To justify its drone strike against Qassem Soleimani, the White House claimed last week that the top Iranian military leader had been preparing “imminent” attacks against American diplomats in the region. That claim has since evolved, as various Trump administration officials struggled on multiple occasions to explain what exactly defines an “imminent” threat.

“We don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Thursday, remarks many interpreted as an admission that Soleimani did not actually pose a grave and immediate threat to American lives.

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