‘Totally Indefensible’: Biden Nominates Death Squad Backer Elliott Abrams to Diplomacy Panel

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Yves here. One point in favor of Eliot Abrams is he makes Victoria Nuland look warm and fuzzy. Providing cookies to murderous thugs comes off as less bad than defending them under oath. Please be sure to watch the exchange between Abrams and Ilhan Omar.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams

President Joe Biden on Monday quietly nominated Elliott Abrams to serve on a bipartisan diplomacy commission, a move that human rights advocates condemned as outrageous given the longtime Republican official’s past as a defenderof Latin American death squads and cheerleader for murderous U.S. foreign policy interventions.

“A totally indefensible decision from Biden,” MSNBC‘s Mehdi Hasan wrote on Twitter, pointing to Abrams’ guilty pleastemming from the Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal and his broader record in Latin America.

Most recently, Abrams served as the Trump administration’s special envoy to Iran and Venezuela. During a 2019 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) grilled Abrams on his role in the Reagan administration’s policy in El Salvador, whose U.S.-backed military carried out the largest massacre in modern Latin American history in 1981 in and around the village of El Mozote.

Omar noted during the 2019 hearing that Abrams “later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.'”

After recounting the appalling details of the El Mozote killings—in which around 140 children were murdered—Omar asked Abrams, “Do you think that massacre was a ‘fabulous achievement’ that happened under our watch?”

“That is a ridiculous question, and I will not respond to it,” Abrams fumed in response. “I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack, which is not a question.”

Abrams attempted to downplay the El Mozote massacre shortly after it occurred, telling the U.S. Senate that news reports of the gruesome killings were “not credible” and were being misused by anti-government forces.

In response to news of the Biden administration’s decision to nominate Abrams to the State Department’s Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, former longtime Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth wrote that Abrams’ “most notorious public diplomacy is downplaying the 1981 El Mozote massacre of 1,000 people by U.S.-trained-and-equipped Salvadoran military units.”

Raymond Bonner, a former New York Times correspondent in El Salvador, wrote for The Atlantic in 2019 that “the Reagan administration, with Abrams as point man, routinely defended the Salvadoran government in the face of evidence that its regular army, and allied right-wing death squads, were operating with impunity, killing peasants, students, union leaders, and anyone considered anti-government or pro-guerrilla.”

“Abrams went so far as to defend one of the death squads’ most notorious leaders, Roberto D’Aubuisson, who was responsible for the murder of Archbishop Óscar Romero while he was saying Mass, in March 1980,” Bonner added.

The Biden White House predictably failed to mention the sordid details of Abrams’ record in its nomination announcement, offering a sterilized biography that lists off the notorious figure’s previous government roles: Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Human Rights, and Latin America under Ronald Reagan, a senior director of the National Security Council under George W. Bush, and special representative for Iran and special representative for Venezuela under Donald Trump, among others.

According to its website, the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is tasked with “appraising U.S. government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics and to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities.”

Abrams must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the commission.

Slate journalist Alex Sammon denounced Biden’s nomination of Abrams for the position as “obscene” and “unconscionable.”

“Elliott Abrams, enemy of human rights, apologist for mass murder, should have no place within spitting distance of any Democratic administration in any capacity,” Sammon argued.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    Elliott Abrams here is yet another example of how Neocons always seem to fail up. Trump called him out of whatever rock he was hiding under and made him US Special Representative for Venezuela. This was just after Juan Greedo was “recognized” as President by the Trump regime so obviously his job was to regime change Meduro. Well he failed there so then Trump made him US Special Representative for Iran and of course that went nowhere as well. After this double failure, he went away for awhile until Biden called him back to appoint him to the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. This might be a cozy sinecure or it might put him in a place where he can work with Samantha Powers. Anyway, as they say,

    ‘Old Neocons never die, Never die, never die, Old Neocons never die, They simply get promoted up.’

    1. Piotr Berman

      a cozy sinecure or it might put him in a place where he can work with Samantha Powers <– is she a man eater, with an appetite for bald seniors with died hair?

  2. Camelotkidd

    Abrams nomination demonstrates the continuity of US foreign policy. 4 administrations now both R and D
    As Caitlin says—Presidents keep hiring Elliot Abrams because the Us empire is just that evil
    Hard to argue

    1. Sam Owen

      As Caitlin said: You know he’s bad when even mainstream news are discussing his genocidal imperialist actions.

    2. Rubicon

      Well, of course Abrams is simply another Neo-Con back in power via the Biden Administration. Count how many of these Neo-Cons operate & work in the State Dept/The Secretary of State, the US Military. Neo-Cons all come from the same “tribe:” Victoria Nuland, Robert Kagan, his brother & son/daughter, Anthony Blinken -a brief list of course. Count how many are in the House of Rep & in The Senate. How many operate in the US Financial System: Larry Fink of Black Rock, Goldman-Sachs Bank. The list is large.

      Imagine if none of those shining stars were NOT in power: you wouldn’t have seen so many dead Ukranians, Russians, Middle East, African, Latin American people who were brutally killed by these
      “tribal members.”

  3. John R Moffett

    Abrams is a lifelong Blob player, just like Biden. Peas in a pod. The perfect duo of death and destruction.

    Still can’t figure out how they are going to run Biden in the election. He is not going to be able to do any debates or real campaigning. A Biden double maybe?

    1. ambrit

      Perhaps something like, “The Return of the Son of Covid” or similar. Then “Creepy” Joe can campaign from his basement. Which then brings in the question of, “Is It Joe, Or Is It Memorbot?” Will this be a Virtual Reality campaign?

    2. notabanker

      The chance of Russian interference is just too great. We’ll have to skip the election this time around folks, to save our democracy.

  4. Synoia

    ” Cheerleader for murderous U.S. foreign policy interventions”….Perfect credentials for a member of the USG blob.”

  5. Mildred Montana

    Biden looked around, saw Abrams, and said to himself, “There’s a young man I can nominate.” Abrams is “only” 75-years-old.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      Right. I wonder how these evil effers live so long – seriously Reagan era? He must be 100 hundred years old.

  6. doug

    JB keeps giving the middle finger to progressives; and most roll over and say nothing. Several have asked me to quit sending them articles of such, and have placed their fingers in their ears. I don’t think it is indifference, more like fatigue? Whatever it is, it is not good.

    1. Verifyfirst

      “Progessive” is a much overused term here in US. They are just bog standard Democrats with an electric car. Nothing more. I used to have quite a few of them as “friends”. Until the tide went out (Trump got elected).

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      As for progressives, what does Omar say now that it’s Biden putting up Abrams for a job rather than Trump?

      I noticed something about the anti-Abrams quotes. They either came from before the Ukraine war or they came for somebody who was a “former.”

      I don’t hear many progressives with an office or title speaking out now.

    3. ThirtyOne

      “Opposing,” Elliott says, “is lots of fun.”

      This he discovered at Elisabeth Irwin, a small progressive high school in Greenwich Village. It was “a left-wing place,” Abrams says, without exaggeration. The student body, brimming with “red-diaper babies,” had included such nascent radicals as Angela Davis and Kathy Boudin, as well as the orphaned children of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The faculty was drawn largely from previously black-listed teachers.

      “It was also avant-garde in the social sense,” Abrams says of the school, which he attended from 1961 to 1965. “There was a lot of marijuana around when this was just beginning to be true at most colleges. You may remember, in the ’60s, the sandals and the leather sort of handbag look. Woodstock … As you can see, it had a very limited effect on me. In fact, it may have had the effect of an inoculation.”


    4. Hickory

      if you feel helpless to do anything, what’s the point? If you’re not going to do anything about it, might as well have a warm fuzzy blanket (belief).

      I’ve stopped talking politics with people unless it includes “What are we going to do about it?”

  7. Daniil Adamov

    “Abrams attempted to downplay the El Mozote massacre shortly after it occurred, telling the U.S. Senate that news reports of the gruesome killings were “not credible” and were being misused by anti-government forces.”

    Ah, there is that line.

  8. Mark Gisleson

    No sugarcoating this: I’ve hated Abrams for over 40 years now. He is everything that’s rotten about neoconservatism.

    1. Bart Hansen

      Note that the WH squeezed in his announcement in the hole between a weekend and July 4th, when most reporters are away.

  9. EssCetera

    Seriously, though, WHY is Biden appointing this person who does not readily and immediately respond to a simple question of whether genocide and human rights atrocities are wrong? Who instead deflects and says that it has always been the US position that it is wrong. If I were the boss I’d ask the same question and, if given the same response, would say get the f*** out, don’t let this nazi within 100 miles of this administration.

    What problem does Biden think he is solving for with this appointment especially if he’s hoping to mend differences with South America? Unless he’s expressly intending to sabotage relations?

    Also, given how comfy this administration is with the Ukro-nazis this is making me think Biden may have called Trump out for dog whistling on white supremacism but we need to take a harder look at Biden.

    1. pjay

      – “Seriously, though, WHY is Biden appointing this person…”

      This is actually a pretty important question, in my view. It is true that Abrams is a card-carrying member of the Blob, but his blood-thirsty neocon history is so well-known that it is actually eliciting criticism, even shock, from Biden’s increasingly tiny “base” of liberal PMC Democrats. The Democrat neocons like Jake Sullivan are bad enough, but I see no way this does anything but hurt Biden politically. And it threatens to completely obliterate what’s left of the myth that there are two parties that stand for different things.

      The only constituency this favors is the right-wing Israel lobby – with which the neocons have always been entwined. They must have a lot more dirt on Biden than the stuff we already know. Does anyone else have a better explanation for this move?

      1. Cristobal

        “Seriously, though, WHY is Biden appointing this person…”

        Good question. Could he be tasked with the removal of Zelinski in a sort-of deniable way that could help Creepy Joe´s election chances? That is his alleged specialty.

      2. Cat Burglar

        Consider the political calculus.

        The Advisory Commission On Public Diplomacy is said in the article to be bipartisan. Abrams’s nomination is a sop to the Republicans — Biden get bipartisan points for naming him!

        If the left comes up with enough people to push “El Mozote” Abrams out — Biden gets points with the so-called progressives. Biden wins either way, just with different constituencies.

        Taking a quick look at the list also shows Hamilton 68 creator Jamie Fly has been nominated, too! I didn’t have enough time to track down other rats on the list, but I bet there are other stinkers in there.

        When I wrote Biden and my US Senators in protest, I told them I almost wanted the appointments to be confirmed — the US would become an international laughingstock again! Imagine the articles in the foreign press about the death squad apologist hawking freedom! It would be hilarious!

        But I told them to show Abrams and Fly the door — the raped and murdered El Mozote villagers, the executed nuns, the dead Archbishop, the well-connected insider crushing the free expression of regular citizens — that’s too serious to forget.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s old fashioned hippie punching. Clintonistas are telling Biden this will make him look tough. It will tick off code pink, so for them, it’s a perceived win.

  10. Michael Levine

    Elliot Abrams isn’t just any old neocon. He’s card-carrying neocon royalty.

    Abrams married Rachel Decter (L.A.), one of the daughters of Midge Decter, the wife of Norman Podhoretz. Rachel was a hateful, racist, ghastly critter who called Palestinians “savages” and their children “devil’s spawn” and said they should be “food for sharks” and other “oceanic carnivores”.

    Rather hilarious – albeit despicably so – coming from a daughter of Shaytan whose “chosenite” brethren reside in occupied Palestine.

    The Podhoretz-Decter family along with the Kristols and Kagans rule the matrix of think tanks, foundations, magazines, papers and government groups that comprise the fabric of neoconservatism.

    They are very Zionist. They are very supremacist. And they are very warmongering.

    Through his induction into the neocon guild, Abrams has been everywhere of note from the American Jewish Committee and its Commentary Magazine, to the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) and the NED along with USAID, to the AEI and the Hudson Institute, to the CFR and many, many more.

    Elliot Abrams has deep-rooted ties with the usurping Halakhic-Talmudic regime occupying Palestine and he is close with Netanyahu himself.

    Abrams advocated for the release of ‘Israeli’ spy Jonathan Pollard – arguably the worst spy in American history – on “humanitarian” grounds when he was really operating in the interest of Zionism and Israel.

    In his book “Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America” – a problematic and frankly anti-Gentile title if there ever was one – Abrams writes:

    “Outside the land of ‘Israel’, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between ‘God’ and ‘Abraham’, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live.”

    Abrams also says that Jews “are in a permanent covenant with ‘God’ and with the land of ‘Israel’ and its people.”

  11. mehitabel

    OMG, you’re not kidding… Biden nominated Uriah Heep to a public diplomacy commission? I work at State, and this is news to me. I don’t see anything on state.gov about this – probably trying to keep it quiet.

  12. ewmayer

    When I see these bloodthirsty neocon creeps ooze their way from one administration to another, never being called to account for their genocidal policy failures, I’m reminded of that great line from Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, which could well apply to them:

    Abraham Van Helsing:
    (about Lucy) She lives beyond the grace of God, a wanderer in the outer darkness. She is “vampyr”, “Nosferatu”. These creatures do not die like the bee after the first sting, but instead grow strong and become immortal once infected by another Nosferatu. So, my friends, we fight not one beast, but legions that go on age after age after age, feeding on the blood of the living.

  13. jake

    The WH explained itself, as if nobody could figure it out: by statute and/or custom, the commission requires members of the opposing party, and Biden acceded to requests from the “Republican leadership”.

    Doubtless everyone here is of higher mettle, and in imaginary presidencies would make no such concession for Abrams, aptly described as a snake, by no less than an Admiral William Crowe, of a Republican administration. But the real world of the two-party system (sometimes called “politics”) often has other notions.

    1. T_Reg

      He could have nominated some semi-decent Republican who lost an election to a Trump supporter, instead of this monster. Two-party rule is no excuse.

  14. MFB

    Spokesperson: And now, would you please welcome Mr. Himmler, our new special envoy to Ukraine and Israel and also political adviser on democratic promotion to President Zhelensky.
    HH: Goot eevening. As a former chicken farmer (jus’ folks, I am) I am extremely concerned vith promoting agricultural interests in Ukraine, as vell as, naturally, improving the soil of Ukraine, fertilising it with the blood of Slavs — I beg your pardon, of traitors, I mean. Ve have extensive pilot projects running in the Babi Yar region. Mr. Netanyahu and I are at one on this, as ve are on the new Israeli People’s Court to be set up outside boring old legal frameworks.
    Representative Omar: What about your involvement in the murder of millions of Jews and gypsies at Auschwitz?
    HH: I von’t dignify such hysterical unsubstantiated allegations vith an answer.

  15. maray

    This appoitment shows what Biden is really about.. He is another murdering pro war POTUS; when he talks of Ukraine, he is really talking about more wars and US power, he is not interested in the people of Ukraine or Russia

  16. Rob

    This appointment tells us far more about Joe Biden than it does about Elliot Abrams. Back in the day, Biden spoke critically of the Reagan administration’s actions in the Iran-Contra Affair. It would seem that either he was lying then or he has since undergone a change of heart about supporting death squads in Central America (and elsewhere).

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