Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday complained that the deep state is keeping lawmakers in the dark about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this year.
“I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress. Today, there’s a CIA briefing going on right now for which most rank and file senators and congressmen have been excluded,” he said.
Paul’s comments came as CIA Director Gina Haspel was briefing a select group of senators, including leaders of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and Intelligence Committee about Khashoggi’s killing.
“I think it’s wrong for the CIA to have expressed a conclusion that the crown prince was involved with the killing of Khashoggi, and then withhold that information. I know about the information of the CIA’s conclusions only by reading it in the media,” Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointed out. He added that he had a number of good questions he would have asked Haspel if he’d been included in the briefing.
When asked if he thought the Trump White House was preventing the CIA director from briefing the full Senate, Paul replied: “The definition of the deep state is when intelligence communities have so much power that there’s no oversight.” He argued that when intelligence is only given to a few select people in our government, “that’s more like an oligarchy.”
“It has nothing to do with Trump,” he added. “Not everything’s about Trump. There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence. That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation, nor is it democratic oversight. I think the information needs to be shared widely with those who are elected.”
Paul also appeared on Fox News to vent about being left out of the briefing.
“To my mind, this is the very definition of the deep state,” he complained. “The deep state is that the intelligence agencies do things, conclude things, make conclusions, but then the elected officials are prevented from knowing about this.”
The Kentucky senator argued that lawmakers can’t exercise proper oversight if they are kept out of the loop and warned that the deep state was growing stronger.
“If we aren’t told about this — if I’m not allowed to know about these conclusions — then I can’t have oversight,” he said. “And so then the state grows, the intelligence, the deep state grows and has more and more power.”
“I’ve read in the media that the CIA has said with high confidence that the crown prince was involved with killing Khashoggi,” Paul continued. “I have not seen that intelligence nor have I even seen the conclusions. And today there’s yet another briefing and I’m being excluded from that. So really, this is the deep state at work, that your representatives don’t know what is going on in the intelligence agencies.”
Paul is certainly correct that the intelligence community needs to be more transparent, but because Congress is riddled with leakers, there are times when classified information should be confined to a select few. The Khashoggi situation may be such a case.