Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his appointment of Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Elliott Abrams to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Abrams, whose expertise is in the Middle East, was a member of the commission from 1999 to 2001 and also served as chair man.

Abrams served in the George W. Bush administration, joining in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council (NSC) for democracy, human rights and international organizations. From 2002 to 2005, he was special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African affairs. From 2005 to 2009, Abrams was deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, supervising U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

A sometimes controversial figure, Abrams first came to the public’s attention during the Reagan administration for his role in the Iran-Contra affair when he was assistant secretary of state. 

The commission, an independent federal body, is responsible for reviewing international instances of religious freedom violations and for making policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress.