Biden Appoints Former Obama Official to Key Role in National Security Council

January 27, 2021 Updated: January 27, 2021

President Joe Biden has appointed lawyer Maher Bitar to be the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs.

Bitar has served as general counsel to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and as a top legal adviser to its chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) since 2017.

“I am thrilled to see him in his new post, though we will certainly miss him on the committee,” Schiff told Politico. “I can’t think of anyone more suited to the role than Maher.”

In 2020, Bitar played a major role during then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, serving as a senior member in the Democrats’ House impeachment team. The Senate ultimately voted to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment.

Bitar’s latest appointment by Biden marks his return to the NSC. He previously served as the NSC director for Israeli and Palestinian affairs during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Before that, he was a deputy to Samantha Power while she was at the NSC as the director for multilateral affairs and human rights, and later when she was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

On detail from the Department of State, he was the foreign affairs officer in the Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

Bitar previously worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in Jerusalem.

He graduated with a doctorate in law from Georgetown University in 2012, and previously graduated from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2006.

He had also received a Master of Science in Forced Migration from Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre while on a scholarship.

In a report published by FrontPageMag on Jan. 26, investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield noted multiple indications that Bitar has held anti-Israel views.

Bitar was on the executive board of Georgetown University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group, a pro-Palestinian college organization that has been accused of being a far-left hate group that espouses anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments, Greenfield noted. The SJP group was among the main organizers of a Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference in 2006 at the university, he wrote, accusing PSM of being an “anti-Israel propaganda group.”

The Jewish Virtual Library calls PSM an umbrella organization that brings together university-affiliated anti-Israel groups with a goal to “portray the Palestinian cause as a struggle for justice against the ‘racist’ state of Israel.”

At the 2006 conference, Bitar ran a session that described how to portray Israel as being detrimental to the Christian population, Greenfield wrote. Separately, Greenfield noted that a photo in a Georgetown University’s yearbook in 2006 (pdf) appears to show Bitar dancing in front of a banner reading “Divest from Israel Apartheid.”

Bitar in one paper for Oxford University (pdf) wrote that Israel’s “political existence as a state is the cause for Palestinian dispossession and statelessness—of ultimate responsibility toward the refugees. Israel’s rejection of their right to return remains the main obstacle to finding a durable solution.”

Greenfield wrote: “The job of Senior Director for Intelligence at the National Security Council is supposed to go to an intelligence professional. How did an anti-Israel activist go from helping host a conference for an organization whose speakers have supported Islamic terrorism to a top intelligence job?”

Michael Ellis, former Republican political operative, previously held the position of NSC senior director for intelligence programs. The role involves overseeing the coordination and communications between the White House and the intelligence community, including the director of national intelligence, on multiple issues.

The NSC serves to advise and assist the president to coordinate national security matters among federal government agencies.

The agency and the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times on Bitar’s appointment.

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