After a U.S. airstrike killed General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, lawmakers have generally avoided declaring it an "assassination." Assassination suggests Soleimani's killing is an unjustified act of aggression, and only a few lawmakers have so far used the word.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted soon after Soleimani's death was announced, saying "one reason we don't generally assassinate foreign political officials is the belief that such action will get more, not less, Americans killed." Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) tweeted Friday morning that "carrying out an assassination without notifying Congress or presenting a plan to avoid war and American casualties is reckless and dangerous." And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became the first Democratic 2020 contender to use the word, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Republicans, meanwhile, nearly unilaterally avoided the assassination designation, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) labeling it an outright myth.
FICTION: Trump ordered the assasination of a foreign “General” and as a result has placed us on the brink of war.
FACT: Soleimani was an active enemy combatant, more dangerous than evil men such as Bin Laden & Baghdadi & who operated without regard for the law of war
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) broke the GOP mold. He questioned whether "the assassination of Soleimani will expand the war to endanger the lives of every American soldier or diplomat in the Middle East," and demanded Congress be given the choice whether to declare war before this aggression continues.
If we are to go to war w/ Iran the Constitution dictates that we declare war. A war without a Congressional declaration is a recipe for feckless intermittent eruptions of violence w/ no clear mission for our soldiers. Our young men and women in the armed services deserve better.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 3, 2020
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