WASHINGTON (KION) Rep. Jimmy Panetta and several other California members of the House of Representatives were among more than 35 lawmakers who signed a letter demanding answers from the White House.
The group expressed concern about the United States' current relationship with Iran, especially the recent military operation targeting General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
The letter puts forth questions the representatives have about the topics that concern them, saying "While the operational details pertaining to some of these questions may be classified, we believe all of these questions are of vital importance to facilitating a robust national discussion on this important matter of national security."
The representatives asked for answers to the following questions:
- "In light of the January 7 Iranian missile attack on U.S. forces and threats in the region, what steps are the Department of Defense and Department of State taking to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and their families serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf, and other countries in the region?
- "What is the mission, scope of responsibilities, and timeline for the more than 7,000 additional U.S. troops recently deployed to the region?
- "Senior officials in your administration, including the Secretaries of State and Defense, and your National Security Advisor, have referenced the need to undertake the operation against General Soleimani was due to an "imminent threat." What is the specific "imminent threat" your administration referenced and how has the strike mitigated that threat and its imminence?
- "How is your administration working with our NATO allies and strategic partners in the region, including Iraq, to ensure a unified approach toward Iran?
- "What steps are being taken to engage with the Iraqi government and respond to their concerns in order to avert the expulsion of U.S. military personnel supporting the counter-ISIS mission?
- "What contingency plans has your administration developed to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS if U.S. forces are expelled from Iraq?
- "What is your administration’s strategy to de-escalate tensions with Iran, curb their regional aggression, and contain their nuclear ambitions? How do recent U.S. military actions, undertaken at your direction, advance your publicly stated goal of averting a war with Iran, which the American people do not support?
- "Do you intend to seek legal authority from Congress for further military action against Iran, as would be required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution?"
They remind the White House that Congress has the constitutional power to authorize use of military force and declare war, so the White House is obligated to provide information in a timely manner to Congress.
"...Congress has not authorized a war with Iran and you must consult Congress before directing any further hostilities with Iran or troop deployments to the region," the letter said.
The representatives said that while they do not mourn the death of Soleimani, it has escalated tensions in the region, isolated the U.S from its allies, increased threats to servicemembers and diplomats and shifted resources from the counter-ISIS mission.
The letter was signed by Central Coast Rep. Jimmy Panetta as well as Reps. Jerry McNerney, Ted Lieu, Barbara Lee, Gil Cisneros, Tony Cardenas and Adam Schiff.
Read the full letter here.