Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster waded into a quiet midterm race in Southern California by endorsing GOP candidate Omar Qudrat, a former Defense Department attorney and counter-terrorism prosecutor running against Rep. Scott Peters (D., Calf.).
McMaster, a retired Army lieutenant general known for key roles in leading troops in Iraq and his strategic planning in Afghanistan, said he backs Qudrat, the first political candidate he has ever endorsed, because he witnessed his dedicated service and leadership first-hand when they were both serving in Afghanistan. McMaster served as Trump's national security adviser for more than a year before leaving in April.
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"I first met Omar Qudrat in Afghanistan in 2011," McMaster said in a statement. "Omar served our nation with distinction in and out of uniform. He is a patriot who dedicated his early career to protecting the American people and upholding our democratic principles. I know that Omar would carry that same mission with him to the United States Congress."
Qudrat, the son of immigrants from Afghanistan, served in Afghanistan first as a Department of Defense civilian helping to implement the counter-insurgency strategy as a deputy chief of rule of law, and subsequently as a political adviser to the NATO ambassador. He also worked in direct support of the chief prosecutor of military commissions and supported prosecutions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the USS Cole bombing mastermind and the alleged 9/11 mastermind, as well as four of his alleged co-conspirators.
"I am deeply proud to have the support of one of America's greatest patriots," Qudrat said. "I had the privilege of learning from [McMaster] in Afghanistan during the surge. I learned the meaning of merit-based leadership, leading from the front, and getting the mission done no matter what is in the way."
McMaster's support "signifies to me the importance of, and the need for, more merit-based and effective national-security leaders in our Congress," he added.