August 19, 2003, - 8:55 am

Spencer Abraham: Bush’s Dangerous Energy Secretary

By Debbie Schlussel

Since the Blackout of 2003, he’s gotten lots of TV face time. But should U.S. energy policy be entrusted to Spencer Abraham?

In 2000, President Bush said his Cabinet would “look like America,” nominating Abraham, the defeated Lebanese-American Senator from Michigan, to Energy Secretary–part of the Bush strategy targeting the Arab vote.

But was this political strategy in the best interest of the country? Abraham’s record suggests otherwise.


In the two years since 9/11, Abraham did absolutely nothing to improve our precarious electric power situation.

That would be bad enough.

But, since 9/11, Abraham continued a controversial UN-sponsored program allowing foreign visitors from countries on the State Department terrorist list to tour U.S. nuclear reactors. A course sponsored by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, taught by U.S. nuclear weapons lab security personnel, gives tours of Nuclear Regulatory Commission facilities and teaches participants from 57 countries–including Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia–security techniques employed at American nuclear sites. “They were teaching them to black out systems, which they could use against us at labs,” an official told a popular newssite.

The Clinton Administration taught the course to foreign representatives, too. But that was pre-9/11. In the post-9/11 era, Abraham irresponsibly continued it, despite protests.

Then there’s Jamal Barzinji. Abraham enlisted him to find parties who helped and reached out to Muslims after 9/11, with Abraham hosting an awards ceremony for them. Problem is, Barzinji is an officer and/or director in SAFA Trust, Mar-Jac Poultry, and International Institute for Islamic Thought, all raided by Customs in March 2002 for laundering over $1.7 billion to Al-Quaida and Islamic Jihad (through indicted University of South Florida professor and alleged Islamic Jihad frontman Sami Al-Arian).

More troubling is Abraham’s Senate record, ignored by his former Senate colleagues in an easy confirmation hearing.

Should a Senator who deliberately endangered national security for Arab/Muslim votes and campaign money be entrusted to oversee U.S. energy policy and access?

Abraham’s frightening national security record included:

Liberal immigration policy, including lax foreign visitor tracking, at the behest of Arab/Muslim groups

Abraham was Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chairman through the end of 2000. Abraham routinely caved to the demands of Arab/Muslim leaders, such as the Arab American Institute’s James Zogby, on national security matters, especially immigration.

“Ever since (I first met) him, Abraham has been coming to us and giving advice, support and the benefits of his leadership,” Zogby told The Detroit News.

And taking Zogby’s advice, too.

Abraham actively worked to delay computer systems to track foreign visitors, which Arab/Muslim groups, including Zogby’s, strongly opposed. 1996 immigration law required computerized entry and exit tracking of all temporary visas, but was gutted by Abraham and other legislators. They refused to allocate money for the program and delayed its full implementation until 2005. In 2000, Abraham, as Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, delayed implementation of other requirements of the 1996 immigration measure, including university-assisted enforcement student visa laws and collection of fees from foreign students to pay for computer tracking.

These programs might have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks. But Abraham desperately craved the Arab/Muslim vote in Michigan.

Foreign aid funding for Hezbollah, rewarded by pseudo-foreign campaign contributions

In July 2000, Abraham sought over $268 million in tax-funded USAID grants for Hezbollah terrorist-controlled Southern Lebanon, at Zogby’s request. Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah, has targeted and murdered many Americans. Millions in similar USAID grants (which have scant strings and accountability attached) to Afghanistan were misspent on Taliban terrorist activities. Abraham enlisted Michigan Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg, on the House International Relations Committee, to push the questionable aid package in the House.

Abraham and Knollenberg were repaid for their efforts, receiving thousands in campaign contributions from Nijad Fares, the Houston-based greencard-holding son of Syrian-backed Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares.

Soft on terrorism

Abraham was one of only two U.S. Senators who refused to sign an October 2000 letter to President Clinton condemning terrorist acts by Yasser Arafat and the P.L.O.
Abraham led the nearly successful June 2001 attempt to reverse the use of classified evidence against terrorists, sponsoring the legislation at the behest of Islamist groups, including the American Muslim Association (AMA) and the American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), both headed by Agha Saeed.

In July 1999, Abraham wrote to Saeed, AMA, and AMPCC asking their support: “Your efforts are truly needed in the political arena. . . . You can truly make a difference in the political and policy arenas, and I remain committed to helping you achieve that goal.”

But Saeed openly praised Palestinian terrorism as “armed resistance” and appeared at lectures and events sponsored by Hamas front groups, including one panel, in which he was joined by the indicted Al-Arian, entitled: “Zionism: A Racist and Colonialist Ideology.” AMA-sponsored events featured these exhortations: “The trees and the stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!” “Victory comes from Allah and Hezbollah is our model.” “Hear that, Bill Clinton? We are all supporters of Hamas.”

Given Spencer Abraham’s record of kowtowing to Arab, Muslim, and foreign interests on virtually every national security issue, his hegemony at Energy is disturbing. He should control no form of power–political or electric.

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13 Responses

In the beginning, I gave money to Fred Thompson, the Reagan-esque character who turned the heads of conservatives, rapped the knuckles of neo-Cons, and kicked the butts of the Far Left. It wasn’t easy giving money to him, because his website didn’t work, and no one on his staff responded to emails that said, “Hey! I wanna give you money!” Then I heard he asked Spencer Abraham to join his staff. I wrote to him asking why. And again, even as an intrepeid contributor, I got the profound white silence. So now, I’m here to say clearly — I’m *through* with Fred. He needs to head back to television, where he can play whatever character he’d like to be. The last thing we need in the United States is a president who is unresponsive, unaware and unable to tell friend from foe.

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