Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday evening that President Donald Trump had even more legal authority to eliminate Qassem Soleimani than former President Barack Obama had to take out Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Dershowitz, speaking with host Joel Pollak and guest host John Hayward on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight, dismissed arguments that Trump lacked constitutional authority to act against General Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.
Presidents have lawful authority to direct the killing of enemy combatants, explained Dershowitz.
“[Soleimani] was a combatant,” explained Dershowitz. “There’s no doubt that he fit the description of ‘combatant.’ He [was] a uniformed member of an enemy military who was actively planning to kill Americans; American soldiers and probably, as well, American civilians.”
“It was the right thing to do,” he added. “It was legally justified, and I think we should applaud the president for his decision. We send a very powerful message to the Iranian government that we will not stand by as the American embassy is attacked — which is an act of war — and we will not stand by as plans are being made to attack and kill American soldiers.
Dershowitz continued, “I think every president who had any degree of courage would do the same thing, and I applaud our president for doing it, and the members of the military who carried it out, risking their own lives and safety. I think this is an action that will have saved lives in the end.”
“President Obama would have done the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot, if he could prevent the killing of American soldiers by killing a combatant,” estimated Dershowitz. “[The president doesn’t] need congressional authorization, or any legal authorization … The president, as the commander-in-chief of the army is entitled to take preventative actions to save the lives of the American military. [Donald Trump] didn’t threaten a war. He didn’t start a war.”
Asked to respond to criticism of the attack by the likes of former Obama national security aide Ben Rhodes, Dershowitz said, “This is very similar to what Barack Obama did with Ben Rhodes’s authorization and approval — without Congress’s authorization — in killing Osama bin Laden.
“In fact, that was worse, in some ways, because that was a revenge act. There was no real threat that Osama bin Laden would carry out any future terrorist acts. Moreover, he was not a member of an official armed forces in uniform, so it’s a fortiori from what [Barack Obama] did and Ben Rhodes did that President Trump has complete legal authority in a much more compelling way to have taken the military action that was taken today.”
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