Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has also received “round-the-clock protection” from the government over Iranian threats
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed to CBS News that since leaving the Department of Defense due to threats from Iran, he has been “protected” by the government on a full-time, 24-hour basis.
“I have 24-hour protection — both here in Virginia — and when I travel, that’s part of the job,” Esper said Thursday in an interview with CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.
This disclosure came a day after the Justice Departmentfor conspiring to murder former national security adviser John Bolton, who was under intelligence protection as of late 2021. In an interview with Herridge, Bolton said he was told there was a conspiracy that could potentially “either murder me or kidnap me.” “
Esper’s safety while he was secretary of defense was provided by the Department of Defense — most federal departments, with a few exceptions, provide security to the cabinet secretaries who head them, and that protection generally ends after the secretary leaves government. Esper says he has had government protection “for almost two years” since leaving the ministry.
“I salute the FBI and the Justice Department for what they have done,” Esper said of his charges against an Iranian citizen, and he credited National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for warning “of grave consequences if Iran does so.” should do something.”
“Look, if they were to murder an American or even an American official — to me that’s an act of war,” Esper said. The former defense secretary urged the Biden administration to take a hard line on Iran in its efforts to revive stalled nuclear talks.
“We should signal very clearly how serious this is and before we sign any deal with them make sure they reverse any action [they] take and renounce publicly.”
Esper said he believes the threat against him was at least in part retaliation, an attempt to retaliate after the US assassinationthe head of Iran’s elite Kuds Forces and one of the most powerful figures in the Islamic Republic in Baghdad in January 2020. The strike drew a vow of “crushing revenge” from Iran.
“It’s serious and it’s believable, and I think that’s one of the reasons why,” Esper said of the threat against him.
In addition to Esper and Bolton, the US government is also providing security to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Deputy Secretary of State Brian Hook over Iran’s threats.