Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News on Sunday morning, where he directly blamed former President Barack Obama for the crisis over Iran now facing the Donald Trump administration. But a former top national security aide to Obama quickly lashed back at Pompeo.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo claimed that what he called “the Obama-Biden administration” had “acted as a quasi-ally” of the Iranian regime, “underwriting them” in activities that “killed Americans.”
Pompeo went on to claim that the Obama administration’s agreement with Iran to curtail that country’s nuclear weapons development program somehow provided Iran money to “build out those forces throughout the Shi’a Crescent.”
But former Obama national security aide Ben Rhodes, via Twitter, slammed Pompeo’s claim that Obama had financed militias that had “killed Americans.”
Rhodes ripped Pompeo’s claims as “a lie, offensive, obscene and an absolute disgrace.”
“This man and his boss have destroyed America’s reputation and made a shambles of Iran policy in part because of their pathetic obsession with Barack Obama who they will never, ever measure up to,” Rhodes wrote in his Sunday Twitter post.
Trump has made undoing many of Obama’s achievements a key focus of his own policies. According to various media reports, Trump’s order to assassinate Iranian military leader General Qassem Soleimani was motivated by Trump’s deep-seated desire to appear stronger than Obama.
A report by a New York Times terrorism correspondent on Saturday said that Trump made the decision to order Soleimani’s death based only on “razor thin” evidence. On Friday, Pompeo claimed that the strike on the Iranian military chief was necessary to prevent an “imminent” attack orchestrated by Soleimani, that according to the secretary of state would have cost “American lives.”
But according to the reporting by Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, the evidence that Soleimani had any such “imminent” attack in the works was nearly non-existent and based largely on Iran’s “bellicose” attitude toward confrontation with the United States.
Trump, however, has also adopted a highly aggressive tone in his statements and Twitter posts since the attack that killed the Iranian general on Thursday. On Saturday, Trump posted a tweet in which he claimed that the U.S. had “targeted” 52 sites in Iran, including some that are important to Iranian culture, according to a CNN report.
According to CNN, deliberately targeting cultural sites or other non-military entities constitutes a war crime. In 2012, the report noted, the International Criminal Court charged the leader of an Al-Qaeda affiliated terror group with war crimes after his organization destroyed a series of religious monuments in Mali.