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Trump urged to declassify justification for Soleimani killing in letter from Democrat leaders

'An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society'

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 06 January 2020 15:24 GMT
Senator Chuck Schumer says Congress should have been informed prior to strikes on Soleimani

Two powerful Democrats in the Senate are demanding that Donald Trump publicly release the notification he sent to Congress after the killing of a top Iranian general, which has raised concern of major armed conflict between the US and Iran in the Middle East.

In a letter to the president on Monday, senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez urged Mr Trump to release the notification, which is required under the US War Powers Resoluation.

"It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner," the pair wrote. "An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification."

The letter comes just days after Mr Trump approved a targeted airstrike against Soleimani, who was the leader of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, an elite branch of the Iranian military.

Mr Trump and his administration has since justified the attack by claiming that an "imminent" threat to American lives was present, and that killing the Iranian leader has made the world and region safer.

But critics have expressed concern that targeting such a high level official in the Iranian government could have been a step too far, with Democrats noting that a Sunday vote by the Iraqi parliament to expel American troops from the country shows that US security interests have already been damaged.

“We do not generally execute high-level political figures of sovereign nations, in part because we know that that opens a Pandora’s box that may expose American officials to assassination, but also because we know that ultimately that may get more Americans killed, as it likely will,” said Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator, on Sunday.

Iran has vowed harsh retaliation for the death of the general, whose body was met by tens of thousands of mourners in the street who chanted "death to America" when it was returned to Iran on Sunday.

Soleimani's successor, Esmail Ghaani, is among the high level Iranian officials to have threatened retaliation against the US, casting his predecessor as a martyr whose death must be honoured by forcing the United States out of the region.

"I promise to continue martyr Soleimani's cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid oc America from the region," he said on Monday on state television, according to Reuters.

He continued: "God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani's revenge. Certainly, actions will be taken."

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has threatened to strike back against Iran in a "disproportionate manner" if American citizens or infrastructure is targeted by Iran. In a tweet on Sunday, the president claimed that he was notifying Congress that the US would "quickly & fully strike back" if Iran attacked American targets.

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