US President Joe Biden did well to publish the declassified report by the CIA on the murder of the late Jamal Khashoggi.
His former boss, President Barack Obama, also did well to publish the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report that President George W. Bush had classified.
Those expecting to find evidence of Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the 9/11 affair were sorely disappointed. None were revealed.
This recent revelation reveals the faulty and evidence-free assessment of its authors.
The assessment indicts Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by saying it is “highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.” That is like me saying that, because of the famed discipline of US armed forces, it is highly unlikely the perpetrators of the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities would have carried out those acts without the authorization of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or Gen. Peter Pace. After all, according to Salon.com’s bureau chief, Sidney Blumenthal, it was Gen. William G. Boykin who, under Rumsfeld’s orders, advised then Camp X-Ray head Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller at Guantanamo Bay to transfer the same torture methods to Abu Ghraib and the Iraqi prison system.
Boykin is infamous for saying: “My god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol,” referring to Allah. Rumsfeld defended Boykin, describing him as “an officer that has an outstanding record in the US armed forces.”
For those who don’t know the methods employed at Camp X-Ray, you should read the book “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, or see the film based on it called “The Mauritanian.”
The book and the film detail the torture he underwent, including isolation, sexual humiliation, beatings and death threats. He was held there for 14 years without charge or trial.
I am reminded of the CIA’s ‘slam dunk’ conclusion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction
Prince Turki Al-Faisal
The CIA assessment goes on to say that when Khashoggi was murdered, “the crown prince probably fostered an environment.” How such language confirms the crown prince’s culpability is a mystery to me. It also uses the word “judge” in a highly subjective manner.
To crown all of this conjecture, assumption, hearsay, and presumption, is the assessment’s assertion that the crown prince “viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him.” On what is that based? Did he say that to the writers of the assessment? Did the CIA record him saying that to someone?
I am reminded of the CIA’s “slam dunk” conclusion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The catastrophes of that assessment are visible until today. I thought that after that singularly incompetent display of analysis and intelligence gathering that the CIA would have revised their assessment capabilities. The fact that they did not does not bode well for our American friends or for us, who share with them assessments and other matters.
The shoddy manner in which they conclude the crown prince’s culpability would be a laughing matter if it did not besmirch his character, and allow our mutual enemies to gleefully echo it in their propaganda against us.
On the other hand, the double standard practiced by members of the US Congress in using this misconceived and mischievous assessment is too glaring to miss. Where is the outrage displayed by them on this matter when the US citizen, Rachel Corrie, was bulldozed by an Israeli soldier? Or any of the hundreds of peaceful Palestinian children gunned down by Israeli snipers?
Where is that outrage and demand for sanction when Iran assassinates dissidents in Europe, Turkey, and elsewhere? I don’t see any moral chest beating by them over the destruction of the Ukrainian civilian plane by Iran. As for their accusing us of human rights violations, well, what about their continued financing of the Camp X-Ray prison in Guantanamo? There are still scores of prisoners incarcerated there, without charge or trial, tortured like Slahi, and with no end in sight to their ordeals.
Biden’s refreshing frankness and transparency is welcomed by our leadership. I am sure that they return them in kind. After all, that is what friends are for.
• Prince Turki Al-Faisal is the former director-general of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency and a former ambassador. He is also the founder and Trustee of the King Faisal Foundation and Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.