In a new memoir, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ridicules the international response to the gruesome killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, calling him an “activist” — not a journalist.
The media helped spread “feigned outrage” over the incident, Pompeo writes in the book released Tuesday.
Pompeo was serving under then-President Donald Trump in October 2018 when Saudi Arabian agents assassinated Khashoggi and dismembered his body at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The columnist was a well-known critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rule.
For Pompeo, however, the public reaction to Khashoggi’s brazen assassination was overdone.
“He didn’t deserve to die, but we need to be clear about who he was — and too much in the media didn’t,” Pompeo writes in Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, according to NBC “. News.
The news media “pounded the story particularly hard because Khashoggi was a ‘journalist,'” he says, according to the Guardian.
“To be clear, Khashoggi was a journalist to the extent that I and many other public figures are journalists. Sometimes we have our lyrics published, but we also do other things. The media turned Khashoggi into a Saudi Arabian Bob Woodward, martyred for boldly criticizing the Saudi royal family through op-ed pieces in The Washington Post,” he writes, referring to the famous Watergate reporter.
Pompeo says the murder – which he describes as “outrageous, unacceptable, horrible and despicable” – didn’t “surprise” him because he’s “seen enough of the Middle East to know that this kind of ruthlessness can be found in this one.” Part too routine was the world.”
He goes on to express doubts about Khashoggi’s loyalty, citing the New York Times, which reported on his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group and al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as a young journalist working in the Middle East.
Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, contacted by NBC News for comment, flatly denied that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I confirm it for you,” she said.
“Whatever he [Pompeo] Mentions about my husband, he doesn’t know my husband. He should shut up and shut up the lies about my husband,” she told the outlet. She described Khashoggi’s views as thoughtful and nuanced, noting that he always condemned the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, impaled Pompeo for his characterization of the late columnist, who called it “shocking and disappointing” that the book “so outrageously misrepresents the life and work” of Khashoggi.
“His only crime was exposing corruption and oppression among those in power – a job that good journalists around the world do every day. Dedicated to the values of free speech and a free press, Jamal adhered to the highest professional standards. He paid the ultimate price for that dedication,” Ryan said.
Separately, a book critic told the Post that reading Pompeo’s tome was “like being locked in a room and being forced to listen for 20 hours [Fox News host] Tucker Carlson repeats himself at top volume.”
Amid Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump sent Pompeo to the Saudi Arabian capital to reiterate US support for Crown Prince Mohammed and the country.