Donald Trump claims that his authorization of the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani came after discovering Soleimani was planning an attack on Americans in the Middle East. Now, James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, is cautioning Americans to be skeptical of Trump’s claim, Newsweek reports.
“Soleimani himself didn’t plant IEDs [improvised explosive devices],” Clapper said during a Monday appearance on CNN. “He didn’t himself launch rocket attacks against American personnel or facilities. So to me it is a bit of a stretch that by doing this they thwarted an imminent attack, because attacks are carried out — typically under Soleimani — by proxies, that is Shia militias in Iraq. So that’s hard to believe.”
Notably, Clapper served under President Barack Obama’s administration and was accused of perjury in 2013. Regardless, he believes Americans should remain skeptical of the Trump administration’s explanation of the recent drone strike, noting the intelligence assurances made by George W. Bush’s administration to invade Iraq that turned out to be untrue.
“Skepticism is in order here,” Clapper said.
The 78-year-old retired lieutenant general continued to highlight Trump’s history of assaulting the credibility of the intelligence community, which he and his allies now appear to be leaning on to justify their killing of Soleimani.
“The president has spent the last three years discrediting the very intelligence community that produced this intelligence,” Clapper said, noting that Trump’s assault on the intelligence community is going to “come back to haunt.”
Clapper noted that the Trump administration did not accept the intelligence community’s findings on Russian meddling or North Korea’s determination not to denuclearize — claims he says were true — but now supports intelligence that aligns with the administration’s position.
“So I think, again, a bit of a credibility challenge here for the administration,” Clapper said.
As The Inquisitr reported, Trump’s shift in his views on the intelligence community has spread to his Fox News allies. While allies like Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, Brian Kilmeade, and Pete Hegseth have traditionally echoed Trump’s criticisms of the “deep state” in the past, they have reportedly changed their tune and appear to now be trusting the intelligence community to support the president’s claims.
As for the intelligence used to make the controversial attack authorization, New York Times terrorism correspondent Rukmini Callimach reported that such evidence was allegedly “razor thin,” and the killing of Soleimani was reportedly not a first-choice course of action. However, after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Trump allegedly changed gears and decided that eliminating the top Iranian general was warranted.