Soleimani Killing Was Justified as a Military Target, Barr Says


(Bloomberg) -- The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was legally justified and President Donald Trump had the authority to order it, Attorney General William Barr said, adding that “the Department of Justice was consulted.”

“Frankly, I don’t think it was a close call,” Barr told reporters Monday. “I believe that the president clearly had the authority to act as he did on numerous different bases.”

Soleimani Killing Was Justified as a Military Target, Barr Says

Barr called debate in Congress over whether Soleimani was planning an imminent attack “something of a red herring.”

”I believe there was intelligence of an imminent attack,” Barr said. “I don’t think there’s a requirement, frankly, for knowing the exact time and place of the next attack, and that certainly was the position of the Obama administration when they droned leaders of terrorist organizations.”

Asked if Barr or other U.S. officials gave consideration to Soleimani’s standing as a senior official of the Iranian government, the attorney general said the general “was the head of a terrorist organization.”

“Military targets are appropriate, legitimate targets,” Barr said. He said “this was a legitimate act of self-defense because it disrupted ongoing attacks that were being conducted, a campaign against Americans, and it re-established deterrence.”

Soleimani, the leader of the elite Quds Force, was seen as directing Iranian moves in conflicts from Syria to Yemen. He was also accused by the U.S. of providing Iraqi-based militias technology on improved explosive devices used to kill and maim American forces.

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