Former CIA Director John Brennan called for President Biden to ban Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman from the US following the release of an intelligence report last week that blamed the Saudi royal ruler for the death of dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that the crown prince “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill” Khashoggi, a journalist who was deeply critical of the Saudi royal family.
It said the assessment was “the Crown Prince’s control of decision making in the Kingdom.”
Brennan, who led the CIA from March 2013 to January 2017, said Biden must hold bin Salman accountable despite the strategic alliance between the two countries.
He said the president should be able to “distinguish” between that partnership “and the actions of one man.”
“That’s why I’m really hoping that the Biden administration is going to hold him accountable, saying that he is not going to come to the United States for any official or personal visits,” Brennan said Saturday on MSNBC.
He also said Biden administration officials should not attend any high-level meetings with bin Salman, Saudi’s de facto ruler, to send a direct message to other leaders in the Middle East and around the world.
“That has to be made very clear, not just to Muhammed bin Salman and the rest of the Saudi government, but also to other governments throughout the region,” Brennan said.
“They cannot get away with this because the Biden administration is going to hold them to certain standards in terms of human rights and values,” he added.
The intelligence report said a 15-member Saudi team arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, the day of the killing under the supervision of Saud al-Wahtani, a close adviser to bin Salman, “who claimed publicly in mid-2018 that he did not make decisions without the Crown Prince’s approval.”
Seven members of bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail, a unit that answers only to the prince, were part of that team.Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post, was reportedly dismembered.
His body has never been discovered.
In the wake of the report, Biden announced sanctions against scores of other Saudis but not bin Salman, citing the need to preserve the partnership between the two countries.
But after being criticized by Democrats and Republicans for going easy on bin Salman, who is also known as “MBS,” the president signaled on Saturday that another announcement was coming Monday.
“There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally.”