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Tapper presses defense secretary on Iran intelligence US media: Questions on basis for Soleimani killing
Deanna Wagner | 14 January, 2020, 12:38

Iran eventually retaliated via missile attacks on Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, but the strikes appeared created to avoid casualties and further escalation. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-national security advisor John Bolton pushed Trump to follow this course of retaliation. Levin said he is "entirely unconvinced" an imminent threat necessitated Soleimani's death.

And that is exactly what Soleimani did last month when his terrorist proxies attacked an Iraqi airbase, killing one US contractor and injuring four American servicemen.

Trump has maintained that the drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad was necessary to stop imminent attacks against Americans in the Middle East. But he did not specify how many embassies the USA believed were in Iran's sights.

Pressed on whether there was a piece of intelligence that showed Martyr Suleimani wanted to attack USA embassies, Mr. Esper said: "I didn't see one with regard to four embassies".

Later on Friday, during an interview with Fox News, Trump got more specific than any other official had in public, saying he believed four embassies would have been targeted.

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"What the president said was that there probably could be additional attacks against embassies".

Christopher Levi says he sees justice in the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani by a USA airstrike.

In mid-October Soleimani instructed his Shia militia allies in Iraq to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated weapons provided by Iran, according to news reports. With it now known that Trump gave his approval of the attack in June, this rationale continues to crumble. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he did not see specific evidence that Iran was planning an attack on embassies, during a Sunday interview on CBS's "Face the Nation", but felt it was likely.

His look into the rear-view mirror squared up with the revelation Monday that, according to an official familiar with the situation, the USA intelligence community began watching Soleimani more closely last spring as Soleimani escalated a campaign to counter increased pressure from the United States. Gen Qassem Soleimani's killing this month, said several White House officials. Barr said Soleimani was a "legitimate military target" and the strike was a "legitimate act of self-defense".

The attorney general said he did not believe there was any "requirement" of having the timing of a next attack, and that Soleimani was "clearly a legitimate military target" based on Iran's escalating acts of aggression in recent months.