President Biden has sparked outrage after it emerged that he may not attend a ceremony honoring the three US Army reservists killed in Jordan — as reports suggest he may be planning retaliatory air strikes on Iranian assets in the Persian Gulf in the next few days.
The bodies of Sgt. William Rivers, 46, Spc. Brianna Moffatt, 23, and Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, all from Georgia, are expected to be flown back to Dover Air Force in a dignified transfer, after they were killed by Iranian-backed militants in a Saturday night attack on a small outpost near the Syrian border.
But when asked on Monday whether the president would attend the ceremony, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he doesn’t “have anything on [the president’s] schedule to speak to.”
Many online found the response “disgraceful.”
“Joe Biden just got three black members of the military killed,” free speech advocate Philip Anderson posted on X.
“Their black lives mattered so much to Joe Biden that he won’t even bother to show up to receive their bodies, from what I’m hearing.”
Another user suggested that the president “doesn’t have anything on his schedule,” noting that “the people in Ohio are still waiting for a visit after train derailments” last year.
Jon Sweet, a former military intelligence officer, also said the response was “not a good look for the president.”
Biden has vowed to retaliate against Iran for the fatal attack, and on Monday night US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that a response “could be multi-leveled, come in stages and be sustained over time.”
There are few details about what such a response may entail, but the president is looking at the possibility of attacking Iranian personnel in Syria and Iraq, or Iranian naval assets in the Persian Gulf, according to Politico.
He has even demanded his advisers present him with options on how to respond to the attack without dragging the US further into war in the Middle East, two administration officials told the outlet.
The Pentagon and State Department have already spent decades drawing up a list of possible Iranian targets in case war broke out between the nation and Israel, according to the New York Times.
Those include major drone-making factories and their overseas suppliers, which are working to help Russia in Ukraine and provide arms to the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Pentagon also reportedly has existing plans in place for airstrikes on Iranian missile sites and air bases, and the US has even created a cyber attack option that would disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid — though it is unclear how long the cyber attack may last.
But Iranian officials have so far denied any involvement in the attack — even after the Iranian-backed Axis of Resistance took responsibility and said the strike was a “continuation of our approach to resisting the American occupation forces in Iraq and the region.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Monday said the militias “do not take orders” from Iran and acted independently.
He called allegations that the country was involved “baseless accusations” designed to expand the Israel-Hamas war.
“The responsibility for the consequences of provoking allegations against Iran lies with those who bring up such baseless claims,” Kanaani said.