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Iran-Contra Figure to Lead Democracy Efforts Abroad

From News Services
Thursday, February 3, 2005; Page A25

Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty in 1991 to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair, was promoted to deputy national security adviser to President Bush.

Abrams, who previously was in charge of Middle East affairs, will be responsible for pushing Bush's strategy for advancing democracy.

The White House also announced yesterday that Faryar Shirzad, a deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, will take on added responsibilities for humanitarian affairs, stabilization and reconstruction efforts.

Prior to joining the NSC staff, Shirzad was assistant secretary for import administration at the Commerce Department. Before that, he was the lead coordinator of international trade policy for the Bush-Cheney transition team.

The White House had earlier tapped J.D. Crouch, the U.S. ambassador to Romania, for the No. 2 job at the National Security Council, under national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

Abrams has served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and North African affairs since December 2002. He will continue work on Israeli-Palestinian affairs in concert with Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Abrams's 1991 plea stemmed from the congressional inquiry into the Iran-contra affair during President Ronald Reagan's administration. On Oct. 10, 1986, Abrams, then a State Department employee, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he did not know that Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North was directing illegal arms sales to Iran and diverting the proceeds to assist the Nicaraguan contras.

Abrams was pardoned by Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush.

His name surfaced last year as part of the investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA operative whose husband publicly disputed Bush administration claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa. White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said that Abrams denied responsibility.

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