On Tuesday, the White House stated it is considering the possibility of declassifying information showing the necessity for the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, that an imminent attack planned on American forces was deterred by the airstrike.
As The Daily Mail reports, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters he was “taking a look at” whether intelligence provoking President Trump’s order to kill Soleimani would be declassified. He stated that Soleimani was “planning to kill, to attack American facilities and diplomats. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who were located at those facilities.”
O’Brien also appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, where he asserted, “The president believes that weakness is provocative, and I think we have seen that throughout history. It’s something that’s been a cornerstone of President Trump’s foreign policy and national security policy … Soleimani and the Iranian regime knew exactly what they were doing. And what I think they did is they underestimated the president and his restraint.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed the perspective of the necessity for the airstrike, telling reporters at a State Department press briefing:
There’s been much made about this question of intelligence and imminence; I answered it multiple times on Sunday. I’m happy to walk through it again. Any time a president makes a decision of this magnitude, there are multiple pieces of information that come before us. We presented that to him in all its broad detail; we gave him all the best information that came out from the intelligence community but from those of us who have teams in the field.
We evaluated the relevant risks and the opportunity that might present itself at some point and we could see clearly that not only had Soleimani done all of the things that we have recounted, hundreds of thousands massacred in Syria, enormous destruction of countries like Lebanon and Iraq; where they’ve denied them sovereignty and the Iranians have really denied people in those two countries what they want; sovereignty, independence and freedom; this is all Soleimani’s handiwork. And then we’d watch as he was continuing the terror campaign in the region.
We know what happened at the end of the year last year in December, ultimately leading to the death of an American. So if you’re looking for imminence, you needn’t look further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against Soleimani. And then, you in addition to that have what we can clearly see; were continuing efforts on behalf of this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans. It was the right decision; we got it right. The Department of Defense did excellent work and the president had an entirely legal, appropriate and a basis as well as a decision that fit perfectly within our strategy and how to counter the threat of malign activity from Iran more broadly.
Video of Pompeo below: