Friday, December 7, 2018

John Brennan and CIA Director Gina Haspel

CIA Director Gina Haspel was on her way to brief the U.S. Senate on the Khashoggi murder when she and former CIA Director John Brennan walked past George H.W. Bush’s casket and were pictured together. Hopefully, the President either missed the picture or doesn’t assume Brennan was part of any briefing. Trump is not a Brennan person.

John Brennan and Gina Haspel

Haspel may be in trouble, even without the Brennan walk-by. She was complimented by senators from both parties on her candid assessment of the Khashoggi murder and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s responsibility. President Trump simply wants the story to go away. He’s decided. The alliance is transactional and Iran arms sales, jobs and oil supersede intelligence service assessments or the value of U.S. moral leadership. Trump summed up the intelligence on MBS as “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t” know about the event.

The senators that heard Haspel’s assessment mostly disagreed. Lindsey Graham, always pungent, said there was “zero chance” the Crown Prince wasn’t’ involved in Khashoggi’s death. “There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw,” a reference to the discredited earlier presentation by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Mattis said there was “no smoking gun.” They both mostly simply repeated the President’s position that the relationship with Saudi Arabia was too important to disrupt over the Khashoggi affair.

The administration’s problem is that a large bipartisan group of senators don’t agree and are insisting on something happening to express the U.S. government’s outrage.

Bob Corker R
Lindsey Graham R
Rand Paul R
Richard Shelby R
Richard Durbin D
Robert Menendez D
Christopher Murphy D
Chuck Schumer D

The main target of recompense is American support for the Yemen War. While the Senate may only have resolutions, which are mostly gestures, the House Armed Services Committee in January, after the Democrats take over, is likely to be very unhospitable to funding the war.

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