Defense Secretary Mark Esper believes, as the President also said, that four US embassies were being targeted by the Iranians for attack but said he couldn’t discuss any intelligence that the US had regarding that threat, Esper told CNN’s “State of the Union” today.
“There was intelligence that they had, there was an intent to target the US embassy in Baghdad. What the President said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well. He said he believe that they probably, that they could have been targeting the embassies in the region. I believe that as well as did other national security team members. That is why I deployed thousands of additional paratroopers to the region to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and to reinforce other locations throughout the region,” Esper told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
American officials have said the threat information against the US Embassy in Baghdad was the most specific.
While President Trump Friday told Fox News “I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” Esper said repeatedly was not going to discuss specific intelligence.
“It’s the President’s prerogative, but what the president said was he believed, he said he could have been targeting. All those things that I believe as well, that the national security team believes as well,” Esper said today.
Asked if the embassies at risk were alerted, he all embassies were put on alert.
When asked about the use by the President and other officials of the word “imminent” to describe the threat, Esper said the information US officials had met his definition because it was believed an attack was “days away.”
Regarding some Democratic members complaining there was no information about the embassies threat in the congressional briefings they received from administration officials, Esper said there were more specific intelligence given to the so-called congressional “Gang of 8,” which is the top leaders and intelligence committee officials in both the House and Senate.