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Watch Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Tense Exchange with Elliott Abrams Over U.S.-Backed War Crimes in Latin America

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14.02.2019

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Elliott Abrams as the United States’ special envoy to Venezuela, tasked with handling “all things related to our efforts to restore democracy” in the country.

Abrams has years of experience working on U.S. policy in Latin America, which means he’s been involved in a number of controversial American actions. Most notably, he pleaded guilty in 1991 of two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress related to the Iran-Contra affair.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, did not waste her opportunity to press Abrams on his tenure in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

“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, to protests from Abrams.

“I’m being attacked,” Abrams said. “It was an attack. … It is not right that members of this committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply.”

But Omar pressed on, moving to one of the more shameful moments in America’s history of intervention in Latin American affairs. “On Feb. 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 the reports about the massacre at El Mozote.”

The massacre Omar was referring to remains the largest single........

© Slate