White House blocks CIA from briefing Senate on murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
The White House is preventing the only person who has heard a recording of the murder of journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi from briefing the Senate on Khashoggi’s murder, according to The Guardian.
CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Istanbul late last month for the sole purpose of listening to the tapes in possession of Turkish Intelligence. Haspel then returned to Washington and briefed Donald Trump, who declined to listen to the tapes himself. The CIA has since concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Yet Trump has dismissed the CIA conclusion, offering only “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t” last week as an explanation for his continued support of the Crown Prince.
All of that clearly made Haspel the wrong person to brief the full Senate on Khashoggi’s killing at a closed-door hearing Wednesday on U.S.-Saudi relations. In her stead, Trump booster and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis will be offering their insights about the state of play absent any information from the intelligence community.
“Officials made it clear that the decision for Haspel not to appear in front of the committee came from the White House,” writes The Guardian.
Of course. The Senate will be weighing whether to roll back U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal military campaign in Yemen, which has precipitated a horrific humanitarian crisis among the civilian population there. Just think about the questions Senators could ask Haspel. They could inquire about the details of the recording she heard, they could ask about briefing Trump and his initial response to the information she provided him, and they could glean further insights about how the CIA reached its conclusion on the involvement of the Crown Prince. Frankly, Haspel would be a treasure trove of information about the murder itself, the damning evidence implicating Mohammed bin Salman, and the White House’s continued denialism.
Instead, no high-level intelligence official will be present at the Senate briefing.
“There is always an intel person there for a briefing like this,” a Senate staffer told the Guardian. “It is totally unprecedented and should be interpreted as nothing less than the Trump administration trying to silence the intelligence community.”
The Trump administration simply doesn’t like facts and it absolutely disdains inconvenient facts.