Schiff presses top intel official to declassify part of report on Khashoggi killing

Schiff presses top intel official to declassify part of report on Khashoggi killing
© Getty Images

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Nunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden MORE (D-Calif.) is pressing President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE's new top acting intelligence official to declassify part of the report related to the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a Thursday letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Richard GrenellRichard GrenellTrump taps retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor as next ambassador to Germany Kosovo president, indicted for war crimes, cancels trip to US Poland in the middle: Its push for US troops may alienate Germany and Russia MORE, Schiff argued that the National Defense Authorization Action (NDAA) requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to provide an unclassified report about the death of Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist who was slain in a Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.

"The Committee shares ODNI's concerns regarding the protection of sensitive Intelligence Community sources and methods," Schiff wrote.


"However, after reviewing the classified annex, the Committee believes that the annex could be declassified with appropriate redactions that should not alter or obscure in any way the Intelligence Community's determinations, presentation of evidence, or identification of relevant persons, as required by law. In doing so, ODNI would fulfill Congress' requirement and intent that your office submit an unclassified report on the killing of Mr. Khashoggi," he continued.

The California Democrat argued that failing to provide such information would suggest that intelligence officials are using redactions to improperly hide important information from the public.

Schiff's request comes after Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock MORE (D-Ore.) threatened earlier this year to try to force the release of the intelligence community’s assessment of who is responsible for the death if an unclassified report was not produced by the end of the Senate’s trial into Trump's contacts with Ukraine.

The CIA reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who was known for writing critically of the royal family. Saudi officials have denied that the prince had any knowledge of the plot.

Multiple news reports say Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 to get a document stating he was divorced in order to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. But Khashoggi never walked out of the building, where he was reportedly dismembered with a bone saw and then later removed.

The White House has shied away from publicly blaming high-level Saudi officials for Khashoggi’s slaying. Rather, Trump has defended the Saudi government as a key ally in countering Iran as well as bolstering the U.S. economy with arm sales.

Late last year, the kingdom sentenced three people to jail and five others to death in connection with the killing, though none of their names have been made public. In a closed-door trial, the high-ranking officials who were initially charged for their involvement in Khashoggi’s death, including a former top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed, were also cleared.