Engel Statement on the White House’s Latest Justification for Soleimani Killing

Washington, Feb. 14, 2020—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:

“The administration has sent Congress a legally mandated report outlining its legal and policy justifications for the strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. This official report directly contradicts the President’s false assertion that he attacked Iran to prevent an imminent attack against United States personnel and embassies. The administration’s explanation in this report makes no mention of any imminent threat and shows that the justification the President offered to the American people was false, plain and simple.

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“To make matters worse, to avoid having to justify its actions to Congress, the administration falsely claims Congress had already authorized the strike under the 2002 Iraq war resolution. This legal theory is absurd. The 2002 authorization was passed to deal with Saddam Hussein. This law had nothing to do with Iran or Iranian government officials in Iraq. To suggest that 18 years later this authorization could justify killing an Iranian official stretches the law far beyond anything Congress ever intended. I was pleased to join many of my colleagues in voting to repeal the outdated Iraq war authorization, and I hope the Senate will follow suit. 

“The administration has dissembled on this issue for long enough. The decision to kill Soleimani escalated tensions with Iran and risked plunging us into a war with Iran that the American people don’t want and that Congress hasn’t authorized. This spurious, after-the-fact explanation won’t do. We need answers and testimony, so I look forward to Secretary Pompeo testifying before the committee at an open February 28 hearing on Iran and Iraq policy, including the Soleimani strike and war powers.”