The always-changing justification for the timing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s assassination has taken another turn.
According to a new report from NBC News, President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to take out Soleimani seven months ago. The directive came with one stipulation: Trump would have to give the final OK before a specific plan to kill Soleimani could begin.
Of course, this new information flies in the face of the “imminent” threat against the U.S. that Trump and others in his administration have stated as a rationale for the strike, and this development might give some clarity as to why we’ve seen a mess of contradictions emanating from the White House justifying the assassination.
Trump rejected a recommendation to kill Soleimani in June from then-national security adviser John Bolton after Iran shot down a U.S. drone because, according to the report, Trump’s redline for taking out Soleimani was the killing of an American by Iranian backed forces.
Was the direction to strike Soleimani based on the death of an American defense contractor who was killed in a December rocket attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq? If so, the strike then appears to have been retaliatory rather than to preempt an attack.
If NBC’s reporting is correct, it contradicts the thus far unsubstantiated claims of an “imminent” threat. And it raises the risk that the assassination of Soleimani was a violation of international law. The report adds to the confusion created when Trump claimed four U.S. embassies had been under threat, even though others in his administration have contradicted him. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he “didn’t see” a potential threat “with regard to four embassies.” And lawmakers who received a classified briefing on the strike heard nothing about those same threats.
Another reason Trump may have decided to kill Soleimani emerged over the past week when the New York Times and Wall Street Journal separately reported that Trump may have ordered the strike to shore up support with Republican senators whom the president will need on his side as the impeachment trial draws nearer.
Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence added even more nonsense to the aftermath of the strike on Soleimani by falsely claiming that the general had connections to both Benghazi and 9/11.
As with so many controversies that have come with this presidency, the multiple and contradictory have so muddied the waters that the media and news consumers may just give up on trying to understand. But this incident has the potential to bring us to war, so it is of vital importance that we get to the truth. America has been down the road of false information leading to conflicts in the Middle East, causing the loss of lives and stability in the region. America cannot let Donald Trump lead us into war based on his trademark lies and disinformation.