Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr said Monday that killing Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was part of a larger strategy of deterrence, a shift from the Trump administration’s previous rationale that the strike was carried out to prevent an “imminent” attack.
Barr’s comments were particularly noteworthy as he attempted to push back on criticism over the administration’s claim that Soleimani was planning attacks that posed an imminent threat, calling the concept “something of a red herring.”
I believe there was intelligence of imminent attack, but I do believe that concept of imminence is something of a red herring,” he said during a press conference on last month’s deadly shooting at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.
“I think when you’re dealing with a situation where you already have attacks underway, you know there is a campaign that involves repeated attacks on American targets, I don’t think there’s a requirement frankly for, you know, knowing the exact time and place of the next attack. And that certainly was the position of the Obama when it droned leaders of terrorist organizations,” Barr added.
Pompeo, who has leaned heavily on the assertion that intelligence showed an imminent threat, did not mention that reasoning Monday during a speech at the Stanford’s Hoover Institute.
“I want to lay this out in context of what we’ve been trying to do. There’s a bigger strategy to this,” the top US diplomat said. “President Trump and those of us in his national security team are re-establishing deterrence — real deterrence ‒ against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”