On Nov. 16, 2018 the Washington Post published a story including leaked CIA intelligence that reveals the direct involvement of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the killing of Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi. One the one hand, the disclosure is understandable. President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the Saudi leader’s involvement. On the other hand, leaking classified information is not only illegal, it does lasting damage to America’s ability to collect intelligence. As the R Street Institute’s Paul Rosenzweig has noted, the Post article exposed the United States’ ability to successfully intercept Saudi government calls.
This is not how oversight of foreign affairs is supposed to work. Congress’ long history of weak, ad hoc engagement with foreign affairs has fostered an environment where leaking classified information appears to be the only answer to a runaway executive branch. This answer is far from reasonable, as Sen. Mike Gravel, R-Ark., demonstrated 47 years ago when he convened a hearing to discuss troubling truths hidden in the Pentagon Papers. Members of Congress, individually and collectively, have powers to expose the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi and force accountability. They only need to use them.