality of the proposal, and who argue “that only a puppet Iraqi government would acquiesce to US supervision of the oil fields and that one so slavish to US interests risks becoming untenable with Iraqis,” reports Insight Magazine. Such a move would also lend credence to suspicions that the invasion is motivated by oil interests, the critics add. [Insight, 12/28/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration officials] A similar recommendation was made in a paper published by the Heritage Foundation in late September (see September 25, 2002). [Observer, 11/3/02; Heritage Foundation, 9/25/02 Sources: The Road to Economic Prosperity for a Post-Saddam Iraq. Backgrounder #1594]
People and organizations involved: Elliott Abrams
          

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