Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky blasted what he called the “deep state” on Tuesday after he heard from news reporters about a meeting a small number of other senators had with a representative of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Senator Paul was extremely upset that he and most other senators were excluded from a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel. The topic of the briefing was for Haspel to share confidential intelligence information that her agency has concerning the disappearance and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The killing of Khashoggi — an exiled citizen of Saudi Arabia who was working as a writer for the Washington Post — created an international incident. The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was accused of ordering Khashoggi’s assassination, but has denied it. The CIA said they obtained information from Turkey about the incident after Haspel traveled to Istanbul two weeks ago to meet with Turkish intelligence authorities. Khashoggi’s murder took place within the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, and Turkey said they had proof of what happened and that MBS was involved in the murder.
Haspel’s meeting to share CIA information was limited to a select group of lawmakers, the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee.
Many senators — including Republicans — have been very upset that the Trump administration has kept them in the dark and withheld the information they have learned about the Khashoggi affair. President Trump has also been heavily criticized personally for denying that MBS was involved and saying he didn’t believe the CIA’s intelligence assessment.
Haspel didn’t attend an administration briefing for all senators last week on Khashoggi’s killing. After many senators complained, yesterday’s meeting was scheduled to make up for her absence at the earlier meeting.
Haspel was also sent to Capitol Hill to attempt to influence a Senate vote on whether to pull U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. Many members of Congress of both parties have been very critical of the Saudis and of Trump for continuing to back a civil war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and left millions more on the brink of starvation.
Paul said that it was undemocratic to exclude most U.S. Senators from the meeting with the head of the CIA. He maintained that Haspel should have testified before all senators.
“There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence,” Paul said. “That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation nor is it democratic oversight.”
Paul seemed especially unhappy that he heard about the Haspel briefing from the media and not through official senate communication channels.
By blaming his exclusion from the meeting on the “deep state” Rand Paul has shown that he is as much a conspiracy theorist as he is a U.S. Senator. In August he traveled to Russia, and when he returned home he demanded that President Trump lift sanctions on Russian lawmakers so that they can travel to the United States. Paul is often seen as a maverick, but in reality he is desperate for attention.
Rand Paul is not a “player” in Washington, and he is not really relevant. His latest episode of whining will not help him to “win friends and influence people,” it just helps to make him look ridiculous.