Days after the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that the CIA had concluded that former Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the order of the Saudi crown prince, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is taking a hard stance against those involved.
Pence said that the U.S. is “not going to stand for” Khashoggi’s murder and whoever is responsible for his death will be held “accountable.”
Those remarks from the VP came during his recent trip to Papua New Guinea for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Murder was an “atrocity”
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity,” said Pence of the Saudi dissident, who was seen on video entering the diplomatic building in Turkey, but was never seen leaving.
He added: “It was also an affront to a free and independent press and the United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder.”
But President Donald Trump has been hesitant to condemn the Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi’s death.
He said separately on Saturday that the media reports assigning blame for the death to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — an ally of the president — were “premature.”
Trump added that he would wait for the CIA’s complete assessment report, which is expected to be prepared by Tuesday, to make a final determination.
Holding officials accountable
The Saudi Public Prosecutor has already charged 11 individuals for involvement in the death of Khashoggi, including at least 5 who are facing capital punishment for “ordering and executing the crime.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has levied harsh economic sanctions on no less than 17 Saudi individuals believed to be involved in Khashoggi’s death.
It is entirely possible that Khashoggi’s murder was ordered by the Saudi crown prince, though there is also the valid possibility that the murder was ordered by other top officials or members of the Saudi royal family who aren’t in line with the crown prince or President Trump, part of a subversive effort to undermine the improving U.S.-Saudi relations.
But until the full CIA report is released, we won’t know for sure.
Still, both Pence and Trump have made it clear that, once all of the facts are known, the U.S. will move decisively to hold accountable whoever was responsible for what many have called an atrocity.