Listen up everybody, because Prince Turki al-Faisal thinks the CIA is trying to mislead the American public and, really, the entire world.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, the agency earlier this month came to the conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely gave the order to have dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
Donald Trump is having none of it. This week, the President issued a bizarre, exclamation point-ridden official statement reiterating that the White House will stick by Prince Mohammed and that statement actually included the following line:
Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
Since then, Trump has variously attempted to suggest that the CIA didn’t conclude what the CIA did in fact conclude and for his part, Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed wants you to know that the President is just plain old lying.
“Yes. The CIA concluded that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved in the assassination of Khashoggi [and] they did it, as has been reported to the press, with high confidence, which is the highest level of accuracy that they will vouch for,” Reed said this week, adding that “it’s based on facts [and] it’s based on analysis.”
More importantly, though, it’s based on common sense.
Literally nobody believes that 15 Saudis (some of whom held high ranking positions in the government) somehow managed to procure not one, but two Gulfstream IV jets, fly to Turkey, assassinate a famous dissident in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate and then beat a hasty retreat back to Riyadh without bin Salman knowing about it. That is a laughable assertion and everyone on the planet (including Trump) knows it.
Well, as alluded to above, Prince Turki al-Faisal reckons that coming to the common sense conclusion than Prince Mohammed was behind this debacle is somehow comparable to the Iraq WMD boondoggle.
“The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations. The examples of that are multitude,” he told reporters on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, adding that the Iraq WMD episode “was the most glaring of inaccurate and wrong assessments, which led to a full-scale war with thousands being killed”.
That is of course true, but Prince Faisal’s logic there is about like me getting pulled over with five kilos of coke in my trunk and then trying to claim that because I can point to countless examples of the American judicial system wrongfully imprisoning people, the arresting officer’s contention that I probably knew I had drugs in my car cannot be taken seriously.
Faisal went on to say this:
I don’t see why the CIA is not on trial in the United States. This is my answer to their assessment of who is guilty and who is not and who did what in the consulate in Istanbul.
You’re also reminded that in addition to common sense, the CIA’s assessment was based on an actual recording of a phone call that found Prince Mohammed’s brother telling Khashoggi to go to the Istanbul consulate. Here’s the Washington Post:
In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.
It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
So again, this is just another example of the Saudis saying something about this rather unfortunate episode that prompts uproarious laughter – right up until you remember that you’re laughing at a journalist being chopped into pieces with a bone saw.