US experts question anonymous sources, leaks in Khashoggi case

Karasik noted that the US decision was taken according to the Magnitsky Act, to address human rights abuses on a global scale. (AFP)

When the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir announced that the kingdom was holding to account those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death, the US State Department announced that the first charges made in the Saudi investigation were a “good first step” in the “right way.”

Also, the State Department on Saturday said the United States government has not made a final conclusion on who was involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

And US President Donald Trump said Saturday, that United States will make final conclusions by early next week over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Saudi point of view was very clear that its legal system would take care of the prosecution and punishment of Khashoggi’s killers,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor to the Gulf State Analytics in Washington told Al Arabiya English, emphasizing that the US Treasury’s sanctions against key individuals related to the Khashoggi case had been seen as a necessary and positive development to move this issue forward and stop both, the speculation and to stop what he described as “the info war.”

Karasik noted that the US decision was taken according to the Magnitsky Act, to address human rights abuses on a global scale. “Clearly, the treasury’s actions are a forward step in healing some of the political damage as a result of the Khashoggi’s case,” he reiterated.

Political game

Would the international community be satisfied by Saudi Arabia’s action? American Media Institute CEO Richard Miniter had his doubts, “I am delighted that the killers will face justice and I doubt that even the terrible swift swords of the executioners will be dramatic enough to satisfy the American and European critics of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Miniter told Al Arabiya English.

Riyadh was not the only party that accused the Qatari media of launching, and exploiting the case of Khashoggi, and continuing to run an organized campaign against Saudi Arabia, Hudson Institute Senior Follow Lee Smith had the same views.

The Saudi “first step” was positively received by several Washingtonian political circles that were saying, from the beginning of the case, it was politicized by several regional players including the previous US administrations, “Former Obama aides and other echo chamber associates went into action. To punish Saudi, they named specific policies. In particular, they argued that the administration should withdraw support for Riyadh’s war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen,” Smith wrote in an op-ed published by the Tablet Magazine last month.

The Gulf State Analytics senior advisor noted that those who wished to continue using Khashoggi’s affair, would resume their attacks against Saudi Arabia as a whole and the Crown Prince in particular. Jubeir’s reassurances that the Saudi government was committed to hold those involved in Khashoggi’s death accountable for their actions, sent a clear message, Karasik said, adding: “The decision said that the Saudi legal system was trying to transform and mature under the 2030 Vision. All aspects of society are in transformation, sometimes it would be good and sometimes it would be bad. The kingdom's forward progress and the lessons that had been learned were the most important points in this case.”

On Friday night, the Washington Post published new accusations against the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, stating that a CIA anonymous source claimed that the Crown Prince had ordered the killing of Khashoggi, based on intercepted phone calls.

Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman who denied these allegations described the Washington Post’s claim as “a serious accusation that should not be left to anonymous sources.”

Karasik commented on this statement by saying: “Now in the wake of the CIA findings, the Saudi Ambassador immediately made it clear that there was another version of events by taking the WP to task for such sharp accusations by relying on anonymous sources."

“Anonymous sources are the fool’s gold of journalism. No one believes that unnamed sources of reporters any more--even when those sources are real," American Media Institute CEO Richard Minister told Al Arabiya English.

As soon as the allegations were published, a debate had resurfaced in Washington, questioning the legality of leaking classified information and its effect on the US national security.

This came as prominent DC attorney Mark S. Zaid stressed, in a tweet, that in all cases, leaking “classified information is a very serious issue.

“Khashoggi’s killers must be brought to justice and hopefully truth publicly disclosed but I have serious issues with classified leaks of signals intercepts, especially if by senior officials,” that could lead “to jail” according to him.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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