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That the neo-cons hate Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense and are doing all they can to scuttle his nomination is no revelation. We've had all the usual suspects from the neo-con rogue's gallery hurling attacks against Hagel, from the Emperor of Wrongheaded Smugnuss Bill Kristol to this bitter old man and his ranting closet-case sidekick. But there's one key player in the neo-con ranks who might have been overlooked and he shouldn't, because he may be the driving force behind the opposition. The suspect? The neo-con version of herpes, because he never seems to go away, Elliot Abrams.

The neo-con stalwart (and, of course, convicted Iran-Contra felon) has been perhaps Hagel's most vociferous critic. Indeed, he went where other neo-cons wouldn't and accused Hagel of anti-Semistism - not once, but twice, accusations ridiculous enough to get him publically rebuked by Council on Foreign Relations (where Abrams is currently a senior fellow) head Richard Haass. (When your fellow neo-cons say you've gone too far, you really have gone off the deep end.)

But that hasn't seemed to slow Abrams down. After all, the ability of this man to not only survive but but thrive in neo-con and Republican circles is simply Rasputin-like. As former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral William J. Crowe, who publically feuded with Abrams over Panama policy back in the 1980s, said of Abrams in 1989:

"This snake's hard to kill."
No kidding, as this recent Salon profile shows what a long road he's trod:
Abrams seems cooked from a neoconservative recipe. Born to a Jewish New York home, he was once a reliable Democrat. He opposed the Vietnam War and criticized police handling of student protesters in the 1960s. But he rejected the counterculture and began writing for Commentary and the Public Interest, magazines themselves alienated from the New Left and on a trajectory from left to right. He joined the staff of hawkish Washington Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a key influence on so many neocons, from Abrams to Paul Wolfowitz to Richard Perle, and later went to work in New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's office.

1980 was a big year for Abrams. He married the daughter of Norman Podhoretz, the longtime Commentary editor before his son succeeded him. And he joined Democrats for Reagan, having been disgusted by Jimmy Carter's foreign policy and personally offended for being shut out of Carter's government. "Carter's never had a human rights philosophy except that the U.S. was generally a bad place going around the world doing bad things," he complained to a reporter. Abrams was tapped for the innocuous-sounding post of assistant secretary of state for international organization -  but there was nothing innocuous about Abrams.

He became perhaps the most controversial member of the Reagan administration. Abrams was the face of Reagan's anti-Communist offensive in Central America. In his own words, he "supervised U.S. policy in Latin America and the Carribbean." Those policiees involved indisputed human-rights violations that brought minimal strategic benefits. The International Court of Justice found the Reagan administration guilty of violating international law in its support of the anitcommunist rebels in their campaign against Nicaragua, and of mining the country's harbors. Guatamala and El Salvador saw similar abuses, with the U.S. providing assistance to organizations and individuals responsible for blatant war crimes.

Abrams was often the public face of Reagan policy in Central America: He was combative and arrogant, and would bait his critics, a proto-Donald Rumsfeld. Years later, he was unapologetic about his central role in assisting dictatorships, writing later that, The violence is ending now in part because of the collapse of Communism throughout the world, but more because Communist efforts to take power by force were resisted and defeated. In this small corner of the Cold War, American policy was right, and it was successful."

But in the end, just like Rumsfeld, Abrams' arrogance and lies caught up with him, as he was nailed for his lies about Iran-Contra and paid for it:
But it wasn't his lies about mass murder that got Abrams into trouble. After a contra resupply plane was shot down in 1986, Abrams, one of the coordinators of Reagan's pro-contra policy (along with the NSC's Oliver North and the CIA's Alan Fiers), appeared several times before Congressional committees and withheld informtion on the Administration's connection to the secret and private contra-supply network. He also hid from Congress the fact that he had flown to London (using the name "Mr. Kenilworth) to solict a $10 million contribution for the contras from the Sultan of Brunei. At a subsequent closed-door hearing, Democratic Senator Thomas Eagleton blasted Abrams for having misled legislators, noting that Abrams's misrepresentations culd lead to "slammer time". Abrams disagreed, saying, "You've heard my testimony." Eagleton cut in: "I've heard it and I want to puke." On another occasion, Republican Senator Dave Durenberger complained, "I wouldn't trust Elliot any further than I could throw Ollie North." Even after Abrams copped a plea with Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, he refused to concede that he'd done anything untoward. Abram's Foggy Bottom services were not retained by the First Bush, but he did include Abrams in his lame-duck pardons of several Iran/contra wrongdoers.
Indeed, not even after pleading guilty to two counts and being sentenced to two years probation caused Abrams to feel any remorse or humility. Like Rumseld (indeed, like most neo-cons), regret or apology was not in his nature.
Abrams was as nasty a policy warrior as Washington had seen in decades. He called foes "vipers." He said that lawmakers who blocked contra aid would have "blood on their hands" - while he defended US support for a human rights-abusing government in Guatemala. When Oliver North was campaigning for the Senate in 1994 and was accused of having ignored contra ties to drug dealers, Abrams backed North and claimed "all of us who ran that program...were absolutely dedicated to keeping it completely clean and free of any involvement by drug traffickers." Yet in 1998 the CIA's own inspector general issued a thick report noting that the Reagan Adminstraton had cllaborated with suspected drug traffickers while managing the secret contra war.
So hypocrisy, lying, nastiness, inability to admit he was ever wrong - yep, Abrams was (and is) the neo-con id in the flesh. And he wasn't done, as George W. Bush proceded to appoint him to the National Security Council in 2001 and he made the most of it. Back to Salon again:
Abrams was soon given policy power over Iran and Iraq -  "I have two-thirds of the Axis of Evil!" he told a friend. He made the most - one might say the worst - of the situation. He weakened Bush's "Road Map for Peace" in the Middle East, permitting Israeli leader Ariel Sharon to expand settlements to the Palestinian territories. According to Vanity Fair, Abrams was instrumental in formenting a civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007. The plan was "to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power," read the report. Of course things did not go quite according to plan: "The secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza."
With a laundry list of failures like this, you might think Abrams might finally be discarded or at least decide it might be time to keep quiet. But no. After Bush left office, he went to the Council on Foreign Relations and has kept it up, being a high-profile Obama critic on foreign policy and serving as Paul Ryan's top foreign policy advisor. (Yep, Romney got John Bolton and Dan Senor, but he was nice enough to let Ryan have his own whacky neo-con advisor too.) And he's got a new book out about the Bush administration's handling (or rather bungling) of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, blurbed by his good buddy Dick Cheney. Oh joy.

Yep, Admiral Crowe was right. This snake is hard to kill. And even though he seems highly unlike to prevent Hagel's ascention to SOD (especially since Hagel has picked up more GOP support despite his less than steller hearing performance), his failure won't deter him. After all, he's had nothing but failures and disgrace his whole career and he keeps coming back for more. And will, as long as he's still held in good regard in GOP and neo-con circles.

Neo-cons. Just when you think you're done, they keep coming back. The Hydra should be this resilient.

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Comment Preferences

  •  abrams is reprehensible. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Eddie L, koNko

    but that doesn't mean hagel was a good choice.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:30:09 AM PST

    •  I Don't Get It Either (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, Laurence Lewis

      It does seem like the president could have found a Democrat for Secretary of Defense.

      At the same time Hagel seems to be annoying all the right people so I guess at this point I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

      “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

      by RoIn on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 01:46:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's not forget Ken Pollack -- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eddie L, TracieLynn, Rusty Pipes

    author of "The Case for Invading Iraq," released Sept 2002, with a book-tour that included Oprah Winfrey's 30 million+ audience, in an election year and as the decision to invade Iraq was being sold to the US public. (The book now goes for $0.01 on Amazon...)

    Yeah, they all suck, and they never seem to go away, no matter how disastrous are the policies they recommend.

    (We talk about licensing for guns, and of course penalties for those who murder someone. What about those who shilled for a war predicated on WMD lies, that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, including thousands of Americans? Why aren't they behind bars serving hard time?)

    Join us at RASA: Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment. (Repeal will not ban guns, just help regulate them.)

    by Sharon Wraight on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:44:29 AM PST

  •  . (0+ / 0-)

    * Join: The Action: End the Bush Tax Cuts for Richest Two Percent * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:46:22 AM PST

  •  What did Brunei expect, for it's $10 million? (5+ / 0-)

    Just curious, I'd forgotten that detail from Iran-Contra.

    What did the Sultan of Brunei expect in return, for his $10 million?

    Here's a lengthy excerpt from Chap 25 in the Walsh Report (GPO, public domain):

    The Brunei Solicitation ...

    Abrams suggested to Shultz that the Sultan of Brunei, an oil-rich Southeast Asian country, be approached during Shultz's upcoming visit to Brunei in late June 1986. ... [Oliver] North informed Poindexter that he had "the accounts and the means by which this thing [transfer of solicited funds] needs to be accomplished.''

    In June 1986, Abrams obtained bank account information from North on a card typed by his secretary, Fawn Hall. Two account numbers were transposed, ultimately resulting in the transfer of the funds into the wrong account. During his trip to Asia on June 23 and 24, 1986, Shultz took with him this index card but on the advice of U.S. Ambassador Barrington King, Shultz did not ask the Sultan of Brunei for assistance to the contras.  ...

    A meeting was arranged for Abrams with General Ibnu, the Bruneian defense minister, in London on August 9, 1986, to discuss a $10 million contribution to the contras. ... Abrams, using this name, called Ibnu and met with him in London on August 9th, solicited funds for the contras and gave Ibnu the account information provided by North. On August 19, 1986, the Sultan of Brunei ordered the transfer of $10 million from his Citibank account via Citibank Zurich branch to Credit Suisse, Eaux Vives Branch, Geneva, account 368430-22-1, attention: Jacob Steger. On September 15, 1986, Ambassador King cabled State Department with the message: "This is to confirm that General Ibnu assures me arrangements have been consummated.''  The same date, September 15, 1986, North's notebook entry reads:
    State 244548 re: Brunei Project, 8/5/86, ALV 000394.
    Bandar 01158 re: Brunei Project, 9/15/86, ALV 000383-84.
    g008Gaston Amb says
    g008Elliott talked w/
    -- $ was deposited
    -- 1 wk ago.
    -- Mtg w/Sultan tomorrow
    ...

    On September 26, 1986, Ibnu informed King that the Sultan of Brunei had personally handled the transfer and that the recipient was quite clear. The Sultan of Brunei added that "because of the procedures that had been used we might have to wait for a short while more before the transaction is completed.''  ...

    During Abrams's appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 10, Senator Kerry (!) inquired whether Abrams or the CIA representatives with him (including Clair George and Fiers) were aware of Saudi Arabia or any other foreign government supplying weapons or providing assistance to the contras.

    SENATOR KERRY: Are you aware, any of you, of any deal by which ... Saudi Arabia is supplying weapons or assistance to the Contras on our behalf?
    MR. ABRAMS: No.   MR. GEORGE: No.  MR. FIERS: No, sir.
    MR. ABRAMS: I think I can say that while I have been Assistant Secretary, which is about 15 months, we have not received a dime from a foreign government, not a dime, from any foreign government.
    SENATOR KERRY: "We'' being who?
    MR. ABRAMS: The United States.
    SENATOR KERRY: How about the Contras?
    MR. ABRAMS: I don't know. But not that I am aware of and not through us. The thing is I think I would know about it because if they went to a foreign government, a foreign government would want credit for helping the contras and they would come to us to say you want us to do this, do you, and I would know about that.
    SENATOR EVANS: Elliott, when you said "not a dime,'' I did not hear the rest of what you said.
    MR. ABRAMS: From any foreign government to the Contras. It would not be to us, it would be to the Contras. I suspect that we would know about it, though.
    [Abrams, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 10/10/86, pp. 75-76.]

    Four days later, on October 14th, the issue of foreign government assistance to the contras arose again during Abrams' appearance before HPSCI:
    THE CHAIRMAN: Do you know if any foreign government is helping to supply the contras? There is a report in the LA paper, for example, that the Saudis are.
    MR. GEORGE: No, sir, we have no intelligence of that. ...
    THE CHAIRMAN: Is it also false with respect to other governments as well?
    MR. ABRAMS: Yes, it is also false.
    [Abrams, HPSCI Testimony, 10/14/86, p. 21.]

    Following public disclosure of the Iran/contra diversion on November 25, 1986, Abrams appeared along with Fiers before SSCI for a briefing on Nicaragua. Abrams was questioned about his knowledge of the mechanics of how money was diverted from arms sales to the contras. He replied as follows:
    MR. ABRAMS: ... So there was money coming in. But there was no reason to think it was coming from foreign governments, and I certainly did not inquire as to which individuals it was coming from.
    [Abrams, SSCI Testimony, 11/25/86, pp. 8-9.]

    The questioning persisted on the issue of fundraising:
    SENATOR BRADLEY: So let me ask it again. Did either one of you ever discuss the problems of fundraising by the contras with members of the NSC staff?
    MR. ABRAMS: No, I can't remember.

    Later, Abrams assured the Committee, that until the Meese press conference, he was "fairly confident that there was no foreign government contributing [to the contras].''

    Later, on December 8, 1986, after consultation with senior State Department officials, Abrams corrected his testimony. However, he did not alter his October statements regarding third-country contra funding to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. These statements were the basis for Count Two of the information to which he pleaded guilty.

    Later, when confronted about his failure to tell Congress about the Brunei solicitation during his October testimony, Abrams claimed that he was acting under instructions not to divulge the Brunei solicitation at all. To the contrary, during his testimony on October 10, 1986, before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Abrams informed the Committee: "I can only tell you that my injunction from the Secretary of State is never to lie.''

    Abrams Pleads Guilty  ...

    Join us at RASA: Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment. (Repeal will not ban guns, just help regulate them.)

    by Sharon Wraight on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:18:53 AM PST

  •  When ever I see his name I cringe (6+ / 0-)

    After the Iran Contra embarrassment I thought he was gone.  Then to see his name appear in right wing circles and often in places of power, as in GWB years,  I was appalled.  He is a real jerk and in the big picture a damaging figure.  A pox on his house.
     

    •  He has never done (7+ / 0-)

      a decent thing in his (political) life, except perhaps as a calculated compromise to advance some greater evil.  With as great a confidence as one can have in politics if you see his name associated with one side of any issue you should take the other . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:49:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Abrams also is a hard-core homophobe (8+ / 0-)

        In Blinded by the Right, David Brock talks about when he was outed and how most conservatives closed ranks around him. Abrams was not one of them. At one public event where Brock was honored, Abrams apparently sat on his hand and said to friends that he was appalled that his fellow conservatives were giving such applause to a gay man.

        Just a nasty man and it figures that he married into the Podhoretzs, who are like the Corleone Family of the neo-cons (with Norman as a much less dignified and honorable Vito). I guess he's the Carlo Rizzi of the clan.

        Anotehr Right note: When Abrams was convicted in Iran-Contra, his wife said she wanted to mow down all his detractors with a machine gun. This family doesn't take criticism well.

  •  He neveeeeer weeeeeent awaaaaaaay ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akze29, Rusty Pipes

    Abrams is a fixture. Broken, but permanently installed.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 06:53:51 PM PST

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