Khashoggi report

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

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“There is zero information and 100 percent conjectures.” That is how a western commentator described the CIA report on the Khashoggi murder. The report contains baseless speculations and conjectures and cannot stand any real test. Even the people who have been celebrating it can hardly call it a real substantiated document. The report is mere journalistic speculations that have been kept secret for a long time.

This indicates that all Khashoggi-related leaks and confidential information that were passed on to the media over the past three years have been mere assumptions, and that this case has been largely politicized to achieve partisan and ideological goals.

The Khashoggi case is not the only one that was plagued with a series of false leaks. For example, in the alleged relationship between the Trump administration and Russian agents, anti-Trump newspapers published leaked information from the CIA about a secret collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This prompted former CIA Director John Brennan to openly accuse Trump of treason. Everyone knows how this story unfolded afterwards; a thorough and extensive investigation carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which cost nearly $50 million and had several interviews with key US officials, ultimately revealed that Trump is innocent of all these accusations that stemmed from the CIA for purely political motives.

Leaked CIA information that was later revealed to be sheer unfounded analysis also emerged before Jared Kushner assumed his duties. The leaks stated that Kushner formed a secret communication channel with the Russians during the transition period to exchange information. Once again, the whole story was fabricated to achieve political goals using intelligence tools, which were not used against foreign powers, but rather, against those living in the White House.

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner gives thumbs up as he walks back to the West Wing after a television interview at the White House, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner gives thumbs up as he walks back to the West Wing after a television interview at the White House, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Similar analyses and speculations elicited criticism from several Republican and Democratic US presidents. President Nixon called such analysts “clowns” and President Lyndon B. Johnson repeatedly wondered what such analysts were doing in the CIA. President Harry S. Truman, during whose administration the CIA was established, later criticized the agency in a well-known article in The Washington Post in 1963, stating that “the most important thing (...) was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions.” Truman believed that the CIA has diverted from its original assignment and that it should return to being an objective intelligence institution that does not serve any agendas. He also called for presidents to directly access the raw information without passing it through government agencies that might alter it.

In other words, Truman wanted to isolate the CIA from political and partisan agendas so that it would not yield to pressure, follow personal prejudices, or pass information that is consistent with a specific narrative. All of this is quite evident in the Khashoggi report, which appears to be a politicized paraphrasing of leaks that were previously published in propaganda newspapers, such as the Turkish Yenisafak. This is why observers criticize the CIA, which has become a hub for inaccurate leaks and people with ideological whims, unlike other strong institutions. Consequently, the CIA might become easy prey for external intelligence agencies that know what they want. These agencies will provide the CIA with information it wants to find, while ultimately, and in reality, serving their own interests.

So, the Khashoggi report is one of many similar stories we have seen throughout history; three pages of speculations that reek of internal partisan politics. Nevertheless, the report is not beneficial to those who wish to sabotage the historical relationship between Riyadh and Washington, which virtually played a critical role for the past eight decades in shaping the region as we know it. If it were not for these ties, we would be living in an extremely different world today. After the report came out, senior US officials issued statements indicating the vital interests that tie the US with the Kingdom while the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement rejecting the report and emphasizing the long-established relationship between the two countries.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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