MARC PERELMAN, FORWARD - David Wurmser, a neo-conservative scholar known for his close ties to the Israeli right, was appointed in mid-September to join the team led by Cheney's national security adviser, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. In recent years Wurmser, who boasts a complex network of relationships to a variety of pro-Likud think tanks and activist groups, has frequently written articles arguing for a joint American-Israeli effort to undermine the Syrian regime.
Wurmser's appointment sheds light on the prominent role played by Cheney and his national security staff in shaping foreign policy and coincides with the deterioration in the relations between Washington and Damascus. In recent months, Washington has accused Syria of sheltering Iraqi leaders, weapons and money and of allowing terrorists into Iraq. The administration backed Israel's recent bombing of a suspected terrorist training camp in Syria and dropped its objections to a congressional bill that grants the president the right to impose sanctions on Damascus. . .
Wurmser is the main author of a 1996 policy paper drafted for then-Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a task force composed of neo-conservative scholars. The white paper, titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," advocated a remodeling of the Middle East that some critics see as a rough blueprint for the policy adopted by the Bush administration after the September 11 attacks.