The U.S. Senate last week rightly gave strong bipartisan support to debate pulling American support from the Saudi Arabian war in Yemen, which is exacerbating the world’s largest running humanitarian catastrophe.
It’s a clear rebuke to President Trump’s all-in relationship with the Saudis—and sends a clear message that business as usual is now over in the wake of the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the clunky cover-up that followed.
But something more concrete is called for to tighten the screws: The Senate must insist that CIA Director Gina Haspel give a clear, unvarnished assessment under oath, on behalf of her agency, of Khashoggi’s death.
According to multiple reports, the CIA concluded with “high confidence” that Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 death came at the explicit orders of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who runs the show in the oil kingdom.
In classic fashion, Trump continues to downplay MBS’s role: “The CIA doesn’t say (MBS) did it. They do point out certain things, and in pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t.” Meantime, ostensibly to shield Trump and the Saudis from embarrassment, the White House has refused to allow Haspel to appear.
Kudos to Lindsey Graham for threatening to hold up regular order—including nominations—until she answers questions.
The president of the United States may want to act as a PR officer for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Senate, representing America and its values, has its own job to do.