I wrote a lot about information operation in my new book, Qatar’s Shadow War–and focused on the Jamal Khashoggi effort in particular.
The weapons used in Information Operations are, obviously, information. But what does that actually mean? And how is this info used?
Here’s an excellent example and case study: The newly released “Intelligence assessment” on the killing of Islamist Jamal Khashoggi. The document was produced by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and blames Saudi Crown Prince MBS for Khashoggi’s murder. It’s only one page, if you remove list of names and title page.
This document (containing no new info) is a piece of information that is immediately weaponized– meaning, its release is the inciting media event that is meant to lead to a discussion about the issue the Biden team is looking to have in order to advance a policy goal.
The discussion based around this media event has already included op/eds, TV reports, tons of tweets, Members of Congress making speeches or giving interviews, etc. These things should be understood as products that create the atmosphere for eventual action. Think about it like bureaucratic infighting: if you want a decision-maker to turn on a friend, you make sure that all he hears about is plenty of trash-talking about that friend. When, after a while, the softening has done its job, they’re primed to act.
At every step of the way, the anti-Saudi info op based on Khashoggi’s death was promoted by Saudi Arabia’s enemies Qatar and Turkey. Their goal is to kneecap the US/Saudi relationship. You might not care about that, but if you oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, you should.
It’s unclear when this was generated—the date says February 11, 2021–or when it was requested by Biden or his staff. Certainly there’s nothing new here since early 2019 at the latest, when some anti-Trump members of the IC and/or Congress leaked it to the press. So why now?
Obviously, the Biden administration (and its Obama veterans) have a special hatred for Saudi Arabia and MBS in particular—all stemming from its fierce opposition to both the disastrous Iran Deal and the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Arab Spring. I explain here.
Think of how much they hate Bibi Netanyahu—that’s how much they hate MBS. Democrats have been trying to knock Bibi out of office since the 90s: Clinton succeeded once, but Obama failed. Both used leaks and political warfare in addition to sending top Democrat campaign advisors to assist Netanyahu’s opponents.
MBS isn’t up for election, however. Attacking Israel is more complicated in US politics, but KSA has very few friends here—few willing to stick their necks out. So Democrats can embarrass him, and threaten the King with harsh penalties if he doesn’t sideline the Crown Prince. This Democrat-led “regime change” is a version of the Arab Spring protests that drove Mubarak out of power in Egypt in early 2011.
Hence the release of this document now. There are zero bombshells here. There is no hard evidence here blaming MBS for Khashoggi’s death—strongest case they make is that MBS’ bodyguards were in Turkey at the time. For the most expensive Intel racket in the world? Laughable.
As many have already pointed out—especially my dear friends @LeeSmithDC @JordanSchachtel and @CarolineGlick—this weak “assessment” is the new Biden White House signaling that it’s ready to make our allies pay. As I’ve said often: you cannot understand US policy in the Middle East until you understand that, when the Left looks at the region, it wishes America’s allies were our enemies, and America’s enemies were our allies.