Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani was planing a series of “imminent” attacks against the United States, but he could not say where or when they were going to take place.
The Trump administration is under fire for the attack that killed the Iranian general, which critics describe as an assassination. Trump was accused of leading a poorly planned mission that did not seem to take into account what would happen next and was based on flimsy evidence against Soleimani.
Pompeo pushed back against those assertions in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday, saying there was evidence that Iran was planning a strike against American interests — though he could not give any more details than that.
“There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks being plotted by Qassem Soleimani,” Pompeo said, as reported by the The Hill. “We don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real.”
Iran launched a series of missile strikes against Iraqi military bases that housed U.S. troops after the killing of Soleimani, but did not cause any casualties to either American or allied troops. There has been wider fallout in the wake of the attack, however, including the Iraqi parliament voting to expel American troops from their country.
Many in the United States have pushed back against what they perceive to be a weak rationale for the killing of Soleimani. After U.S. Senators were briefed on the attack this week by intelligence officials, many on both sides of the aisle said the Trump administration was unable to articulate a reason for the killing. Two Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky — offered sharp criticism against the administration for their drastic action.
As CBS News noted, Lee said it was the “worst briefing” he had ever received on a military operation and called out the Trump administration for telling the Senate they can’t debate the decision to take military intervention against Iran.
“They’re appearing before a coordinate branch of government, a coordinate branch of government responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might undertake,” Lee said. “And they had to leave after 75 minutes while they’re in the process of telling us we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane. I think it’s unacceptable.”
Lee added that he would back a resolution from Democratic Senator Tim Kaine to limit Trump’s military actions against Iran.