On Friday’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Chris Wallace the anchor of “Fox News Sunday,” pointed out both former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not order Quds Force Supreme Commander Qasem Soleimani be killed in an airstrike when they had the opportunity to do so.
Wallace said, “Both President Obama and President Bush had the options at several points to take out Soleimani, and they decided as much as they hated him, not to do that because they were worried how the Iranians would respond to that. That is the concern. They talked about harsh retaliation, what form will not take? Will there be military strikes? Will there be terror attacks? Iran has a very sophisticated cyber capability.
Could they be cyber attacks on the U.S. homeland? If this is the kind of strike that finally gets Tehran’s attention and they pulled back, that’s a great message for the U.S. On the other hand, if they simply escalate and respond to our escalation with another one of their own, people will have to decide how far we want to take this.”
Fact Check: Iran’s Qassem Soleimani Responsible For Hundreds Of American Deaths
CLAIM: The U.S. Department of Defense claimed Thursday evening that Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani, killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, “was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.”
On Friday morning local time, the U.S. attacked vehicles carrying Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Al-Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani directed Iranian military operations abroad, including terror. Most recently, he is thought to have directed rocket attacks last week that killed an American civilian contractor in Iraq. Last year, President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization — an acknowledgment of reality.
As the New Yorker — hardly a pro-Trump or neoconservative publication — reported in a 2013 profile of Solemani:
Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”
In 2011, the Obama administration sanctioned Soleimani for his role in plotting a foiled terror attack in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with the aim of assassinating the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.
Despite that attempted attack, and while acknowledging Soleimani’s role in terror, Obama believed appeasing Iran was the best approach. After Soleimani defied international sanctions by traveling to Russia in 2015, Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, said:
You mentioned Mr. Soleimani. He, in particular, is someone who has been subject to U.S. sanctions for quite some time because of the effort that he has undertaken to support terrorist organizations around the world. And again, I can’t confirm these specific reports, but it is an indication of our ongoing concerns with Iran and their behavior and, in the mind of the President, makes it all that more important that we pursue the best available strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And that’s exactly what the President believes this diplomatic agreement [the Iran nuclear deal] is.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech shortly thereafter that despite the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. would continue use sanctions on the IRGC and Soleimani — but stopped short of calling the IRGC a terrorist organization:
[W]e will continue to push back against the destabilizing activities of Iran; defending our interests and our allies against Iranian aggression; speaking out against anti-Semitism, Iran’s human rights abuses and demand the release of people illegally held; and continue to sanction and maintain sanctions on any entities, including the IRGC and Soleimani and others — who support and engage in destabilization.
Under Obama’s deal with Iran, international sanctions on Soleimani would have expired after eight years. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pointed out that weakness, noting that Soleimani :has more blood of American service members on his hands than any living terrorist. Under this agreement, the sanctions [on] General Soleimani are lifted.”
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