It's unclear if the intelligence to justify the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Suleimani was invented or bent to justify the attack, explained NBC News correspondent Jonathan Allen during an MSNBC conversation Sunday.
The past week has been engrossed with different takes and absolute confusion over the claim that Suleimani posed an "imminent threat" to the United States and thus had to be taken out. President Donald Trump first said there was intelligence that he was going to attack an American embassy. He then said there was intelligence that Suleimani was going to attack "some" embassies. Finally, Trump decided Suleimani was going to attack "four embassies."
During two appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed Trump's claims were false.
“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Esper said. “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassies are the most prominent display of American presence in a country.”
"Probably" doesn't mean the same thing as "likely," much less "imminent."
Democrats who are members of the "Gang of Eight," who are informed in the event of an attack, have said that there was no mention of an imminent threat against four embassies. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that there was no mention of the four embassies in the briefing, and no one cited which embassies were being targeted. Trump's team said that the threat was a "possible attack" on a series of locations, "as well as embassies."
"When you hear the president out there on Fox, he is fudging the intelligence," said Schiff. "When you hear the secretary say, 'Well, that wasn't what the intelligence said but that's my personal belief,' he is fudging."
Given the dubious intelligence that delivered the justification for the Iraq War, which is now going into its 17th year, Americans have become more speculative when it comes to the government's basis for military action.
"I haven't seen the intelligence," Allen clarified. "But what's interesting is that the secretary of defense also said that he has not seen intelligence that supports what the president and the secretary of state said."
"This is not Adam Schiff the Intelligence [Committee] chairman on the Democratic side saying that the president is bending the intelligence," Allen later said. "This is the secretary of defense challenging what the president has said what the secretary of state has said about the intelligence. You know, this is a country that has gone to war in Iraq in 2003 based on intelligence that turned out to be not what the administration said. That's not something that just Democrats were upset about. It is something that much of Trump's base was upset about that many Republicans -- basically the entire country was upset about."
Watch the full report below: