Ilhan Omar’s Attack of Elliott Abrams Was Unhinged, Uncouth, but Factually Correct

Conservative pundits have seized upon last week’s exchange between Somalian far-left Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN) and United States Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams to blast Omar for anti-semitism.

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While it can certainly be argued that Omar was overly combative and at times incoherent during her exchange with Abrams, this does not mean she was incorrect in her assertions. Abrams’ record of supporting questionable military interventions is well-known, and he even wanted Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump in 2016 because of his stalwart opposition to Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda.

We have fact-checked three loaded questions/statements that Omar made toward Abrams, accusing him of various war crimes committed during the Reagan administration.

Omar: “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran/Contra affair, which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.”

Omar was telling the truth here. Abrams was one of the major players of the Iran/Contra cover-up. He was one of the primary cheerleaders for the US to arm Nicaraguan freedom fighters. Although it was not proven that Abrams knew about the illicit arms sales made to Iran in order to help Nicaraguan Contras, it was proven that he lied to Congress in an attempt to protect the illegal program.

Omar: “On February 8, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about U.S. policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda report about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians including children as young as two years old were brutally murdered by US-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping a 12-year-old girl… 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?”

Omar is correct about the atrocities that occurred in El Salvador with the assistance of direct US involvement. According to a timeline prepared by University of Washington scholars, “Operation Rescue” was initiated in Dec. 1981 primarily by the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion where hundreds of women and children were slaughtered viciously in El Mozote and surrounding towns. There were reports of rapes taking place at the gruesome scene as well. The Salvadoran authorities and US officials who were culpable initially denied what occurred, but survivors of the incident and intrepid journalists have worked diligently to preserve the history and achieve justice for the slaughter.

Abrams was one of the most belligerent deniers about the massacre after it happened. He claimed that reports of the massacre were “not credible.” Over a decade later, Abrams said that “the Administration’s record in El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement” and that opinions to the contrary were “a post-Cold War effort to rewrite history.” It is not out of the realm of possibility that Abrams will commission similar policies in Venezuela, as Omar implies.

Omar: “Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they were serving US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua?”

In addition to the aforementioned crimes in El Salvador and Nicaragua, Abrams’ bloody fingerprints are also found in Guatemala. After it was revealed that Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt was butchering peasants in similar fashion to El Mozote backed by US support in 1982-83, Abrams effectively did a public relations campaign for the brutal military dictator.

“There are certainly refugees in Mexico whose towns suffered massacres by the military, but our sense is that this kind of gross behavior by the military is very substantially reduced under Rios Montt,” Abrams said in a 1983 address. This turned out to be the opposite of the truth. Rios Montt is now widely understood to be the most brutal tyrant in Guatemalan history.

Abrams can be seen here cackling maniacally – similar to Crooked Hillary’s morbid “we came, we saw, he died” outburst – at the thought of being held accountable for his record.

He may have refused to dignify these questions with responses due to Omar’s harsh and attacking style, but nevertheless she makes some interesting points backed by facts. Trump has allowed a man responsible for some of the worst excesses of neocon foreign policy into a key role within his administration. Omar took Abrams to task, and conservatives who are rallying around him and his terrible record out of blind partisanship do so at their own peril.

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