Mike Pompeo is pissing away whatever credibility he brought to the post of secretary of state as he struggles to substantiate President Trump’s claims that Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was assassinated because he posed an “imminent and sinister” threat to Americans.
In his latest insult to the American public’s intelligence, Pompeo claimed at a Tuesday press conference that Soleimani’s past actions — things that had already happened — proved the looming threat that justified the Iranian’s preemptive killing.
The Orwellian spectacle unfolded before C-SPAN cameras at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom. Asked to justify the assertion that Soleimani was killed to prevent an attack that was about to happen, Pompeo looked in the rear-view mirror to the end of 2019. “We know what happened at the end of last year, in December, ultimately leading up to the death of an American,” Pompeo said, referring to a contractor who was killed by rocket fire in the Kirkuk province of Iraq shortly after Christmas. The administration has blamed this attack on militias directed by Iran. “So if you’re lookin’ for imminence,” Pompeo added, “you needn’t look no further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against Soleimani.”
Watch the exchange below:
Pompeo cites past events to justify Trump claims of an "imminent" threat pic.twitter.com/dZhpTEFXAX
— Tim Dickinson (@7im) January 7, 2020
As to an actual future threat posed by the Iranian general, Pompeo was mealy mouthed. He could not point to a ticking-time-bomb scenario, as Trump had on January 3rd, describing looming “attacks on American diplomats and military personnel,” and insisting the U.S. had “caught him in the act.” Instead, Pompeo described a generalized threat that potentially — not definitely — put U.S. interests at risk. “And then you, in addition to that, have what we could clearly see were continuing efforts by this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead — potentially — to the death of many more Americans,” Pompeo said.
Despite undermining the administration’s justification for the assassination with his doublespeak, Pompeo concluded that the president had an “entirely legal” and “appropriate” basis for ordering the drone strike on the second most powerful figure in the government of Iran, an act of war for which the Iranian government has vowed harsh retribution. “It was the right decision,” Pompeo said. “We got it right.”