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WH briefing: “sophomoric and utterly unconvincing” about reasons for assassinating Suleimani

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Pompeo, Esper, Milley, and Haspel did the classified briefing to the House and are now making the same presentation to the Senate. Responses broke along party lines.

“I believe this administration, after the fact, is trying to piece together a rationale for its action that was impulsive, reckless, and put this country’s security at risk.”

There’s confusion over Trump’s rationale for assassinating Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Confusion over Trump’s broader strategic goals. Confusion over whether Trump wants to appear militarily unhinged and threatening or restrained. And confusion over whether Trump is betraying his promise to avoid foreign entanglements or honoring it.
All this confusion traces back to one of Trump’s biggest lies: The idea that the Iran nuclear agreement constituted a wretched display of elite failure and American weakness, and that Trump has replaced it with an approach that’s “strong.”

Not just hitting dirt…

Jennifer Griffin @JenGriffinFNC Pentagon believes there was a political decision taken in Tehran NOT to kill Americans - that is why target at Al Asad chosen - large base with a lot of empty space. Even within that target, the Iranians chose to hit dirt rather than runways etc so as not to escalate militarily.

Pentagon believes there was a political decision taken in Tehran NOT to kill Americans – that is why target at Al Asad chosen – large base with a lot of empty space. Even within that target, the Iranians chose to hit dirt rather than runways etc so as not to escalate militarily.

  • The Pentagon does not believe cruise missiles were used. These were NOT the most state of the art Iranian missiles, according to a senior US military source. The flying time from Iran to Asad air base in Anbar is about 15 mins, I am told.
  • The US has Patriot missile batteries guarding strategic assets in Baghdad and guarding bases in the region: Kuwait, Qatar etc. NOT guarding Al Asad or Erbil bases. Most of Iran’s ballistic missiles are pointed at American bases in the Gulf – Qatar, UAE, Kuwait.
  • The US had repositioned its forces after the Soleimani killing from small outposts to the larger protected bases. The 82nd airborne which flew in from Ft Bragg remained in Kuwait because they were protected by a “Patriot missile defense shield umbrella,” I am told.
  • Also, in terms of the killing of Soleimani, this active duty military source who serves in the Pentagon said there was complete unity at the senior ranks of the defense department about killing Soleimani. “No one said it was a bad idea,” this source told me.
  • US military source: There was recognition that Iran would respond. There were preps made all the way up until the President’s speech this morning. The US military knew what was coming – “just did not know exact magnitude.” There was chatter that was intercepted ahead of time.
  • Pentagon believes there was a political decision taken in Tehran NOT to kill Americans – that is why target at Al Asad chosen – large base with a lot of empty space. Even within that target, the Iranians chose to hit dirt rather than runways etc so as not to escalate militarily.
  • US military source: The Iranian response was for domestic political consumption and designed to cause minimal damage, that according to the Pentagon’s latest assessment.
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