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SEPTEMBER 2020

US Defense Secretary Has Seen No Evidence that Any US Embassies Were Under Threat

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US Defense Secretary Has Seen No Evidence that Any US Embassies Were Under Threat

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On January 12th, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that he had seen no “hard evidence” to suggest that four American embassies had been under possible threat when President Donald Trump authorized the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and others.

Esper said the Trump administration thought that Iran might have hit more than just the US Embassy in the Iraqi capital. But when Esper was asked whether he had seen any evidence replied:

“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.″

And in response to a question about whether Trump was “embellishing″ the threat, Esper said, ”I don’t believe so.”

Esper also spoke of the protests in Iran, claiming that the people were “hungry for a more accountable government.”

“You can see the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime,” Esper said.

US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien spoke on the matter, as well. O’Brien suggested the United States sees this moment as an opportunity to further intensify pressure on Iran’s leaders.

“I think the regime is having a very bad week,” O’Brien said.

“This was a regime that’s reeling from maximum pressure, they’re reeling from their incompetence in this situation and the people of Iran are just fed up with it,” he said.

O’Brien emphasized that regime change was not the US policy on the matter, which clearly contradicts reality.

“The people of Iran are going to hopefully have the ability at some point to elect their own government and to be governed by the leaders they choose,” the National Security Adviser said.

NBC News cited five unnamed current and former Trump administration official who said that Trump had authorized the killing of Qassem Soleimani 7 months ago, but with some conditions.

The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, the sources said.

“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” an anonymous senior administration official said.

After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, according to the sources, but the US President refused. Allegedly, Trump said that Soleimani would be assassinated if Iran “crossed a redline” – killing an American.

Trump signed off on the operation to kill Soleimani after supporters of Kata’ib Hezbollah responded to the U.S. strikes on their positions by storming the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper presented a series of response options to the president two weeks ago, including killing Soleimani.

Esper presented the pros and cons of such an operation but made it clear that he was in favor of taking out Soleimani, officials said. This directly contradicts what Esper has said, following Soleimani’s killing.

The management of Babson College in Massachusetts dismissed associate professor Ashin Phansey, after he made a joke that Iran should list the “cultural heritage sites” of the US that could be hit, the NYT reported.

Fancey, although he recognized his humor as “unsuccessful,” claims that employers violated his right to freedom of speech by firing him.

According to The New York Times, Phansey is a graduate of the private Babson College, in 2008 he graduated from the university with a degree in business administration. He then became an associate professor.

Upon learning of Phansey’s comments, his employers rushed to dismiss him and declare that Babson College condemns “threats in any form” and “acts condoning violence”, and noted that the opinion expressed on their employee’s personal page does not reflect the cultural values of the institution.

After removal, Phansey apologized for his “unsuccessful humor.”

“As a person born and raised in America, I tried to compare our cultural objects with the ancient temples and mosques of Iran. I apologize if someone saw the threat in my unsuccessful joke,” he said.

According to Ashin Phansey, he is “disappointed” and “dejected” by the fact that his employer decided to dismiss him only because “someone intentionally distorted the joke” that he “wrote for friends” on Facebook.

The ex-professor admitted that he hoped that Babson College would uphold his right to freedom of speech, and shared concerns about how this precedent might affect Americans’ continued attempts to express their views on political issues.

Phansey’s lawyer Jeffrey Pyle claims that his client was fired only because they wanted to drown outrage in social networks.

The lawyer also emphasized that some criticisms of Phansey were racist in nature.

Regardless, this is an example of censorship and thwarting of free speech, specifically what the US accuses the Iranian leadership carrying out, among other things.

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