AP NEWS

Mac Thornberry backs White House on moves to counter Iran

May 16, 2019

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday he is “convinced” that the recent threats made by Iran warranted the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the number of U.S. diplomats from Iraq and to deploy additional forces to the Middle East.

Ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry told reporters Thursday he is “convinced that the information and warnings that we have collected are of greater concern than the normal Iranian harassment activity that we’ve seen in the Persian Gulf and surrounding areas.”

The specific threats from Iran remain unclear, although sources have told The Washington Times the response was triggered by U.S. intelligence that showed Tehran-backed militias in Iraq moving rockets to locations that could hit U.S. bases inside Iraq.

The Texas Republican said he and other members of the committee had been briefed on the situation in the last two weeks by officials from U.S. Central Command, the intelligence community and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I don’t think it’s business as usual. It is cause for greater concern,” he said.

Although the Texas Republican said he hopes the situation will not lead to military clashes, he added that “if we’re attacked, I expect our military forces will be in a position to respond, to being attacked.”

Despite earlier messages from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the White House does not have Congress’ authority to use military force in this situation, Mr. Thornberry said, “if Americans are attacked, then I think the president has authority to respond to those attacks.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill and many of America’s traditional allies in Europe are expressing skepticism over the nature of the Iranian threat and the quality of the U.S. intelligence indicating an escalation of tensions.