Friday, August 24, 2012

Good catch from Jon Schwartz at A Tiny Revolution

Elliot Abrams Is Much More Than Just an Apologist for Torture and Decapitation

…it turns out he's also a top foreign
policy adviser to Paul Ryan:

Ryan has been receiving briefings from Elliott Abrams…

Abrams told The Daily Beast on Saturday that he found Ryan’s views in line with the mainstream of the Republican Party today, saying Ryan was "relaxed, serious, funny, very smart, and knows more about foreign policy than people may think, in view of his concentration on the economy."

The few people who pay attention to U.S. foreign policy usually remember Elliot Abrams for pleading guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra scandal, or for helping to cover up the El Mozote massacre of at least 800 unarmed peasants by the Salvadoran government in 1981. (He collaborated on this with Thomas Enders.) Some may recall he was one of the main organizers of the attempted overthrow of the elected Hamas government in Gaza in 2006. Or that his wife feels Palestinian children are "Devil's spawn." Or that his mother-in-law straightforwardly explained that we invaded Iraq not "for sweetness and light" but for oil. Or that his brother-in-law's opinion is that "the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis," so we probably should have killed all "Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35."

Sadly, though, Abrams' support for torture and decapitation in Panama is almost completely forgotten. This is from Dark Alliance by Gary Webb:

When they found Dr. Hugo Spadafora in September 1985, they found everything but his head. The rest of him had been tied up in a U.S. mail sack and dumped under a bridge on the border of Costa Rica and Panama.

His body bore evidence of unimaginable tortures. The thigh muscles had been neatly sliced so he could not close his legs, and then something had been jammed up his rectum, tearing it apart. His testicles were swollen horribly, the result of prolonged garroting, his ribs were broken, and then, while he was still alive, his head had been sawed off…

Spadafora was one of Manuel Noriega's main political opponents. And so back in 1985 before Noreiga became our enemy, that meant, as the book Overthrow describes, Elliot Abrams felt everything done to Spadafora was perfectly fine:

[Spadafora's] stomach was full of blood that Spadafora had swallowed as his head was being slowly cut off…

Noriega was at a dermatology clinic in Geneva when Spadafora was killed, undergoing treatment that he hoped would repair his deeply scarred face. There he received an urgent telephone call from Major Luis Cordoba, head of the unit that had captured Spadafora. Evidently neither man realized that American intelligence agents were eavesdropping.

"We have a rabid dog in our hands," Major Cordoba told his commander.

"And what does one do with a rabid dog?" Noriega asked in reply.

That was the go-ahead soldiers needed in order to begin the long night of torture that ended in Spadafora's decapitation...

During this period, Noriega [] endeared himself to the Reagan administration by agreeing to help the Nicaraguan contras…

After Noriega forced President Barletta out of office, the American ambassador in Panama, Everett Briggs, wanted to begin increasing American pressure on him. His boss, Undersecretary of State Elliot Abrams, a vigorous supporter of the contras, overruled him…

As this became clear to Panamanian opposition figures, they began looking for other ways to influence American policy. One of them, Winston Spadafora, a brother of the murdered dissident, flew to Washington and managed to persuade Senator Jesse Helms…to hold hearings on Panama…Abrams called Helms and asked him to cancel it. He said that Noriega was "being really helpful to us" and was "really not that big a problem."

Later, of course, Noriega became more trouble than he was worth and he had to go.

TREASON!: After Roberto Diaz Herrera, a top Panamanian military official, accused Noriega of responsibility for the murder of Spadafora, Noriega accused Diaz Herrera of "high treason." As in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S., the definition of "treason" in Panama is "telling the truth."

LET'S NOT FORGET: Those al Qaeda people sure are barbarians, what with their massacres and decapitations and all.

—Jon Schwarz