Legal expert says Suleimani killing looks ‘like summary execution’ after Pentagon chief fails to back up Trump’s claims
U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to the press during a press conference at the Pentagon Briefing Room in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2020. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

One of the bogus talking points that supporters of President Donald Trump have been using in defense of the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani on January 3 is that the killing is no different from the operation that resulted in the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011 under President Barack Obama. But bin Laden, unlike Soleimani, was not a government official. And constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe is asserting that the Soleimani killing amounts to a “summary execution without trial” rather than an act of self-defense.

Sunday on Twitter, the 78-year-old Tribe (who co-founded the American Constitutional Society and teaches at Harvard Law School) posted,” In the fog of war, it’s easy to lose track of what counts. Whether Soleimani posed an ‘imminent’ threat that killing him would assuredly end isn’t just a debate over labels. It’s the difference (between) self-defense to protect Americans and murder to stave off Trump’s impeachment.”

In a separate tweet, Tribe asserted that according to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the killing of Soleimani cannot be justified as an act of self-defense.

“With the Sec Def’s concession that he didn’t see any specific evidence of an imminent threat that made killing Soleimani an act of self-defense,” Tribe wrote, “it’s increasingly looking like summary execution without trial just to keep this president in office. Another gross abuse of power.”