MOUNTING TENSIONS WITH IRAN: Congress Concerned About Trump’s Sudden Moves, Warn Against War

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Lawmakers from both parties in Congress demanded more information on the White House’s claims of rising threats in the Middle East, warning President Donald Trump off a dangerous escalation with Iran.

The top leaders in Congress — the so-called Gang of Eight— are to receive a classified briefing from the administration on Thursday. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House has resisted a wider presentation for all lawmakers, part of what Democrats say is a pattern of stonewalling. Some Republicans, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, sought out their own briefings as the administration called U.S. personnel home from Iraq and sent military might to the Persian Gulf, claiming unspecified threats linked to Iran.

Pelosi said Trump has “no business” moving toward a Middle East confrontation without approval from Congress.

“We have to avoid any war with Iran,” she told fellow Democrats in a meeting, according to a person in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss comments from the private gathering.

On Wednesday, the U.S. ordered all non-essential personnel to leave Iraq, and last week an aircraft carrier group and other resources were shifted to the Persian Gulf region. In public and in private, officials are sticking by the administration’s warnings of serious threats from Iranian-backed forces in the region, yet they reject the idea that the U.S. moves are a prelude to war. Trump himself denied a report Tuesday that the administration had reviewed a plan to send 120,000 troops.

Still, the actions are exposing skepticism in the U.S. and among foreign allies, a legacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was based on false intelligence. U.S. officials have not publicly provided any evidence to back up claims of an increased Iranian threat.

“Congress has not authorized war with Iran, and the administration, if it were contemplating military action with Iran, must come to Congress to seek approval,” said Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said he had never seen anything like the “non-answers” coming from the administration.

Republicans — and even some Democrats — who have been briefed said the threats are legitimate.

The chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, said that based on the information he received he supports the administration actions, including the repositioning of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

“The threat is real,” said Democrat Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But, he said, “The administration is doing a dreadful job of consulting with Congress and keeping the vast majority of members of Congress informed about what’s happening.”

And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the information he’s seen shows “by far the single most imminent potential conflict of this significance” in his eight years in Congress. He said, “The intelligence is unmistakable and clear, and it’s backed by observable movement on the ground.”

Still, Romney expressed support for the Senate Democrats’ request for more information in a classified briefing, and Risch said a broader briefing for senators, perhaps next week, was “in the works.”

Romney said it’s “inconceivable” that Trump would start a conflict with Iran. “There’s no appetite for going to war in the Middle East,” he told reporters.

State Department officials said threats in the region were credible and based on intelligence showing Iranian-backed militias had been moving personnel and weaponry as well as stepping up surveillance of U.S. and U.S.-affiliated facilities in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

They pushed back against speculation that the decision to bring nonessential personnel home from Iraq was a prelude to military conflict. There is no U.S. desire for war, said one official, who had returned earlier Wednesday from Europe with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Several Democrats pinned the sudden moves in part on national security adviser John Bolton, known for his hawkish views. Some have suggested Pompeo and Bolton don’t see eye-to-eye on the U.S. strategy, and Trump found it necessary to comment on that.

“There is no infighting whatsoever,” he tweeted Wednesday. “All sides, views, and policies are covered,” and he reserves the “decisive and final decision,” he said.

“I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,” he said, without elaboration.

Earlier this year, Congress forced Trump into the first veto of his administration over a resolution that passed the House and Senate to halt U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The people inside the administration who are trying to start a war know that if they have this conversation in an open and transparent way, there will be very substantial pushback from both parties and both houses of Congress.”

Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who is a former CIA officer, said the administration’s information on Iran is highly sensitive and by nature cannot be shared with a wide audience.

“When you get such credible intelligence that leads to major decisions like rerouting aircraft carriers, it’s important that the way the information is collected is not damaged,” Hurd said. “You need to protect sources and methods.”

Pelosi warned that the administration cannot rely on the most recent use-of-force authorization approved by Congress nearly 20 years ago for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They have no business declaring a war without the consent of Congress,” she said.

Since last week, House leaders have been asking for a classified session for lawmakers on the situation with Iran, but Pelosi said the administration indicated it couldn’t come together “that fast.”

An administration official said they have no plans for a wider briefing at this point.

“The bigger problem is, so what if you get a briefing?” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who raised broader questions of Trump’s foreign policy. “What does my briefing mean if he comes out and tweets something?”

(AP)




10 COMMENTS

  1. This situation is the direct result of the reckless policies of Bibi and Trump. If heaven forbid something goes seriously wrong the world will know that it was Bibi that goaded Trump into war with his over hyped “big intellegence find” and his unrelenting pressure to tear up a functioning deal with no replacement at all.

    Barak Ravid of channel 13 news and Axios is now reporting that even Bibi wants to steer clear of mounting tensions with Iran.

    Bibi and Trump govern by slogan and tweet but have no policies to deal with issues besides wishful dreaming that by talking tough they will magically cause regime change in Iran and millions of Palestinians to disappear.

  2. Once again crazykanoiy is siding with official Terrorism Sponsor State over US and Israel, all because Obama’s legacy is at stake.

  3. MIG:

    Scorecard for “The Great Negotiator”

    Government Shutdown for the wall: Result 0
    Bluster on North Korea: Result 0
    Bluster on Venezuela: Result 0
    Bluster on Iran: Result 0
    Bluster on China: Result 0
    Blutser on Obamacara: Result 0
    Bluster on DACA: Result 0

    The great negotiator is essentially the great fraud. He talks big promises, to get a better deal out of Iran, China, North Korea and a better deal on healthcare, Immigration, etc. To date, he has gotten nothing. zero. nada. His minimal achievements have been through executive action and passing a bill with his own party. He has negotiated nothing. He only destroys but cannot build. The danger that he is causing us all is becoming more and more apparent by the day because he has wrecked America’s alliances and has nothing to show for it. He bankrupted his businesses with his recklessness and he lost more money than any other American businessman in the one decade that we have records for. He is applying his same recklessness to our great country. This has nothing to do with Obama. The two true conservative Republicans who actually ran to oppose Obama, McCain and Romney have called out Trump for being the dangerous egotistical fraud that he is.

  4. Crazykanoi,

    For all your negotiations there are always 2 sides to a negotiation

    And you can’t negotiate with someone who doesn’t want to

    Which in essence lumps the dumbocrats together with North Korea, China, Venezuela, Iran

    Which is why they are so alike 🤔

  5. crazykanoiy’s your TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is so deep that you are even willing to side with tyrannical Islamo -Nazi state of Iran over safety of US and Israel.

  6. Moshe in Golus : Your blind love of Drumpf is is so deep that you are even willing to justify putting Israel and America at risk from the tyrannical Islamo -Nazi state of Iran in order to defend the indefensible.

  7. Coffee Addict – Saying that there is no one to negotiate with is a pathetic excuse. A negotiation takes place amongst adversaries. Trumps dismal failures prove that he is not a good negotiator at all.

    Kissinger negotiated detente with communist china

    Reagan negotiated arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union

    Clinton negotiated welfare reform with Newt Gingrich

    Obama negotiated the TPP with a host of Asian nations

    Israel negotiated peace deals with Egypt and Jordan

    Serbs and Croats, with American assistance negotiated an end to their fighting.

    Protesants and Catholics negotiated an end to the fighting in Northern Ireland.

    Trump cannot negotiate because he excels at fighting and creating hatred.

  8. Only crazy morons like crazykanoiy take Iranian threat to destroy Israel and spreading Islamic terrorism throughout the world as a joke.

  9. MIG – Trump is a patethic joke. The threat from Iran is not a joke it is very real and I have never said otherwise.

    Trump makes the threat from Iran worse by ratching up pressure with no plan in place. Trump is left as the fool begging the Iranians to call him.

    Trump’s recklessness endangers Israel and I am not sure why you have such a hard time understanding that.