She’s not backing down, is she?
Just days after the scandal about her anti-Semitic comments, Rep. Ilhan Omar does not appear to be backing down at all, today grilling Jewish Diplomat Elliott Abrams.
To be fair, Abrams has had his own checkered past.
But we’ll let you judge for yourself, here was the exchange on the floor of Congress.
Take a look:
The NY Post explains more:
The House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s policy toward Venezuela this week descended into farce when controversial freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) attempted to steer debate toward 30-year-old events elsewhere in Latin America.
In a cheap attempt to discredit special envoy Elliott Abrams, a long-time foreign-policy practitioner who served in the Reagan administration, Omar began reading from a set of tendentious questions apparently cribbed from an equally tendentious article that appeared on Al Jazeera’s Web site:
Omar: “On Feb. 8, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about US policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda reports about the massacre in El Mozote [sic, Abrams did not deny it in his testimony, the discrepancy in the immediate, confusing aftermath was the number of victims] in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old, were brutally murdered by US-trained troops. “During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12-year-old girls before they killed them . . . You later said that the US policy in El Salvador was a fabulous achievement. Yes or no, do you still think so?”
Abrams: “From the day that President [José Napoleón] Duarte was elected in a free election to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.”
Omar: “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?”
Abrams: “That is a ridiculous question, and I will not respond to it.”
Omar: “Yes or no?”
Abrams: “No — ”
Omar: “I will take that as a yes.”
Abrams: “I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack.”
It is said that those on the left never forget, and that is never more true when it comes to the United States and Latin America. To them, the sum total of US relations with our southern neighbors amounts to a caricature of unwarranted interference, coup d’etats and economic exploitation. And special scorn is held out for the Reagan era.
At the time, with Soviet support, Cuba was helping to organize at least 27 different guerrilla groups in the Western Hemisphere, totaling about 25,000 armed and trained members by 1987. Moreover, the US estimated that a minimum of 20,000 individuals, including more than 10,000 Latin Americans, had been trained in one of the more than 50 guerrilla courses offered in Cuban military facilities.
Their goal was nothing less than producing Ché Guevara’s “two, three, many Vietnams” in Latin America.
At the same time, nearly every country in Latin America was ruled by a military junta, which largely waged violent counter-insurgency campaigns against the Marxist insurgents, especially in Central America.
It was into this maelstrom that the Reagan administration stepped. But even as the Reagan folks sought to train and arm militaries, they had a concurrent political-diplomatic strategy of fostering democratic institutions. It was time for the generals to go, Abrams has said.
This is precisely what happened in El Salvador in 1984, when millions of Salvadorans defied guerrilla threats to go to the polls to elect Christian Democrat Duarte over a right-wing candidate, and in 1986 in Guatemala with the election of another Christian Democrat, Vinicio Cerezo. In neighboring Honduras in 1982, Roberto Suazo won over a military-backed candidate, replacing yet another general.
No, it wasn’t always pretty; guerrilla wars rarely are. In fact, they have a habit of being brutal and unforgiving, because that’s the way guerrillas want it — purposefully hiding behind innocent civilians seeking to provoke the kinds of atrocities that occurred at El Mozote to exploit them for propaganda value, domestically and internationally.
They failed in Central America largely because of US policies of bolstering security while pushing elections, enabling democracy.
Today, in all Latin America, democracy and free elections have become the norm. In an irony that obviously escapes Omar, the only holdouts are left-wing authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, where human rights are being systematically violated.
And from the Daily Beast:
The House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony from U.S. experts about the growing humanitarian and political crisis engulfing Venezuela. One of those testifying was Elliott Abrams, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s newly appointed Special Envoy on Venezuela in the State Department, who found himself in a viral moment.
That came after Abrams read his opening statement, defining the U.S. mission as one of defending the nation’s only independent body, the National Assembly that elected Juan Guaido as its head, and which the U.S. now views as the arm of government, and Guaido as Venezuela’s only freely elected leader. U.S. policy, Abrams said, was to aid the Venezuelan people, and to work in conjunction with other nations to help the people of Venezuela in their effort to restore democracy. He emphasized that the U.S. did not favor arming Maduro’s opponents, and supported a peaceful democratic transition.
Things proceeded apace until the controversial new member of Congress from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, appointed to the committee by Nancy Pelosi in an obvious attempt to give the Democratic Party’s far-left base something it sought, started asking “questions.” Coming right after the condemnation of her anti-Semitic tweets by most Democrats, all eyes were on her.
Omar’s performance clearly was in sync with the Code Pink demonstrators who interrupted the hearing at its start and had to be removed by security. The Code Pink crew yelled in defense of the Maduro government, and had posters attacking Abrams as a “war criminal.”
Omar opened up by calling Abrams “Mr. Adams,” which no one corrected, and reading a statement she did not appear to be familiar with, hesitating often and mispronouncing many words. She restated the old charges of the political left-wing in in the 1980s that have been revisited over and over throughout the years.
They have been after him again since then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted to appoint Abrams as his deputy at the beginning of the Trump presidency. Trump blocked that move, because he was angry about a piece Abrams wrote opposing his candidacy, but that was enough of a new peg for Eric Alterman to write in The Nation that Abrams was an “actual American War Criminal…a neo-con golden boy [who] has behaved so badly in so many different arenas, it actually works in his favor.” Alterman then raised the left’s favorite charge: “Abrams was forced to plead guilty to deliberately misleading Congress regarding his nefarious role in the Iran-Contra scandal.”
Omar too pointed out that in 1991 Abrams had pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress pertaining to the Iran-Contra debacle. She said, “I don’t understand why members of this committee should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.” She refused to let Abrams respond, telling him that she was not asking a question and he could not defend himself. Abrams correctly responded that she had waged a personal attack on him and was not even trying to ask a question.
Omar went on, without letting him reply, asking Abrams whether he would “support crimes against humanity or genocide if you would believe they were serving U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.” She posed that very rhetorical question after she’d made known that she considered the U.S. attempts to defend democracy in Venezuela a “U.S. backed coup,” the same position of the repressive Maduro government whose leader refuses to give up power. She went on to say that she wanted to find out if “a genocide will take place and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld.”El Mozote,El Salvador on Dec. 11, 1981, when the U.S. trained Salvadoran military Al Atlacatl battalion went into the town. Reports emerged that the soldiers had tortured and killed men, women, and children in a counterinsurgency raid meant to defeat communist guerillas. The town’s entire population was killed. At the time, Abrams had said that it was an “incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas." Other officials had denied one had taken place. In 1992 it was confirmed by forensic evidence that indeed it had occurred.
Rep. Omar said that in 1982 testimony he had given to the Senate, Abrams had just lied, implying that he would again look the other way and again lie if the U.S. created a genocide in Venezuela. She quoted Abrams as having said years ago that U.S. policy in El Salvador had been a success. “Do you think the massacre was a fabulous achievement,” she asked.
“That is a ridiculous question,” Abrams retorted. He noted that after the election of Napoleon Duarte as president, every government since has been democratically elected, and he considers that a success. Abrams made it clear that “the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country.”