Dear President Trump:
We write to you with deep concern over the state of our increasingly volatile relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the recent military operation targeting a senior Iranian general in the Republic of Iraq.
On January 2, the Department of Defense conducted an operation, at your direction, to kill Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad. General Soleimani was undoubtedly a malign actor and integral figure in propagating state-sponsored terrorism. While we do not mourn his death, the killing has profoundly escalated regional tensions, isolated us from our allies, increased the threat posed to our servicemembers and diplomats serving overseas, and shifted resources from the counter-ISIS mission.
Your administration has yet to provide the American people and Congress with a sufficient explanation as to why this action was necessary and what your overall strategy is for curbing Iran's regional aggression or nuclear ambitions. The House of Representatives has requested a briefing from your administration on these issues, which we expect to receive in short order. To ensure that the briefers are prepared to address our concerns, we are submitting the following non-exclusive list of questions to which we expect comprehensive answers. 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. Therefore, we request that unclassified responses be released to the American people.
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?
Our founders vested in Congress the constitutional power to authorize the use of military force and declare war. You are obligated to provide Congress with truthful information in a timely manner, and we expect your good-faith cooperation consistent with the gravity of the situation with which we are faced. Moreover, 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.
For the past 17 years, Americans have shouldered the burden created by war in Iraq and subsequent regional conflicts. The American people deserve leaders who are willing to have a serious discussion about the wisdom and costs of additional conflict. We urge you to engage in this discussion with us so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure our national security. As you send our nation's sons and daughters far from home to secure our embassies and interests in the region, it is only right that you provide the American people with a detailed explanation of your strategy and goals.