CIA Director to Brief Key Senators on Khashoggi as Yemen War Vote Nears

Last minute reversal on allowing Haspel to testify shows White House fears losing war vote

Last week’s Senate briefings surrounding a challenge to the Yemen War were less about the limited testimonies of Mike Pompeo and James Mattis than about the conspicuous absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel. That, and reported admissions from the secretaries that she was forbidden from attending the closed door briefing, fueled a lot of anger in the Senate, and by extension growing resistance to the Yemen War.

In a sign that the White House fears losing the war vote outright, they’re now letting Haspel hold her own briefing Tuesday, for a very limited audience of what the administration believes are “key” senators, mostly committee leaders.

The focus of this briefing will be Saudi Arabia’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi Crown Prince was involved. The murder is adding to pressure in Congress to stop supporting Saudi wars, and Yemen would be the obvious choice in that regard.

Letting Haspel testify is a concession to the Senate, but the big question will be what she says. Clearly the whole reason she wasn’t allowed in the first place was fear she’d back the CIA’s assessment and hurt the Saudis. If she still does that, it would be strange to think it would placate any senators.

According to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the Yemen War debate is to begin sometime Thursday, with a vote happening thereafter, though likely sometime after next Monday. Those wishing to call their senators should do so in the next few days before the matter comes up for vote. You can do this by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 or by finding individual contact information here.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.