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U.S. Lawmakers Demand Briefings By Trump Admin On Iran Tensions

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, finishes his response to reporters about his earlier advice to Donald Trump Jr. on being subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May

Several Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress have demanded more information form the administration on current tensions with Iran on May 14.

In recent days, the U.S. has dispatched more forces to the Middle East citing possible threats from Iran and its proxies, with concern rising of an inadvertent escalation that could draw the region into a war.

Lawmakers, including Republicans say they would like classified briefings to learn more about those threats and to find out more about decisions made by President Donald Trump’s administration in dealing with Iran.

Some opposition democrats are asking for public hearings with senior officials.

There have been media reports that some senior officials in the U.S. administration are pushing for more pressure on Iran.

Leading Democratic Senator and a 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday denounced National Security Adviser John Bolton for trying to lead the U.S. into a war, similar to the Iraq war.

In an interview on MSNBC Sanders said, "What worries me is that the architect of the effort right now to get us into a war in Iran is the guy who was the architect to getting us into the war in Iraq. That is John Bolton. I worry about provocations on the part of the United States against Iran."

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also complained about lack of insight on the part of the lawmakers about Iran. "I think all of us are in the dark over here," Graham told reporters outside the Senate. Asked if he thought lawmakers would be briefed on the situation, he said, "I hope so."

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, has requested a briefing for House members, but an aide said the administration had not yet agreed.

Senate aides said no briefing had yet been scheduled for the full Republican-controlled Senate, despite appeals from Democrats.

"If Iran is responsible for targeted attacks on our service members stationed around the region or any of our national security assets, we should of course respond appropriately and in a way that deters and prevents further assaults," said Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On Wednesday, May 15 the State Department announced the withdrawal of non-essential embassy staff from Iraq, as yet another indications of its concerns over a possible flare-up.

"But it is hard to justify the administration's actions thus far since they insist on stonewalling Congress from receiving any specifics about what these increased threats actually are and our strategy to confront them."

While the White House has not responded to the barrage of criticism on Tuesday, a few congressional committees - including the Senate and House intelligence and the Senate Armed Services panel - said they had arranged briefings for staff or members later this week or had already had one, committee aides said.

Reporting With Reuters, AFP