In “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” published Tuesday, Pompeo said Khashoggi did not deserve to die and called his killing “outrageous, unacceptable, horrific.” However, he then goes on to mock the “disproportionate global uproar” surrounding Khashoggi’s death, arguing that Khashoggi was an “activist” and not a journalist whose death was “knocked out of proportion” by an overly sympathetic media.
“Just as the media spent years trying to drive a wedge between me and President Trump, they have spent the following weeks trying to destroy America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo wrote. “The progressive left hates MBS, despite the fact that he is leading the biggest cultural reform in the kingdom’s history. He would prove to be one of the most important leaders of his time, a truly historic figure on the world stage.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents that would allow him to marry his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. Saudi agents dismembered Khashoggi’s body inside the consulate and his remains have never been found.
In the months leading up to this visit, Khashoggi wrote columns for The Washington Post that were sharply critical of the crown prince who effectively rules Saudi Arabia and has carried out a brutal crackdown on rivals and dissidents.
Pompeo, who is is reportedly exploring a run for president in 2024also pushed the claim in his book that Khashoggi was “friendly with the terrorist-supporting Muslim Brotherhood,” a charge that both Khashoggi’s family — and Khashoggi himself when he was alive — have repeatedly denied.
“Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person by any means. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous,” Khashoggi’s family told The Post in 2018.
Like The Post reported after Khashoggi’s death, that claim was actually pushed by the crown prince, who spoke by phone with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-national security adviser John Bolton in the days after Khashoggi’s disappearance. The crown prince told Kushner and Bolton at the time that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist and urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the US-Saudi alliance.
The The CIA concluded in 2018 that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, contradicting Saudi Arabia’s insistence that the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the plot. However, in his book, Pompeo – who was previously the director of the CIA – appeared to give Muhammad the benefit of the doubt about the United States’ own intelligence agencies.
“First, contrary to what has been reported, there is almost zero intelligence that directly links MBS to ordering the assassination,” Pompeo wrote. “Secondly, I have met many people who have ordered murders. If MBS is proven to have ordered this, it would only mean that he is yet another ruthless leader in a rather ruthless part of the world.
In a statement Tuesday, Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, said it was “shocking and disappointing” to see Pompeo’s book “so outrageously misrepresent” Khashoggi’s life and work.
“His only crime was exposing corruption and oppression among those in power, a job that good journalists around the world do every day,” Ryan wrote. “Jamal dedicated himself to the values of free speech and a free press and held himself to the highest professional standards. For this devotion he paid the ultimate price.
“It is shameful that Pompeo is spreading vile lies to denigrate the life and service of a brave man — and his commitment to the principles Americans hold dear — as a ploy to sell books,” Ryan added.
In November, The Biden administration is decided that Mohammed, as an “acting head of government,” is immune from a civil suit filed in the United States by Khashoggi’s fiancee and a human rights organization he founded.
In a letter accompanying the filing, Acting State Department Counsel Richard S. Wisek said the ruling was legal and that the department “does not take a position on the merits of this lawsuit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”
Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet and Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.
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