By Robert A. Vella
A top Iranian general was assassinated today in a military drone strike ordered by President Trump. I remind readers that an official state of war does not exist between the U.S. and Iran, and that this assassination constitutes a criminal act under both domestic and international law. Although individual nations have their own definitions of terrorism that can be used to legally justify political assassinations and other forms of aggression which otherwise would be deemed as extrajudicial, there is no internationally agreed upon standard. Therefore, what constitutes as terrorism and counterterrorism is completely arbitrary. However, the illegality of assassination is quite clear – see:
Trump is playing a very dangerous game here. He is not only waging a de facto war against Iran, he is also forcing two key Middle East nations to choose sides. Iraq, which has a ⅔ Shiite Muslim majority akin to Iran’s, would be imperiled if it opposed its larger neighbor to the east and it would be similarly jeopardized if it angered the U.S., Israel, and the Sunni Muslim nations (led by Saudi Arabia) to the west. Likewise, Lebanon is also in a precarious position now. The country is trying to maintain its pluralistic form of government despite deep religious factionalism which includes strong Shiite allegiances to Iran and the Assad regime in Syria. Any disruption of these delicate political balances could easily tip the scales one way or the other with potentially dire consequences for the region – which is apparently Trump’s goal.
There is something else very profound to consider here too. If Trump is successful in provoking Iran into open military conflict with the U.S., it would shift public attention away from his impending impeachment trial in the Senate just weeks before his reelection campaign ramps up.
Iranian general assassinated
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps was killed early Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that was authorized by President Trump, American officials said.
The commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, and several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran were killed when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport.
The killing of General Suleimani was a staggering blow for Iran’s military and national pride, and was a serious escalation of Mr. Trump’s growing confrontation with Tehran, one that began with the death of an American contractor in Iraq in late December.
Impeachment evidence revealed
In the face of warnings from the Pentagon that the hold on military aid to Ukraine could be illegal, an official from the Office of Management and Budget made it clear that the order to keep the freeze in place came directly from President Donald Trump, according to unredacted documents reviewed by Just Security.
The documents, including emails from officials at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget that were released under court order last month but were either partially or completely blacked out, offer new details about tensions between the two agencies tasked with carrying out Trump’s unexplained hold on aid to Ukraine.
They also raise serious questions about why the newly revealed contents were redacted by the Trump administration in the first place amid congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Among the documents viewed by Just Security, a website focusing on reporting and analysis of national security law and policy, was an August 30 email from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at OMB to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, stating the freeze on aid to Ukraine would continue at the explicit direction of the President despite growing legal concerns within the Pentagon and mounting external questions prompted by news of the hold becoming public just days prior.
Trump’s support of right-wing dictators
WASHINGTON — A president in Latin America skirts term limits to run for office again.
He wins, but allegations the election was rigged ignite mass street protests.
A team from the hemisphere’s main diplomatic body — the Organization of American States — finds widespread fraud and recommends new elections.
That chain of events unfolded in recent years in both Honduras and Bolivia.
But when it came to the U.S. response in each place, the Trump administration appeared less concerned about fraud than another question: Was the leader in question friend or foe?
A federal judge has directed the Commerce Department to review and make public a large cache of previously unreleased documents related to the 2020 census and the Trump administration’s effort to include a citizenship question in the survey.
The documents, including emails and attachments sent to and from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others, amount to around 20,000 pages, the Justice Department told the New York trial court in December. That equates to about 40% of the pages the government had previously produced in the litigation.
Furman is considering a request from the plaintiffs, which include New York state and an immigration group, for financial sanctions and attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs believe the documents could shed further light on the origins of the proposed citizenship question, which Furman and other trial judges found to be unclear. Documentation found since the trials has indicated that a Republican redistricting consultant concluded that including a citizenship question on the survey would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”