RSN Fundraising Banner
Senators Demand to Hear From CIA Director Gina Haspel Over Khashoggi Killing
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49640"><span class="small">Nahal Toosi and Caitlin Oprysko, Politico</span></a>   
Thursday, 29 November 2018 09:29

Excerpt: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday vigorously backed President Donald Trump's defense of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, but failed to appease senators who are demanding to hear directly from the CIA director about who directed the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the media following a closed Senate Intel briefing. He said, 'There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.' (photo: M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the media following a closed Senate Intel briefing. He said, 'There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.' (photo: M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)


Senators Demand to Hear From CIA Director Gina Haspel Over Khashoggi Killing

By Nahal Toosi and Caitlin Oprysko, Politico

29 November 18


Senators are demanding to hear from CIA Director Gina Haspel, who was conspicuously absent from Wednesday’s briefing.

ecretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday vigorously backed President Donald Trump’s defense of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, but failed to appease senators who are demanding to hear directly from the CIA director about who directed the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is under intense global scrutiny amid suspicion that he ordered Khashoggi's murder. But Trump, citing the importance of Saudi cooperation against Iran and multi-billion-dollar arms deals, has dismissed the allegations against bin Salman, including reported assessments from the CIA.

The tension risks spilling over later this week at the G-20 in Argentina, where the White House said Trump and the crown prince may informally meet, a diplomatically sensitive situation given the outrage over Khashoggi.

And that same outrage is already engulfing much of Congress, with lawmakers from both parties demanding accountability — and an in-person briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel.

While Pompeo and Mattis both met with senators in a classified session on Wednesday — and later told reporters that there is no "direct reporting" linking the crown prince to Khashoggi’s death — Haspel was conspicuously absent, despite having traveled to the region to investigate Khashoggi’s killing. She is also one of the few top Trump aides who has listened to an audio recording of the murder.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters that Pompeo and Mattis said the White House had directed Haspel to not show up. But the CIA categorically dismissed that explanation.

“While Director Haspel did not attend today’s Yemen policy briefing, the agency has already briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Congressional leadership on the totality of the compartmented, classified intelligence and will continue to provide updates on this important matter to policymakers and Congress,” CIA spokesman Timothy Barrett said. “The notion that anyone told Director Haspel not to attend today's briefing is false.”

The White House deferred to the CIA for comment on the matter.

Regardless, senators expressed intense frustration over her absence.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump, slammed the White House over Haspel’s absence, calling the briefing "inadequate" and threatening to withhold his vote on any must-pass legislation until such a briefing is held.

"I am not going to be denied the ability to be briefed by the CIA that we have oversight of about whether or not their assessment supports my belief that this could not have happened without MBS knowing," the South Carolina Republican said.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has called for the Trump administration to take a harsher line on Saudi Arabia in response to the Khashoggi killing, told reporters following the briefing that "I wish [Haspel] would have been there,” adding that “a lot of us were frustrated that she wasn't."

Pompeo was also asked Wednesday why Haspel did not attend, given that Pompeo attended similar briefings in his previous role as CIA director. “I was asked to be here, and here I am,” Pompeo replied.

Instead, Pompeo and Mattis both effectively took the side of the president – and the crown prince -- by telling reporters that there’s no definitive proof that the Saudi royal, commonly known as MBS, was linked to the death of Khashoggi.

“I do believe I’ve read every piece of intelligence — unless it’s come in the last few hours, I think I've read it all,” Pompeo said. “There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And that’s all I can say in an unclassified setting.”

Mattis told journalists that the administration still has “no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved — not the intelligence community or anyone else.”

Mattis and Pompeo’s comments appeared at odds with media reports that the CIA had concluded with “high confidence” that Khashoggi’s murder was carried out at the direction of MBS. The remarks also seemed to set an unusually high bar for U.S. officials when it comes to establishing fault for crimes committed by leaders overseas.

U.S. lawmakers are well aware that Saudi Arabia is an important contributor to oil markets and a key security partner for the U.S., but some are deeply troubled by the seeming recklessness of the crown prince.

Bin Salman is still in his 30s and has only in recent years become a powerful figure in the Saudi kingdom; he could rule the kingdom for decades after his father, King Salman, dies.

MBS is already accused of serious human rights violations well beyond what happened to Khashoggi, including ordering the abduction, imprisonment and torture of dissidents.

MBS also is in charge of the Saudi military effort in Yemen, where fighting has left millions facing famine. But Pompeo and Mattis have been urging lawmakers not to vote in favor of a resolution to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led forces in Yemen.

That effort was unsuccessful in the Senate, which voted 63-37 to advance the bipartisan bid to yank that U.S. support.

In an op-ed that ran Tuesday, Pompeo had argued that helping the Saudis in Yemen was key to preventing Iran from spreading its influence throughout the Middle East. In the op-ed, Pompeo accused lawmakers of "caterwauling" about Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

The war powers resolution was tabled in the chamber earlier this year, but is picking up supporters who are eager to push back on Saudi Arabia in response to a weak White House response to the Khashoggi killing.

Pompeo told reporters that the administration felt the resolution would be “poorly timed” as he felt diplomats were “on the cusp” of being able to begin negotiations for a ceasefire. Some critics argue, however, that withdrawing U.S. support from the Saudis could increase pressure on the parties involved to agree to a cease-fire.

Hanging over Wednesday’s development was the possibility that Trump may wind up running into the Saudi crown prince on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting later this week in Argentina.

The White House on Tuesday would not rule out the possibility of a Trump-MBS interaction.

If Trump takes a gregarious and friendly tone toward MBS, that will likely go down well in the Saudi kingdom, where media is tightly controlled and Khashoggi has been cast more as an Islamist sympathizer than a dissident journalist. At the same time, it could add momentum to attempts in Congress to legislate new sanctions on the Saudis.

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-29 10:17
"I am not going to be denied the ability to be briefed by the CIA"

I had to laugh when I read Lindsey Graham's comment. He really means, he's not going to deny the pleasure of being lied to by the CIA.

I wish the Senate would get this mobilized about some other atrocities committed by governments around the world. What about murders by Israel and Netahyahoo. Or the starvation of 1.3 million people in Gaza? Sure, Saudi Arabia needs to be rebuked and punished for its atrocities, but the crimes in its war against Yemen are far worse than the murder of a single person.

I just think the Senate does not really care any more about Saudi Arabia and Prince Salmon than Trump does. This is just an opportunity to bash Trump. This is cynical politics at its usual baseness.
 
 
+1 # Texas Aggie 2018-11-29 19:46
"This is just an opportunity to bash Trump. This is cynical politics at its usual baseness."

The mind kind of boggles at the thought of the repugs in the Senate doing anything to "bash Trump," especially his lap dog Graham.
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2018-11-29 21:21
Jordan Charlton has a story about Flint MI. State government has instructed employees and residents to run water 4 minutes before testing for lead though ACCURATE tests capture water immediately, so they are telling people the water's safe when the results are likely false negatives.

Charlton tried to get other outlets interested in the story. One asked him if the story could be tied to Trump, otherwise they weren't interested.

The msm does not inform or educate anymore. They are corporate mouthpieces. There are no journalists, only propagandists -- those media 'personalities' willing to spew lies, to manipulate the electorate -- but instead of selling Coke they sell lies including Trump being the devil incarnate while Democraps are angels who'd help US if they only could.

Tripe.

CA Dems have total control and a supermajority but somehow they can't make M4A work, even though every other industrialized nation manages it. CA, supposedly the most liberal of all states!

Newly elected MI governor Whitmer, who supposedly beat genuine progressive el Sayed, has named an insurance executive as head of her transition team.

These corporate Ds have no intention of helping Americans.

Ds helped put Gina Haspel in place and now she does whatever the fuck she wants, a damn torturer. Democrats have helped give Trump more surveillance powers while Schumer has fast-tracked 30 of McConnell's judges.

They don't care a bit about any of us.
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2018-11-29 19:44
There are two aspects of this situation that haven't been addressed. The first is that Argentina is preparing a charges of war crimes against MBS and he may not want to go to the G-20 meeting in Argentina.

The second is why are we allied with Saudi Arabia? They sent 17 of 19 terrorists on 9/11 and financed the whole operation. They've supported al Qaeda and various off-shoots of al Qaeda. They are financing a world-wide system of Wahhabi Madrases teaching jihadism to Moslem children everywhere including the US. They do not allow American ex-patriots working on their oil fields to hold Christian worship services, and enforce their rigid morality code on everyone including ex-patriots. They've been no where near as reasonable as the moderates in Iran mainly because there are no moderates in Saudi Arabia.

Iran has been allied with us against ISIS and other jihadists. They have kept their bargain in the nuclear nonproliferatio n treaty although we haven't kept ours. They also have oil that can be used as an economic weapon. They actually have a functioning democracy as opposed to Saudi Arabia which is an absolute monarchy, and one of the representatives in Iran is Jewish representing a Jewish community. They are much more educated than the Saudis and women are an integral part of their workforce.

It would seem that Iran is a lot more like we are than Saudi Arabia is and could be a lot more agreeable to work with than the Saudis have been.