No Showdown in Abrams Appointment

Washington Post | May 28, 2001; Page A21
By Al Kamen

The Democrats' takeover of the Senate may affect the fate of some controversial Bush nominees hoping to get jobs, but it's not going to affect the appointment of former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams to a top administration post.

Abrams, who now chairs the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, is said to be "a lock" to become the National Security Council's senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations. The job doesn't require Senate confirmation.

That's probably a good thing, because a Senate hearing might reignite a fuss over some unpleasantness a few years back. In 1991, Abrams, who headed State's Latin America shop, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress during its hearings into the Reagan administration's secret campaign to aid the Nicaraguan contra rebels with proceeds from the sale of weapons to Iran. President George Bush pardoned Abrams on Christmas Eve 1992.

On the other hand, Abrams might get support from both sides of the aisle. He has been a key player in recent years in the fight against religious repression in Sudan, China and other nasty places around the world, finding himself allied with liberals these days.

Could have made for a fun hearing.