The White House national security team tasked the Pentagon with providing options to strike Iran last fall after a group of militants linked to the Islamic republic fired on an area in Baghdad that houses the U.S. embassy in Iraq, Reuters reported Monday, citing an unnamed administration source.
The source noted that the Pentagon formulated options to the White House in response to the request, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and which came from the White House National Security Council headed by John Bolton.
In citing current and former U.S. officials, the paper noted the request alarmed officials in the Pentagon and the State Department.
“It definitely rattled people,” a former senior administration told the paper. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
The Journal also reported that it wasn’t clear whether the options were actually given to the NSC, whether POTUS Donald Trump was aware of the request, or whether there were ever any serious plans drawn up to strike Iran.
The request for options came in response to three mortars fired into a diplomatic sector in Baghdad in September, the WSJ reported.
The rounds landed in the open and there were no injuries.
But three days later, unidentified militants fired a trio of rockets that struck near the U.S. consulate in Basra, a southern Iraqi city. They did not cause any serious damage.
In a separate report, Axios reported that former Defense Secretary James Mattis was frequently upset by the president’s questions about why U.S. Navy warships did not destroy Iranian “fast boats” as they approached them in the Persian Gulf.
“So these boats, they get in, they come in really fast, they come in really close … and they might have explosives on them and we don’t even know,” the president said, as recounted by someone who claims to have been in the Oval Office at the time. “Can you believe this? And we don’t do anything?”