There's been a number of theories to emerge surrounding President Trump's incredibly risky decision to assassinate IRGC Guds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, including that it was all the brainchild of hawkish Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
But an emerging reporting consensus does indicate that the public justification for the strike — that Soleimani posed an "imminent" threat as he was orchestrating an attack against American troops and sites in the region — was manufactured based on flimsy intelligence. The evolving and contradictory statements within the administration itself demonstrates at least this much.
And now according to the latest NBC bombshell it's becoming clear that the top IRGC general's killing was actually months in the works:
President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran's increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials.
Apparently the "option" to take him out was already on the "menu" of Pentagon contingencies long before Soleimani's fateful Jan.3 early morning passage through Baghdad International Airport.
Reports NBC based on multiple officials, "The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said."
The Dec.27 Kataeb Hezbollah rocket attack on a US base in Kirkuk then became a core element of the official rationale, given it killed an American contractor later identified as 33-year old Sacramento resident Nawres Waleed Hamid, who had been assisting the Army as a linguist.
The new report confirms further that it was both National Security Advisor at the time John Bolton as well as Mike Pompeo that had Trump's ear on the subject.
"There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time" related to bold steps to curtail Iranian aggression, a senior administration official told NBC, which reports further:
The president's message was "that's only on the table if they hit Americans," according to a person briefed on the discussion.
The origins of the plan to assassinate the top IRGC elite force general and popular "national hero" inside Iran actually evolved initially out of 2017 discussions involving Trump's national security adviser at the time, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
The report explains:
The idea of killing Soleimani came up in discussions in 2017 that Trump's national security adviser at the time, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was having with other administration officials about the president's broader national security strategy, officials said. But it was just one of a host of possible elements of Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran and "was not something that was thought of as a first move," said a former senior administration official involved in the discussions.
The idea did become more serious after McMaster was replaced in April 2018 by Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk and advocate for regime change in Tehran. Bolton left the White House in September — he said he resigned, while Trump said he fired him — following policy disagreements on Iran and other issues.
So there it is: Bolton's ultra-hawkish influence is still in effect at the White House.
Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran's malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 3, 2020
And the torch is being carried further by Mike Pompeo.
But again while none of this should come as a surprise, it's yet further proof on top of a growing body of evidence that Washington is yet again telling bald-faced lies to the public about a major event that could lead America straight back into another disastrous Middle East quagmire.