House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a Thursday night airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani wasn’t authorized by Congress.
“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement after the Pentagon confirmed the strike had killed Soleimani. The Quds Force—which reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei—is a unit within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that serves to gather intelligence and supports Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and a variety of Shia militia groups in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress,” Pelosi added.
The speaker said that the incident could provoke “further dangerous escalation of violence” and added that “America–and the world–cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.”
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the strike was necessary because it was carried out in response to “imminent threats to American lives.”
Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions … that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk,” Pompeo told CNN.
On Friday morning, President Donald Trump wrote that the general has killed or wounded thousands of Americans over the years.
What’s more, Soleimani “was plotting to kill many more…but got caught” and “was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number,” Trump said on Twitter. “While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago,” he wrote.
And several of Trump’s allies in Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the White House’s move.
Soleimani “had American blood on his hands,” and he welcomed what he called Trump’s “bold action against Iranian aggression,” Graham wrote.
“To the Iranian government: If you want more, you will get more,” Graham said.
Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, a longtime hawk on Iran, issued “congratulations” to the Trump administration for the strike on Twitter, adding that he hoped “this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.”