Jay Lefkowitz

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Jay Lefkowitz

Jay Lefkowitz (born 20 November 1962) is an American human rights advocate and lawyer. He is a senior partner at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, and he also served as President Bush's Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea.


Earlier in the George W. Bush administration, Lefkowitz was general counsel in the Office of Management and Budget and later deputy director of domestic policy at the White House. He crafted Bush's policy on stem cell research.[1] After leaving the White House in 2003, he was twice offered West Wing jobs.

He was also Director of Cabinet Affairs and Deputy Executive Secretary to the Domestic Policy Council for President George H.W. Bush. Near the end of the Cold War, Lefkowitz was active in the movement to allow Soviet Jews or "Refuseniks" to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

North Korea[edit]

As envoy for North Korean human rights, Lefkowitz referred to the North Korean government as a "criminal regime," criticized those who provide Pyongyang with assistance, and urged that China respect the rights of North Korean refugees. [4] He has taken issue with countries that use North Korean workers and the Kaesong Industrial Complex. [5] However, so far he has cancelled two trips to tour the complex. [6]

On January 17, 2008, Lefkowitz delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that departed from the State Department's contention that six-party talks were likely to succeed in denuclearizing North Korea. He also accused China and South Korea of failing to exert sufficient pressure on North Korea to disarm.[7] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice distanced herself from the remarks, but there was speculation that Lefkowitz retained support from the White House. The speech marked a rare instance of skepticism of policy by a senior administration official, and the State Department went so far as to remove the speech from its web site. [8][9] Lefkowitz furthermore called for a dialogue with North Korea that linked human rights with economic and security issues, in the same way the Helsinki Accords had linked these issues in a dialogue between the West and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.[2]


According to his official State Department biography, Lefkowitz is the author of numerous essays about law, politics, and religion which have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Public Interest, The Jerusalem Report, Commentary and other publications.[3]

President George W. Bush appointed him to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.[4]

Mr. Lefkowitz is a graduate of Columbia University and Columbia Law School.

Famous Quotes: "I don't see Pat Robertson as being opposed to Jewish interests. Deep down, I believe that a little anti-Semitism is good for Jews -- it reminds us who we are."[5]

"North Korea remains one of the hardest foreign policy problems for the U.S. to solve. Its conduct does not appear to be that of a government that is willing to come in from the cold."[6]


  1. ^ [1] Stem Cells and the President--An Inside Account, by Jay P. Lefkowitz
  2. ^ [2] North Korean Human Rights and U.S. National Security, By Jay Lefkowitz, U.S. Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea
  3. ^ [3] State Department Biography
  4. ^ http://www.nysun.com/foreign/bush-visit-may-boost-olmert/76303/
  5. ^ Rich, Frank (1995-08-16). "Journal; The Other Perot". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  6. ^ "North Korean Human Rights and U.S. National Security". 2001-2009.state.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-01.