It’s now two days after the attack that transformed Islamist thug and mass murderer Qasem Soleimani from terrorist a$$hole, body double for the Dos Equis spokesman, and heartthrob of New York Times reporters of all sexes, genders, and inclinations…
(seriously, can you believe this? She’s practically having a case of thigh-sweats over this guy)
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020
…into a blob of unprocessed Soylent Green:
Leader of terrorist, United States of America has to hold on Corpse of #Soleimani until you pay for missiles they use on him, same as your terrorists ask for price of Bullets they shot at body of IRANIAN people to give them back to there family’s. pic.twitter.com/Y4EZFa8Tm1
— BABAK (@babak22222) January 3, 2020
To say that the left is united in its defense of the dead terrorist is an understatement. The nefarious nature of the killing of Soleimani is rapidly achieving cult status equivalent to the Russia Hoax.
For a case study to see how major media, like the New York Times, and foreign-influenced communications outlets, in this case, the Qatar-owned and very Iran-friendly LawfareBlog, collaborate to turn specious rumors into gospel and catnip for the left and NeverTrump take a look at this. Here is New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi spinning up the tale.
1. I’ve had a chance to check in with sources, including two US officials who had intelligence briefings after the strike on Suleimani. Here is what I’ve learned. According to them, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is “razor thin”.
This is patent nonsense. The person, to the extent that the person exists and is not actually Adam Schiff, was briefed AFTER the attack. That would mean that they would know things that were not available to planners. Plus, the ecosystem would have received the impact of the killing of Soleimani. Beyond that, intel is often, maybe even usually, “razor thin.” But that judgment is in the eye of the beholder, it is not a technical standard.
2. In fact the evidence pointing to that came as three discrete facts: a) A pattern of travel showing Suleimani was in Syria, Lebanon & Iraq to meet with Shia proxies known to have an offensive position to the US. (As one source said that’s just “business as usual” for Suleimani)
3. More intriguing was b) information indicating Suleimani sought the Supreme Leader’s approval for an operation. He was told to come to Tehran for consultation and further guidance, suggesting the operation was a big deal – but again this could be anything.
4. And finally, a) and b) were read in the context of c) Iran’s increasingly bellicose position towards American interests in Iraq, including the attack that killed a U.S. contractor and the recent protest outside the American embassy.
Again, we can’t evaluate the veracity of the alleged source to the extent that the source exists and we can’t vouch for what the alleged source was told. Were they briefed on highly classified HUMINT or SIGINT information? Reading these happenings in the context of increased Iranian proxy harassment of US forces and facilities, the murder of a US citizen by them, and a mob action on the US embassy was very logical.
5. But as one source put it a) + b) + c) is hardly evidence of an imminent attack on American interests that could kill hundreds, as the White House has since claimed. The official describes the reading of the intelligence as an illogical leap.
Again, we don’t know diddly squat about the source and their experience in making decisions based on real-time intelligence. What we do know is that it is very easy to shoot your mouth off when you bear zero responsibility for the outcome. Given the spectre of Benghazi, this source was either profoundly stupid or so eaten up with Stage-5 TDS that it made them incapable of thought.
6. One official described the planning for the strike as chaotic. The official says that following the attack on an Iraqi base which killed an American contractor circa Dec. 27, Trump was presented a menu of options for how to retaliate. Killing Suleimani was the “far out option”
There is very little reason to believe that a person who was so out of the loop that they were not briefed on the operation until after the fact would have any way of knowing if the planning was chaotic or not. The planning for strikes is not done by Washington policymakers unless you want to replicate Benghazi and the rise of ISIS. For that matter, one of the defining features of fast-moving tactical operations is a bit of chaos. The test is whether the chaos has a detrimental impact on performance. Here, chaos or no, a masterful operation was pulled off.
7. Trump chose a more moderate option which involved the Dec. 29 strikes on the positions of an Iranian-backed militia. Then came the protest at the gates of the US embassy in Baghdad
Trump Aides Call U.S. Strikes on Iraq and Syria ‘Successful,’ Warn of Potential Further Action
8. It was after the embassy protests that the president, according to one US official, chose the Suleimani option, but the problem at that point in time is that American intelligence did not know his precise whereabouts. They scrambled to locate him, says the official.
This last factoid is directly contradicted in other accounts appearing today.
9. According to the official, the strike on Suleimani was pulled together so quickly that initially the US was not sure PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was in the convoy. He was also killed and is also viewed as an Iranian proxy:
Consider the utter stupidity of this last statement. The kill order is given. The drone is positioned. Soleimani arrives. Convoy departs. Attack. There is no way anyone would have known who was in the convoy until the welcome committee for Soleimani arrived at Baghdad International Airport. By that time the operational sequence was in motion and if Mother Teresa had gotten in the wrong SUV she would have been a goner.
10. Since the strike, Iran has convened its national security chiefs. Chatter intercepted by American intelligence indicates they’re considering a range of options. Cyberattacks, attacks on oil facilities and American personnel and diplomatic outposts have all been cited so far.
11. But among the “menu options” that I had not heard before were: (1) kidnapping and execution of American citizens. (This might explain why the State Department has ordered the evacuation of all US citizens in Iraq, not just government and embassy employees).
This last item is a stunner. The kidnapping and execution of American citizens by Iranian proxies is not new. In 1984, Lebanese Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, kidnapped the CIA’s Beirut chief of station, Bill Buckley, held him for a year and then executed him. In 1989, Marine Colonel Rich Higgins who was Chief, Observer Group Lebanon and Senior Military Observer, United Nations Military Observer Group was kidnapped, again by Lebanese Hezbollah. Like Buckley, he was held for about a year, extensively tortured, and executed. The fact that this twit has never heard of the tactic is more of a testimony to her lack of competence and intellectual curiosity than it is any new reaction to Soleimani being killed.
12. Another is attacks on American diplomatic and military outposts not just in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, but as far afield as UAE and Bahrain. The official I spoke to was particularly concerned for American troops stationed in Iraq, some of whom are co-located with Shia militias
What genius or collection of geniuses thought that the US sending advisers to Shia militias who are all going to be directly or indirectly controlled by Iran was a good idea.?
— Duffel Blog (@DuffelBlog) February 16, 2018
13. How does this impact the war against ISIS? I turned to @Mikeknightsiraq for insight. He’s studied Iraq since the 1990s. What he told me is that months before the strike that killed Suleimani, the tensions with Iran had already degraded America’s ability to fight ISIS in Iraq:
ISIS is finished. A better question was always why were we concerned about fighting ISIS beyond the obvious virtue signaling?
14. In 2019, America has been denied airspace and access to operations in Iraq to go after ISIS at the behest of Iran-backed groups. The US has also been told to stop communicating with Sunni tribes. These are important setbacks that have already weakened the US’ posture in Iraq
Wait…if we were denied access to airspace how did US Marines fly from Kuwait to Baghdad? How did we drone-strike Soleimani? How did we carry out strikes of those five militia locations that caused the riot at our embassy?
15. “It’s all been downhill,” @Mikeknightsiraq told me, in terms of America’s access to the ISIS battlespace in recent months due to Iranian pressure on Iraqi officials. One upshot? US special operations forces have been on the offensive in Diyala, Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces
16. A likely outcome of the recent strike is that small, out-of-the-way outposts for special operations forces will be deemed too vulnerable and will be eliminated. Fighting ISIS is no longer the priority if the outer wall of the US embassy is being attacked.
And now to straight on bullsh**.
17. Before I go back to the pool let me just say the obvious: No one’s trying to downplay Suleimani’s crimes. The question is why now? His whereabouts have been known before. His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret. Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.
This is nonsense. Probably 10 people outside political Washington and major media newsrooms care about impeachment. All the numbers are moving in Trump’s direction. The last thing Trump needed with his base was anything that could be seen as an expansion of Forever War. See this reaction by Tucker Carlson.
No serious person thinks Trump is in danger from any Senate trial. The very last thing that he needed to do to fight impeachment was to splatter Soleimani over a few hundred square feet of Bahgdad asphalt.
The argument Trump blew up Soleimani because of impeachment doesn't make sense because of the timing. Nothing is happening right now. There are no hearings, the articles already passed, the trial's weeks away. It's hard to be a distraction when there's nothing to distract from.
— Varad Mehta (@varadmehta) January 4, 2020
But how does this play out?
Qatar’s pet blog that kept the Russia Hoax alive immediately glommed onto one bit of this Twitter thread. I say Qatar’s pet blog because LawfareBlog is a project of Brookings Institute which receives a lion’s share of its funding from Iran’s outpost in the Arab world, Qatar.
I'm seeing a few people say that this interesting thread shows that the attacks were unlawful. Perhaps, but the US has since 9/11, all three administrations, embraced a very stretchy principle of “imminence.” Congress has done nothing in response. https://t.co/xD1QTlT8iQ
— Jack Goldsmith (@jacklgoldsmith) January 4, 2020
This is dumb in a lot of ways. The most critical being that the Administration has already stated that it had the authority under Trump’s Article II powers and that it will comply with the War Powers Resolution which requires the President to notify Congress within 48-hours AFTER hostilities. This is why I really do suspect that Callimachi “official” was Adam Schiff or Eric Swalwell or some similarly odious creature. Be that as it may, “imminent” is the President’s call and there is no provision, other than Congress passing a law, to keep the President from defining imminent as he damn well pleases.
Then Goldsmith’s Igor, Susan Hennessey went to work spinning out more fatuous tripe.
Pompeo told CNN "We watched the intelligence flow in that talked about Soleimani's travels in the region and the work that he was doing to put Americans further at risk" and said "and it was time to take this action so that we could disrupt this plot." https://t.co/Dpc1hsqADS
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) January 4, 2020
We can debate the wisdom of Obama DOJ arguments over Awlaki etc, but it didn't lie to the public and Congress by pretending a specific new plot necessitated urgent action. To the contrary, it took pains to justify why the actual facts fit the legal theory.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) January 4, 2020
Bottom line is this is now an urgent credibility crisis of the administration's own making. The only way to resolve it is to fully brief at a minimum the Gang of Eight on all underlying intelligence so they can provide oversight clarity and bipartisan assurance.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) January 4, 2020
This is stunning. We’ve gone from an unknown “official” who had nothing to do with evaluating the pre-strike intelligence, and who had no skin in the game if the US embassy was sacked, and opining that it was “razor thin,” to accusing Mike Pompeo of lying about the way the White House perceived the threat before the strike. This is crazy. This is irresponsible. This is trash analysis and trashier commentary.
But this is the state of journalism during the Trump Administration. It epitomizes the #FakeNews ethos and demonstrates why President Trump is totally correct in classifying these clowns as “enemies of the people.”