Why only a few lawmakers are calling Soleimani's killing an 'assassination'

Qassem Soleimani.
(Image credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP)

After a U.S. airstrike killed General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, lawmakers have generally avoided declaring it an "assassination." Assassination suggests Soleimani's killing is an unjustified act of aggression, and only a few lawmakers have so far used the word.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted soon after Soleimani's death was announced, saying "one reason we don't generally assassinate foreign political officials is the belief that such action will get more, not less, Americans killed." Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) tweeted Friday morning that "carrying out an assassination without notifying Congress or presenting a plan to avoid war and American casualties is reckless and dangerous." And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became the first Democratic 2020 contender to use the word, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

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