The Cable

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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen once called for the assassination of Fidel Castro

Ever since we published our election night profile of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the next head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we’ve received dozens of e-mails pointing us to a video clip where the Florida-based Cuban-American lawmaker appears to call for the assassination of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. "I just feel such a great ...

Ever since we published our election night profile of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the next head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we've received dozens of e-mails pointing us to a video clip where the Florida-based Cuban-American lawmaker appears to call for the assassination of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

"I just feel such a great source of pride of being here in the United States Congress representing so many freedom fighters both in exile in the United States and on the island as well. I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people," Ros-Lehtinen says in the video clip, recorded in a 2006 interview for the British documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro.

After the clip was released, Ros-Lehtinen alleged that the video was spliced together but didn't back off her contention that is might be better if Castro were dead.

Ever since we published our election night profile of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the next head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we’ve received dozens of e-mails pointing us to a video clip where the Florida-based Cuban-American lawmaker appears to call for the assassination of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

"I just feel such a great source of pride of being here in the United States Congress representing so many freedom fighters both in exile in the United States and on the island as well. I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people," Ros-Lehtinen says in the video clip, recorded in a 2006 interview for the British documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro.

After the clip was released, Ros-Lehtinen alleged that the video was spliced together but didn’t back off her contention that is might be better if Castro were dead.

Ros-Lehtinen’s spokeswoman told the Miami Herald in the aftermath of the controversy that the congresswoman has never called for anyone’s assassination. But Ros-Lehtinen told the Herald in 2006 she can’t rule out that she ever mentioned Castro and a potential assassination. "If someone were to do it, I wouldn’t be crying," she said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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