US not rushing into Iran confrontation
WASHINGTON — The Latest on the Trump administration’s Iran policy (all times local):
Shanahan says he outlined during closed-door briefings Tuesday what the Pentagon has done since receiving “credible intelligence about threats to our interests in the Middle East and to American forces.” He said, “This is about deterrence, not about war.”
The briefings on Capitol Hill came after weeks of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf. Lawmakers have criticized the administration for not communicating with Congress while responding to the threat. Many have warned that the Trump administration cannot go to war without authorization from Congress.
Some Republicans say what they heard backed up President Donald Trump‘s recent actions in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier and other resources to the region amid undisclosed threats officials indicated are linked to Iran.
The administration officials were briefing senators next in a separate closed-door session.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, has canceled a trip to Europe amid U.S. tensions with Iran.
In acknowledging Dunford’s decision to remain in Washington, his spokesman, Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, did not cite the Iran situation. He said only that “unforeseen commitments” required him to cancel the trip.
The planned trip already had been shortened so that Dunford could join Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other administration officials Tuesday in closed-door Iran briefings for the House and Senate.
Dunford had planned to travel to Brussels to attend routine NATO military consultative meetings.
House Democrats have received a closed-door briefing on Iran from former CIA Director John Brennan and former State Department official Wendy Sherman, who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.
Brennan told Democrats that while Iran wants to avoid conflict, the country’s leadership will not capitulate to Trump. Sherman warned that reckless behavior by the Trump administration is undermining moderates in the country. That’s according to a person in the room who was not authorized to discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and evacuated non-essential personnel from Iraq amid unspecified threats the administration says are linked to Iran.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he wants answers on “what the administration’s strategy is — if they have one — to keep us out of war.”
Ahead of briefings on Capitol Hill, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is suggesting that the U.S. military response to Iranian threats has already had an effect.
Shanahan tells reporters that the military moves by the United States have given Iran “time to recalculate” and as a result the potential for attacks on Americans is “on hold.”
He cautioned that the lack of attacks on Americans doesn’t mean the threats have gone away.
The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group, four bomber aircraft and other assets to the region, and is moving a Patriot missile battery to an unnamed country in the area.
Iran and tensions in the Persian Gulf as well as President Donald Trump‘s tough talk are the subject of competing meetings in the House and Senate, both closed to the public and the press.
Tuesday’s meetings on Capitol Hill come as lawmakers warn the Trump administration it cannot take the country into war without approval from Congress. The briefings are another indication of wariness by Democrats and some Republicans over the White House‘s sudden policy shifts in the Middle East.