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Shifting rationales: White House memo says Soleimani strike was ‘response’ to past attacks instead of ‘imminent’ threat
The US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general was ordered in retaliation for previous attacks, the White House said in a memo, contradicting earlier claims that an imminent threat justified the assassination.
Now over a month removed from the targeted killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the White House on Friday has offered yet another rationale for the operation, the latest in a series of alternating arguments offered by the president and Pentagon officials.
“The president directed this action in response to an escalating series of attacks in preceding months by Iran and Iran-backed militias on United States forces and interests in the Middle East,” the memo said.
While the document notes that the assassination was meant to “protect” American troops and “deter Iran” from future attacks, US President Donald Trump previously maintained Soleimani was killed specifically “because they were looking to blow up our embassy” – later expanding the alleged Iranian plot to four American Embassies. Defense Secretary Mark Esper initially questioned that assertion, telling CBS “I didn’t see [a threat] to four embassies,” but eventually came around to “the president’s view,” all the while providing no evidence for any of the conflicting accounts.