Cancel all previous excuses

Take a moment to feel compassion for a guy who wants to be a criminal genius but is constantly hampered in his quest by a stupidity so profound it can’t be measured. Poor schmuck can’t keep his story straight from one day to the next.

President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials.

The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.

Which isn’t much of a condition, because how likely is it that Trump would ever say no?

That decision explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq, in which a U.S. contractor was killed and four U.S. service members were wounded, the officials said.

The timing, however, could undermine the Trump administration’s stated justification for ordering the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have said Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.

After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, officials said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to authorize the assassination, officials said.

They destroy a piece of our hardware, we assassinate one of their top guys. It’s the American way. It’s interesting that in this case Trump was slightly less murder-happy than Bolton and Pompeo: he said no, only if they kill one of ours.

But he’s more casual about it now.

“We get to assassinate him because of his horrible past!”

Charles Pierce at Esquire points out that this makes Trump’s previous claims a pack of lies.

So the “imminent attacks” story was bullshit. The “imminent attacks on four embassies” were bullshit. According to his own Secretary of Defense, the intelligence didn’t support either of those conclusions—which means either that the SecDef is oblivious, or his boss is. In any event, the line now is that Qasem Soleimani was a bad guy who deserved to die in a tower of flame and only El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago had the giant presidential cojones to rain down death from above. You can’t have somebody running war powers like this. Also, you can’t have someone making up attacks, imminent or eminent, because he can’t think of anything else to say to Laura Ingraham.

We can’t but we do.

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