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Rep. Ilhan Omar Lights A Fire Under Elliott Abrams Over Iran-Contra Ties

In a Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday, Rep. Omar took Abrams to task, telling him she saw no reason to believe him in anything after his participation in Iran-Contra.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar showed herself to be a formidable questioner during a Wednesday hearing with Elliott Abrams, of Iran-Contra fame.

After noting that he pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal and his subsequent pardon by George W. Bush, Omar was blunt. ""I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful," she said.

Watch the color rise in Abrams' cheeks after that remark.

"That was not a question," she reminded Abrams. "I reserve the right to my time."

If Abrams could have, he would have gotten out that seat and into her face.

Moving on, Rep. Omar turned to his comments in 1982 about U.S. policy in El Salvador before a Congressional hearing.

"In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda the report about the massacre of El Mozote, in which 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old were brutally murdered by U.S. trained troops," Omar said. "During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12-year old girls before they killed them."

"You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a fabulous achievement. Yes or no, do you still think so?" she asked.

"From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election to THIS day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That's a fabulous achievement," Abrams replied, using hand gestures to emphasize the strength of his conviction.

"Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?" Omar persisted.

Abrams dismissed her question as "ridiculous." "I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question" he told her disrespectfully, color once again rising in his cheeks.

Omar went on. "Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, if you believed they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua?"


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Looking over at the chairman, Abrams said, "I am not going to respond to that question. I'm sorry. I don't think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions and so I will not reply," he said in a defiant tone.

Rep. Omar explained, "Whether under your watch, a genocide will take place and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question, because the American people want to know that any time we engage a country, that we think about what our actions could be, and how we believe our values are being furthered."

"That is my question," she continued. "Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?"

For his part, Abrams was not in a mood to answer her without some disrespect. "I suppose there's a question in there," he grudgingly ceded.

"The entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people's effort to restore democracy to their country," Abrams said, which was not the question Omar asked.

She restated her question simply: Will U.S. policy in Venezuela include protecting human rights and people against genocide, to which Abrams smugly informed her that is "always the position of the United States."

Well, except for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the massacre she mentioned. Those times it seems human rights and genocide took a back seat to American interests.

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