Senate Democrat: 'We learned the hard way in the Iraq War' that administrations can 'manipulate' intel

Senate Democrat: 'We learned the hard way in the Iraq War' that administrations can 'manipulate' intel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon GAO finds Trump administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid Lobbying World MORE (D-Md.) expressed skepticism Sunday about purported U.S. intelligence indicating Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US. drone strike, was planning an imminent attack, pointing to erroneous intelligence claiming Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“I think we learned the hard way in the Iraq War that administrations sometimes manipulate and cherry-pick intelligence to further their political goals, that’s what got us into the Iraq War,” Van Hollen said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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“They have an obligation to present the intelligence, they did not notify the 'Gang of Eight,' ” Van Hollen said, referencing a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers typically briefed on intelligence matters. “One opportunity they had [was] just two days ago to brief senior staff at the top secret level, [and] they provided no evidence to support their claim of an imminent threat.”

Host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceFox's Chris Wallace asks if Trump legal team filled with people who have their own axe to grind Chris Wallace: Pelosi plan to force 'McConnell to bow to her will' was a 'total failure' The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment week MORE pressed Van Hollen on Soleimani’s role in past attacks on U.S. troops, prompting the Maryland Democrat to clarify “everybody knows that Soleimani was a very bad despicable guy” but “the claim of an imminent threat they have not supported and what we do know is this dramatic escalation is now putting Americans at greater risk.”

“You have to look at what the consequences are; you don’t go around killing all the very bad people in the world,” Van Hollen continued, comparing Soleimani with North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnBrent Budowsky: The patriotic duty of Senate Republicans US ambassador: 'I was personally surprised' North Korea did not send 'Christmas gift' Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE, “who’s got a lot of blood on his hands, who’s responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier and yet he’s getting love letters from the president of the United States.”

“So the question is do we further our interests by killing Soleimani, and everything we’ve seen is we’ve actually increased the risk of war dramatically, we put Americans at greater threat,” Van Hollen continued, noting that the aftereffects of the killing, including Iraq’s prime minister calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops, “seem[s] to have accomplished Soleimani and the Iranians’ main goal.”