This weekend, a senior Saudi prince said that the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi can’t be trusted — a stance that seems to match the one held by Donald Trump this week.
As the New York Times reports, the CIA found evidence that Crown Prince Mohammad was directly responsible for ordering Khashoggi’s murder. After a series of varying explanations that included an initial denial of any involvement at all, the Saudi government has finally said that the Washington Post columnist was killed by Saudi agents in a premeditated attack in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The CIA findings were called into question this weekend by a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Turki al-Faisal.
“The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations. The examples of that are multitude,” Prince Turki al-Faisal said in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, via Reuters.
Prince Turki al-Faisal had previously served as ambassador to the United States, and noted the CIA’s previous assessment that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction as a reason not to trust the American intelligence agency.
“That was the most glaring of inaccurate and wrong assessments, which led to a full-scale war with thousands being killed,” he said. “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.”
The comments matched ones made by Donald Trump this week. When asked about the CIA’s assessment that Khashoggi was murdered on the order of Crown Prince Mohammad, Trump said they “did not come to a conclusion” and continued to express doubts.
“Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place,” Trump said when asked about Saudi responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder.
Donald Trump has been criticized for his failure to condemn Saudi Arabia. Trump has frequently cited Saudi investments into the United States — and into his own personal companies — as a reason not to come down hard on the country for Khashoggi’s murder, and has accepted the changing explanations from Saudi Arabia.
Donald Trump’s statements about the CIA have also generated considerable pushback. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN that Trump was lying about the CIA report, and noted that it did determine Crown Prince Mohammad’s involvement.