Combat veteran and GOP congressional hopeful Nick Freitas slammed Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) after the Democrat boasted that her work on the Iran deal made the United States "more safe."
Freitas, a retired Green Beret who served two tours in Iraq, criticized Spanberger's praise for the deal, as well as the role she played in reaching it, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. He noted that the deal gave Iran billions in cash as the Middle Eastern nation "actively targeted U.S. service members."
"This was the same time that the Iranian regime—through the Quds Force and Iran's Revolutionary Guard—was actively backing, supporting, and providing technical and tactical advice to terrorist organizations in Iraq that were killing U.S. service members," Freitas told the Free Beacon. "How could you think it was a good idea to drop off loose money to this regime when they were engaged in that sort of activity?"
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Spanberger's comments came during a private Thursday forum with the Richmond First Club. The Democrat touted her role in collecting "intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program" as a former CIA officer, adding that she knew the Iran deal "made us more safe" because she "collected information on the very program that was informing our diplomats at the negotiating table."
Spanberger's 2018 and 2020 congressional bids have centered around her roughly eight-year career with the CIA. Her campaign in 2018 said that while the Democrat "was collecting intelligence for military advisers when the [Iran] deal was negotiated," she "took no position on it at that time." During Thursday's forum, however, Spanberger said she "believed in the JCPOA [Iran deal] and its purpose" while working for the CIA.
Freitas said that foreign policy marked a "fundamental difference" between the two candidates.
"It's one thing for someone to support a bad foreign policy because they don't understand what's going on in the war zone directly adjacent to that country," Freitas said. "It's another thing for someone to brag and say, ‘I specifically focused on that with respect to intelligence selection and analysis.'"
Iranian officials in 2015 stressed that the nuclear deal "would make it possible to increase Iran's support for its regional allies," adding that "the situation of the resistance front had improved." Roughly one year later, Obama administration officials admitted that they had no way of determining whether the Middle Eastern nation was using the billions of dollars it received as a result of the deal on terror activities.
"It's entirely possible that they can use some of this funding to support terrorist networks," former State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Freitas described a number of Iranian-made explosives funneled to terror groups in the region to kill Americans, including the explosively formed penetrator, the Quds Force's "hallmark weapon" that helped kill nearly 200 U.S. troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.
"Is what you get out of this deal worth the fact that you knew some of that money had to be going to the direct targeting and killing of U.S. service members?" Freitas asked. "What did you get that was worth that?"
Spanberger's self-described belief in the Iran deal during the negotiating process was at odds with several congressional Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), for example, said he opposed the deal as he could "not ignore the fact that Iran, the country that will benefit most from sanctions being lifted, refuses to change its 36-year history of sponsoring terrorism."
Spanberger has since opposed President Donald Trump's Middle Eastern foreign policy as a member of Congress. After a U.S. airstrike killed former Quds Force commander and designated terror leader Qassem Soleimani, Spanberger recognized that Soleimani "had the blood of hundreds of American servicemembers and thousands of the region's civilians on his hands." The Democrat, however, questioned the "legal justification and rationale" for ordering the strike, saying the decision put "American lives across the entire region … at greater risk."
Freitas—who is running to unseat Spanberger after securing reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019—credited Trump with "hitting the decision makers, not innocent people" through the attack.
Spanberger did not return a request for comment.