(January 23, 2023, New York): In response to comments reportedly made by Mike Pompeo in his new memoir, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) issued the following statement:
"Pompeo's crass and craven comments appearing to justify Jamal Khashoggi's murder by disparaging his political views and falsely associating them with terrorism mirror the same justifications Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other tyrants use to excuse their crimes," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. "It is despicable that a senior American official is suggesting that it's ok to kill a journalist if his political views are ones he doesn't like."
Pompeo's comments reportedly alleged that Khashoggi supported the Muslim Brotherhood, insinuating without evidence that the group supports terrorism, as well as dismissing Khashoggi's journalism because he "did other things." Pompeo described Khashoggi as an "activist," claiming that he was a journalist only "to the extent that I, and many other public figures are journalists. We sometimes get our writing published, but we also do other things."
Pompeo further appears to excuse the murder of Khashoggi by saying that such crimes are "routine" in the "ruthless" Middle East, embracing a narrative that is often utilized by regional autocrats to support their repressive policies.
"Suggesting that the murder of a journalist is acceptable because it is 'routine' in a 'ruthless' Middle East is a racist and insulting effort to diminish MBS' shocking criminality," said Whitson. "It is telling about the corruption of our own political system that Pompeo, in advance of running for president, feels he must so nakedly curry favor with a foreign despot."
Following the murder on October 2, 2018, Pompeo went to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi crown prince and was one of the first politicians in the world to be photographed with him. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence's report concluded that MBS ordered the murder of Khashoggi, but Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump refused to allow the release of the report. Trump subsequently boasted that he "saved his ass," referring to his role in shielding MBS from accountability for Khashoggi's murder.
"We have yet to uncover what the Trump administration – including Pompeo himself – knew about the threats to Khashoggi's life, and what they got in return for helping MBS evade accountability for the murder," said Whitson.