Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a book published on Tuesday, staunchly defended Saudi Arabia after the murder of a dissident writer, gloating that his diplomatic relationship with the kingdom was a “middle finger” for the American media.
Pompeo flew to Riyadh days after the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi living in the United States who wrote op-eds in the Washington Post criticizing the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed. Bin Salman.
“What really drove the media crazier than a vegan in a slaughterhouse was our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo wrote in “Never Give an Inch,” a combative memoir from his time as a Donald Trump’s best diplomat.
On Trump sending it, Pompeo wrote: “In a way, I think the president was envious that I was the one who gave the middle finger to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other wetters of bed that had no grip on reality.”
The CIA, which Pompeo once led, in findings later declassified by President Joe Biden, said Crown Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who was lured into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul where he had been strangled and dismembered.
Pompeo in his book did not dispute Saudi responsibility, writing, “This grotesque butchery was outrageous, unacceptable, horrible, sad, despicable, diabolical, brutal and, of course, illegal.”
“But it wasn’t surprising – not to me, anyway. I had seen enough of the Middle East to know that this kind of cruelty was all too common in that part of the world,” he said.
He also disputed that Khashoggi was a “journalist”, mocking the media for turning him into “a martyred Saudi Bob Woodward for courageously criticizing the Saudi royal family”.
Pompeo’s remarks drew immediate condemnation, with Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz saying she was “horrified and upset”.
“He spoke with no respect and no humanity about someone murdered so brutally,” she wrote on Twitter.
Washington Post editor and CEO Fred Ryan said it was “shocking and disappointing” to see Pompeo “so outrageously misrepresent” Khashoggi.
“Jamal was dedicated to the values of free speech and a free press and held himself to the highest professional standards. For this devotion he paid the ultimate price,” Ryan said in a statement. .
Pompeo insisted Crown Prince Mohammed was a reformist who “will prove to be one of the most important leaders of his time, a truly historic figure on the world stage.”
He said there should instead have been a closer look at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who criticized Saudi Arabia for the killing. Pompeo wrote that the Turkish leader “has gone completely Islamist-authoritarian.”