Letter demands intel chief release info regarding US intel ‘community’s advance knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s plot’
By Michael Hernandez
Two congressmen are seeking to rally lawmakers Friday to call on the Donald Trump administration to release intelligence that could indicate it had foreknowledge about a plot to abduct or kill a journalist before he went missing.
Representatives Ro Khanna of California and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin circulated a letter to members of congress that calls for Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats “to release information regarding the U.S. intelligence community’s advance knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s plot to capture journalist and American resident Jamal Khashoggi.”
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2. He has not been seen since entering the diplomatic building as fears have grown that he has been killed by Riyadh.
Khanna and Pocan are planning to send the letter to Coats next week.
The Washington Post, which Khashoggi was a columnist for, reported earlier this week the U.S. intercepted the communications of Saudi officials that allegedly indicated Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered an operation to detain Khashoggi.
The letter the Democratic congressmen are seeking to have their fellow representatives sign on to cites an intelligence community directive which specifies the community is “to warn both U.S. and non-U.S. persons of threats of serious bodily injury, kidnapping, and intentional killing.”
“Given your office oversees the U.S. intelligence community’s duty-to-warn process, we seek urgent answers as to whether Mr. Khashoggi was in fact contacted about the credible threat to his life and liberty posed by the Saudi plot to capture him,” the congressmen plan to write to Coats.
“Considering the profound ramifications of this potential crime, U.S. foreknowledge of Saudi plans to detain Mr. Khashoggi, and whether the U.S. intelligence community carried out its duty to warn, we intend to use the full force of Congressional oversight and investigatory powers to obtain these answers should they not be forthcoming,” they will add.
The State Department earlier this week denied the U.S. had any “advance knowledge” of a plot to abduct Khashoggi, but when asked if had a duty to warn Khashoggi if it did, spokesman Robert Palladino declined to answer a “hypothetical question.”
On the same day Khashoggi arrived at the consulate, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was also inside, police sources said. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation of Khashoggi’s fate, while several countries — particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK — have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.