Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee recently broke with the GOP on Donald Trump’s approach to Iran, noting the apparent lack of intelligence presented in the congressional briefing addressing the assassination of the country’s top general. During Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s State of the Union, Lee spoke to host Jake Tapper about the evidence that has been presented to justify the attack on Qassem Soleimani, Breitbart reports.
Tapper noted the shifting narratives pertaining to the reasoning behind the attack, from claims of an imminent attack to a report from The New York Times claiming that the president’s administration was planning Soleimani’s death for 18 months.
“How worried are you about the integrity of the information we’re being told?” Tapper asked.
“Well, I’m worried,” Lee responded. “And as a United States senator and as a voter and citizen, I have learned not to simply take the federal government’s word at face value.”
The 48-year-old Utah politician noted the lies that were used to justify the Iraq War, as well as those used to support military intervention in Afghanistan.
“We have been lied to about a lot of things. It’s not to say that the government is always lying or that the people who run it are inherently evil. It’s just that they’re human. And these things do happen. And so that’s important to ask these questions, to make sure that we know the details.”
Lee expressed his belief that Congress must be informed of intelligence before making a decision related to military action, noting Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
“I believe that the briefers and the President believe that they had a basis for concluding that there was an imminent attack... It’s just frustrating to be told that and not get the details behind it.” - GOP @SenMikeLee about intel on the strike against Soleimani. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/Tjn82vLSGa— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 12, 2020
Lee’s beliefs echo Paul’s, who also expressed his dismay with the intelligence briefing on Soleimani. The Kentucky senator appeared on NBC News’ Meet the Press Sunday and continued to push for a “full-throated” debate on future military action against Iran in Congress. He also claimed that Trump’s recent actions were the result of pressure from Washington war hawks that have the president’s attention.
Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson has also been critical of the intelligence used to justify attacks on Iran, pointing to the Trump administration’s previous distrust of the intelligence community. Much like Lee, he noted the false justifications that drove the Iraq War — pushed by cable news outlets — and said these claims undermined the strength of the U.S.
Carlson’s comments were in stark contrast to many of his fellow Fox News commentators who appeared to flip in their previous distrust of the intelligence community.