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Who is Dan Senor
The New York Times

Published: August 1, 2012
  WASHINGTON — Moments after making remarks in Jerusalem about Middle East culture that enraged Palestinians and undermined the public relations value of his trip to Israel, Mitt Romney looked around the room for Dan Senor, one of his campaign’s top foreign policy advisers.

In 2004 
L. Paul Bremer was the top United States envoy in Iraq, Mr. Senor, was his spokesman.

  It was Mr. Senor’s book about entrepreneurs in Israel that informed his comments, Mr. Romney explained to the group of Jewish-American donors he had assembled at the King David hotel. The book, “Start-up Nation,” is among Mr. Senor’s writings that Mr. Romney frequently cites in public.
  Mr. Senor (pronounced See-NOR) has become one of the key people shaping Mr. Romney’s increasingly hawkish views on the Middle East. A television-savvy former spokesman for the American government in Iraq, Mr. Senor blends a foreign policy background, high-volume punditry and ties to wealthy hedge fund investors in the United States to become a triple threat as an insider in Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign.
  His presence in the tight orbit of advisers around the Republican candidate foreshadows a Romney foreign policy that could take a harder line against Iran, embrace Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move away from being the honest broker in the conflict with Palestinians.
  But his views and influence have drawn new scrutiny to Mr. Romney’s Mideast positions, particularly after Mr. Senor said last week that Mr. Romney respected Israel’s right to pre-emptively strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Campaign aides conceded that Mr. Senor got “a little ahead” of Mr. Romney on Iran, but said it had not diminished his role at the campaign.
  “Dan is a long-term friend and adviser of Mitt,” said Beth Myers, one of Mr. Romney’s top strategists. “He’s consistently been a part of his foreign policy advising world. Mitt appreciated his advice and counsel on that trip and he remains a close adviser.”
  By tapping Mr. Senor, 40, as his principal adviser on the Israel leg of his foreign trip this week, Mr. Romney passed over more seasoned strategists, some of them veterans of the Middle East peace efforts that have bedeviled presidents and diplomats for decades.
  In Mr. Senor, Mr. Romney turned to an advocate of neoconservative thinking that has sought to push presidents to the right for years on Middle East policy. (His sister, Wendy Senor Singer, runs the Jerusalem office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential lobbying organization.)
  “Mr. Senor is a pragmatic hawk who clearly has an acute sensitivity and sensibility toward Israeli security interests,” said Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to Democratic and Republican secretaries of state. “That’s clearly a filter through which he, and should he get to be president, Romney, sees the whole panoply of issues in the Middle East.”
  The plan for Mr. Romney’s overseas trip called for him to mix delicate global diplomacy with high-dollar campaign fund-raising, all on foreign soil. It would take an adviser accustomed to maneuvering effortlessly through the worlds of politics, money and news media.
  Enter Mr. Senor, who has become one of Mr. Romney’s closest foreign policy advisers, having traveled three times to Israel with him. Mr. Senor began visiting Boston in 2006 to brief Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, on foreign policy, and has had his ear since. In the acknowledgments of his book “No Apology,” Mr. Romney wrote that Mr. Senor sharpened his “appreciation of the dangers presented by the shift in our foreign policy.”
  Mr. Senor declined to comment for this article.
  But in Israel last week, the carefully laid plan was quickly consumed by negative attention. Gushing comments about Mr. Romney by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were initially overshadowed by Mr. Senor’s comments to reporters about Iran. When that died down, Mr. Romney’s assertion that cultural factors helped account for the wide Israeli economic edge over the Palestinians drew condemnation from Palestinian leaders.
  For all the furor, Mr. Senor has proved to be a resilient public figure, often finding new success after public criticism.
  At the start of the Iraq war, Mr. Senor served as the spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, often delivering rosy accounts of the war’s progress to reporters whose on-the-ground view of the crisis there was anything but. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a Washington Post reporter who wrote a critical book about the authority, once described Mr. Senor’s office as doing “a masterful job of spinning the media.”
  Mr. Senor’s departure from Iraq was followed by a stint running a private equity firm that made him wealthy. He married Campbell Brown, a former anchor for CNN, formed a conservative research organization and secured invitations to appear on Fox News and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
  “He is intrigued by the game of politics,” said William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and a longtime friend. “But he is genuinely public spirited.”
  Mr. Romney’s relationship with Mr. Senor began just after his honeymoon in 2006, when Ms. Myers asked if he would meet with Mr. Romney, then a likely presidential candidate.
  Before long, Mr. Senor was regularly visiting Boston for briefings and setting up visits by other foreign policy hawks in Washington. He accompanied Mr. Romney to Israel in January 2007 and went with him on a trip to Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel and Dubai last year.
  “I believe they are genuinely close and personal,” Mr. Kristol said.
  Perhaps the best evidence of that is the frequency with which Mr. Romney talks about Mr. Senor’s book. Acquaintances of both men said Mr. Romney frequently mentions it. The slim book argues that Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit contributes to its success — a message that resonates with Mr. Romney’s background in business.
  “He goes through some of the cultural elements that have led Israel to become a nation that has begun so many businesses and so many enterprises,” Mr. Romney said at his Jerusalem fund-raiser.
  Looking around a room filled with wealthy Americans, including Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Republicans, Mr. Romney noted Mr. Senor’s absence and his success at hitting such people up for campaign cash.
  “I saw him this morning. I don’t know where he is,” Mr. Romney said. “He’s probably out twisting someone’s arm.”
Michael Barbaro and Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from New York.

Wall Street's Singer Makes His Influence Felt
August 27, 2012

  NEW YORK—Paul Singer, a prominent hedge-fund manager, has employed many tactics in seeking to ensure a Republican victory in November.
  First, he approached Rep. Paul Ryan and offered to back him in a presidential bid. When Mr. Ryan demurred, Mr. Singer's support helped him emerge as the vice-presidential nominee, people close to the matter said.
  He has given more to the GOP and its candidates—$2.3 million this election season—than anyone else on Wall Street, helping make his hedge fund, Elliott Management Corp., one of the nation's biggest sources of political donations, the vast majority to the GOP.
  At the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., this week, while Mr. Singer won't be onstage, his influence will be felt. Besides giving $1 million to underwrite the convention, he is sponsoring policy discussions beginning Tuesday with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Discussions later in the week will be headlined by former White House strategist Karl Rove and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
  This behind-the-scenes influence has prompted chatter in GOP circles that Mr. Singer, already an informal policy adviser to the Romney campaign, might be offered a job in a potential Republican administration. Mr. Singer, 68 years old, says he isn't interested in a Romney administration position, but has offered ideas in areas including gay marriage—he supports it, at odds with the ticket—foreign policy and fiscal affairs. He also shares his quarterly investor letter, which routinely runs more dozens of pages, with the campaign.
  Mr. Singer has warmed up to Mr. Romney though he didn't support his run for president in 2008 and last year pushed Mr. Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run.
  Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp. is one of the nation's biggest sources of Republican donations.
  "As I have gotten to know Mitt I have become increasingly of the view that he will make a very fine president," Mr. Singer said in a rare interview.
  Mr. Singer has another tie to the ticket: Dan Senor, one of his informal political advisers, is a senior strategist to Mr. Ryan.
  He certainly agrees on little with President Barack Obama. "He believes in the concentration of power rather than the dispersion of power," he says of the president. "He believes in the unaccountable and unreviewable discretion of elites who are making decisions based on what they determine to be good for you."
  Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "While the president has fought to take on special interests and the outsized role they play in the political process, Mitt Romney has fueled his campaign with contributions from them."
  Mr. Singer said he has been a conservative since the days of Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee in the 1964 election who lost by a landslide to Lyndon B. Johnson. He has the resume to prove it: He is chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and has served on the board of Commentary Magazine, a conservative monthly. He was among the GOP's top financial backers in the 2010 elections and has also donated heavily to the Club for Growth, a group that advocates for free markets.
  Donations from Elliott employees largely reflect this political slant. For the 2012 election, Mr. Singer and his employees have donated $3.4 million to Republicans, compared with $1,650 for Democrats, including $1,000 to Mr. Obama. Reflecting Mr. Singer's rapid ascent up the fundraising food chain, that is more than double what Elliott employees gave between 1990 and 2006.
  Mr. Singer made his fortune investing in bankrupt and distressed companies as well as a big early bet on convertible bonds. Since opening in 1977, Elliott, which manages $20.2 billion, has generated a 14% net compound annual return, compared with 10.8% for the S&P 500 stock index with dividends reinvested.
  Wall Street as a whole has given Republicans 63% of its $154 million in total campaign contributions so far in the 2012 election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. When Mr. Obama ran for president in 2008, the industry contributed $170 million, with 57% going to Democrats.

  In prior elections, Wall Street has tended to give a majority of its donations to the political party that holds power in Washington. But after Mr. Obama took office, many financial-services executives turned against the president in part because he demonized their industry and helped enact tough regulations after the financial-services collapse.
  There's one glaring area where Mr. Singer isn't aligned with today's GOP presidential lineup and much of the party. Since 2001, he has donated more than $11 million toward legalizing gay marriage, a cause he took up after finding out his son was gay. "So many people, including stark conservatives, have family members and close friends who are gay," he said, adding that he also supports gay rights because "it's simply the right thing to do."
  This has made him an unlikely hero at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group traditionally aligned with Democrats. Chad Griffin, the group's president, credits Mr. Singer with what he sees as the rising number of Republicans supporting gay marriage. The group is running an ad this week featuring prominent Republicans that support gay marriage—a result of Mr. Singer's advice that it should seek to be more inclusive.
  Another area in which Mr. Singer has become vocal is financial regulation. He says the Obama administration hasn't adequately strengthened the global financial system to protect against another collapse. He advocates repealing the Dodd-Frank law and replacing it with regulation to make the system safer, without the "black hole" effects of the current law. He suggests reducing leverage on all forms of tradable risk, updating accounting standards so that the financial condition and risks of financial companies are transparent, amending the bankruptcy code to revamp the treatment of derivatives and considering integrating regulatory bodies.
  The balance sheets of some large financial institutions remain opaque, he said, and don't reflect the risk on banks' books due to derivatives and leverage.
  "It is impossible to understand the financial health of big financial institutions and their potential impact on the market," Mr. Singer said. "They don't even understand it themselves."

—Carol Lee and Damian Paletta contributed to this article.
A version of this article appeared August 28, 2012, on page A5 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Hedge-Fund Founder Makes His Influence Felt.

The Real Story Of How A Hedge Fund Detained A Vessel In Ghana And Even Went For Argentina's 'Air Force One'

  In their drive to extract full compensation from the Argentine government, a hard-nosed bunch of distressed debt investors have gone to impressive lengths. They’ve pursued the country’s assets around the globe, attempting to seize the presidential plane and menacing the Argentine booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

  Now they have a big and bizarre fish on the hook: an Argentine naval vessel. NML Capital, a subsidiary of U.S. billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Capital, this week won an injunction in Ghanaian superior court to hold the ARA Libertad in the port city of Tema, on the outskirts of the African nation’s capital.
  UPDATE: Argentine weekly Perfil reported on Friday that the Argentine state filed a motion before the Supreme Court of Ghana in order to annul the injunction won by NML.  Ace Ankomah, lawyer for NML in Ghana, indicated the court scheduled a hearing on the matter for Tuesday October 9 before the commercial division of the high court where the first legal proceeding had started.  Ankomah added that if Argentina pays a bond, the boat is free to go.
  The 103-meter-long sailing ship, which is used as a training vessel for naval cadets, had left Buenos Aires on June 2 and was carrying a reported total crew of 220, including 69 members of the Argentine Navy and 110 students. New York judge Thomas Griesa awarded NML $1.6 billion from Argentina in a lawsuit that the fund filed after it opted not to accept two separate restructuring offers in 2005 and 2010 on the $100 billion in debt that the country defaulted on a decade ago.
  The vessel has not been seized, as some media reported, but rather detained, with its crew on board and following their daily routine, the Argentine Navy confirmed to Forbes. (“They’ve been treated very well by the locals,” a naval spokesman said.)  Ghana’s courts will now have to decide whether previous rulings in the U.S. and the U.K. are sufficient to move ahead with NML’s case against Argentina. The West African nation ranks 52nd in the CFS’ rule of law index, well above major emerging nations like Brazil, Mexico, and China, and even above so-called advanced countries like Spain, Portugal, and Brazil.
  The case is but the latest attempt in a tenacious campaign by the debt holders to seize Argentine assets abroad. In a statement, the Argentine foreign ministry said that “vulture funds had crossed a new limit in their attacks” toward the country, qualifying the latest move as “a trick by the unscrupulous financiers.”  The ministry also said that attempting to seize the vessel is a violation of the Vienna Convention’s clause on diplomatic immunity, and called it an attempt at extortion.
  Elliott Capital and other holdout bondholders have been tracking Argentine assets, financial and physical, closely, sources said.  Back in 2007, a group of bondholders discovered that the Tango 01, Argentina’s presidential airplane, would be in the U.S. for scheduled maintenance and pilot training.  They moved to get a court to keep the plane grounded after it landed and to seize fuel money the pilots were expected to bring in cash.  The government of the late Nestor Kirchner was warned of the move, though, and cancelled the trip. It then countersued in the U.S. getting California judge William Alsup to declare the presidential Boeing 757/200 was immune from seizure.
  It’s not only vehicles they were after.  In 2009, Argentina was preparing a stand at the world’s largest book trade convention, the Frankfurt Book Fair. Rumors that assets could be seized forced Argentine to register its stand under a private individual rather than the state, and a showcase of works of art requested by German curators was withheld given concerns they would be seized.  A year later, a Tango 01 trip to Germany was cancelled just as Buenos Aires was warned it would be seized.
  Holdout bondholders have also gone after the assets of prominent Argentine politicians, including Nestor Kirchner, his wife and current president Cristina Kirchner, and 136 members of her administration, including most of the cabinet.  In 2010, Singer’s Elliott got Judge Griesa, who consistently rules against Argentina, to ask Bank of America to disclose all information related to their personal accounts.  Elliott has even gone after Argentina’s foreign exchange reserves, coming close to seizing $105 million held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  While most of their attempts to grab Argentine assets have failed in court, Elliott and other distressed debt investors have recorded some victories.  Having bought the debt originally for pennies on the dollar, their strategy is to pursue aggressive means to recover a greater amount.
  This year, Elliott subsidiary NML and EM (owned by former billionaire Kenneth Dart) got a judge (question, was the judge Jewish also) to award them assets of Argentina’s Banco Hipotecario worth approximately $23 million.
  Argentina has been cast out of international debt markets since its default in 2001-2002, after its economy imploded.  Years of following IMF policies and a hard peg to the dollar caused the meltdown, as Argentina saw its currency devalue 400% and its economy plunge.  As it emerged from those depths, it restructured its debt, first in 2005, and then in 2010, with approximately 93% of bondholders accepting the harsh new terms.  Between holdout bondholders and the Paris Club of rich nations, somewhere between 7% and 8% of the original amount remains outstanding.
  The country has vowed to fight those remaining bondholders.  They accused NML of using the Cayman Islands to avoid legal and tax issues (“a [tax haven] that has been denounced by the G20 and the UN”).  “It is President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s decision not to cede to the extorsive international and domestic attempts pursued by these vulture funds,” charged the foreign ministry.  Given Argentina’s recent track record, it doesn’t seem like they’ll budge.

Neoconservative ultra-hawk Dan Senor will be whispering in Paul Ryan's ear
Aug 13, 2012

  Neoconservative Dan Senor has been assigned as senior adviser to vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan.
Team Romney has assigned Dan Senor to be senior adviser to vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Senor will no doubt be helping Ryan fill in one of his gaps, foreign policy. That should make the guy behind the choice of both Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan quite happy. He's neoconservative Bill Kristol. He even wanted Ryan to run for president. Kristol and Senor go back a ways. The two of them, together with Robert Kagan and other prominent neoconservatives, founded the Foreign Policy Initiative in in 2009. That is the successor to the now-defunct Project for a New American Century, the original neoconservative organization. The fourth heavy at FPI is career diplomat Eric Edelman.

  Senor, who is married to former CNN anchorwoman Campbell Brown, is an investment banker formerly with the Carlyle Group and his own private equity operation. He later joined billionaire Paul Singer's hedge fund Elliott Management. Singer is a major backer of Romney.
  Senor served in the Bush administration as spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority and as a senior adviser to the head of the CPA, L. Paul Bremer. In those posts he became the chief spinner of news from Iraq in the early days of the occupation. He was quoted in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book of life in the Green Zone of Baghdad in that period, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, as having said: “Off the record, Paris is burning. On the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq.”
  Senor has strong ties to senior officials in the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has written an exceedingly popular book about Israel, Start-up Nation. Allison Hoffman writes:
  Senor has been a vital emissary over the past six years for Romney not just to the Israelis and the American Jewish community, but to a Republican foreign-policy establishment that, even today, remains somewhat alien territory. “Dan was hugely helpful in introducing the governor to his friends and colleagues,” said Beth Myers, Romney’s longtime aide-de-camp and a top campaign adviser. “He’s a huge validator.” [...]
A few weeks later [in May 2006] Myers, called from Boston to ask whether Senor would be willing to come talk to the Massachusetts governor, who was considering a presidential run. “The two of them hit it off immediately,” Myers said. “I can’t think of anyone who Mitt has ever met that he hit it off with so immediately as Dan Senor.”
The New York Times has reported:
  “[Senor’s] presence in the tight orbit of advisers around the Republican candidate foreshadows a Romney foreign policy that could take a harder line against Iran, embrace Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move away from being the honest broker in the conflict with Palestinians. … In Mr. Senor, Mr. Romney turned to an advocate of neoconservative thinking that has sought to push presidents to the right for years on Middle East policy.
  It's not hard to imagine what Paul Ryan will soon be saying about the foreign policy he has no experience in.