On October 2, 2018, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, to pick up documents required for his upcoming marriage.
That was the last time he was ever seen alive.
Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered. A CIA intercept leaked two months after his death concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) had ordered/approved the operation that ended his life.
Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi government with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, had been banned from writing in the kingdom. He arrived in Virginia in 2017 and became a contributor to The Washington Post.
On December 1, 2018, two months after his murder, The Wall Street Journal reported that leaked CIA intercepts had revealed that MbS had sent 11 text messages to his closest advisor, Saud al-Qahtani, in the hours surrounding Khashoggi’s death. The CIA believed that al-Qahtani supervised the team which carried out the murder.
The intercept stated that in August 2017, MbS apparently wanted Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia and “had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, ‘we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,’ a communication that it states “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi.”
According to the leaked document, the CIA had “medium-to-high confidence” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.” It added: “To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”
The CIA assessment revealed that, in addition to keeping in touch with MbS in the hours before and after Khashoggi’s death, al Qahtani was in “direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul,” who was supervising the 15-man hit team.
The intercept confirmed a theory that had been adopted by a growing number of politicos weeks before; MbS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and should be held accountable.
“Defying intense pressure from U.S. lawmakers to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia, [then-President Donald] Trump also said he would not cancel military contracts with the kingdom,” according to a November 2018 report from Reuters. Additionally, “he said it would be a ‘foolish’ move that would only benefit Russia and China, competitors of the United States in the arms market.”
Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, refused to publicly declare that the Saudi Crown Prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. Questioned by reporters at the time, he said, “It’s all about, for me, very simple. It’s America first. I’m not going to destroy the world economy and I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.”
Asked by the media if MbS “had a hand in the murder,“ Trump replied, “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”
The Trump Administration refused to release the final results of an intelligence report that implicated MbS in Khashoggi’s death.
Fast forward to the Biden Administration’s release of this report on Friday. The report can be viewed here.
According to The Washington Post, they will not hold MbS accountable either.
Realizing the consequences of doing so, Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, told the press, “The relationship with Saudi Arabia is bigger than any one individual.”
The Post reports that Biden was asked about the U.S./Saudi relationship on the second anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder (October 2). The campaign issued a statement that said Biden would “reassess our relationship with the Kingdom, end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil.”
Blinken told reporters on Friday that “President Biden has moved toward a promised ‘recalibration’ of the U.S.-Saudi relationship,” with this move. It’s not clear that the Biden administration is doing any different than the Trump administration did which is why some are calling it “a continuation of President Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with the Saudi rulers.”
Biden officials are learning that campaigning and governing are two very separate things. Once a politician takes office, they learn pretty quickly why some of their campaign promises are not a good idea in practice.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, was very vocal in his calls for this intelligence report to be released two years ago. He is currently demanding that MbS “should suffer sanctions, including financial, travel and legal — and the Saudi government should suffer grave consequences as long as he remains in government.”
“A senior administration official” spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity. The official said, “the U.S. as a matter of practice has not generally applied sanctions on the highest leadership’ of countries with which it has diplomatic relations.”
They added, “Having looked at this extremely closely, over the last five weeks or so, really, the unanimous conclusion is that there’s just another more effective means to dealing with these issues going forward.”
In other words, the cost of a breach is more than the Biden Administration wants to pay. Even though they criticized the Trump Administration for the same thing.
MbS, age 35, will soon take the place of his father, King Salman, age 85. According to the Post, he currently “serves as the de facto leader of the kingdom.”
Note: For information about U.S./Saudi relationship, please click here.
Elizabeth is the founder and editor of The American Crisis. She is also a contract writer at The Western Journal and a previous contributor to RedState, The Dan Bongino Show, and The Federalist. Her articles have appeared on HotAir, Instapundit, RealClearPolitics, MSN and other sites. Elizabeth is a wife, a mom to three grown children and several beloved golden retrievers, and a grandmother!