Democratic Senators Demand Hearing With Coats About Khashoggi Threats

A small group of prominent Democratic U.S. senators has requested a classified briefing with U.S. intelligence officials concerning what the U.S. intelligence community knows about previous threats against the life of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Dem senators request classified briefing on Khashoggi”

Seven Democratic senators and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) wrote a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that was sent on Tuesday. In the letter the senators asked Coats to arrange for a meeting so that they might be briefed in full on the Khashoggi threats. The letter also said that they want to be told whether or not the intelligence community had warned Khashoggi about threats that had been made to his life.

“Congress must understand the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. In order to fulfill our oversight obligation, we request a classified briefing regarding the implementation of the duty to warn determinations articulated in Intelligence Community Directive 191 … and its specific application to the Jamal Khashoggi case,” the senators wrote.

Intelligence Community Directive 191 outlines when and how U.S. intelligence officials are required to give a warning to individuals or groups concerning specific threats made against them. It deals with death threats, threats of serious bodily injury and threats of kidnapping.

In the letter to DNI Coats the senators wrote that the directive is a “clear message” that the United States government takes these kinds of threats very seriously.

They also noted that The Washington Post had previously reported that the U.S. government had intercepted communications from Saudi Arabia in which a plan to capture Khashoggi was outlined.

“Questions regarding whether Mr. Khashoggi was notified of known threats to his life have raised serious concerns. … The Intelligence Community must clearly account for any known threats levied against Mr. Khashoggi and whether the Directive was triggered appropriately and followed accordingly,” the senators added.

Tuesday’s letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Ed Markey (Mass.), as well as Sanders.

In addition to a classified briefing, the group of senators is asking for information on how many times individuals have been warned of threats under Directive 191. They also asked for an updated intelligence assessment on Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi had written articles criticizing the Saudi regime, and at the time of his death he was an opinion writer for The Washington Post. On October 2 he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul obtain the paperwork he needed for his planned marriage. He never left the Consulate and it is now believed that he was murdered there.