Jan 3, 2020

Geraldo Rivera spars with "Fox & Friends" host on Soleimani strike

Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera sparred with "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade on Friday over the U.S. decision to target Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike.

What happened: After Rivera called into question the intelligence that led to the start of the Iraq War in 2003, Kilmeade pushed back, saying that he would "cheer on" the Soleimani strike because the Iranian general had killed and targeted hundreds of Americans.

  • Rivera responded, "Well then, you, like Lindsey Graham, have never met a war you didn't like."
  • That set off a pointed argument between the two that ultimately led Rivera to blame former President George W. Bush for "those fake weapons of mass destruction that never existed and the con job" that started the conflict in Iraq.

The full exchange:

GERALDO RIVERA: Now we have taken this huge military escalation. Now, I fear the worst. You're gonna see the U.S. markets go crazy today. You're gonna see the price of oil spiking today. This is a very, very big deal.
BRIAN KILMEADE: And I don't know if you heard, but this isn't about his resume of blood and death. It is about what was next. We stopped the next attack. That's what I think you're missing.
STEVE DOOCY: According to the secretary of state.
RIVERA: By what credible source can you predict what the next Iranian move would be?
KILMEADE: The secretary of state and American intelligence provided that material.
RIVERA: Yeah, they've been excellent. They've been excellent — the U.S. intelligence has been excellent since 2003 when we invaded Iraq, disrupted the entire region, for no real reason. Don't for a minute start cheering this on. What you have done, what we have done, what we have unleashed — 
KILMEADE: I will cheer it on.
RIVERA: Well then, you, like Lindsey Graham, have never met a war you didn't like.
KILMEADE: That is not true, and don't even say that. We should just let him kill us for another 15 years?
RIVERA: If President Trump wanted de-escalation and to bring our troops home, what this was a reaction to —
KILMEADE: What about the 700 Americans who are dead, should they not be happy? Because of him?
RIVERA: What about the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died since 2003? You have to start seeing things — what the hell are we doing in Baghdad in the first place? Why are we there? Why aren't these forces home?
KILMEADE: You're blaming President Bush for the maniacal killing of Saddam Hussein?
RIVERA: I am blaming President Bush in 2003 for those fake weapons of mass destruction that never existed and the con job that drove us into that war.
DOOCY: Geraldo, I think there's a disagreement here at the desk on, uh, all of that.

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U.S. to deploy thousands of troops to Middle East following Soleimani strike

Paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division were activated and deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq. Photo: CAPT. ROBYN HAAKE/US ARMY/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will deploy at least 3,000 soldiers to the Middle East amid fallout from an airstrike on Thursday evening that killed the leader of the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The news comes hours after the Pentagon confirmed Soleimani had been killed. But defense officials told NBC News the deployment is not in response to the strike, but to an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by protesters and militia fighters earlier this week.

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Trump says Soleimani "should have been taken out many years ago" in first tweets on strike

President Trump said Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, "should have been taken out many years ago" in his first direct tweets on the strike on Friday.

"General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself. While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!"
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America's war footing

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office shows a burning vehicle at Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike early today. Photo via AP

President Trump, after warning three days ago that Iran would pay "a very BIG PRICE," authorized a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran's top general and second most powerful official, Qasem Soleimani.

Why it matters: Soleimani had cost hundreds of American lives and was among the Middle East's most feared powers. But Iran seems certain to respond, potentially further destabilizing the world's most volatile region.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 3, 2020