Senators Furious as CIA Director No-Shows Khashoggi Briefing

Mattis and Pompeo claimed to lack 'smoking gun' intelligence on murder

Many senators are expressing growing anger at the administration’s not being forthcoming on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and in particular the intelligence tying the murder to the Saudi Crown Prince. This became a major problem Wednesday, when a closed-door briefing was held on the matter.

The details of the briefing were classified, but the only two attendees from the administration were Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Neither appears to have had much insight on the matter, and both claimed to lack any “smoking gun” intelligence.

Which is where it would be nice for an intelligence official to chime in, but CIA Director Gina Haspel did not attend the meeting, meaning the CIA assessment of the murder was not a topic of discussion. Some senators say they are particularly angry at her absence, and view it as a “cover-up” attempt.

That anger might be justified, as according to several senators, during the briefing Mattis and Pompeo confirmed that the White House directly blocked Haspel from attending. The CIA assessment reportedly concluded with “high confidence” that the crown prince was behind the murder, and Haspel is one of few administration officials said to have heard the audio of Khashoggi’s murder, something many seem to be going out of their way to avoid.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of