Timing of threat from Soleimani 'doesn't really matter'

Tapper presses defense secretary on Iran intelligence

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said Qassem Soleimani was killed as part of a broader strategy of deterring challenges by U.S. foes that also applies to China and Russian Federation, further diluting the assertion that the top Iranian general was struck because he was plotting imminent attacks on U.S. targets.

The resolution, introduced by U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, "directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military" unless Congress has declared war or specifically authorized engaging in hostilities, or if "such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States". He later added that Soleimani "had more than that particular embassy" - in Baghdad - "in mind".

But U.S. lawmakers, including some Republicans as well as Democrats, have said the administration has failed to provide evidence that an attack was imminent.

"America now enjoys the greatest position of strength regarding Iran we've ever been in", he said, pointing to the damage done to the Iranian economy by USA sanctions that Trump re-imposed following his withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Asked whether there was specific evidence of embassy plots, he replied, "I didn't see one with regard to four embassies".

Arguing the strike was critical to a "bigger strategy" of "reestablishing deterrence" against Iran, Pompeo cited the "misery" he said Soleimani "nurtured" in the region and the deaths of hundreds of USA troops in Iraq. Trump also requested that he give the final sign-off before the military took action against Soleimani. 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.

The decision to closely surveil Soleimani would have allowed the U.S.to start tracking his movements more closely and collecting intelligence in the event that he one day became a target of opportunity - as the administration said he did in on the morning of January 3 in Baghdad - an operation which again required presidential approval, the official said.

He cited the resumption of lethal military aid to Ukraine for defense against Russia-backed separatists, Trump's withdrawal from an arms control accord with Moscow and tests of a new USA intermediate-range cruise missile. The president, however, said that such an attack would only follow the death of an American and at the time declined to order the attack.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the strike on Soleimani was aimed at stopping a "continuing upward spiral" of violence in the region.

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