Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines Sued by Saudi Arabia to protect national secrets

A Massachusetts judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a former Saudi intelligence official after the US Director of National Intelligence stepped in, saying the case would reveal sensitive US intelligence and would cause harm. harm national security.

The case – initiated by a company owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which belongs to Saudi Arabia and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) – revolves around a dispute between the company, Sakab and a former Saudi counterterrorism official, Saad Aljabri.

Aljabri is an important US ally in the fight to root out terrorists and prevent al Qaeda attacks. In one case, Aljabri helped debunk an al Qaeda plot in 2010, in which terrorists hid bombs in desktop printers and stashed them in cargo on a plane destined for the United States, Michael Morell , the former director of the CIA, said. 60 minutes in October.

Aljabri, who previously supported an MBS opponent, had previously accused the Saudi prince of conspiring killing he.

The director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, intervened earlier this year, suggesting that if the case were conducted without restrictions, state secrets could be exposed. The US government said the incident could lead to “a reasonable disclosure of information that could damage the national security of the United States”.

The nature of the state secrets Haines wants to keep secret is unclear, as additional records detailing government concerns are not made public.

But the case “cannot continue on a government request for privilege,” said U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton, according to court filings in Massachusetts District Court.

“A fundamental obstacle to resolving the dispute between Sakab and Aljabris is the fact that, for the duration involved, both have immersed themselves in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism work alongside the United States. States (“government”). Aljabri considered that fully demonstrating its role in that counterterrorism work would demonstrate the correctness of the alleged fraudulent transactions,” the judge wrote in the decision. “Disappointing, however, in his ability to produce any such thing is our government’s assertion of state secrecy and statutory privilege to a large body of evidence. involve.”

It was a case that exposed the sensitive tacit relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. While the countries have a deep history of working together as allies in a number of counter-terrorism efforts, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has been accused the world over for running hitmen on the ground. around the world – to kill people like Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi — orchestrated palace coups and, in this case, plotted to kill Aljabri.

Aljabri fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 after MBS hosted a palace coup against Aljabri’s then-boss, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN), his successor to the throne. Since then, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has imprisoned Aljabri .’s two children-one move US legislators has said that the Saudi government made an attempt to blackmail Aljabri out of Canada and back into Saudi Arabia, where he left for fear of reprisal.

Intervening in cases like this to protect classified information is an extremely rare move that the US intelligence community uses only in quite severe cases, experts say. While it’s unclear what information might be exposed if the case were to continue, a former intelligence official who was not authorized to speak to the press told The Daily Beast it could include the disclosure of sources. the American intelligence community to the specific work of spies.

“It will involve something that could leak information, harm national security. So it could be… there is a contractual relationship between an intelligence agency and a private company involved in a lawsuit, it could be that it would reveal the identities of the sources, it could be that it would reveal how an intelligence agency works,” said the former intelligence community official. “In this case, I would argue that it is a possible combination of a reluctance to disclose the relationship an entity has with U.S. intelligence agencies and or a reluctance to disclose specific types of activities. that U.S. intelligence agencies have conducted as part of their counterterrorism work. . ”

According to Doug London, a former CIA director, the former director of the CIA served in the Middle East.

“It was a game of wisdom for the DNI to beg for government privileges to prevent the disclosure of classified information that Jabri’s defense was asked to vindicate himself with. Not to appeal to MBS for fabricated, politically inspired allegations, but to honor our obligation to protect Jabri, an intelligence partner who acted in good faith and saved American and Arab lives Saudi Arabia,” said London, who recently published her memoir. Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence. “The delicate choreography achieved its purpose without inciting the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and undermining security cooperation vital to the interests of the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

While experts say Haines’ move is an act of caution, that doesn’t mean the Biden administration has done enough to keep Saudi Arabia on fire. Accountability will only really come if the government helps put an end to it war in Yemen, which the Biden administration has promoted arms trade with Saudi Arabia in recent days, and if it refers to the murder of Khashoggi and the detention of Aljabri’s two children with the kingdom, London said.

“Keeping true to his campaign promise to deal with Saudi Arabia in a way that values ​​human rights, President Biden must remain steadfast in his quest for accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, for the former Crown Prince MbN, securing the release of Jabri’s two captive children, and ending the disastrous war in Yemen,” London said. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines Sued by Saudi Arabia to protect national secrets


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