Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stood strongly behind President Trump's decision to take out Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani on Thursday. The airstrike "saved American lives," he explained on CNN Friday morning.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the airstrike ordered to kill top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani "saved American lives." Pompeo said earlier this morning the decision to eliminate Soleimani was in response to "imminent threats to American lives." https://t.co/S9VYrZNDv9 pic.twitter.com/RL2eEQfGfq— CNN (@CNN) January 3, 2020
“He was actively plotting in the region to take actions – big action as he described it - that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk," Pompeo said of Soleimani.
Pompeo couldn’t get into the details on air, but he assured Americans that based on an intelligence-based assessment, the Pentagon knew that the military leader was planning another imminent attack. Soleimani had previously been involved in the Beirut bombings and orchestrated failed terror plots in Washington, D.C.
“This is a man who put American lives at risk for an awfully long time," Pompeo said. "Last night was the time that we needed to strike back.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren agreed the Trump administration had no choice but to strike. He emphasized just how dangerous Soleimani was in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt Friday morning.
"Qassem Soleimani is responsible for not tens of thousands of deaths, maybe hundreds of thousands of deaths in our region," Oren said. "He’s responsible for the displacement of millions. He is responsible for repeated efforts to kill Israelis, kill Americans, kill Arabs, certainly, and no figure in the Middle East, I think, is more deserving of the fate in which he received."
Yet, there are other leaders who condemned Thursday's airstrike. John Berman asked the secretary to respond to the Iraqi officials who have condemned the U.S. attack, as well as a French official who alleged on CNN Friday morning that the world is “less safe” following the killing of Soleimani.
“Yeah, well, the French are just wrong about that,” Pompeo said stonefaced. “The world’s a much safer place today. And I can assure you that Americans in the region are much safer today after the demise of Qassem Soleimani.”