Cunningham calls for facts from Trump Administration on U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - First District Congressman Joe Cunningham says Congress needs to see intelligence the Trump Administration relied on when it carried out a strike that killed an Iranian general.

The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran. Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed its top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East.

President Trump says the commander was “plotting to kill" many Americans.

Cunningham’s office released this statement Friday afternoon:

Last night’s airstrike was unprecedented with incalculable consequences that will play out over the coming days, weeks, and months. Given the immense gravity of this situation, Congress needs to hear from the Administration about the intelligence that led to this airstrike and how it fits into our broader strategy to counter Iran’s destabilizing presence in the region, consolidate our gains in Iraq, and combat violent extremism. Soleimani was a brutal killer responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans, but his death is not a substitute for thoughtful foreign policy. Without a full account of the facts on the ground, whether or not the Administration acted within its authority in carrying out this strike remains in question. However, this much is clear: the Administration cannot take any action that will bring us closer to a conflict with Iran without the consent of Congress. Right now, our top priority must be preventing further escalation and protecting the lives of American servicemembers and diplomats overseas.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that the U.S. killed Iran’s top military commander to disrupt an “imminent” attack orchestrated by him.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said it reached a decision on how to respond, but the council isn’t saying what the decision is.

A brief statement after a special session Friday says the council investigated the airstrike and “is announcing that the United States of America is responsible for all consequences of this criminal adventure.”

Graham: Soleimani ‘had American blood on his hands’

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham thanked Trump for “standing up for America” in comments Thursday night provided by his office, saying he appreciated the president’s “bold action against Iranian aggression.”

“To the Iranian government: If you want more, you will get more,” Graham said. “Wow – the price of killing and injuring Americans has just gone up drastically. Major blow to Iranian regime that has American blood on its hands. Soleimani was one of the most ruthless and vicious members of the Ayatollah’s regime. He had American blood on his hands.”

Graham said the action was in direct response to Iranian aggression orchestrated by Soleimani and his proxies.

“If Iran continues to attack America and our allies, they should pay the heaviest of prices, which includes the destruction of their oil refineries,” Graham said. He warned Iran that if the country wants to stay in the oil business, it should leave America and American allies alone “and stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.