Meet the Jewish, Former CIA Officer Running for Congress in Michigan

WASHINGTON – Serving in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pentagon, Elissa Slotkin was deployed multiple times to Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion. During her third tour, she met her husband Colonel David Moore of the U.S. Army. The headquarters of the U.S. military in Baghdad at the time were located at Saddam Hussein’s former national palace with ping pong tables placed in the rotunda. “We would be playing these competitive games of ping pong and all of the Iraqi staff would watch us play and they were enjoying watching a woman kick the butt of the unformed army officer. Slotkin told Jewish Insider in an interview. “I felt like I was playing for all womankind.”

First working as an intelligence briefer for the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq and then a targeting officer in Fallujah, Slotkin climbed the ranks of the CIA and Defense Department in Republican and Democratic administrations. A Hebrew and Arabic speaker, Slotkin’s last post was Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security affairs during the end of the Obama administration. During her time in the Pentagon, she visited Israel at least six times and helped bring the F-35 to the Jewish State, the first ally to receive America’s most advanced fighter jet. Striking a close friendship with Amos Gilad, the former Director of the political-military affairs bureau at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, she also worked intensely on U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs including Iron Dome.

A third generation Michigander, Slotkin grew up on a beef cattle farm in Holly. She explained her motivations to run for Congress after the recent health care vote where the GOP led House of Representatives reversed much of the Affordable Care Act. “My mother died from ovarian cancer in 2011 and she struggled because she had cancer before: now what we call a precondition. She struggled to get affordable healthcare for many years and let it lapse because she had to pay other bills right before she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. For the first month of her illness, they wouldn’t put her into an MRI machine without an $8,000 check,” Slotkin noted. “We were very lucky to get her back onto health care by extreme luck. If not, it would have bankrupted my brother and I. My representative voted for the bill in the house without having one open town hall without reaching out to his constituents. That put me over the tipping point in running.” If Slotkin wins the Democratic primary, she will face two term Republican Mike Bishop who previously served in the Michigan State Senate.

When asked about the Trump administration’s current push to secure the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians, Slotkin push for active American involvement, “The only way that this gets done is through strong American leadership. The only way that the two sides even come to the table is if the U.S. with a very strong lead convenes pushes both sides to make forward progress on the issue. But, if the parties are unwilling to come to the table, then unfortunately we are in a number of additional years with the same conflict with the same problems.”

While serving in a senior position of the Obama administration, Slotkin disagreed with the President’s decision not to respond militarily after Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. “When President Assad decided to use those weapons again, we could have used a strong and clearer response than was given by the Obama administration,” she added.

With the economy and healthcare dominating the airwaves across Michigan, Slotkin cited her over decade long service in the C.I.A. and Defense Department. “People in Michigan feel like Washington is broken and they don’t have representatives who remember that they are public servants first. I know something about being a public servant,” she said.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.